Captain Mariah, Catana 582
yachtwork [AT] gmail.com
The islands of French Polynesia have a total land area of 4,167 square kilometres (1,622 sq. mi) scattered over 2,500,000 square kilometres (965,255 sq. mi) of ocean. The island groups are: Austral Islands; Bass Islands often considered part of the Austral Islands; Gambier Islands often considered part of the Tuamotu Archipelago; Marquesas Islands; Society Islands (including Tahiti); Tuamotu Archipelago - one of the best bone-fishing areas in the world.
Aside from Tahiti, some other important atolls, islands, and island groups in French Polynesia are: Ahe, Bora Bora, Hiva 'Oa, Huahine, Maiao, Maupiti, Mehetia, Moorea, Nuku Hiva, Raiatea, Tahaa, Tetiaroa, Tubuai, and Tupai.
The Tuamotu islands have some of the largest flats anywhere in the world
The Tuamotu Islands stretch through c.800 miles of remote French Polynesia. Starting about 150 north east of Tahiti and following a general line southeast, the Tuamotu Islands are classic coral atoll rings with passes a yacht can enter. Inside the reef the atolls are filled with clear blue water studded with coral formations. The land is barren with a few palm trees, bush, and very little else.
The action around the Tuamotu’s is in the water. The deep ocean just outside the reef and swift current provide many fishing opportunities. Popping just in the backwash of the outer reef, flyfishing the flats, and trolling passes are all exciting adventures into remote atoll fishing. Don’t pass up the opportunity of a snorkel drift through the pass to see the aquatic action. Always drift snorkel on the incoming current.
The Tuamotu Islands are subject to cyclones December through May and there are no safe all weather storm anchorages in the complete archipelago.
The Tuamotu's are home to some of the best snorkeling, drift diving, and world class flats anywhere.
The complete Tuamotu chain and most of French Polynesia are ciguatoxic. In other words many of the reef fish, especially the apex predators are not safe to eat. In many ways this has helped preserve the superb hook and release fishing in the Tuamotu Islands.
Mono-filament nets are in use in the Tuamotu’s and have been responsible for much destruction of the fish population. Luckily two islands in particular, Toau and Tahanea both restrict the use of gill nets and thus have become bonefish havens. Bonefish and their powerful runs are one of the prime sought catches by fly fisherman the world over.
In the Tuamotu Islands French is mainly spoken. Basic English speakers can be found with a little effort.
Inter-island flights are available from Tahiti to Fakarava and a few surrounding atolls from Tahiti. You can arrange an international flight to Tahiti then transfer to local flights. Bear in mind that Inter-island flight allow about half the baggage weight of international flights so have your travel agent book a flight straight through to your final destination to preserve your baggage allowance.
French Polynesia is not for the backpacker. Prices can shock the first time visitor. A round of drinks for four can easily cost a hundred US dollars. Five minute taxi rides can ring up a fifty dollar toll, locals tend to fly to surrounding islands or Las Vegas for an economical vacation! The most economical method of exploring the atolls is by chartering a yacht for the duration of your say. Expect a base starting price for a small yacht of 10K US per week while a high end crewed catamaran will cost around 20-25K per week. Resorts can be found that cater to the 'rough and ready' fisherman.
Captain Mariah, Catana 582
yachtwork [AT] gmail.com
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