The maramu finally started to dissipate so we took advantage of the break in wind and made the short 30nm sail from Huahine to Tahaa. Raiatea and Tahaa are enclosed in the same reef which has 10 passes. We entered through the Toahotu Pass on the eastern side, went between Raiatea and Tahaa and up the western side to a motu called Tautau. Imagine our surprise when we realized we anchored in front of the “coral gardens” one of the best snorkeling spots in French Polynesia. The photos below show the beautiful pass entrance complete with lush, green hillsides, remote islands, and beachfront property.
We anchored in 10 meters of turquoise, clear water. However, we ended up sitting in 2 meters of water by the time we let out scope. We enjoyed watching a family of sting rays glide by under the boat.
Ile Tautau is “technically” a private island with a small hotel called “Tahaa Pearl Resort” complete with many thatched huts hovering over the water.
By sheer luck, we anchored in front of “ coral gardens ” which lies between the two motus (sandy spits). We had not heard about the coral garden and certainly did not know where it was located – so lucky us!
The coral garden is the most renowned snorkeling spot of Tahaa. This crystal clear water channel, which separates two motus, is located in an idyllic setting in the middle of one of the largest lagoons of Polynesia. While let yourself drift over colorful and preserved corals, you will observe alternately school of butterfly fish, lion fish, brightly colored wrasse, clown fish huddled in their anemones and great giant clams sunbathing right under the surface of the sea.
Coral Gardens is the name of the cut between the two motus. We ended up walking “sweetie” as it got pretty shallow.
It was pretty surprising how shallow the gardens are. We jumped in at about 2 meters and began our swim. As we continued up the cut, the depth varied between 2 meters to 2″ just below our bellies.
A healthy, red, soft sea anemone was busy cleaning several fish. I watched the fish swim in and out of the sea anemone. It was a beautiful dance together.
The fish were particularly curios and friendly coming right up to my mask as I hovered over their underwater home.
Save Coral Gardens
This true to life aquarium was magnificent to swim in – what a blessed opportunity we had exploring this oasis. Typically this is a drift snorkel where the current carries you through the corals and down the channel. However, the weather was screwy with us due to remnants of the maramu and we had no current – which was fabulous. We could swim up and back at our own pace with no current.
Imagine my horror as I researched the history to learn that the years and public have been hard on the environment. The devastation has been exponential which is just heart breaking.
The tour companies bring tourists in by foot and they trample on the coral and sea life. Plus some areas are so shallow you rub or touch the coral as you swim overhead. Not sure how to remedy this other than to shut down certain areas.