Fakarava Atoll

Published on 11 April 2024 at 17:32

We've been moored in Fakarava for a couple of days.


We had a 4 day sail to get here, the last big sail of our trip. We had 3 days lovely sailing but one day with a whole series of rain squalls coming through, brief but heavy rain storms, each preceded by a brief period of 30mph winds, then followed by a lull with no wind at all before the prevailing winds returned. So it was sails up, sails down, engine on, engine off, roof up, roof down, boat heeling like mad then boat wallowing listlessly on the waves, all day and part of the night. Amanda didn't like that! 


Fakarava is the biggest of the Tuamotos Islands - a series of coral atolls. The surrounding seas are really deep (over 1km), with each atoll forming a complete ring around a central shallow lagoon, where we can anchor in very protected water. Fakarava is 30km long so the lagoon is big - the other side of the atoll is over the horizon. But the fringe around the outside is small, only just above sea level and only about 50m wide where we're moored. It has palm trees growing and a few buildings here but in places it's barely poking out of the sea with nothing on it. In other places it's big enough for there to be small villages.


There are only one or 2 very narrow and shallow passes into most of the atolls, which means the tides flow really quickly through them - up to 8 knots in Fakarava. So great care is needed when sailing in or out!!


Fakarava is one of the top dive sites in the world. Shame we can't dive!! But the snorkelling is unbelievable too


The water here is amazingly clear, the clearest I have ever seen. And whilst the coral is dead in places, there are large areas where it is still alive, with an amazing variety of tropical fish, it's like swimming in an aquarium. Also a large number of sharks, which swim quite close - thankfully they're harmless reef sharks and only 3-4 feet long. They're lovely to watch swimming by - every now and then they swim straight towards you before veering away which can be a bit unnerving! Apparently outside the reef there are large sharks, including bull sharks, which wouldn't be so comfortable to be around, but they never come inside the lagoon.


We've snorkelled over the "Wall of Sharks", just outside the pass where the water is about 30m deep (but you can still see the bottom in perfect detail because the water is so clear) and you can see literally hundreds of sharks swimming at the bottom.


And we've drift snorkelled "The Magic Carpet" a few times - where we take the dinghy just outside the pass on an incoming tide, then just jump in hand drift over the reef with the tide. We drift snorkel about 2 miles in just over an hour - doing about 4 knots at the peak, all in water between 1 and 3 metres deep, over beautiful coral with tropical fish (and sharks!) everywhere. Amazing!! But sadly no pictures - can't persuade my camera to work underwater.


We have a couple more weeks relaxing amongst these atolls before moving on to Tahiti (then flying home!)


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Mark Kirby
2 months ago

Our lives will literally be less colourful once your voyage and wonderful blogs end - keep them coming while you decompress! Looking forward to seeing you both sometime later this year.

Sarah Barnes
2 months ago

So maybe this is another stupid question! How deep is the water inside the atoll? And, so the atoll is a coral outcrop… are there corals inside that mean you have to be on the lookout as you navigate around to moor up? Xx

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