Vairaatea is a small atoll of the Tuamotu group in French Polynesia. Geographically Vairaatea Atoll is part of the East-central subgroup of the Tuamotus, which includes Ahunui, Amanu, Fangatau, Hao and Nukutavake. Nukutavake, the closest land, lies 41 kilometres (25 miles) to the east.[2]

NASA picture of Vairaatea Atoll
Vairaatea is located in French Polynesia
LocationPacific Ocean
Coordinates19°21′S 139°13′W / 19.350°S 139.217°W / -19.350; -139.217Coordinates: 19°21′S 139°13′W / 19.350°S 139.217°W / -19.350; -139.217
Area13 km2 (5.0 sq mi)  (lagoon)
3 km2 (1 sq mi) (above water)
Length8 km (5 mi)
Width4 km (2.5 mi)
Overseas collectivityFrench Polynesia
Administrative subdivisionTuamotus
Population57[1] (2012)
Location of Vairaatea within the Tuamotu archipelago

Vairaatea Atoll measures 8 kilometres (5 miles) in length and its width is about 4 kilometres (2 miles). Its reef has a roughly triangular shape. There are two long islands on it. The reef completely encloses a 13-square-kilometre (5-square-mile) lagoon.[2] Landing on this atoll is difficult on account of the surf and the lack of a safe anchorage.

In 1989 Vairaatea was inhabited by eight families living in a village at the northern end of Puka Runga, the only inhabited island. According to the 2012 census, there were 57 people living in Vairaatea,[1] a drop from 70 in 1996.


The first recorded European to arrive at Vairaatea was the Spanish explorer Pedro Fernández de Quirós on the 9 February 1606. He named this atoll San Miguel Arcángel. However his captains Prado y Tovar and Vaéz de Torres refer to it as Santa Polonia as it was sighted on the day of this Christian martyr.[3]

Englishman Samuel Wallis visited Vairaatea in 1767. He named it "Lord Egmont". In some maps, it also appears as "Industriel".


Administratively Vairaatea is part of the commune of Nukutavake.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Population". Institut de la statistique de la Polynésie française. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "VAIRAATEA" (PDF). Circonscription des îles Tuamotu et Gambier. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  3. ^ Maude, H.E. Spanish discoveries in the Central Pacific. A study in identification Journal of the Polynesian Society, Wellington, LXVIII, 1959, p.284-326.