Fakarava is basically a giant beach since the thin atoll shelters an expansive lagoon on one side from the Pacific Ocean on the other. Measuring 37 miles long, it is one of the largest atolls in the Tuamotu Archipelago and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
04.23.2013 - 04.23.2013
This would be our last day in French Polynesia and as the sun rose we could see through our floor-to-ceiling window the ribbon of tropical islands that make up Fakarava.
Having agreed with Jerry last night that we would all start the day on our own and meet up later, the two of us showered and went to the Terrace for a light breakfast. Afterward, we went to our cabin to collect our masks and snorkels. We also called room service and ordered two sandwiches; these we packed away with some baggies of ice for a picnic later in the day.
The lines for the tenders were short this morning, so we were able to board immediately. We docked at Rotoava village. Local ladies were already lined up to give us a fresh flower to place behind our ear...and to sell black pearls and shell jewelry.
Fakarava has a total population of only a few hundred. Although some of the locals own cars or trucks, there are no taxis and only bicycles or a few scooters for rent. Fortunately, nearly everywhere you look, you will see beaches.
We began our exploration by walking south on the main road. Along the way, we came upon two general stores, a primary school, a pearl shop, and a beautiful little Catholic church and its cemetery. The only aspect of the day so far that was less than ideal was the oppressive heat—at least 87 degrees and very humid. No worries, though...when you got too warm, it was easy to walk a few steps to your right and take a dip in the clear, calm waters of the lagoon.
In one spot, we found some benches under the palm trees and sat for a rest. A local lady was selling green coconuts for $1. She drilled a tiny hole with the point of a sharp knife and inserted a straw. Just like that, we had a fresh and refreshing drink. In front of us were multiple sections of coral. Snorkeling around them was cool, but we saw very few fishes swimming about. One fellow shouted a warning to everyone there that he saw a shark; he later excitedly old us that it was about three feet long. (Hmmm, I guessed he hadn’t been swimming with us and the dozen six and seven foot sharks on Bora Bora a few days ago…)
At the point where the main road veered to the left (and the pounding surf of the Pacific), we set our bags down under some palm trees, snorkeled some more, and ate our mini-picnic lunch. Ham and cheese or turkey and vegetables sandwiches, potato chips, bite-sized chocolates, and a little port wine made for a fine lunch.
The noon day sun was now directly above, pounding down on us (and John’s already sunburned head), so we decided to wander back to the dock and return to the ship. On the way, we did some shopping...who would have guessed that a 6-pack of Hinano beer would cost about $18? Ouch! At the dock, we met up with Jerry and Michelle (who was feeling quite better). Having made plans with them to meet in the Horizon Lounge for happy hour, we took the next tender back to the ship.
The rest of the day was relaxing. We watched some TV, did a load of laundry, and rested. Around 5:30, the four of us met for happy hour and then meandered our way down to the Grand Dining Room for dinner. Everything was delicious as always. Susie noted as we were leaving to retire for the evening that we had spent over two hours eating our meal! As they say, never rush a good thing…
It was close enough to bedtime to bid each other good night. Tomorrow? Another day at sea...