Bird Island (l’Île aux Oiseaux) is a small islet lost in the middle of the huge lagoon of Fakarava. It is a popular stop for tours in the atoll’s north side. The reef bordering the island is also a nice snorkel spot, boasting fine coral beds, a great variety of fish and above all a wide population of blacktip reef sharks ceaselessly coming and going in the area.

Blacktip reef shark at Fakarava Bird Island
Blacktip reef sharks are simply unmissable at Bird Island’s reef.

How to get to Bird Island?

Bird Island is located in Fakarava lagoon, at the north-west side of the atoll. Boat tours going to the Blue Lagoon often, but not always make a snorkeling stop here: ask for the complete program when booking. Allow 6000 to 7000 CFP/person for a half-day excursion to the Blue Lagoon and 9000 CFP/person for a full day. The boat trip from Rotoava to Ile-aux-Oiseaux takes about 40 minutes (15 minutes from Ile-aux-Oiseaux to the Blue Lagoon).

Bird Island Fakarava snorkeling map

Getting into the water to snorkel Bird Island

Landing on the islet is impossible. You will put your gear on and enter the water from the boat, moored in front of the reef.

Bird Island snorkeling tips and recommendations

The exploration area encompasses the reef extending at the islet’s west side. This part of the island is sheltered from waves and dominant currents, and water is generally calm, making perfect conditions for snorkeling.

Blenny at Bird Island
Blennies love to hide in the small holes they find in porites coral.

Bird Island’s coral reef is only about 30 meters large. Water is very shallow on the small reef flat, making it impossible to get too close to the shoreline. However, the reef’s external side shapes nice pools (↕2m) ending in a drop-off (↕2-6m) falling rather abruptly to the deep blue (↕>10m).

The reef is well preserved. It is made of great clumps of porites boasting different colors (purple, yellow). A few colonies of branching and digited corals have developed amongst them. Just underneath the water surface, the areas most exposed to light are covered with small giant clams and Christmas tree worms.

Coral reef at Bird Island
Bird Island’s coral reef is healthy, with nice branching corals.

In the pools, you will first be startled by huge schools of juvenile yellowfin goatfish, sometimes disturbed by dozens of Pacific longnose parrotfish (Hipposcarus longiceps). Green chromis are numerous around branching corals bordering the drop-off, just like sixbar wrasses and several surgeonfish species. But the blacktip reef sharks living on the reef are the true attraction in this spot. You will probably see them patrolling peacefully over the drop-off, or deeper down in the blue, where they sometimes come across barracudas.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Bird Island is a wild place, you will find no permanent human presence there. Tours to the Blue Lagoon generally include a snack or a barbecue on the motu.

 

  • Level required Intermediary
  • Maximum depth>30ft/10m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price (from CFP 6000pp., half-day tour)
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.