Located at the south of the Marquesas, this archipelago is made of 76 atolls. After 4 sailing days, the landscape is totally different. No green mountains but deep blue lagoons!
Here, the culture and the language are different too.
We are in the world of colour fishes, sharks and dolphins ! But before to enjoy that, we have to cross the pass. In general, two passes exist in the lagoon where the current is very strong around 7knts...the time schedule of the tide has to be carefully checked and also the time when the sun is high to avoid the coral booms.
Our first pass in the Tuamotu was the Fakarava south pass. Arrived at 5am, we waited until 8o’clock to entry in the lagoon even if the weather conditions were not so good : wind up to 20knots.
This pass was presented in the movie « 700 sharks in the night » produced by Arte in June 2018 (incredible movie to be seen !!!). In snorkelling, with inside current, it is possible to see a lot of grey sharks, white tips but also a lot of several tropical fishes in some coral garden. By diving, at 25 m deep, you can see easily 20 sharks around you.
Inside the lagoon, normally, there are only reef sharks or young sharks then no risk for human. But some accident occurred during fishing or cleaning fishes.
We avoided eating the fishes coming from the lagoon as some could have contracted the ciguatera : it is like a toxin which could create a strong intoxication feeding. And depending of the atolls, the contaminated fishes are not the same. So, we ate only the fishes coming from the sea.
Following Fakarava north and south, our next stop was in Toau. This atoll is quite isolated and few people live there in quasi-autarky. Everything is rare except the fishes and the coconut. No running water and not a lot of drinking water! Then few vegetables, no breeding! Some supermarket can be found but products depend on the ship arrival.
And of course, few medicine care centres, dentist available few weeks in the 3 main cities... if some treatment is needed, you have to fly to Tahiti!! As explained by Gaston and Valentine who live in the Toau’s false pass (opening between the lagoon and the ocean but not enough deep to cross it with a boat). They have a well with few water for the vegetables, they have some pigs, some chicken, a fishes park, some lobsters... they cook for the sailors... this place is enough large for 6 sailing boats... we stayed here sometimes doing some works with them : fishing, cooking and some doing a night hunting to catch the chicken (unforgettable!!).
The life seems harder (in our European point of view) than in the Marquesas islands as there is no big city (except Rangiroa which is very touristic), few water available... the people living here say that they are very happy in this paradise and they didn’t want to live in a big city...
After this very remote island, we arrived in Rangiroa and more precisely in Tiputa pass. A lot of current but also some big dolphins jumping around the boat. These big dolphins live here and have a special behaviour with humans, they can come close to be touched : we had this wonderful experience with “caline” during a diving session.
On this atoll, the touristic activities are strongly developed, the diving spots are worldly known as in addition with this group of big dolphins, some hammer head sharks and tiger sharks can be seen.
The covid crisis has a strong economic effect on all these activities but nobody complains. The life is hard and simple as on the other islands! People works in touristic activities, in some snacks (little restaurants),in some pensions, in making the coprah (coconut) and in fishing.
The next and last stop was in Tikehau to see the hammer head sharks. But we didn’t success in : some sailors have seen one and a tiger shark. We sailed inside the lagoon with someone in front of the boat and the sun high in the sky. Even with this, we were lucky not to touch some booms!!! We visited a motu in the middle of the lagoon where a lot of birds do their nests (terns, madman bird with red feet)... this anchorage is quiet noisy and smelt not very good but it is magic! We went also to the « eden island » where a community cultivate some vegetables and live in religious meaning.
We sailed more far to the west to the Society islands : more crowded island as Bora Bora, Moorea and Papeete on Tahiti island.