Stunningly beautiful and refreshingly laidback, Ahe is one of the lesser known atolls in the Tuamotu that is a favorite vacation spot for native Tahitians. This charming atoll enchants travelers with unspoilt nature, crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and amazing underwater scenery.
Ahe is part of the Tuamotu Archipelago of islands and atolls, between Manihi and Rangiroa. The atoll is an hour’s direct flight from Tahiti but could be longer depending on island stopovers. This quaint atoll is home to just over 500 inhabitants and has no road connecting the ring of islets which makes boating on the lagoon the main mode of transportation for locals and visitors alike.
Arguably the main draw of this small atoll is its beautiful interior lagoon. Visitors will be mesmerized by the beauty and the vivid colors as they fly over the atoll on their arrival flight. The lagoon is sprinkled with shallow sandbanks that lie just underwater, creating idyllic picnic spots in this pristine tropical swimming pool that is filled to the brim with abundant marine life and vibrant coral gardens.
In addition to spectacular marine life, the lagoon also provides ideal conditions for black pearl cultivation and houses over a hundred overwater shops that have become renowned as leaders in the pearl farming industry with pearls of exceptional colors and reflections (Tahiti Pearl Market sources their black pearls from this very spot). Visiting one of these shops provides a unique experience to watch the highly specialized process of pearl grafting and potentially purchase a one-of-a-kind gemstone for your own collection.
One of the motus that rings the lagoon is filled with dense, leafy trees called Pisonia Grandis. Although unusual to see in French Polynesia today, these forests used to be quite prevalent before settlers arrived and cleared the forests to make room for coconut trees and the production of copra oil. This lush motu is home to many of these unique trees with thickly twisted roots covering the ground and lies in stark contrast to the many other motus filled with palm trees. This special forest motu is heavily protected by the local population today as well as Bird Island, another special motu that is a refuge to many rare species of birds.
The local population of Ahe has always depended on and greatly respected their surrounding environment and has actively fought for years to preserve their pristine surroundings. One of the many ways they are doing this is by utilizing their abundant annual sunshine for solar power. In fact, this small atoll is completely powered by solar panels that are situated on one of the motus.
The best activities in Ahe are all centered around their spectacular lagoon. It is very easy to fill your days with swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, paddleboarding and fishing. The lagoon has one main pass, Tiareroa Pass, that connects the lagoon to the ocean beyond. Surrounding the pass are numerous coral drop-offs which make for spectacular diving with a diverse array of turtles, rays, sharks, lagoon fish, barracudas and more.
Beyond the pass, the waves breaking in perfect succession on the reef have created a surfing spot that attracts surfers from around the world. However, this desirable wave is not for the faint of heart – the locals refer to the wave as ‘Evasan’, or medical evacuation. Deep sea fishing is also extremely popular on this idyllic atoll and excursions beyond the pass can include catches of grouper, snapper, tuna, barracuda and even swordfish.
Accommodation consists of a collection of guest houses and pensions, most of them family-owned. One such guest house is Cocoperle Lodge, a family-run eco-lodge with just four beachfront bungalows built in the traditional Polynesian style. Daily excursions are organized and led by the owners, providing guests with a true local's perspective of the atoll and a deep sense of appreciation for the surrounding tropical environment.
Ahe is the quintessential Polynesian destination – you feel like you are on your own private island. This authentic Tahitian getaway will allow you to feel like you have experienced a rare moment, one in which time stands still and the stresses of the world melt away.