Niau, Tuamotos

Jul 04, 2018 - National Geographic Orion


The excitement on the bridge early this morning was palpable as all on board National Geographic Orion were excited to make a landing on an island that literally none of us had ever set foot upon! Very few people, other than the 250 or so inhabitants of the Island of Niau, have ever done so! Dear reader, have you ever heard of Niau? Here’s a hint; it lies in the Tuamotus of French Polynesia!

Niau is one of the few places where the original tropical moist forest ecosystem, known locally as Feo, still exists. Our bird watchers were excited to stretch their legs and trust their binoculars in order to see one of the most critically-endangered birds in all of French Polynesia; the Niau kingfisher. With the help of a local guide, we had success and we have the stories and photos to prove it!

Our afternoon was spent in the glycerin waters along the leeward NW coast of this 20 square mile island. White-tipped reef sharks, moray eels, and a plethora of colorful reef fish danced and posed for photos all around us. Swimming in these crystal-clear waters is as close to flying as most of us will ever get!

Our evening was capped off by a special 4th of July crew show in the lounge. Staff and guests in the know realize that there are quite a few very talented dancers, singers, and performers amongst the crew of National Geographic Orion! Happy 242nd Birthday America, from the Southern Hemisphere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!

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About the Author

Michael Nolan

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Michael Nolan was born in Bitburg, Germany to an Air Force family stationed there. His first experience of the ocean came at age 12, when he learned to snorkel in the Italian Mediterranean. At age 17 he moved to Tucson, Arizona and became a PADI SCUBA instructor, before starting a SCUBA diving business that specialized in diving trips to the Sea of Cortez.

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