Tag Archives: hoodoo

Peaceful Paradise in Tahanea

Tahanea is peaceful, tranquil, and mesmerizing.  On most days, it called one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Untouched by civilization, rarely visited by man, and generally as God created it.  We’ve spent several weeks here last year and 3 weeks this year.  This an uninhabited island truly reflects the beauty of French Polynesia.

We spent most of our time in the SE corner of Tahanea.  This particular period of time of our visit was during maramu (storm) season.  The majority of the storms come from the SE so we were hiding behind the motus for protection.

As you might recall, the Tuamotus archipelago is made up of dozens of atolls (not islands).  These atolls have passes that lead into a lagoon.  The lagoon is surrounded by a reef and several motus (tiny islands) that separates the Pacific Ocean from the lagoon.  The navionics photo below shows the image of Tahanea.  The green indicates the reef.  The little yellow spots (within the green area) are motus or small islands.  The blue is the lagoon and the red arrow is Sugar Shack.

When you zoom into the chart you can see the difference more clearly.  In the SE corner there are several motus to explore (yellow areas in green section).


There are a few motus that are being harvested for copra (coconuts).  The locals come from other islands and stay for 10-14 days harvesting the coconuts and then go back to their main island.  They set up huts or shacks on the island that really consist of 3 walls and a roof.  The copra farm in front of our boat is a rather large one.

The locals collect the coconuts, husk them, crack open the center, then use a rapier to shred the coconut meat.  They will sell the coconut meat, use the coconut milk and water and dry the coconuts.  It is hard labor for very little reward.

One group of copra farmers had left a dog behind.  Not sure if the dog had wandered off when they left and they forgot or if it was intentional.  The FP population has a different mentality when it comes to animals.  When our friends on Jolly Dogs found this puppy, she had worms, mange and was starving.  They quickly rallied the cruisers to help her.  Mike on “Easy” brought worm medication for her.  Cruisers bathed her and covered her in oil daily.  The oil suffocates the mange.  And everyone has chipped in on the feeding rotations. 

Her name is Lassie and she has an incredibly sweet disposition. She doesn’t bark, but she loves to howl.  She will follow anyone down the beach and will swim out to you to go on a paddle board ride down island.  He mange is slowly disappearing (you can see her hind quarters and tail are hairless).

Mike on “Easy” was kind enough to take her to Fakarava where there is village, more people, and more opportunity for her.  It will give her a much better chance of survival.  Thank goodness.

Baby Boobies

We explored one of the far off motus while we were in the SE corner where we found several baby boobies.  The red foot boobies build their nests in the low hanging branches of the trees.  They are so darn cute and fuzzy.

Swimming with Manta Rays and Marlin

We sailed up to the pass when we had a break in the weather.  We needed a change of scenery and wanted to snorkel the pass.  Last year, we had an amazing opportunity to swim with the mantas and got an up close and personal opportunity. 

This year we swam the same pass, the north pass, and were blessed to swim with two very large mantas.  Unfortunately, they were 12-15 meters deep so I only saw them from the top.  However, our friend Mike on “Easy” is a free diver and was able to see them up close.

Mike was showing off and decided to swim down to a sleeping shark.  The poor shark was peaceful in his sleep and woke up to an intruder.

We had a sundowner / happy hour on Sugar Shack with great friends and libations!


Matt flew the drone on one particularly calm day.  He captured the sunrise over this peaceful and majestic anchorage.  Mike on “Easy” followed us back to the SE corner to get a prime spot for hiding out from the upcoming storm.  By the end of the day, there were 16 boats anchored here.

Sunrise photos inside the lagoon of Tahanea. 

Kinda takes your breath away…right?

“Easy” and Sugar Shack resting in peace in Tahanea. 

Tahanea's SE Corner

Tahanea’s SE Corner

Bird’s eye view of Sugar Shack from the sky

This post was written in June 2020.  Our blog posts are usually 6 to 7 weeks behind are true adventures. 

Did you miss our other post on Tahanea?  Check it out here.

Tahanea's SE Corner

The Beauty of Tahanea

Our passage leaving Hao toward Tahanea was not ideal.  We left knowing it would not be good weather conditions as we were hoping to beat the maramu scheduled to pommel us.  The first day we had light winds and super confused seas.  The swell was only between 1-1.5 meters but they were coming from every direction.

We were able to fly the main and jib for most of the day, then motored for a few hours.  The trade winds and following seas arrived around 2000 at night.  Usually, I like following seas as the boat surfs down the waves.  But when you still have confused seas that are now 3 meters coming from multiple directions it is no fun.  One wave would hit our stern before the previous wave left our bow which created a serious rolling action of the boat.  I was not a happy camper.

