A spontaneously sustainable approach
When first arriving at Tetamanu, visitors are awestruck by the outstanding beauty of the place and the harmonious incorporation of the buildings into the landscape. Sané is passionate about the site and has built the common areas and the fare (bungalows) with the aim to have the minimum human footprint on these islets. Even before the setting up of the biosphere reserve, the owner had spontaneously adopted such an approach, which seemed obvious to him.
Immersion in the landscape
The bungalows have been built on stilts without causing any harm to the coral ecosystem. There are two separate accommodation sites. The main building is ideally located along the pass and its common areas are built above the coral wall and the lagoon. The restaurant, the small lounge area and the terrace serve both as a place to relax and to observe the teeming marine fauna that winds around the corals and the stilts. On both sides of the small dive centre, there are six bungalows built by traditional methods. They offer an impregnable view of the pass right on the waterfront! A beautiful wooden footbridge invites you to discover the neighbouring islet, on which are located five other traditional bungalows called ‘Tetamanu Sauvage’, each with their own bathroom. A beachfront restaurant with a private pontoon is available to residents.
Use of sustainable energy
The bungalows are built of wood. Each one of them is equipped with toilets and showers. Electricity supply is provided by 3 independent generators with 16 solar panels of 75 watts each to meet the electrical consumption needs of the boarding house. They ensure electricity supply for the kitchen and its refrigeration system as well as for the lighting of the common areas and the bungalows. It is thus possible to recharge the batteries of your photo equipment and computer. Water from the borehole and rainwater are stored in a cistern. Those who are sensitive to the cold should bear in mind that there is no solar heating, so the shower water is cold. A by-no-means-insignificant detail is that all the beds are equipped with mosquito nets.
The drinking water is mineral water and is included in the board rate. It is provided ad-lib in the common areas. There is no air-conditioning but ventilation is provided by various strategically located openings in the bungalows according to ancestral tradition, which intuitively used the natural elements.
Remarkably sustainable activities
Various activities are one offer to enable you to discover the remarkable biodiversity and the soul of the place. Only a pair of goggles and a scuba are required to enjoy the rich marine fauna and flora. You just have to get into the water right in front of your bungalow or of the restaurant and swim along the drop-off. The area is populated with blacktip lagoon sharks. They are not dangerous and generally do not pay much attention to snorkelers, or at worst, will pay you a courtesy visit without showing any signs of aggressiveness. Besides these beautiful creatures, it is not uncommon to come across Napoleon fish (Cheilinus undulatus), which particularly like the place, as well as turtles, morays, wrasses, damselfish, surgeonfish and so many other reef species.
Dive into the legendary pass of Tetamanu
The Diving center Tetamanu Diving is integrated within the boarding house. A qualified instructor accompanies groups and all the required equipment is available for rent. It only takes two minutes by boat to access the diving sites. The maximum diving depth does not exceed 30 m and diving conditions are often optimal, namely with weak current, low swell and fair visibility.
Divers swim with the incoming current along the pass and thus have the leisure to observe its numerous inhabitants, which gather there to find food. The climax remains when grey sharks group there, with an estimated population of over 200 individuals.
Discover the splendor of the isle of Birds Motu
The land-based activities offered by Sané and Annabella include a visit to the Isle of Birds Motu. With its turquoise and crystal-clear waters, its white and pink-sandy beaches and the hundreds of birds which have made it their home, this motu is truly delightful. Sané has built a small traditional bungalow using plants for some escapades in the wild. The only concession made to modernity is a kitchen and solar panels. The place is properly maintained with respect for the natural surroundings and no human footprint is visible. Fire is forbidden to avoid producing odours and fumes that could harm the resident bird species. It is possible and strongly recommended to seize the opportunity to enjoy snorkelling outings all around the islet.
Kayak boats are also available to leisurely wander around the lagoon and beyond the pass where the views of the landscape of the motus from the ocean is a must see. At low tide, the sandy bottom uncovers. Carved by the tidal waves are various pictorial shapes, which remind us of the symbols of Maori ancestors.
Crush on paradise
Behind this remarkable boarding house is a single man, Sané. After having navigated for years around the Tuamotu Archipelago as a shipowner and schooner’s captain, the Paumotu seaman has decided one day to settle in this little corner of paradise. He has long coveted the place, which he visited during each of his trips to Fakarava, and his ancestors owned a piece of land there.
When his dream translated into reality, Sané built this little hotel establishment with his own two hands in the heart of the vegetation of the atoll. He has been managing it with his partner Annabella with the same respect for the environment and the same eagerness to share this magic with his guests.
This is an exemplary concept of sustainable development which naturally complies with the criteria of the Tuamotu biosphere reserve.
Close contact with the local culture
Besides the enchanting landscape, any stay in Tetamanu is also an opportunity to get introduced to the local Paumotu culture. Whether they were born in Tahiti or migrated there, the staff as well as Sané and Annabella gladly share their knowledge of cuisine, the environment, fishing or green building. Spending time together during mealtime also creates an opportunity for meeting and sharing experiences.
Sané has a rich experience of navigating around the Tuamotu Islands for decades and observing the Tetamanu site for over ten years. He has taken a backseat regarding the evolution of the fauna and flora, human activity and traditions. He gladly shares his knowledge and observations and is happy to answer guests’ queries.
A haven of peace that has to be deserved
It has long been known that heaven is a place that is hard to find and the Tetamanu boarding house proves the rule. We hoe indeed that it will last as the remoteness of the place contributes to its charm.
It takes 1½ hr by plane from Tahiti to reach Fakarava. Air Tahiti, the local airline which provides air transfers between Tahiti and various islands of the five Polynesian archipelagos, ensures quality service with a very welcome local touch.
Tetamanu Village then takes over the transfer of visitors by boat from the small airport of Fakarava to the accommodation facility. The boat trip takes about 1½ hr with acceptable levels of passenger comfort. The boat has a body that guarantees good seaworthiness, a good motorisation and shelter in case it rains.
Paradise has to be deserved…