We have just spent a superb week in the Tuamotu Archipelago of French Polynesia. The Clipper Odyssey sailed amongst the many atolls with enchanting names – Fakarava, Tahanea, Motu Tunga, Raroia, Napuka – under clear blue skies, with an occasional cumulus cloud bringing a welcome moment of shade, and the reliable south-easterly trade winds kindly cooling the atmosphere. Wherever we went ashore we were greeted in the Polynesian tradition, with lei, singing and dancing, and magnificent buffets of local delicacies. We’ve been feasting on papaya, watermelon, pineapple, raw fish in coconut milk, oysters in lemon juice, and coconut bread, all served with chilled coconut as a refreshing drink.
Every day, our expedition team organized a session of water-sports for us.
The glass-bottom boat was put to good use over splendid coral reefs and, slowly, meandered in and out of lagoons while those of us who preferred to stay dry marveled at the wonders of the underwater world. For the others, swimming, snorkeling and diving were the activities of choice. The divers explored the deeper realms of the ocean and encountered countless sharks and manta rays. For the snorkelers, platforms were set up from anchored Zodiacs for easy access into and out of the water. An incredible array of fish alternatively came out of or sought shelter in amongst the colorful hard corals.
When the opportunity arose, we also experienced drift snorkeling. As the large lagoons, such as those of Motu Tunga or Raroia, drain and flood with each outgoing and incoming tide, a gigantic volume of water has to go through a narrow pass in the reef, creating a fast but gentle surge across the entrance to the atoll. We were dropped in the water at the high end of the flow and drifted along as the spectacle of life on the reef quietly unwound before our eyes. Above us, dark shadows flew across the skies: frigatebirds chasing boobies while terns and noddies pursued the flying-fish darting across the surface of the sparkling waters. The water of the Tuamotus are truly a magical place to be!