Tahanea is an uninhabited atoll known for its active passes teaming with manta rays, sharks, large fish, and beautiful coral. Many of our cruising friends proclaimed this to be their favorite spot in all of French Polynesia. We were looking forward to experiencing this rare beauty for ourselves.
This atoll is considered uninhabited. However, locals come four months out of the year to harvest copra and one man lives here as the “guardian.” During our visit, only the guardian was on hand.
We were in need of some fun after our productive day of repairing the port shifter cable and windlass remote. Matt and I went exploring on one of the close motus. It was low tide which meant we could walk out to the reef. Most of the motus are covered in broken coral and shells with very little sandy areas. But we had fun walking around and found a ton of eels hiding under rocks in less than 3” of water!
Happy hour on Sugar Shack
We invited our friends on Rhapsody (Ada and John), Easy (Mike), and Imani (Doreen and Mark) over for happy hour. We had tons of tuna and wanted to share. Mike came over to help us clean the fish. We had some great fun feeding the left overs to the sharks off the back of the boat.
We’ve had some rain storms. But, after each one we were rewarded with rainbows. The top photo is Rhapsody and the bottom is Easy.
The wind has been squirrely. Sometimes we have no wind and our floats bunched together. Which is not good for scope. The proper way the floats should be all in one line (top photo). The bottom shows them all bunched up.
We gathered the troops (Rhapsody and Easy) and headed to snorkel the pass which is known to have Manta Rays. There was a light incoming current as we drifted from the sea into the lagoon. It was brimming with beautiful coral, fish, and sharks. We were on the hunt for manta rays. After an hour, we headed to the other side of the pass. Still no luck. We had been out for about 90 minutes and were a little pruny. Just as we were organizing everything in the dinghy, we spotted a manta ray – the hunt was on!
The manta rays use the pass to feed on plankton. They open their expansive mouths, collect their food, and glide away. Their fins or wings are so powerful that they create a stream of light bubbles off the tips (bottom photo). It was so amazing I nearly cried.
These were not ginormous, but they were huge creatures. It’s as if I could swim into the valley of their mouth and be swallowed hole.
The manta rays are curious and swim close to you, but then turn away as they had business to attend to – feeding.
It was truly a magical and mystical experience for me. These creatures are majestic and so smooth as they casually fly through the sea. I will always remember this amazing experience!
Maiden Drone Voyage
Matt has tried and tried and tried to fly the new drone. Unfortunately for us they have no instructions. Believe it or not, they send you to YouTube to watch instructional videos. All sounds good until you don’t have wifi! Lucky for us, Matt was able to download a few videos before we left the wifi zone. Then we could not fly it because we were in no-fly zones (near airports) in Rangiroa and Fakarava. Seriously? Finally, we arrive in Tahanea with no airports, no wind, and space to take the maiden voyage.
Lots of controls on the game boy type remote. Matt did a great job for his first time out. Can’t wait until he gets better, smoother, and in more control. Stay tuned for more great aerial shots!
We grabbed Mike and went to explore another motu off Tahanea. It is located near the middle pass which we used to enter the lagoon. We had seen some beautiful rock towers and wanted to check them out. Mike and Matt in dink and on shore working on flying the drone.
Some people, most likely cruisers have been busy! Can you see what is hidden in the top photo?
Our friends on Rhapsody took this amazing photo of Sugar Shack at sunset. No wind, still, and breathless.
New Friends on Imani
We met some new friends on a boat called “Imani.” Doreen and Mark have raised their two kids and lived on the boat for the past 25 years. Mark is an artist and jeweler and graciously invited us over to look at his work. He converted one of the hulls into a workshop that had a buffer and metal press to create all sorts of amazing jewelry. You can check out and order his work on etsy (etsy.com/marcgounard/shop).
His jewelry is incredibly unique and one of a kind. He works with stones, gems, pearls, metal and more.
Rhapsody, Imani, and Easy all decided to head to Makemo while Matt and I stayed in Tahanea but went to a different anchorage. We hope to meet up with them on one of the northern atolls or the Marquesas. We motor sailed the 7nm to the “7” anchorage. This spot got its name because it looks like a “7” from the Google Earth imagery.
What an incredibly peaceful and serene spot. We dropped the hook in 3 meters of sandy water and did not have to use the floats! Thank goodness. What a striking spot. Turquoise waters, small islets covered in towering palm trees and a large variety of birds. We explored the two small motus and admired all the beautiful birds.
Brown boobies, red boobies, sandpipers and more make this atoll home.
I loved capturing these birds in flight. The contrast of their translucent white wings against the blue sky was striking.
We found another motu at the “C” anchorage that had lots and lots of babies. The red boobies (with red feet) nest in the low trees whereas the blue boobies (blue feet) nest on the ground.
Mama red foot boobie with her fluffy baby
This is a juvenile blue foot boobie who has yet to lose its fluffy baby feathers
We found lots of babies, both red and blue foot boobies – they are all fuzzy white and so cute. We even found some eggs in a nest on the ground.
Its so funny to see these young palm trees. The coconuts fall off trees, go into the ocean and land on the shores. Then the start to grow and eventually plant themselves. These young trees all planted where they landed.
Sugar Shack at the “7” anchorage sitting pretty and owning it.