My name is William Tang and I’m a Canadian-born Chinese (or CBC as we like to call it). Welcome to my travel guide on Rangiroa in French Polynesia.
I grew up in Toronto and starting from a very young age my parents would bring me on awesome road trips and bus tours of North America. I would like to think that this was how my travel passion was instilled in me.
What really allowed my love for travel to blossom was when I had an opportunity to do an exchange program in Lund, Sweden during my formative university years when I backpacked all throughout Europe.
Going Awesome Places started years later near the start of my working career but more-so as an accidental fun project. In 2012, I decided to take a break from my consulting job to travel Asia. This little online diary slowly snowballed into something bigger to where I am today 8+ years later.
I now run Going Awesome Places full time where I’m continuing to learn, grow and evolve as a brand that brings detailed itineraries, vivid video and inspiration to travellers around the world. I’ve loved the journey so far!
Inspiration to Visit Rangiroa
The truth of my Rangiroa trip is that it originated from my obsession with travel hacking. I used to work as a consultant and to cut a long story short there was an upcoming program change to the Marriott program.
I knew I had to take advantage of the points I had through owning one of the best travel hacking credit cards for Canadians. The property to kickstart the trip planning to French Polynesia was Le Meridien Bora Bora which I reviewed but from there I started looking at where else we could go.
That’s how I discovered Rangiroa. I had only heard of the name in passing from another friend that travelled to the country earlier. When I researched the Tuamotu Archipelago and Rangiroa specifically, I knew that it was somewhere we had to add to our two week trip to Tahiti.
I have to say that coming from Bora Bora, Rangiroa felt like a completely different island. As you can imagine, coming from a resort with overwater bungalows to staying at a pension on a small motu was a big change but at the same time I knew we’d get a more real life experience.
Four Magical Nights in Rangiroa
We stayed in Rangiroa for four nights. As scuba divers, the biggest thing on our bucket list was to go diving and to see dolphins in their natural habitat. We did exactly that with six tanks of dives at the Tiputa and Avatoru passes.
It was incredible to see sharks and dolphins at these passes. While on land, we appreciated the slower life where we got to ride our bicycles around the local village and see dolphins jumping at Tiputa Pass at sunrise and sunset.
When in Rangiroa, Tiputa Pass is the focus and where you’ll spend most of your time. Photography wise, I loved shooting the dolphins jumping at the changing of tides. It was memorable because we had to attempt this a few times to catch them and when we did, they put on a show!
Best Things To Do in Rangiroa
If you’re a diver, there’s really only a singular top thing to do and that’s to go scuba diving with an outfit like The 6 Passengers. The biodiversity in the water is incredible and you never know what you’ll see in the channels.
That said, if you’re not into scuba diving, there’s a ton of other things you can do which include watching dolphins jumping at Tiputa Pass, booking a tour to go see Pink Sand Beach, Reef Island, Green and Blue lagoons.
These are parts of day-trip packages that you can book when you’re in Rangiroa. These trips give you a chance to see the island’s landscapes, beautiful water and have close encounters with reef sharks and dolphins.
Meeting the Rangiroa Locals
We stayed at a pension called Chez Taia et Vero which is a type of local B&B. During our stay we met the owner and his wife. He was friendly and gave us a ton of hints on what we could do in Rangiroa.
Beyond that, since we stayed on a smaller motu of Tiputa which doesn’t have any resorts – oftentimes we felt like the only travellers there. With the help of our bikes, we biked into the village every day, purchased lunch and dinner from the snack shop, and picked up supplies at the grocery store.
Along the way, we did our best to communicate with a combination of our broken French and charades-style hand signals. It was lovely to meet locals.
Mix of Chinese and French Cuisines
Living as remote as we did, the only way to get food was to go to the one snack shop or cook your own meal at the pension. For us, we didn’t feel like cooking so everyday we put in our dinner orders at the snack shop during lunch where we either ate at the shop or brought it back to our pension.
The food was nowhere close to gourmet but it was as local as it gets with fresh slices of tuna and an interesting mix of Chinese and French cuisines which speaks to much of their cultural background in French Polynesia.
Staying at Chez Taia et Vero
We stayed at Chez Taia et Vero which I’d recommend to anyone wanting to go off the beaten path and have your own getaway. That said, if you’re looking for something upscale, try the Hotel Kia Ora Resort. For my full recommendations, check out my two week French Polynesia itinerary.
Need to Know Before you Go
Here are a couple of tips that you should know before going to Rangiroa:
- To spot the dolphins at Tiputa Pass on ground, try to make it either in the morning from 9AM-10AM or around 4PM-5PM. This is dependent on the time of the year of course but the key is to go during the change of tides.
- This goes for much French Polynesia but it helps to know a couple of basic phrases in French. If you don’t know any French, having something like the Google Translate app is always handy.
- When choosing accommodation, make sure to look for ones that include bike rentals. This is the best way to get around in Rangiroa.
- Exchange money beforehand so you don’t need to worry about it when you arrive in Rangiroa. You’ll need local currency when eating at local restaurants, tipping and ferries.
- Rent a WiFi hotspot while you’re on the island of Tahiti. We rented from Tahiti WiFi and this was definitely handy to have to make sure we were connected the whole time.
- Of course, make sure you watch our French Polynesia videos to get super excited about your future trip to this beautiful country.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your stay in paradise!