After a very rainy passage with uncomfortable waves we got ready for our first atoll. We had chosen Makemo because we heard that it is a nice island and the pass seemed to be not too challenging. Ideal choice for atoll greenhorns like us.
André’s planning was excellent and the pass was really no big deal. We anchored close to Pouheva village and soon jumped into the dinghy to explore the village. When we arrived in the small harbour we saw two fishermen cleaning their catch of the day. I just wanted to ask them if we could leave the dinghy there and started talking with them. They generously offered us two nice groupers as a gift. What a warm welcome! We soon discovered that the main method of transport on this island were bicycles. A very peaceful atmosphere. No one passed without a friendly “Ia Orana”. While André and Mauro tried to get some internet in front of the supermarket, me and the kids went on exploring the village. We heard some nice music and went to have a look where it came from. We came to a backyard where a group of women where training a Polynesian Dance performance for the Heiva festival in July. It was fantastic to watch them perform and Jaël and Amina liked it as well.
As the wind had calmed down we planned to change anchorage. We moved to a beautiful and very remote spot west of Pouheva. When you move inside these atolls you have to be very careful. One has always stand on the bow spotting the coral heads. It was like a postcard picture scenery of Polynesia. A beautiful beach with palm trees and a lot of hermit crabs. We met a family on the motu who just arrived to do copra farming. They come here twice a year for about 4-6 weeks. The dried coconuts are sold in Tahiti for Monoi oil production, cosmetics and food industry.
The family was very friendly and showed us how to weave some hats out of coconut palm leaves. We spent the days with spearfishing, snorkelling and swimming and it was the perfect place for Jaël to practice on the SUP.
Our second atoll was Fakarava – every divers dream – and the beautiful atoll where I was going to do my PADI Open Water certificate. BAJKA, another Swiss boat with two boys was already waiting there for us. Who would have thought that we would sail together to New Zealand with these guys. We rented some bicycles the next day and cycled together to Hinano Pearl Farm, where we were introducüed into the secret of pearl farming.
Fakarava is truly one of the most beautiful spots on earth, especially when you like diving. The visibility under water is incredible and the variety of fish is fantastic. After being excited seeing my first shark while diving I soon realized, that there are heaps of them and I gave up counting. But the majestic smooth passing of a manta ray is something I will never forget and will always remain special no matter how many of them you have already seen.
One day Mana – one of my dive instructors invited André and the kids to his place to see how he feeds the nurse sharks. This was something spectacular not only for the kids…
After I had succsessfully made my PADI Open water we moved to the south pass together with CHASING STARS. ROGUE had moved there already earlier. We did an amazing snorkel in the pass all together the next day, letting us drift with the current. It was just fantastic! To hide from some forecasted stronger wind we all moved to Hirifa the next day, an anchorage where we had better protection.
After a month in beautiful Fakarava we left for Toao which was another atoll just 10 miles away. Getting in was easy but getting out turned out to be a bit more tricky. André and Chris from CHASING STARS checked out the pass before but although it should have been the right time the pass did not look quiet at all. Finally we decided just to go and it was a very wild and bumpy ride. Goodbye beautiful Tuamotus!