Motu Tenoko

Last weekend the remnants of cyclone Pam (the one that devastated Vanuata) passed by far to the south and despite of the huge distance and its dwindling force it still sent up an impressive 4-metre-high swell. We watched the breakers on the sandbanks and reefs inside the lagoon from the safety of the anchorage in front of the village of Taravai.

As soon as the swell got down we used a very unusal prolonged phase of westerly wind to visit the western side of the archipelago that we’d missed up till now. We anchored off the one single motu (Tenoko) in the west and were once again impressed by the diversity of the Gambier. The tiny motu’s quite pretty with a sandy beach where a small colony of greater crested terns resides, some pine trees and coconuts, but mainly endemic shrubs that seem to be the favourite landing place of some red-footed boobies (rather rare around here). North of the motu the outer reef reaches up high and gives good protection to the lagoon, but south of the motu it is a few metres submerged. Yesterday the wind was very light and the sea calm, so we took the opportunity to paddle out on the ocean with our kayak and to snorkel back in. Dozens of sandy channels divide the shelves of hard coral and we were amazed by the amounts of groupers, surgeon fish, butterfly fish, trigger fish and other colourfu l reef fishies. Curious black- and white tip reef sharks accompanied us on that trip–we just couldn’t get enough and explored one channel after the other.

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