Fakarava, French Polynesia

Apr 18, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

Today we are exploring the Fakarava Atoll, the second largest in the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia. This spectacular, rectangular-shaped atoll stretches 37 miles with two entrances to a beautiful lagoon within its coral reef underwater walls. 

Our day started almost as soon as we arrived to the atoll because there is so much to do and to enjoy in a place like this. Almost everyone was out on deck enjoying the approach to the southeast entrance of the atoll; its coconut palm-filled coral islands were blocking the view of the inside lagoon and its turquoise waters, which we later used for our water activities of the day. 

Our expedition team departed upon arrival to scout the area that would become our beach-based camp for the morning, and they found an absolutely dream-like location where kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and swimming was arranged. 

The place was also ideal for a nature walk, and many of our guests took a break from the water activities and explored the long shoreline coastal area with our naturalist Tom Ritchie. 

The long ride from the ship to the shore was well received by our guests, as it showed a different aspect of the atoll, almost as an extended Zodiac cruise around the coral reefs. 

And so our morning went by really fast, and almost in the blink of an eye, we were again enjoying a delicious lunch set up at the outer back deck. 

Soon after lunch, we organized groups from the ship to enjoy what we called a “drift snorkeling” option. This became one of the most rewarding snorkeling experiences of the trip, as the current entering the passage maintained a healthy flow of nutrients that attracted all kinds of marine life. Besides the coral reef-linked marine species that we have seen during almost every snorkeling outing, we got a bonus – friendly sharks in the water near us! This obviously became the highlight of the day, at least for everyone that took the snorkeling option for the afternoon. Literally hundreds of sharks of various sizes (and at least three different species) were swimming against the current gracefully. In the meantime, we were floating from above feeling the true nature of the current, as we passed by really fast hoping to retain the views one of the most healthy marine ecosystems of the world!

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About the Author

Lucho Verdesoto

Expedition Leader

Born and raised in the tropical country of Ecuador, Lucho is a passionate naturalist that has been working for Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic since 1998. With a marine biology background, he started as a naturalist in the Galápagos Islands in 1994. Since then, he has filled numerous roles with Lindblad-National Geographic, such as naturalist, undersea specialist and expedition leader in the Galápagos Islands, Costa Rica and Panama, and Baja California.

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