The shape of Fakarava Atoll is roughly rectangular and its length is 60 kilometres and its width 21 kilometres. Fakarava has a wide and deep lagoon with a surface of 1,112 square kilometres 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. It has a land area of 24.1 square kilometres.
Fakarava has 837 inhabitants; the main village is called Rotoava.
The Pōmare Dynasty originated here before ruling the island of Tahiti.
The first recorded European to arrive to Fakarava Atoll was Russian oceanic explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen on July 17, 1820 on ships Vostok and Mirni. He named this atoll "Wittgenstein".
Fakarava's inhabitants were evangelized by French Picpus priest Honoré Laval in 1849. The church at Rotoava was dedicated in 1850.
There is a territorial airfield in Fakarava which was inaugurated in 1995.
Fakarava is being classified by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve.