French Polynesia - Ile Gambier and the Tuamotus

Our first approach through a pass in an encircling reef was exciting, and once we had passed through the lagoon and dropped anchor in front of the main town of Mangareva, we knew we had arrived in paradise. The smooth turquoise water and swaying palms of Ile Gambier were the perfect backdrop to balmy days spent snorkeling and spearfishing. Trips ashore netted a bounty of tropical fruits and delicious crispy french bread sticks, baked in the tiny bakehouse near the imposing coral cathedral. We also learnt about the exquisite black pearls grown on the island from Bernard and his family, who owned one of the shoreside pearl farms. Our next stop was even more of a tropical paradise, and this time we had it virtually to ourselves. In the absence of a local population, cruising yachts made up the only residents in the atoll of Tahanea in the Tuamotus . We swam, socialised, fished, socialised, and tried to prise juicy coconuts off tall palm trees, with potentially dangerous results...Sneaking off to a motu on the other side of the lagoon, we lived out a truly Robinson Crusoe existence, foraging for meaty coconut crabs and deliciously tender hearts of palm...with only a few nesting sea birds and one another for company.

Polynesian impressions                         click a picture to enlarge

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