This is the third and final part of French Polynesia in photographs and a few more words as I have brief diary notes from this trip 😎 . The context is introduced in Part 1, where you will see photographs of the island of Tahiti. Part 2 features the islands of Mo'orea and Rurutu. I have sized the images to a width of 1680 pixels, so if you'd like to zoom in, you can use the right-click (CTR-click) options to 'view image' for more detail.
- click here if you would like to read the first part in this series
- click here if you would like to read the second part in this series
In this post I present photographs from a trip to the atoll of Fakarava, 431 km NE of Tahiti. An atoll is formed when the volcano which gave birth to the island, starts to erode and subside. As it sinks, the crater forms a lagoon in the center and coral reefs grow on and around the rim. The result is an incredibly beautiful geological formation.
Island Atoll of Fakarava | 431 km NE of Tahiti
The atoll of Fakarava is roughly rectangular in shape. The inner lagoon is approximately 60 km long and 20 km wide. The land of the atoll itself is only a few hundred meters wide in places and never more than a few meters above sea-level. There is an airport to serve the population of just under 850 humans. Fakarava is the destination, and this is the trip, which will remain with me as the achetypal experience of tropical paradise. I personally think I have saved the best post in this series for last 😌.
We arrived around 10am after an hour or so's flight in which I had chosen my seat incorrectly. I had the sea, rather than a view of Tahiti out of the window. Did get to see some atolls on the way though. No matter, Fakarava surpasses everything I had imagined it to be. A narrow stretch broken in two places, one of the openings almost a kilometer wide. The water inside the lagoon is clear blue and it is teeming with fish. We are a party of 8. M and I have one of the four 'family' bungalows in Pension Havaiki, which also runs an Oyster farm. We were taken snorkeling to see it and collect some of the poor buggers.
Snack Teanuanua (rainbow)
Lunch is a couple of hundred meters up the road, overlooking the lagoon - sea between trees which drip into the water. Plenty of fish, including rays, passed as we ate. Everyone relaxed. No pot, doesn't matter, not really needed. Anyway I'm glad of the relatively clear head required to socialise. It's 15.30 now, 30 plus degrees, and into the water for me!
Motu Island Picnic
We're on a motu, diametrically across the lagoon from the pension where we are staying. It is full of coconut palms, one of which C - just turned 60, scrambled up unaided in a few seconds and kicked down half a dozen or so ripe coconuts. There is a warm and shallow little lagoon enclosed within the motu and there are lots of fish. Even saw a number of little sharks which came right to the edge of the water to feed on the guts of fish that C had caught.......On the way back across the lagoon we were followed for a while by a school of Manta Rays swimming a meter or so below the surface. Also spotted a sleeping shark and a big fish jumped out of the water in front of us.
Fishing, Sunsets & Aerial views of Atolls on the return
It's been great, snorkeling and kayaking at sunrise and sunset, eating well and having a total chill. Went scuba diving yesterday with M, Y and N. 47 minutes under, to a max. depth of 12.6 meters. Fantastic 3-dimensional aquarium with little and big fish of all colours. At one stage 3 or 4 Gray Sharks appeared one after another and circled curiously, just 10 meters away from us. Saw a few large Murray Eels and all varieties of coral life.
My camera is at least functioning now, after I foolishly took it on the boat when the others went fishing. A massive wave soaked me when I was standing at the front with it hanging around my neck. At first I thought it was a gonner, but apart from the viewfinder being fuzzy it seems to be working. Fishing yielded 3 fish, including a 13 kg 'Mahi-Mahi' (dolphinfish) which which was caught in the first 10 mins of leaving the lagoon and heading out into the wide Pacific Ocean. What really impressed me was its desire to live – it remained alive for almost half an hour, despite all sorts of blows and even a knife thrust in the head, thrashing about like crazy until it was covered in a sack and its movements subsided. I had nothing to do with it of course, just watched in scared fascination. At one point a number of Dolphins played along, jumping out of the water alongside the boat - camera was kaput.