The main islet of Tikehau isn't much to look at - it's a remote coral atoll whose flat surface never rises more than a few inches above sea level. But don't be fooled by appearances: it's worth coming here for the diving alone. What's more, just a 15-minute boat ride away is the small private motu that is home to the luxurious Pearl Beach Resort.
The atoll of Tikehau was once described by Jacques Cousteau as richer in fish life than any other lagoon in the world. Although decades have gone by since then, it is still clearly exceptional. Like Rangiroa, its larger and more crowded neighbour, Tikehau has only one pass into the ocean, Tuheiva, and five out of the six local dive sites are clustered around it.
French Polynesia has no soft corals but it has good claim to be the world's hard coral capital, especially here on Tikehau with its seemingly endless fields stretching out before you. These shallow waters offer a truly fabulous sight: the translucent sea is rarely deeper than 30 ft, and it is magical being underwater in such a pristine environment.
In good weather you can explore the open sea just behind the hotel, while on a rising tide you can go on a fast drift dive through Tuheiva Pass; the latter is a must, as it brings with it all manner of life including manta rays and hammerheads. This is remote, unspoilt diving where anything can turn up, and drifting over acres of virgin coral in translucent waters, knowing there is no one else for miles, adds an edge to every dive.