Tag Archives: atoll

Ta Ta Tahanea

After our 5-day passage, we arrive at the Tahanea pass with 4 knots of outgoing current.  Not ideal for our incoming arrival.  But we power up the engines and make it through the pass with no problems.  Yeah us!

Anchoring in Tahanea can be “tricky” as you have to avoid getting your anchor stuck or your chain wrapped around one of the gazillion bommies (little black marks in the photo).  In the middle of the photo is shows the pass where you enter the lagoon.  You can see there is an outgoing current at the time of the phot.

As we were approaching the Tahanea pass we saw a rather large cruise ship on AIS.  Super strange as these are not the “normal” cruising grounds for that type of vessel.

The World

A completely foreign occurrence happened the morning we arrived in Tahanea.  Typically, you will only see a small handful of other sail boats here.  However, a rather large, 196-meter cruiser ship entered the pass and dropped the hook right behind us!  WTF!  Seriously, why would you bring tourist here when there are NO services.  OMG What is this world coming to? 

The cruise ship is called “The World” and it is the world’s largest privately owned yacht.  All of the cabins are privately owned (like condos) and evidently you have to be worth over $5M to be considered for a cabin.  A 700’ cabin will run you about $300,000.  But you will be draped in luxury.  Lucky for us, they left around 5:00pm the same day and we had our anchorage all to ourselves again.  Matt said it “farts rainbows.”

 Boobies, Boobies, and more Boobies

As you know by now, boobies are a type of bird that are super common in French Polynesia.  There are red foot, blue foot, and brown foot boobies.  And they are all super fabulous

There are lots of nesting motus where the a large variety of birds mate.  We enjoy seeing them, but keep our distance so as not to scare them off.

The adolescent boobie (top left) was with a friend and they literally walked or rather waddled up to us.  I took the funniest video (check it out on my instagram account).

 The boobies in Tahanea nest in the trees and on the ground!

Some of the young adult boobies are super curious.  One little guy decided he wanted onboard Sugar Shack!

 Turtle Nest

On one motu we spied these tracks from the water to a spot below a tree.  They were turtle tracks – most likely a large turtle like a leatherback!  One set of tracks left the momma up to the nest and one set of tracks left her back to the water.

A little Relaxation Station

We head to a motu near the eastern most pass and discover a small village.  It is used as a communal area for locals visiting from other atolls.  They even built an outdoor seating area.

 Tahanea Anchorages

 The anchorages here are simply breathtaking!  It is so difficult to express in words so here are a few photos.

 And my favorite anchorage, called “7”  The reef makes a natural “7” in the lagoon.

Tahanea 7 Anchorage

Tahanea 7 Anchorage

So very beautiful.  Our anchorage near the pass at sunset.

We take our time migrating from Gambier to Tahiti (see migration post).   The migration began 25 Feb. in Gambier and ended on 26 March in Tahiti.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.

Astounding Amanu

This little atoll called Amanu has proven to be a true hidden gem.  The turquoise water is so clear that you can see 15-18 meters deep.  The corals are healthy, the motus are lined with beautiful, swaying palm trees, and the locals are friendly.

Sugar Shack at Amanu

Sugar Shack at Amanu

Amanu has gifted us with many beautiful rainbows (after a free boat wash).

And of course, gorgeous sunsets.

Amanu sunset

Amanu sunset

Sugar Shack seems to have found a little slice of heaven on the southeast side of Amanu.

Anchored in Amanu

Anchored in Amanu

Matt is happy here as well.

Kite boarders love this area because it is windy and shallow.  A young couple who have a kite school out of Fakarava were here with a charter.  They gifted us with many hours of free entertainment.  Pretty spectacular what they can do in high winds and seas. 

They were pretty far from us, but I tried to zoom in to capture them in the air.

Motus around Amanu

We explore lots and lots of motus.  So many that I cannot name them all because they don’t have names on our charts.  We walk from one motu, across small bodies of water to another motu and carry on until we get tired.  The terrain on the motus differs wildly.  From afar, there appears to be beaches. 

But very rarely do you find sandy shores.  The shores are usually covered in coral.  Broken coral, ranging in various sizes, and shells cover the shores. 

As you get to the windward side of the motus the coral is much larger.  These can be a little harder to walk across. 

