Tag Archives: Hiking

Ile Mekiro – The Shallows

We had visited Akamaru a few months ago, prior to the quarantine.  We really enjoyed this little island and had wanted to come back to see if we could get in closer to the shallows on the opposite side of Ile Mekiro. The small Ile Mekiro sits just in front of Akamaru and has no livable space, a teeny tiny beach, and a beautiful white cross at the top of the hill.  Visit this post to learn about our first visit.

The water is incredibly shallow in this area so we had to time our entrance perfectly.  We needed it to be high tide during peak sunshine.  For weeks high tide fell early morning and late night which was not conducive for seeing coral heads threatening to introduce themselves to the bottom of our boat.  On this return trip we had our friends on HooDoo following us – no pressure!

Anchoring in the Shallows

After entering the small channel , we found our way to our previous anchor spot which was 1.4 meters deep.  We eye balled our path and forged ahead in a very slow forward motion.  We passed by three coral heads and made a hard right in a space that barely fit our wide boat.  From there we had to make a best guess at where we could go without touching the sea floor or a coral head.  We successfully made it to the abandoned raft, circled in front of it (avoiding the long line floating off its bow) and on into the inner lagoon near Remy’s house boat. Nothing like a little stress to get your blood pumping. 

The red line marks our approximate track.  The blue “X” is where we anchored last time.  The arrow points to the other side of Ile Mekiro where we anchored.

We ended up dropping the hook in 1.3 meters of sand (we draw about 1.2 meters).  Somewhere in the middle of low tide Matt saw .9 meters under the boat.  Not sure how that happened we did not feel the seabed dance with Sugar Shack

Hiking Ile Mekiro

Ile Mekiro is a small island with a fun hike to the top (following goat trails).  We forged our own path and took some great photos of the bay.  The top photo shows the cross we hiked too and the bottom two are drone shots Matt took of Missy and I resting at the cross.

This drone shot shows all the amazing coral on the northern side of Ile Mekiro making inaccessible.

Missy and I hanging out by the cross as Matt flew the drone

Snorkel on the Westside of Ile Mekiro

While we were at the top of Ile Mekiro we saw a beautiful spot to snorkel.  It looks like a ton of coral which was bound to be beautiful.  We took the dinghy around the island and jumped in.  A black tip and white tip shark hung out with us while we snorkeled.

The coral was incredibly healthy.  I wish I could explain all of the varieties of coral but all I can clearly say is that there were a lot of staghorn and table corals.  The thing that was fascinating was seeing the staghorn grow in between the tables giving a nice depth to the floor.

Hike Along the Ridge

We took HooDoo to the Eastern tip of Akamaru to hike along the ridge.  We had heard that we could collect lemons and pomplemouse by the beach as a bonus.  The arrow in the lower left is the beach where we left the dinghy.  The arrow in the upper right is the rock ledge we hiked to.

We landed the dinghy at a beautiful beach with a small shack.  It had soft sand and lots of trees.  Behind the shack were several fruit trees ripe for the picking. 

It was a moderate hike straight up over rocks on a goat path.

Absolutely beautiful views from the top.  The water is just stunning.

Of course, Matt had to do his jumping stunt near the edge.

And we end the post with a sunset on fire!

Ile Makaroa – The Rocks

New island, new anchorage in Makaroa.  We left Mangareva and headed to the rocks.  There are three islands that make up this southerly set called the rocks.  All three islands are uninhabited and difficult to anchor near.  Our friend had given us some waypoints (locations to anchor) so we thought we would give it a try.

There is no anchorage near Ile Manui.  Ile Makaroa is supposed to be fine for a “day spot” only.  The water is supposedly deep and does not offer good holding.  But there is good snorkeling here.  The last island is Ile Kamaka which has a nice sandy beach.

The three rock islands

The three rock islands

With the current weather, wind, and swell we decided to try Ile Makaroa first.  We drove around looking for a good spot and found a decent sandy area in 6 meters of water.  We added 4 pearl floats to the chain to prevent it from getting tangled on the coral and sat it out to see how the boat sat.

The top photo is of three islands on our approach.  The bottom two are of Ile Makaroa.

It is a bit rolly from the swell, but we decided to stick it out and go exploring.

We decided to stay one more night despite the rolliness.  It is a pretty spot with super clear water.  It is really amazing to look out your window and see the coral at the bottom of the ocean.

