The Great Southern Route : 2013 - 2014
GSR|79 renowned for its vanilla pods. Vanilla vines thrive, along with other tropical crops, in the luxuriant centre of the island. two deep bays penetrate tahaa’s flanks, Baie de Hurepiti on the west coast and Baie de Haamene on the east coast. Both make superb anchorages for yachts and launches. Black pearls, farmed in the island’s deep bays, are another product which tahaa is famous for. further beyond tahiti, the islands are less visited and accordingly have a much slower pace of life. the atolls of the tuamotus are another world entirely, their motus being only a metre or two above sea level. But within their sheltered lagoons are some of the finest dive sites and richest aquatic life in the Pacific, with an underwater visibility of many metres. the most developed of the 76 tuamotu atolls are Rangiroa, fakarava, tikehau and Manihi. tikehau has a wonderful seabird sanctuary island in its lagoon, while Rangiroa’s tiputa Pass is world-renowned for its ‘shark wall’, where up to 300 sharks of various species gather to feed. Harmless to humans, the sharks and other large fish make tiputa Pass a diver’s nirvana. Cruising vessels can enter almost all the tuamotus’ atolls’ vast lagoons via deep passages through the reef, then readily find safe anchorages within them. these lagoons are like sheltered seas within the Pacific Ocean. In 2006 fakarava atoll’s environmental purity was internationally recognised when it was added to UnesCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme, a world list of places of exceptional natural beauty where local communities are actively involved in their environment’s conservation. this is a fitting tribute to fakarava’s lagoon and the pride which the atoll’s population of 700 takes in its protection. for the adventurous sailor, the Marquesas Islands offer something truly unique. Wild, rugged and remote, this group of twelve islands 1,500km north-east of tahiti is further from any continental land mass than any other islands on earth. steep cliffs plunge into the ocean, waves crash against the base of the cliffs and wild goats and horses inhabit the islands’ ravines and forests. Unusually, the islands of the Marquesas are not surrounded by coral reefs and so lie exposed to the ocean swells. But there are also beautiful bays here, sheltered from the winds and swells, which make up some of the most picturesque anchorages in the world. these include taiohoe Bay on nuku Hiva, taaoa Bay on Hiva Oa and Aneo Bay, on Ua Pou. Perhaps the ultimate cruise itinerary in french Polynesia would be one which departs from the port of Papeete, cruises through the Leeward Islands, calling at Huahine, Raiatea-tahaa, Bora Bora and Maupiti, then sailing due east to fakarava atoll in the tuamotus. After a stopover at peaceful Rotoava village, inside fakarava’s huge lagoon, a north-east course is then set, for the Marquesas Islands. Here fine anchorages and fascinating local cultures can be experienced at islands such as Ua Pou, nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa and fatu Hiva. the return voyage to tahiti can then be made via Rangiroa atoll, for a swim with the sharks and rays in tiputa Pass. Bon voyage!
2010 - 2011