Chach Files: Issue 2

French Polynesia

Coral and other sea life underwater with yachts in the distance above water in the Tuamoto Achipelago photo by Ryan Chachi Craig
The Tuamoto Archipelago, French Polynesia
Underwater shot showing fish and the fins of a surfer's board in the Tuamotos photo by Ryan Chachi Craig

This past July, I found myself back on one of my favorite island chains, a beautiful part of the world that draws in surfers from every corner of the earth, French Polynesia.  Located roughly 2600 miles south-southeast of Hawaii, French Polynesia is often compared to its neighbor to the north (Hawaii) and what it may have looked and felt like 50 years ago.  Many people are familiar with the island of Tahiti, the largest and most populated island of French Polynesia, or have at least heard of one of its smaller island neighbors, Bora Bora or Mo’orea.

Tahiti is home to one of the most famous waves in the world, Teahupo’o. This wave is why I find myself traveling back to this part of the world as often as possible.  While in Tahiti, a friend I met ten years earlier invited me to explore and hopefully score a swell on some of the atolls to the north.  Not speaking French, I had no idea how I would ever go on an adventure of this magnitude, so I was immediately intrigued and hoped this trip would come to fruition.  Seventy-two hours later, we were on a plane flying from Tahiti into a sea of blue with no land in sight.  There are 121 islands in French Polynesia spread out over the Pacific Ocean, a distance of roughly 4x the size of France. I was curious to finally check out more isolated atolls, particularly The Tuamotus, our destination. 

After our flight and multiple boat rides spanning 18 hours, we arrived in paradise just in time for the swell we were anticipating.  We were a large group of friends, surfers, fishermen, and adventurers, and I was documenting the journey through my curious and fresh eyes.  We weren’t roughing it but were far from the comfort of restaurants, paved roads, and magasins (convenience stores in Tahiti).  It was a fantastic change of pace as we caught fish daily and prepared coconut milk, a staple for possion crû (coconut milk – raw fish).  There were 8 of us sleeping on the floor side by side for a week, and we loved it.  It was an adventure within an adventure, and I hope to continue exploring more of The Tuamotus and French Polynesia on future trips. 

A rainbow beams through the sky at sunrise with a sailboat resting atop the ocean photo by Ryan Chachi Craig
Two men sit on a beach while watching the surf photo by Ryan Chachi Craig
sunset in Apataki photo by Ryan Chachi Craig
Fish tails nailed to a tree
a cat lays on a table next to some opened coconuts
Aerial view of Fakarava shows the green island scape with the bright blue ocean
A man holds a knife while cleaning fish
The ocean is pristine in The Tuamotus, an otherworldly shade of blue that I never tire of. It is teeming with wildlife and is a fantastic spearfishing location. Our host, Remi, speared at least ten fish in 45 minutes! We spent afternoons prepping dinner, enjoying sashimi, carpaccio, and poisson crû nightly before going to bed.
Several pieces of coral
Underwater shot of coral and the ocean floor in Apataki
Several yellow and black fish swim under the ocean
long and skinny fish swim underwater
a crab looks upward with red eyes while showing its pinchers