Snorkeling in the Rocks

We went for a snorkel to explore the beautiful coral. It is spectacular to see so many varieties of hard coral thriving here.  Staghorn, tables and more.  We were visited by schools of curious fish, large and small.

There were several schools of parrot fish and a few varieties of other small fish hanging around to check us out.

There were also a lot of jelly fish.  Normally I am completely freaked out by jelly fish.  I swim backwards, sideways and out just to get away from them.  But these are not stinging jelly fish.  Matt showed me by touching the inside and outside.  I did manage to touch one on the outside and I was completely surprised at how hard it was!

No Wind Creates Havoc on Our Floats

A good anchorage is one with at least a little wind.  We want the boat to always face the wind to give us a nice breeze inside the boat, to hold the boat in a safe position and to keep her safe.  However, when there is no wind, we do circles and do what we call the anchor dance.  Not really a big deal when you are all alone in an anchorage, but when there are other boats or coral heads you are trying to avoid it can be dangerous.

Our floats decided that quarantine was over and they gathered in a group.    They should be spread out with 7-8 meters in between each float.  Even though they are technically still doing their job of keeping the chain off the coral heads, they should be further away from each other.  The top photo is a view from the bow of our boat. The other two are from underwater showing you how the floats work.

Anchor floats not doing their job

Anchor floats not doing their job

The bottom photo has them all touching each other – don’t they know about covid-19?  Ugh!

Hiking Mont Mokoto

For the past month we have been hiding out in the smaller motus due to the quarantine.  Which has been good in that we have more liberties and no people.  But they are super small and do not offer many opportunities to walk, let alone hike.  Mangareva offers the best hiking in the Gambiers.  There are two mountains, Mont Duff and Mont Mokoto.  Last year we hiked Mont Duff.  We decided to hike Mont Mokoto this year with our friends on HooDoo.

Mont Duff is 441 meters tall and Mont Mokoto is supposedly 423 meters tall.  I say “supposedly” because two of our devices showed it at 430 meters.  So, your guess is as good as mine.  You start out taking the same route for both hikes.  The hike up is about 2.5 miles to the top.  At about 1.5 miles there is a split off where you have to decide which Mont you want to ascend. 

First you hike to the top of the saddle on a paved road under the intense sun.  Then at the turn off you go straight up but you are in the blessed shade of the trees.  Our young friends (under 30) and my goat of a husband attacked the hill with great speed.  I was a bit tamer and slower.  They kindly waited for me several times.

Mont Mokoto’s Trail

This is an example of the path we hiked through the trees in the shade.  There were some areas with boulders and rocks to climb over, but for the most part it was straight up on a nice cleared path.  Half way to the top we had a pretty view of the bay.

Yanell was kind enough to grab a few photos of the photographer. The first is in the midst of the trees

At the top of one of the mountains we could see the view of the top of Mont Mokoto.  In the shot below you can see Missy and Yanell in the foreground.  If you zoom in, you can see Matt almost at the crest of Mont Mokoto.  He is a small speck on the left side almost to the top.

Me trailing behind again, but still on the move!  Almost to the summit and I am so ready to be there already.

Bird Population

There are tons of birds in the Gambiers.  Just before the summit there was a sign explaining a little bit about them.  The four main birds are the white-tailed tropic bird, brown noddy, white, tern, Herald Petrel.  The Herald Petrel is slowly going extinct on the island.  There are less than 50 in the area and only one chick is produced per brood.  They are seen primarily between May and September which is the breeding season.  Their greatest enemies are the rats, cats, dogs, and goats.

View from the Top of Mont Mokoto

We had arresting views at the top of Mont Mokoto.  You could see Rikitea bay (left bay with boats) and the opposite bay which is home to several pearl farms.

Being at the top gave us great views of several other islands in the Gambiers.  First is a photo of Taravai (large island on right) and Agakauitai (smaller on left).

This is a photo of the three “rocks.”  Kamaka is the main island in the center where you can anchor.  The others are either not suitable for anchoring or only suitable for a day stop.

Three rock island

Three rock island

This is Bernard’s island or Aukena.

Aukena Island

Aukena Island

And of course, a photo of the four of us at the top of Mont Mokoto.

Overall, I walked 7.9 miles and over 19,000 steps today.  I made two runs to all the markets and put in extra miles before the hike.  Let’s just say that I was exhausted by the time we got back to the boat.  I showered and crashed on the couch.