Skip to main content

Coral Gardens - Ilot Motu

The scenery is painted out in front of you in this remote part of the world. Deep sky blue against aqua and azure ocean, the constant crashing of white topped waves onto protective reef, lush green rainforest against a haze of humidity and tropical warmth. Paradise. We were drinking in the views as we
woke early (assisted by jetlag) to watch sunrise. We have all slipped so easily into Liam and Ruth's round the world adventure.

After breakfast we headed for the pearl farm pontoon and were greeted by Monique who brought us through the process of growing beautiful Tahitian pearls. Monique's daughter then explained the pearl grading process and how they drill the pearls and make jewellery. Another family affair, just like our dinner the evening before. After our trip, we whizzed back to the boat, dropped the mooring and headed for the coral gardens reef on the ilot motu, a short sail away.

Anchoring in French Polynesia takes some practice. The ocean here is either very deep (too deep for the anchor to dig in) or very shallow (where we could risk a grounding). Safe anchorages are small in-between-areas where all the other boats in the Society Islands seem to want to drop their hooks too! Because of this we took our time picking our preferred spot, setting anchor, diving on the anchor, swimming the area for hazards, launching the dinghy, resetting our anchor, setting a second anchor using the dinghy, considering a new anchorage, worrying a little bit about possible scenarios that could unfold in the anchorage, and finally, settling that we've gotten as good a spot as possible (all things considered)! Anchor down, emotional roller coaster complete, focus moved back to the world renowned coral reef now on our doorstep.

Snorkels at the ready, we tendered (carefully - shallow!) to an entrance channel between two motu(small reef islands), dropped the dinghy anchor (easy peasy) and jumped into the warm water at waist height. A shallow channel runs from the outer ocean side of the reef into the atoll, with a constant inwards flow of current (think swimming pool lazy river). So swimmers are gently pulled along, gliding between coral bommies and a huge array of marine life. SPECTACULAR!! Dense shoals of colourful fish, octopus, shark, ray, eel, coral, every shape and size imaginable - real life "finding nemo" on steroids! Wowee - let's go again! We swam and swam and swam until the sun started to fade and Ben prescribed an hour of air conditioning for our impending sun stroke.

Dinnertime. Fortunately for us / unfortunately for the local flora and fauna, one of the Coral Garden motu is home to an upmarket hotel resort with over water bungalows, beach villas, pools and a choice of restaurant & bars. We took full advantage for a wonderful dinner out - were on our 'olidays after all. Ben did hit it off with our waitress but sadly he wasn't his type. To be continued...

On return to the boat, a most unfortunate incident unfolded. A trouser button fell down the down toilet bowl when everyone was getting ready for bed. When on land one would just flush, but onboard a boat you just can't risk clogging up the system. Most of the crew went to bed at this point. An hour or so later, after some despair and persistence, the button was fished out. The loo reassembled. Bathroom, tools and people thoroughly washed. And the culprit gladly fell into their bunk.