The first day of our expedition started with a visit to a raised coral atoll located in the Tuamotus Archipelago. As we approached our anchorage site, we observed spectacular cliffs, evidence of the uplifting caused by plate tectonics millions of years ago. This place is known as “Makatea,” or Mangaia-te-vai-tamae.

Right after breakfast, we landed in an abandoned port called Temao. This port dates back to mining times. As we walked through the area, we saw evidence of what was once a prosperous village that drew hundreds of people between 1917 to 1964. Today, the village is almost abandoned with just a few families to guard the place.

Along the trail, thousands of hand-dug holes from mining are hidden by a thick undergrowth. As we carefully walked over the area, we enjoyed the songs of reed warblers, an endemic bird species. We spotted fruit doves, which are also endemic.

Our walk ended in an interesting grotto. This fresh underground pool is the best reward for those who explore the island. Makatea is the only island of the Tuamotus with natural freshwater.

Our afternoon activities included diving and snorkeling along the coast of the island. Under the intense blue water, a healthy coral reef invited our guests to gear up and jump in to explore. Different species of reef fish swam alongside us, unbothered by our presence.

At the end of the day, we all gathered in the lounge to share thoughts about a great first day! More is yet to come!