And of course, you cross over many bodies of water in between.  Sometimes, during low tide you just have the sea bed (top left photo).  Often times you have ankle deep water (top right).  And other times you have a little sand (bottom right) and yet other times you have hard packed coral in between the bushes (bottom left).

The terrain of the motu

The terrain of the motu

We crossed over several low water crossings, using sandy spits to navigate to shore.  Some where above water, some below by 1′ and some as much as 3′.

One lone palm stood out on a motu.  We had to go visit it.  Do you see the palm way in the distance in the top photo?

A Whale inside the lagoon

We spotted two whales inside the Amanu lagoon!  What a treat.  Unfortunately, I did not have the large camera out to get good shots of this graceful creature.  But I did grab a few shots with my phone. 

She was about 100 meters (one football field) away. 

A whale inside the lagoon

A whale inside the lagoon

I loved watching the tale gently glide under the water only to see the spout shortly after.

The beautiful whale tail

The beautiful whale tail

Amanu has surprised and wowed us! 

Events from this blog post occurred around the 1st week of December, 2020.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.

The Arresting Beauty of Amanu

Matt and I spent several days exploring the motus all around our anchorage.  We found little passageways between the reefs that allowed us to bring Sweetie closer to the motu.  The first day was really blind ambition.  We had set out with no water, no money and a curiosity to see the small spits of land that make up the ring around Amanu.

On our first adventure netted lots of sea treasures.  We only collect shells from the beach and always make sure they are uninhabited.  The strange thing is that most of the really beautiful shells are occupied.  We gently put them back where we found them and walk away with a pout.

The water is still warm, but not as warm as in Tikehau.  We explore all the way out to the reef (can you find Matt in the photo)?

We walk across dead coral, shards of coral, and broken shells.  Some areas are shallow water where you have to avoid the millions (not exaggerating) of sea cucumbers.  I swear Amanu is the breeding ground for all of the world’s sea cucumbers.  Ick!

Walking across shallow water proves to be more challenging then you’d think.  Between trying not to step on the sea cucumbers, walking around the coral and avoiding the holes.

We found a road that looked like it would lead to town.  But we had already walked a few miles with no water and since we had no money, we decided to walk to town another day.

The Town of Amanu

The next day, we headed out more prepared.  We had water, money, Band-Aids, and a burning desire to see the town of Amanu.

We decided to take the road into town and walk the beach on the way back.  It did not take nearly as long to get town as we thought but then again, we went straight there instead of exploring the motus (since we did that the day before).  The walk around town and round trip ended up being about 4.6miles.

The town is super small and consists of the following:

  • Magasin (market) with only basic dry goods (no fresh)
  • Le Maire (mayor’s office)
  • Clinic
  • OPT (post office)
  • Two cemeteries
  • Church
  • Many abandoned relics

There are a few roads, but we walked all of them and around the entire town in about 10 minutes.  Very small with loads of friendly people.

We came across several cemeteries. I know it is morbid but I am always fascinated with cemeteries.  Here we found several amazingly gorgeous, hand carved crosses, with lots of shellac.

There were lots of abandoned buildings dating back to the 1800s!  I sure wish we had the history on these buildings.

The church is right by the pass. It is an old building, but behind it you will see modern technology at its best (solar panels).

The Pass at Amanu 

We hung out by the pass leading into the Amanu lagoon and watched a few boats come in during slack tide.  The top two photos show the entrance to the pass.  The bottom photo is the center of the pass.

Amanu Pass

Amanu Pass

We walked along the wall that follows the pass. 

Matt along the pass

Matt along the pass

Toward the entrance is a surf break where the water was so clear you could see the reef through the waves.

By sheer luck, we ran into the mayor, Francois.  He is the youngest mayor in all of French Polynesia and France!  I believe he is in his late 20’s and he was marvelous.  He also happens to be the nurse on island!

Me and Francois, the Mayor of Amanu

Me and Francois, the Mayor of Amanu

Amanu Fun Photos

Can you see Sugar Shack across the reef and lagoon in the background?

Can you see Sugar Shack?

Can you see Sugar Shack?

Matt taking a break on our walk back to the boat on day 2

Sugar Shack is anchored in the middle of a “C” shaped reef.  It is amazing to see the reef appear during low tide and disappear in high tide.


Events from this blog post occurred around the 4th week of November, 2020.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.