The Tuamotus or the Tuamotu Archipelago are a French Polynesian chain of almost 80 islands and atolls, stretching from the northwest to the southeast over an area of the southern Pacific Ocean roughly the size of Western Europe, with a land area of 850 square kilometers and 16,000 inhabitants, forming the largest chain of atolls in the world. Its major islands are Anaa, Fakarava, Hao and Makemo. So imagine this: you land on a strip of coral, surrounding a glinting lagoon of every hue from lapis lazuli to turquoise – a perfect ring of islets edged with sandbars and ruffled coconut trees. Remember that tropical paradise that appears in countless adverts? Here’s the real thing. As if that weren’t enough, the Tuamotus are billed as ranking among the world’s best dive destinations, and that reputation has never been so justified: the number of dive areas is growing, and a new live-aboard dive boat is launching in 2017. The Tuamotu islands were initially settled by Polynesians, so Tuamotuans share a common culture and language. The people of Tahiti originally referred to the islands as the Paumotus, which means the “Subservient Islands”, until a delegation from the island convinced the French authorities to change it to Tuamotus, which means the “Distant Islands”.