The Tuamotus are a group of islands in French Polynesia just west and south of the Marquesan islands about 480 miles. They are know for the black pearls they culture inside the lagoons ans well as luxury hotels with cabanas over the water.
These islands, or rather atolls to be technical, were not what we imagined or expected. They are not islands that have tall mountains like the Marquesan islands. Basically the tuamotus are collapsed islands and the land that is tall enough to be above water are called “motus”. This means the inside is these islands are like a lagoon surrounded by mini islands/motus.
For cruisers..this means calm anchorages (no swell) and some protections from the wind. With this said…we had to go through large enough passes to get inside this wonderful paradise. Personally, I was very nervous planning to go through these passes as currents can be very strong and it is best to travel through the passes at slack tide and with the sunlight behind you to detect coral heads (we called bommies”). As you can imagine, the weather, tides, and sunlight never align perfectly so we had to prioritize which was more important with the information we had. Of course we made it safely but as we timed our entrance, we were welcomed by a squall that reduced visibility and increased wind…gotta love that!!!! We ended up sailing with SV Me Too (Clay, Jill and daughter Briley) and SV Fandango (Ian, Brad and Elizabeth) as we had the same plans to visit the same atolls. Many of our other cruiser friends took another route through the Tuamotus.
Most importantly we loved the tuamotus and the people there. Here are photos of the 2 atolls we visited.
We stayed here about a week as weather blew over us. Town was very small and was sparsely populated. Fruits and vegetables are delivered by ship, just like the marquesa but because there is no real soil, it is hard to grow anything. There was a small store we got flavored ice in a plastic cup but no restaurant, no provisions, just wonderful people and beautiful coral to snorkel..literally in “our back yard”.
Rangiroa Atoll –
Rangiroa is a large and more populated atoll, both with locals and cruisers and tourists, than Ahe. Our days were filled with activities.
Snorkeling the Aquarium, snorkeling the pass, and a trip to the Blue Lagoon – 4 boats decided to travel across the atoll and navigate through the coral to the Blue Lagoon…literally a lagoon inside of a lagoon!
Winery Tour – This is the only winery on an atoll in the world so of course we had to go. The tour was almost all in French but whatever….. Soil has been brought in, the fermentation happens on Rangiroa, then sent to Tahiti for bottling and distribution. A bottle costs about 20-25 usd but worth it to taste a local wine.
Up next will be our trip to Tahiti and the other society islands : )