French Polynesia- Fakarava / Tuamotus


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Flags Flying

In front of the municipal building, flags of France, French Polynesia and the Tuamotus flapped in the stiff breeze.

Ms. Mayor

This stately, gracious and serene lady is the major of the village and has an almost regal presence.

Opening Ceremony

The villagers in their traditional attire gathered for the mayor's opening speech during La Heiva celebrations on Bastille Day, July 14.

Opening Ceremony II

The opening ceremony followed a parade which included a queen and a princess carried in pirogues - a modern version of traditional outrigger canoes.

Girls at Opening Ceremony

Just about every color of the rainbow was represented in the clothes of the villagers.

Princess in Pirogue

After the parade, the princess and the queen (not shown here) were put back into the pirogues and strong Tuamotu men carried them to the site of the festivities.


This is a closeup photo of the beautiful little girl who was feted as the holiday's princess.


And this is a closeup photo of the festival's queen.

Feast Table

After the opening ceremonies, the villagers invited all to feast on the cakes, fruit, poisson cru (seafood "cooked" in lime juice), poi, coconut meat and many other dishes. Notice that the treats are presented on woven palm platters.

Girl Dancing

This pretty young girl's dance and rhythmic dialogue told a story which was enthusastically received by the villagers.

Proud Papa

This dad posed his baby boy in the parade's pirogue so Leslie could snap his picture.


The Polynesian people can be strikingly handsome. Their children were absolutely georgeous.


The festival's musicians and singers performed all day with little rest, exchanging instruments freely. This fellow sang a spirited and popular song that was a hit with everyone.

What's her point?

This photogenic little girl wagged her finger at Philip as he took her picture.

Weaving Contestants

These three stunning beauties competed in a palm frond weaving contest. The beautiful and functional baskets and serving trays they made are just used once and then discarded into burn piles which is the way many villagers process their biogradable trash.


A lei made up of pulmeria flowers has a scent very much like gardenias. The villages presented these to each guest.

Caught Unawares

Philip took this candid picture of this pretty young teenage girl when she wasn't looking. She had earlier danced in traditional costume.

Should I eat this coconut or give it away?

Philip took a few photos of this shy sweetie. She eventually decided he was okay because she offered him her piece of coconut.

Contest Winner

Out of the three weavers, this girl was able to complete her projects in the fastest time.

Contest "Loser"

This absolutely stunning little girl had a smile that made it seem like the sun had just come out from behind a cloud.

Waiting for the Race

One of the competitions was an "egg" race where limes were substituted instead of eggs. Good thing too, since none of the limes stayed on the spoons very long.

Beautiful Dancer

This teenage girl, dressed in a snow-white pareo and wearing a grass crown and grass belt just above her hips, performed a play which told the story of the Tuomotuan people. The dancing and acting was enthusiastically received.

Male Dancer

This muscular young man clearly enjoyed his strenuous dance performance even though the sweat was sheeting off his body afterwards. He stopped right in front of Leslie and posed for this photo.


The main village of Fakarava sits right onto the lagoon. Bicycles are a common form of transportation.


There seem to be a number of these luxury yachts plying the waters of French Polynesia. This is Drumbeat.


About half way down the eastern shore of Fakarava is the anchorage at Oreihara. It is isolated, well protected and drop dead gorgeous.

"South Pass"

Nearby the south pass at Fakarava is the anchorage off of Tetamanu - the former center of government of the Tuamotus. It's a pretty wild spot.

Splendid Isolation

At Tetamanu there are a number of tiny motu - this one is so small, it only fits a few huts.


One thing about motus, weather just slides over them as if they were not there.


The former administrative center for the archipelago, Tetamanu, is nearly a ghost town.

Coral Church

Though there are few island residents, the circa 1860 church of coral has not been abandoned.

Shell Jewels

The simple church at Tetamanu has no gold leaf adorning it's altar, but mother of pearl from the abundant oysters of the motus waters.

Tetamanu Village

This pension consists of just six tiny huts and a dive center.

Restaurant with a View

The restaurant at the Tetamanu Village is built on the reef right at the edge of the pass. The buoys are on the other side of the western branch of the pass, the restaurant is on the eastern branch - it's pretty narrow!


The Tetamanu Village has an enormous resident Maori Wrasse who seems to adore attention from swimmers young and old.

Sharks Too

You don't have to snorkel or dive to see blacktip sharks at Tetamanu Village, just stand on the docks and look into the amazingly clear water.

Local Homes?

We weren't sure exactly who lives in these picturesque huts, presumably the Tuamotuans who were nearby in this pass fishing.

Protected Isolation

After Tetamanu we retreated back to Oreihara to seek better protection from easterly winds during a squally period.

Short and Fierce

Squalls pass over Fakarava in a matter of minutes and usually bring winds in the 20-30 knot range.

Survival Skills

Philip learned to open coconuts during the summer of 2008 while in Panama's Las Perlas islands. Sherry of Soggy Paws was a good teacher!

It's a Hard Life

This hermit crab was tucked into the raised coral shelf at Oreihara. He had obviously had a close call with something interested in a crab meal.

Copra Plantation

At the point at Oreihara is a small home surrounded by a landscaped coconut grove. This is their view. No one was home when we visited.