To say that we have seen some remarkable places in the past year would be a gross understatement. There were moments that we knew we were staring true beauty straight in the face. Yes, yes we know Jose is handsome, but I’m talking about the South Pacific ; P
Back on our couch in rainy San Francisco, waiting out cyclone season, we can’t help but get reminiscent about some of our highlights as cruisers in the South Pacific. Our favorite island in the South Pacific? Fakarava.
Fakarava is one of the larger atolls in French Polynesia, but despite the throngs of cruisers that pass through to stock up on sacred fresh produce, there are still many corners of the atoll that are pretty remote. As I’m typing this I realize I must clarify one thing: the whole damn atoll is remote, French Polynesia is remote, but we’re attracted to, like, really remote remote. Fakarava was our last stop in the Tuamotus before making it to the mainland of Tahiti, a few days sail away, and we wanted to soak in as much as we could. So much so that we spent a month there!
We entered through the north pass and spent a few days in the town of Rotoava (painfully) trying to connect to wifi, loading up on insanely expensive produce (uh, hello $7 heads of ICEBERG lettuce) and catching up with boat friends we hadn’t seen in a while. A few words about the produce while we’re on the subject. Leaving the Marquesas, fresh produce became a distant memory and a constant craving. We could not have been happier to see carrots in our lives. Even if they were a whopping $1.75 each. Along with our buddy, Riley, we cleared out the entire produce market. Okay, maybe we left behind a beet or two, but the threat of sinking the dinghy was real!
We had watched a French documentary on the narrow south pass of Fakarava and learned that once a year, hundreds of thousands of grouper fish make their way to this specific spot in the Pacific to mate. Along with them, they bring half as many sharks! What were the odds that the very week these spotted fish were spawning, we were right there to witness it?! It was hands down the most amazing experience of our lives. Over the course of two weeks, we drift snorkeled and free-dived the pass daily. The weather was far from desirable, so we stuck around hoping that we could see the magnificent coral just once with sun overhead. If you haven’t seen our sailing journal diving the pass, be sure to check it out here!
When we weren’t diving the pass, we reveled in routine. It’s funny, we left our 9-5 lives for a life less ordinary, but in fact, we’ve realized that we’re truly creatures of habit. We like staying in one place and we prefer following a schedule. Well, one that we’ve designed. So, a schedule did we create. Early mornings we’d take advantage of the calm and explore our latest anchorage by kayak. One morning, Jose found a tiny pass out of the lagoon, and timed just right, we could ride the incoming tide like a conveyor belt! Needless to say, we did that a dozen and a half times in a row.
After a solid paddle sesh, I took to my post in the galley to whip up some smoothies to arm us for the boat projects we needed to finish before our daily pass dive. Late afternoons were spent sailing around on the TIWAL, setting up bonfires on the beach and opening and closing the hatches between the daily rainstorms.
It’s very possible that if we hadn’t had a flight from Tahiti, you would still find us cracking coconuts on a beach in Fakarava.