Fakarava is the second largest of the Tuamotu atolls. Atolls are circular, oval, or horseshoe-shaped arrays of coral reef islands that are perched around an oceanic volcanic seamount and encircle a shallow central lagoon. The small islands are separated from each other by channels that lead from the sea into the central lagoon.
The shape of Fakarava Atoll is roughly rectangular and its length is 60 km and its width 21 km. Fakarava has a wide and deep lagoon with a surface of 1,112 km² and two passes. The main pass to enter the lagoon, located in its north-western end, is known as Passe Garuae and it is the largest pass in French Polynesia; the southern pass is called Tumakohua.
Fakarava has 701 inhabitants. The main village is called Rotoava. Fakarava is the capital of the commune of Fakarava, which consists of Fakarava, as well as the atolls of Aratika, Kauehi, Niau, Raraka, Taiaro and Toau.