Tikehau - atolls are amazing


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Oceania » French Polynesia » Rangiroa
October 6th 2018
Published: November 6th 2018
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Tikehau is the first true atoll I've visited - and that an atoll exists at all still amazes me. Atolls all used to have volcanic islands in the center of them - corals form a reef around the volcano, with a lagoon between the reef and main island (this was the stage that each of the previous islands I've visited is at). For an atoll, after a realllllly long time, the volcano erodes and sinks into the ocean, but the reef remains. When this happens, the outside of the reef (hopefully) stays healthy. The inner edge of the reef gets less fresh water (or slightly less nutrient filled water?), and slowly dies off, creating limestone. Somehow...and I can't quite explain it...the limestone contributes to the color of the water inside the lagoon. Over time, the ocean grinds the limestone into sand and piles it onto the reef, creating the atoll. They are incredibly flat and barely above sea level - there isn't good soil, so you don't find the variety of yummy fruits that were on some of the other islands. But they're stunning, and it's amazing to stand on the lagoon side of an island so skinny you can here the ocean breaking on the other side a few meters away. It's fascinating that folks were able to survive on them at all - today other than tourism, the industries are fishing, pearl farming and copra production from coconuts - but the sense of people's awareness/integration with the land/resources is stronger on the atolls than I've felt any place else.

Having said all of that, Tikehau was absolutely beautiful. There's a blue lagoon with waters that rival anyplace I've been in prettyness, manta rays and all sorts of other sea life to snorkel with, and lots of kayaking opportunities. I'm not sure if I was rebounding from the number of people on Bora Bora, but it felt incredibly sparsely populated - usually you could have entire beaches to yourself. I want to go back. Immediately.


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