Last stop in the Tuamotus for us but far from least – Tahanea is a beautiful uninhabited atoll on the eastern side of the group, now a nature reserve, where we’ve spent a wonderful two weeks doing what we love best – diving, snorkeling, beach-combing and relaxing.
Our first anchorage was just inside the pass on the north-east side of the island so from here we were able to do several drift snorkels through the passes. Beautiful coral, lots of fish including sharks and turtles, and on one very special day we got to say hello to a wonderful manta ray, who came up very close to check us out. They look like huge bats of the sea, but so graceful and friendly. A very special encounter, check out the video clip below:
We also did one dive on the outside wall of the reef for Audrie’s final dive of her open water course. Again, amazing visibility and a sheer drop-off on the wall from 13 metres to 120 metres!
We also explored the abandoned village near the easternmost pass. It was a little spooky seeing the church still set up as if ready for a service, and the graveyard with three graves (maybe the last inhabitants?) We’re not sure why it was abandoned but it would be hard to make a livelihood here, relying on rainfall for your water and subsisting on fish and coconuts.
We walked over to the pass to view the state of the tide and came across all these cairns made of coral and stones. We added our contributions and admired the decorative touches other visitors had made.
Unfortunately the wind stayed in the north-north-east quadrant for most of the time we were there, which meant it got too rough to go outside the passes for more diving. Instead we motored further round to the east and then the south-east corner of the lagoon where we found shelter behind more beautiful motus and explored the vast expanse of reefs exposed at low tide.
There are literally thousands of hermit crabs everywhere, occupying a huge array of different shells. What look like empty shells on the beach are invariably occupied, making it impossible to do any shell-collecting as we didn’t want to leave any crabs homeless. Fascinating and endearing little critters – we’ve since discovered that they only enter the water to mate and to spawn, so we were finally able to answer the question that Rehua posed –“which came first, the crab or the shell?”. Apparently the crab embryos float around in the water for a month or two until they find their first shell to inhabit and from thereon it’s just a matter of upgrading whenever they outgrow their shell ( a bit like the property market in Sydney!)
While in Tahanea there was another important birthday to celebrate – this time Bruce’s! The day got off to a good start with birthday cake and champers, followed by a boys’ excursion out to the reef (where more than one or two beers were consumed I suspect!)
The celebrations continued around the beach bonfire that evening. I’d found what I thought were delicious large pork sausages in Makemo that we planned to cook over the bonfire. Alas, my French definitely needs to improve – turns out they were tripe sausages!! We made a valiant effort to eat them but it was a lost cause…the fish enjoyed the tripe and we had the steaks that I’d kept in reserve!
What a magical place Tahanea is. We could easily have stayed another few weeks here but time and tide waits for no man, and with the clock ticking on our visa it’s time (reluctantly) to say goodbye to the Tuamotus and head for the big smoke of Tahiti, approximately 270NM away.