Despite the bad weather and my infirmities, we had a gorgeous sunset the first night.

Day two brought strong winds coming from the SE a perfect direction. However, we had to drop the main and reef the jib because we were going too fast.  If we kept up that pace we would arrive at midnight.  So, we slowed the boat down to arrive at 0400.  Not much better.  The slack tide was 0430, but it was too dark to enter so we drifted for a few hours before entering at day break. 

Since we missed “slack tide” we entered with 3.5kts of outgoing current – pushing against us.  Almost like the atoll did not want us to come in.  But, we prevailed and arrived with no issues.

Passage Details

  • Passage Miles: 220nm
  • Total Miles Travelled: 249nm
  • Max Speed: 10.7kt
  • Average Speed: 5.1kt
  • Moving Time: 48.56

We anchored in the SE corner of Tahanea with 6 other boats in turquoise, calm waters. Life is good.

Hiding in Paradise

We ended up spending 11 days in the southeast corner of Tahanea hiding from the maramu (storms).  Most had a strong southeasterly wind so being behind a motu protected us from most of the winds and waves.  We still managed to see gusts up to 30-35kts.

Each motu received a 360-degree exploration.  Some even had us traipsing through the middle part of the island which was thick with foliage, palm fronts, coconuts, and critters.

Tahanea Scenery

Tahanea Scenery

Most days were rainy and cloudy, but we tried to get off the boat once a day to stretch our legs.  Despite the gloomy clouds and rainy weather, this atoll does not disappoint – it is still gorgeous.

Agape’s Legacy

Our friends, Josh and Rachel onboard Agape were quarantined here in Tahanea for 4 months.  Our friends had to find lots of ways to entertain themselves and keep their bellies full.  They harvested coconuts and used every possible part of the coconut (meat, milk, water, husk) along with fishing and spear fishing to keep everyone fed.  They also built this amazing raft.  When we first encountered it, the raft was buried in the sand. 

But several days later the tide and cleared the sand away and the boys had a little fun.

We left the raft on the beach, where we found it.  However, we must not have pulled it up far enough as it was gone the next morning.  We are in a full moon cycle which means the tides are higher and they must have claimed the raft back to the sea.

SE Corner Activities

It was great fun exploring all of the motus within the Tahanea atoll.  We must have walked around each of them 3 times and some more.  We walked all the way around and through most of them.  They are mostly broken pieces of coral and rock on the leeward side and larger boulders, lava rock, and coral chunks on the windward side.  The interior is full of coconut trees, and palms that have mean, pointy stickers that like to attach to your skin.

We found one motu that had a “sandy corner” sandwiched between the broken coral shores.  It was a gloomy day and we ended up exploring under the rain, but still an adventure.  Matt and I trying to determine if we should head back before the big storm.

It is really cool to see the pools of water between the spits of sand as you look across Tahanea’s lagoon.

View of Sugar Shack from one of the motus.

The winds were strong in the SE corner of Tahanea.  Several people took advantage of the weather and enjoyed kite surfing and kite boarding, which was fabulous to watch.

All the cruisers gathered for several bonfires on shore.  We would cook the fish or conch we caught earlier that day.


Several of the motus have splotches of areas covered in coconut crab grounds.  The coconut crabs don’t like sun or rain so they mostly come out at night or early in the morning.  One day we decided to go hunting.

Armed with buckets, string and machetes, we headed to the motu.  It was a rather large group which was not conducive for good hunting (too much chatter and foot stomping), but we managed to catch a dozen.

First, you walk into the interior of the island, under the shadow of the coconut trees and in a patch of sand.  You stumble across their large holes first.   You have to be careful because their underground tunnels make the ground weak and you end up sinking to your shins!

Mike, from “Easy” and Helen from “Wow” showed us how to catch them.  Using a string or very thin piece of line you make a lasso or noose.  As the crab comes out, you slip the noose around its big claw and quickly close it around its claw so it cannot get away down the hole. 

Once he is caught, you can either put him in a bucket or kill him (which is more humane).

Once we got our fill, we went to the water’s edge to clean the crabs before taking them to the boat.  We boiled them, then grilled them and had them for a tasty dinner.


The sun rose and set over the motus providing stunning photos.

Sugar Shack at anchor with a spit of land behind her.  It looks like a sandy beach, but it really is covered in broken coral and rocks.  Still a pretty photo.

This post was written in June 2020.  Our blog posts are usually 8 to 10 weeks behind are true adventures. 

Check out more on Tahanea here.

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!