Saturday, 13 April 2019
Fakarava, our latest most favourite place
We had a peaceful overnight sail down from Takaroa, and timed our arrival at the Fakarava's North pass for slack tide early on Wednesday morning. This was a different sort of pass entirely to Takaroa, being about half a mile wide and just about 100 metres long. Standing at the bow approaching the pass the colour of the water changes from the deepest cobalt blue to marine blue/ green then shades of turquoise as it shallows up and the floor changes to sand, with darker browny shades for coral. The water is crystal clear. To our left and right were low lying palm covered islands (" motus") fringed with coral reef and beach, where the Pacific swells crash into white breakers.
First stop, we anchored off the village of Rotoava. Lizzie, Paddy and I went ashore to buy food and lingered by the freezers in the air conditioned grocery store. Aah, so nice and cool! Rotoava Is a friendly and very relaxed place where things don't need to be rushed. The village sits either side of a road, with open Pacific Ocean beyond on one side and the atoll's sheltered lagoon on the other.
Our aim was to get to the southern pass to snorkel and dive along the famous Wall of Sharks, so we continued down the eastern edge of the lagoon to anchor overnight at Pakakota, 10 miles away. Ashore at dusk we met Matthieu, a local sailor who sold us cold beer, gave us access to the best Wi-fi we have found in Polynesia, and offered sage advice on the best way to dive at the southern pass. Sunset across the lagoon was stunning, a few tiny islets with palm trees appearing to float on the western horizon. These little islands are in the very shallow part of the lagoon about a third of the way across to the other side (where the volcanic peaks once were, many millennia ago). The far (western) side of Fakarava atoll is just reef with no islands.
By yesterday afternoon we were anchored by the south pass. Rob, Lizzie and Bee linked up with Eric, local dive master, to dive and see the sharks close up. James, Paddy and I took the dinghy through the pass, then jumped out to snorkel as we drifted with the current on the flood tide through the pass, the sun dancing through through the water all the way to the sea floor. It was an incredible experience, drifting with the current past coral and colourful fish with occasional flybys below us from black or white tip reef sharks (who paid us no attention what so ever).
I must admit that I has felt ambivalence bordering on negative feelings about jumping in the water knowing it was shark infested. But my fear melted away immediately when surrounded by the mesmerisingly beautiful world below the waves.
Today we have come a few miles east to the southeastern corner of Fakarava, and we have found a sandy anchorage with no coral bommies to dodge, a rose pink coloured sandy spit, and water of the most wonderful blues to float on. This is THE best anchorage. The drone was flown and we are all in awe of this little part of our planet.