Fakarava - my new favorite place on earth

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October 10th 2018
Published: November 12th 2018
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Fakarava was my last real stop in French Polynesia, and is my new all time favorite. A tiny atoll (although around one of the biggest lagoons in the world), and an UNESCO Biosphere reserve, Fakarava is probably best known as a diving destination famous for its "walls of sharks". This isn't an exaggeration, there are sharks everywhere. Most of the island's residents (I think approx 800?) live near the north pass, working to produce copra or as pearl farmers. This area was stunning, but my favorite was at the other end of the lagoon near the south pass. There's a mostly abandoned village called Tetamanu - it was originally built to be the center of the island and is made almost entirely out of coral, but today only a handful of families(e.g., 3-4) live there and there's an interesting array of abandoned buildings (including a one room jail cell). More importantly, this is the site of the best snorkeling I've ever seen. By far. My first day, the boat dropped us in and I got goosebumps because it was so beautiful. Crystal clear water - I think you could see down well over 100 feet - beautiful coral and oodles and oodles of fish. Also oodles and oodles of sharks - small white tip/black tip, but also quite a variety of larger guys (lemon sharks, what was described to me as "gray" sharks) - there were several points where I could see dozens of them swimming around below me. Plus eagle rays and giant napoleon wrasse and I could go on and on. On shore, there was a fantastic dog named Manu who spent his time shark hunting (I never saw him catch one, but he was so determined that I think he must've had success at some point). I will be returning as soon as possible...

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