Hao, or Haorangi is a beautiful little island in the southern end of the Tuamotus. It reminded me of Rikitea in that there is one main road where almost all the “important” things can be found. Including three markets or “magasins” (pronounced magazines), the Gendarmerie (police), Mairie (Mayor’s office), post office, two churches, and an events center. The street is meticulously maintained and each house has beautiful plants blooming in their front yard. There are fruit trees all over the place including papayas, passion fruit, oranges, coconuts, and bananas. The anchorage in the lagoon (inside the atoll) showcases a variety of hues of blues and was clear enough to see our anchor chain and floats.
Hao was previously the site of a large French Navy base which supported the nuclear testing activities in the southern atolls. In 2002 or 2003, the large base was shut down, but the Navy still maintains a small presence on Hao. If you can believe this…193 nuclear tests were performed between 1966-1996! Several thousand military personnel and dependents lived here. The old base feels like a ghost town and this atmosphere even pervades adjacent Otepa, the main village of Hao. Though the base closure has had predictable economic and social impacts on the community the residents with whom we spoke were happy to have the military gone and the nuclear testing ended.
We walked around the base and all that is left are abandoned buildings and a monument.
Lazy Days in Hao
I had a slight medical issue, which I will explain in the next blog. It was not too serious, but it prevented me from getting in the water and walking a lot. Kind of puts a damper on our explorations of this beautiful island. Luckily, it was not a large island and we could visit the entire village and see the rest of the island by dinghy.
When we arrived a trimaran, named “Triple Shot” was anchored by the main dock. We had met and assisted them with the entrance into the Gambiers. They were extremely helpful and gave us some information on where to go to find the hospital, where to find internet and provisions. Unfortunately, they left the day after we arrived, but I am sure we will see them again. This is a shot of the main dock during the day and night – breathtaking!
We also knew a few of the boats that were located in the old marina. Atanga was anchored next to us for several weeks in Mangareva and Sailmore was anchored near us in several of the Gambiers islands. Nikki from Sailmore became a great resource and sundowner friend. She is British, but lives in Switzerland and speaks Swiss German, French and English. She regaled us with many funny stories!
Exploring Hao on Shore
There are only two places to get access to the internet on Hao. The Mairie offers free, albeit slow, internet between 1600-2300 and on the weekends. Then, there is a hostel which offers a rather decent speed of internet down the road. The only thing they ask is that you buy beverages from them. Sometimes they have the drinks (juice, water, coffee) and sometimes they go next door to the market, buy them and resell them to you. Either way, they were lovely and did not mind us sitting there for hours each day. Being able to get some internetting done was a huge bonus as we had very little access for the past several months. We were able to catch up on blog posts, orders and emails.
This photo shows one of the roads on the Pacific side of the island. We are on the lagoon side.
We explored a few places on the Pacific side of the island, they were full of broken coral, rocks and a bit of debris. But still pretty
Matt went up the mast to repair our wifi antennae and captured some beautiful photos. In addition, he took a shot of the boat.
We spent most of our time relaxing, reading, working on blog posts and preparing for large orders of stuff for me to bring back from the states.