Our South Pacific Fairy Tale

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Oceania » French Polynesia » Fakarava
April 15th 2013
Published: April 17th 2013
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Once upon a time, in a beautiful blue ocean far, far away, there stood a family of rugged mountain volcanoes. But there was trouble in paradise. The villainous ocean insidiously attacked and eroded it’s volcanic inhabitants. With time, the mountain peaks relented to the ever punishing ocean and eventually sank away, leaving only perimeter rings of earth material as evidence of their former presence. With time, coral colonized on the land and grew to create strange looking ring shaped islands containing large protected lagoons within. As with all fairy tales though, this ends happily ever after. For within the lagoons, life once again became a paradise providing for all sorts of creatures.

Such was how we found existence on and around the atoll of Fakarava in the Tuamotu islands. Warm, moist, and oh so colorful. Like Cinderella living out my own modern fairy tale, I had to pinch myself to believe I was really here! Blues and greens abound – enough to make a Feng Shui expert want to set up camp. When the island breeze glides through the coconut palms, a soothing sound like distant soft applause gently accompanies it. Aromas of coconut and perfume like tiare flowers
Our 30 year honeymoon shackOur 30 year honeymoon shackOur 30 year honeymoon shack

Loads of flowers bloomed daily providing beauty and privacy on the porch.
waft through the island air. This is a place where islanders struggle to voice or even think of what could be considered a “source of stress”. “Hmmm, maybe there is trouble when unwatched goods, unloaded from the boat, could be stolen. Sometimes there is theft.” Also, “delay in supplies by boat is sometimes a problem”. With only 800 inhabitants, too small for a gas station, islanders cooperate together to purchase fuel in tanks of 200L volume. Also, natural grown fruit and vegetable variety is small. Yet, fresh fish, coconut, and rainwater can always readily be found and much of the island can be traversed via bicycle or scooter. Compare these problems to those of my home area of Detroit…..painful even to begin to entertain such thoughts.

Like Fakarava’s human inhabitants, the marine and land living species are equally benign. “What do I need to fear?” I ask Joachim, the host of our pension. “Ah, really nothing. There are some nurse sharks and reef sharks who come to visit, but don’t be afraid.” Even the mosquitoes are easily dissuaded by lit coil in our open air, lagoon beachside hut. So, covered in sunscreen and high spf sportswear, we
Family owners of Havaiki pensionFamily owners of Havaiki pensionFamily owners of Havaiki pension

Joachim, Havaiki (her Tahitian name) and their daughter were a daily presence. They work very hard to provide their guests with a wonderful stay. Always cheerful.
explored paradise. There were sunrise mornings on the ocean (5 minute bike ride), sunset evenings on the lagoon, daytime snorkeling and exploration excursions, kayak and bike rides as far as our little arms and legs could take us, and always the feeling of complete freedom from time, danger or other such deterrents of life enjoyment. What better way to celebrate our 30 years of matrimonial bliss?

Fakarava is one of earth’s protected biosphere reserves. The strong ocean current which enters via the north and south passes of the island provides an atmosphere conducive to healthy coral growth. Blacktip sharks, humphead ”Napolean” wrasse, leopard rays, parrotfish, numerous colorful tiny fishes, giant morays, long trumpet fish, and Tahitian black pearl farms were some of the things we particularly enjoyed encountering. On one trip to the south pass, famous among those in the diving world, we found ourselves careening over the beautiful coral slope as multiple varieties of reef fish swam below us, sharks swam all around us – close enough to reach out and touch, and schools of surface fish swam along beside us. Our group of 12 snorkelers caught in a fast ocean freeway, swirling along with
Matt's officeMatt's officeMatt's office

"Meet me at the office" Anytime honey! We enjoyed lunches, shade, and just hanging out here. Water warm as a bath. Didn't even need a beach towel.
little control to change direction. Woo hoo!

For some, undoubtedly, Tahiti and Bora Bora could be considered the ultimate luxury beach vacation. And perhaps, someday we’ll return to French Polynesia to explore the Society Islands. But I am satisfied and so thankful to have chosen the less traveled path. I’m happy to have suffered the absence of AC, hot running water, cell phones, pools, and night clubs in order to just begin to experience in some small way the simpler life of paradise as begun so many millions of years ago when the mountain tops were exchanged for lagoons.

The End.

Additional photos below
Photos: 49, Displayed: 24



We swam with so many blacktip shark that we gained comfort sharing the water together. Still, looks a bit menacing in this shot from one of our fellow snorkelers.

My daily attire

In Papeete, Tahiti, the farmers market holds island treasures like monoi oil, vanilla, fresh tuna, black pearls, and for us, a hot take out local lunch.
Island colorsIsland colors
Island colors

Beautiful bolts of material in Tahitian style.
Havaiki expressHavaiki express
Havaiki express

Island music resonates, island air breezes through, and Joachim smiles and laughs as he drives us to Havaiki.
Ocean shorescapeOcean shorescape
Ocean shorescape

We so enjoyed exploring the creatures of the ocean shore and walking out nearly to the reefs edge to experience the pounding waves. Powerful!
Timid little beach crabTimid little beach crab
Timid little beach crab

Matt enjoyed removing the rocks he hid under and watching him scurry to find shelter.
Seeking gruelSeeking gruel
Seeking gruel

The arms of this strange creature crept out from under a rock and little tendrils spread looking like a cat reaching paws out from underneath the bed skirt.
Havaiki crossingHavaiki crossing
Havaiki crossing

Bikes, restaurant, kayaks, gym, ping pong, and beach are the things we enjoyed while staying here - all included in the daily rate.
That's why they call them "chicken"!That's why they call them "chicken"!
That's why they call them "chicken"!

One rainy morning, I looked out to see the chickens all gathered for refuge under the beach cabana.

This ubiquitous fragrant flower represents Tahiti.
Sunset off the officeSunset off the office
Sunset off the office

Our dining table and "office" set against the sunset and an amazing sailing yacht.

28th May 2013

Your blogs and photos are So Wonderful!
Thanks very much for taking the time to write your blogs and share photos! We've explored French Polynesia many times since our honeymoon in 1980 and will be exploring Fakarava in January 2014 while on a cruise....not the same vibe as a land stay but better than nothing! We've spent time on land stays in Manihi, Tikehau, and Rangiroa and are excited to go to Fakarava. Have you been to the Marquesas? Try to add it to your visit to the the Societies....very sauvage. AND we really enjoyed your China blog and photos.....wow!! That hike was incredible!!! HAPPY Trails and many thanks for sharing your experiences. Best, Brooke
26th June 2013

Thanks, you made my day!
I truly appreciate your comments and even have learned a new word - "sauvage". I like it! If this is how the Marquesas are, then this is one I will add to my list to visit. You are going to LOVE Fakrava. Don't miss the screaming, streaming, flying snorkel over the reef at the South Pass. Wow, there's so much to see in this world! Enjoy it all!

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