Tikehau has much better beaches than either Rangiroa or Manihi, and you can wade from them into the lagoon near your accommodations for excellent snorkeling. The Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort, Relais Tikehau, and the pensions can organize boat trips out on the lagoon to little deserted islets such as Motu Ohihi, on the eastern edge of the atoll, where you can swim off a pink-sand beach. Out in the lagoon are Motu Puarua and Motu Oeoe, the so-called Bird Islands, where noddy birds and snowy-white fairy terns nest. These trips often include stops at a black-pearl farm and one of the fish farms, which provide so much of Tikehau's income. In a modern twist on the ancient stone Polynesian fish traps, such as at Maeva on Huahine, the locals use bait to lure fish inside the traps and a maze of chicken wire to keep them from escaping. Prices vary from about 7,000CFP (US$88/£44) per person for snorkeling trips to about 11,000CFP (US$138/£70) for a full lagoon excursion, including a picnic on a small islet.
Tikehau's best diving is in and around Tuheiava Pass, the one navigable entry into the lagoon. You will see graytip and blacktip sharks and the occasional manta ray, but the appeal here is the enormous population of colorful fish. Manihi Blue Nui Dive Center, based at the Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort (tel. 96.23.01; www.bluenui.com), is one of the best in French Polynesia, with top-of-the-line equipment and hard-topped boats with ladders. Raie Manta Club (tel. 96.22.53 or 72.89.08; http://raiemantaclub.free.fr) serves the pensions in Tuherahera village. They charge about 6,500CFP (US$81/£41) per one-tank dive and teach PADI certification courses. Raie Manta has snorkeling trips for 2,000CFP (US$25/£13) per person.