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If you visit Tikehau, you are bound to hear about the Pearl Farm. This old farm (now derelict), located on a small motu in the middle of the lagoon, is indeed one of the atoll’s main underwater attractions. This spot is known for the presence of many manta rays, which come to take advantage of the “cleaning station” to get rid of their parasites by small fish.

Snorkeling in the middle of a school of fish at the Old Pearl Farm
Snorkeling amongst a school of small silver fish at the Old Pearl Farm.

How to go snorkeling at the Pearl Farm

The spot is located in the lagoon of Tikehau, about 4km north of Tuherahera, the main village of the atoll. The snorkeling area is on the edge of a small motu, on which you can see an old pearl farm, now abandoned.

All the hotels and pensions in Tikehau can organize a boat trip for you to snorkel the Pearl Farm. There are tours to the Pearl Farm only (around 2 hours) or day trips, which also include a visit to Bird Island and a barbecue on a pink sand beach.

Old Pearl Farm snorkeling map, Tikehau

Water entrance for snorkeling the Pearl Farm

You will enter the water from your boat.

Snorkeling with manta rays at the Pearl Farm

We mainly come to the Pearl Farm to see manta rays. They regularly come to this place (called a “cleaning station”) to be cleaned by small wrasses, which rid them of the parasites they have on the skin.

Manta ray at the Pearl Farm, Tikehau
A manta ray at the cleaning station.

We usually see them at the foot of the reef (↕18-30ft/6-10m), on sandy beds dotted with a few coral bommies.

Manta rays seem to be rarer than before at this spot, and it is not guaranteed that you’ll spot them the day of your visit. Tours that take place in the morning seem to present the best chance of seeing them.

Blacktip shark at the Old Pearl Farm
Blacktip shark is fairly common at the Pearl Farm, both on the flats and in the deeper areas.

Around the station, you can explore two shallow coral reefs (↕3-6ft/1-2m). On the drop-offs, hundreds of damselfish and sergeant swim around the hard corals.

Wrasse, goatfish, butterflyfish, and surgeonfish are easy to see on the reef, as are blacktip reef sharks, which come and go peacefully in the whole area. In the case of wind or swell, the underwater visibility can become average on this spot.

Tikehau's Old Pearl Farm
View on the motu and the abandoned building of the old pearl farm.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Day trips usually include a barbecue on a beach. Check when booking.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth30ft/10m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsPrice of the 2 hours or half-day snorkeling tour (from XPF2500pp.)

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.