Published on 07 september 2008 at 0h00
Everyone who sails has some day or other dreamed of cruising on the blue waters of the Pacific, to those evocatively-named South Sea Islands : Marquesas, Austral, Society, Gambier and Tuamotu…
The Tuamotu atolls are like crowns made of sand and coral, placed on the Pacific Ocean. In the heart of this collection of jewels, is the Rangiroa atoll. Between the immensity of the South Pacific and the lagoon, (a true inland sea, 70km long by 30km wide), Rangiroa is an extraordinary stretch of water for safe, serene catamaran cruising… Thanks to its two passes (Tiputa and Avatoru) which accommodate an incredibly rich and varied underwater fauna, this atoll has become one of the most famous dive sites in the world. But you don’t need full diving gear to appreciate this underwater fauna. The crew of your catamaran will take you to one of the two passes in the dinghy. Once you are in the water with just a mask and a snorkel, let the current guide you and you will find sharks, turtles, dolphins and shoals of tropical fish… Archipels Croisières, is offering a genuine ‘Robinson Crusoe’ cruise inside the Rangiroa lagoon, aboard one of its five Fountaine-Pajot Marquise catamarans
Passenger embarkation in the morning (catamaran at anchor at Tiputa) and cruise to the pink sand areas (south east of the atoll). Various activities are offered to passengers : kayaking, free diving, fishing, beach. Exploration, fishing for shellfish on the coral reef, discovering the Tuamotus’ flora and fauna, observation of the sea bed. Activities broken up by short cruises in the biggest Polynesian atoll (70km long by 30 wide). Stop in the Otepipi sector, where the inhabitants of Rangiroa ‘make’ the copra. Day on a ‘motu’ with local paumotu barbecue, fish from the lagoon, sometimes caught with the help of the passengers, woven dishes and plates. Return to Tiputa. Underwater descent of the pass with the current, observation of fish, sharks, turtles… A real aquarium, opposite the Tiputa pass. Passengers disembark around 15h and transfer to the ‘Relais Josephine (http://relaisjosephine.free.fr) refreshments and often, dolphin watching in the pass. Transfer to the airport at the end of the afternoon…It’s finished!
: The 118 Polynesian Islands scattered over the South Pacific were formed by millions of years of volcanic activity. The oldest among them are the ‘low islands’ which generally have a ‘desert island’ appearance, just like those in our daydreams - a deep turquoise lagoon, bordered by small islands (Rangiroa, Manihi or Tetiaroa…). The ‘high islands’ are decorated with majestic peaks and covered with deep, lush valleys (Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora). They are situated 17,000 km from Europe; flight time from Los Angeles to Tahiti is approximately 7h30.
: EU or North American citizens do not need a visa for French Polynesia; a valid passport is sufficient. Very few health problems, apart from ciguatera, the only too well-known ‘gratte’, which can be avoided quite simply by not eating fish caught in the lagoon.
: The Polynesian Islands benefit from a tropical climate with maximum sunshine, reaching nearly 3,000 hours per year in the Tuamotus! The temperature is kept down by the Pacific trade winds which blow all the year round, and is always pleasant. Average temperatures are 27°C for the air and 25°C for the water. In short, a cruising paradise in catamaran.
: Crafts are everywhere in Polynesia. From the seashells which can be found anywhere, to the famous Tuamotu black pearls and wooden sculptures from the Marquesas Islands, the hats and baskets woven in the Australs, not forgetting of course the inevitable pareos, there are many ways to spend your money.
The currency in use is the Pacific Franc (1 euro = 119 CFP)
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