The circular paradise of the Tuamotu

Anonim

Reading time 6 minutes

On the main street of Tikehau the sweetest song I have ever heard sounds. I am immediately captivated, like Ulysses with the song of the sirens. It is a soft and velvety voice, which sings a letter in Tahitian accompanied by the notes of a small ukulele.

It comes from a young girl, about 20 years old, with sun-roasted skin and long, brunette hair. It is called Hereiti. Sing for her, there is no one in several meters around. She is barefoot, sitting under the porch of a blue house.

After a few smiles and the relevant presentations, he explains in French that it is a song that she composed herself, talks about the beauty of her island. The chorus says: "I will never leave you Tikehau, you are always in my heart."

She is aware that she lives in one of the most remote and beautiful places on the planet, where in just 10 minutes by motorcycle her particular Finisterre appears, but she seems tremendously happy.

He has never seen the snow, nor a train, nor a skyscraper, the largest city he has visited is Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, of about 100, 000 inhabitants, but he is not interested. "I just go by obligation, I don't like it, people are sad and stressed, " he replies without hesitation.

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In the atoll of Tikehau, one of the most remote places on the planet, there are about 500 inhabitants registered © Getty Images

Hereiti is one of the 565 inhabitants registered in the Tikehau atoll, which is part of the Tuamotu archipelago, in French Polynesia.

Many will wonder what an atoll is. Well, it is a group of elongated and narrow coral islands that form a circular structure between them, with a lagoon inside. This strange phenomenon occurs when a coral reef begins to grow on the circumference of the crater of a submerged volcano.

The vast majority are in the Pacific Ocean (Tuamutu, Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu) and in the Indian Ocean (Maldives and Seychelles), in addition to a few in the Caribbean of Colombia and Venezuela.

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An atoll is a group of islands arranged in a circle with a lagoon inside © Getty Images

RUMBO TO PARADISE

Reaching the archipelago farthest from a continent on the planet is not easy, but with a little patience it can be done. From Madrid Air France flies weekly via Los Angeles to Papeete. From there there are several flights with Air Tahiti Nui to the main islands of the Tuamotu.

The other option, only reserved for the most adventurous spirits, consists of crossing the Pacific Ocean under sail from Panama or the Galapagos Islands, in a journey of more than 5, 500 kilometers. For this option you need high doses of patience and time, since it lasts about three weeks, in my case it was 23 days.

Ok, we are in paradise and now what? There are no discos, no trendy rooftop bars, no brunchs, no late nights. To this situation we must respond with the effective and incontestable back to the roots, meet again with the Robinson Crusoe that we all have inside.

It's easy to make friends with the locals, Hereiti and her friends invite us to a picnic around a simple wooden house in a coconut plantation. They show us how to peel a coconut with machetes (not suitable for beginners), they start us in the mysteries of Tahitian dances, and we even learn how to make a wreath.

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There are no clubs here, no sky bars, no brunchs, no beach clubs… Let's practice back to the roots! © Tahiti Tourisme

FLOATING VILLAS IN RANGIORA

Rangiroa is one of the largest atolls in the world, with 1, 640 square kilometers of surface and a 79 km long lagoon. It is populated by about 2, 500 inhabitants.

Here we find more facilities: supermarkets, restaurants, the occasional party place and the famous over water bungalows, idyllic cabins that seem to levitate over crystal clear waters.

The Kia Ora Resort is the most famous. Everything in it oozes elegance and simplicity: rooms with private pools, hot tubs, recreation areas with freshly cut grass, hammocks at the beach and bars where you can try the catch of the day.

It is an experience for solvent pockets, but there is always the opportunity to drink a daiquiri in his bar, while Yves Montand's voice sounds in an environment worthy of The Great Gatsby.

Kia Ora Rangiroa

The over the water bungalows at the Kia Ora Resort © Getty Images

You cannot leave Rangiroa without visiting a black pearl farm. They are known worldwide for their quality and uniqueness.

Farmers explain with the best of their smiles that they themselves place a tiny portion of sand inside the oyster so that the pearl occurs naturally.

Actually, it is a defense mechanism - which lasts between two and five years - in which the oyster releases calcium carbonate to coat and trap the invading entity.

This process also happens naturally, but only once in 200, 000 times, so better opt for the cultured pearl.

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Black pearl farming farms are known worldwide for their uniqueness © Tahiti Tourisme

The main raw material - and base of its economy next to the pearls - of the Tuamotu are the palm trees, from which they obtain very varied uses. In their diet, dishes and desserts cooked with coconut abound , the palm leaves serve to make skirts, crowns, roofs and sheds, but above all they extract coconut oil.

Most of the trunks are surrounded by a metal sheet, to prevent crabs from climbing to eat their fruits. When they are ripe, they peel them and let them dry in the sun to finally send them to Tahiti, where the famous Monoi oil is produced.

It is a moisturizing and toning lotion based on macerated coconut oil with different flowers, the most quoted is the Tiaré tahiti, of captivating aroma and petals in the form of white and yellow helix. It usually adorns the hair of women, and it is also the national flower.

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Coconut oil extraction in Rangiora © Tahiti Tourisme

AHE'S UNDERWATER PARADISE

This atoll of only 12 square kilometers and less than 500 inhabitants is worth visiting. It is so small that you can almost jump from one island to another, as if you were inside a Moana video game.

Beyond its ivory sand beaches and turquoise waters, Ahe is a paradise for diving. You just have to jump into the right area and get carried away by underwater currents to see a large number of t iburons, rays, turtles and tropical fish.

Beyond all these dream scenarios, what will most penetrate your heart is the unique and incomparable Polynesian hospitality. They are aware of how isolated they live, and the difficulty of getting home.

That is why all the neighbors will treat you with the greatest cordiality; they will invite you to their houses, they will cook you fish, they will take you by canoe, they will teach you to play the ukulele, they will crown your head with flowers and they will give you their time, although they know that you will surely never return.

If one day you go to Tikehau, don't forget to ask about Hereiti, there you have a new friend.

Bici Tuamotu

The hospitality of the locals will mark you forever © Tahiti Tourisme