Tikehau, Tuamotu Islands

Photo: Ninamu Resort
Photo: Ninamu Resort

The summer is technically over. Labor Day has come and gone. The US Open is about to crown its winners. And fashion week is underway. But your mind is still focused on the beach. Luckily, French Polynesia’s high season extends until the end of October. So while everyone else is switching out flip-flops and bikinis for boots and corduroys, you’ll have a fall trip planned to help you extend the summer just a little bit longer.

You’re heading to French Polynesia, but not Moorea or Bora Bora, which immediately come to mind. This time, you’re going to Tikehau, in the Tuamotu Islands. It’s located 200 miles north of Tahiti, near Rangiroa. Tikehau means “peaceful landing,” a perfect description of your arrival. The circular, coral atoll is full of long beaches, swaying palm trees, black pearl farms, and swirling lagoons. It’s surrounded by a continuous coral reef. Hibiscus and frangipani line the streets of Tuherahera, the pretty main village. While the tiny airport sits at the southern tip of the island.

From the airport, it’s a quick, 10-minute boat ride to the Ninamu Resort. The owners’ dogs, eager to meet their new friends, greet you upon your arrival. The isolated, all-inclusive resort sits on its own motu, which you easily walk around in 20 minutes. Six handcrafted bungalows are made of gnarled wood and coral. Cool trade winds blow through their coconut-thatched roofs. And coconut crabs greatly outnumber the guests.

Photo: Ninamu Resort
Photo: Ninamu Resort

The resort may be isolated, but there is plenty to keep you occupied. After a breakfast that includes homemade bread and local honey with a water view, go paddle boarding in the calm lagoon. Switch to kiteboarding when the wind picks up. Go scuba diving in Tuheiava Pass. Grey reef sharks and colorful fish like to hang out at the entrance of the atoll’s lagoon.

See uaaus (red-footed boobies) and snow-white fairy terns nesting on Motu Puarua, a quiet nature reserve. Have a picnic lunch on Motu Ohihi, a pink-sand beach on the eastern side of the island. Amazingly, you have the beach all to yourself. Go fishing for giant trevally and Dogtooth tuna. Then grab a surfboard and catch the breaking waves on the west side of the island.

By the time the sun starts to set, you’re exhausted. Mahi-mahi and French wine, courtesy of the resort’s Austrian owners, are waiting for you at Ninamu. You watch the sky turn pink, sip a glass of Burgundy, and make plans to go kayaking in the morning. Lazy beach time will surely follow. Summer has successfully been extended.

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