After one night of sailing from Takaroa we headed towards Fakarava. In all tourist brochures, books, leaflets and by listening to friends on Facebook as well as native people from the French Polynesia: every single one said that Fakarava at the Southern pass, is by far the most beautiful atoll in the Tuamotus. Everyone was right and it is not until you see it yourself that you really understand why!
Fakarava is the second largest atoll in Polynesia by its surface covering 2000 km. Its reef crown is rectangular shaped, 60 km long and 25 km wide. Fakarava is the ex capital of the Tuamotus. Along with six of its neighbouring islands they have been named Natural Biosphere, launched by UNESCO in 1971. The 80 island’s and atoll’s dry land represents only 775 km2. The 17 000 Tuamotus inhabitants constitue only 8% of the Territory population of the French Polynesia. They use a dialect close to Tahitian called Paumutu. The island is known for its idyllic sites and emerald waters. Fakarava reveals a luxurious fauna and flora, allowing exceptional snorkelling and diving.
On the 9th of April we enter the Pass of Tumakohua with the current against us. However the pass being so wide the pass should be easy to go through.
Fakarava’s two main villages are Rotoava and Tetamanu. We are now passing the Village of Tetamanu at Fakarava South.
Passing the village we motored towards the North. Louise was standing at the bow of the boat to spot eventual shallow corals…. The water being so clear it is difficult to get a grip of how deep or the shallow the water is….until BANG! Yes we touched ground with the current against us.
Very quickly a dinghy with American tourists as well as a diving boat came to our rescue and managed to get us loose from the reef. Puh… After reflexion we had relied to much on just following Heidi and did not maximise our chart to see it more accurately. We admit that we did a “Vestas” (those who know what happened to the Volvo Ocean Race yacht Vestas in the Indian Ocean)!
After coming loose and finding a nice anchoring we dived under the boat and could consider that no big damaged was done, just some corals scratches under the keel. We then took our dinghy ashore and took a nice walk along the village of Tetamanu. We would rather call it an assembly of a few houses, one restaurant, a diving shop as well as a few bungalows. Very pittoresque, clean, beautiful and with a sense of harmony.
Here and there we found these nice pieces of art hanging outside the bungalows.
Coming to the restaurant we took a sundowner and chatted with the Chef.
This is his kitchen and just below him are hungry black tip sharks waiting for the fish leftovers...
The next morning we woke up to this: sharks all around our boat! First one shark, then a few more and more and more and more. What a sight! We did not feel like taking our morning dip this morning. However we were told that the black tip sharks are friendly (smaller ones with a black spot on top of the fin) and not to feed the grey sharks (the bigger one)… haha like we would! It was an amazing welcoming to Fakarava and Alex and Inez counted and counted the sharks endlessly.
After this spectacular scenery we found this on the deck...?!? A safety pin! In which whole does it belong to? The only answer is to climb up the mast. After breakfast, Louise was winched up the mast with tools and off course the camera.
Louise found the whole where the missing safety pin had fallen off: where the forstay is fitted on top of the mast! A big whole was empty from its safety pin. Looked really scary! It is a pretty vital safety pin, so with a new safety pin, a screw driver and some tape the forstay was now secured. On the way down Louise could admire the beautiful landscape Fakarava offered.
Some pictures of Take Off and the family.
On the way down view of some motus (small islets) and the ocean outside Fakarava.
After the day’s fix and work we went off to snorkel at the Pass of Tumakohua. We were told that the passes always have the clearest water due to the current, often pretty strong current, coming in or going out.
So off we went... Two kids excited to go snorkelling with the sharks!
We drove with the dinghy through the pass so we arrived into the ocean. As the tide was going in we jumped off the dinghy and let us float into the pass with the tide hanging on to our dinghy after us. What a ride! At first it was pretty calm and the visibility amazing: up to 30 meters!
Snorkelling now towards the pass itself the current became stronger and it became a real a fun ride through the cristal clear waters of Fakarava with an amazing view over the rich sea life!
Here we are right by the restaurant with all the black tip sharks waiting for the fish left overs.
Cécile and Daniel found this place perfect for Raphaël’s first dive lesson.
In the evening we came back to the village of Tetamanu and visited Tuamotu’s first church build in coral in 1874.
We had dinner with Heidi at the restaurant and enjoyed a lovely buffet of typical Polynesian food.
We continued snorkelling at the pass every day and could not have enough of it. Coming back Alex and Inez still full of energy found these clothes to play with… haha.
The day we left we paid a quick swim visit to the motu we had been anchored nearby to
Leaving Fakarava, we could have easily spent a whole week here, we are happy we got the privilege to have experienced this paradise on earth!