AHHHH Fakarava. Plan your entrance correctly or get ready for some rocky roly fun. Our entrance is one for the books and of the kind we hope we’ll never endure again. Of course we could have had a much simpler entrance if we’d have waited overnight but you know, everyday on the sea is an adventure.
We entered through Passe Garuae, the north pass. Interestingly enough it’s the widest pass in the Tuamotus but it’s also a pretty tough one due to the strong incoming and outgoing currents. At one point we had five knots of current on the nose and were only progressing at .8 knots even though we were at full speed. The following waves were dangerously close to swamping Dazzler but fortunately we made it in. That said, we’d never attempt it like that again. We’d heave to and wait for slack tide.
Heres’ a short video of our entrance. Sadly you won’t see the worst of it as Jilly had to set the camera down to hold on, but you’ll get the idea.
We anchored at the main anchorage near the village of Rotoava. There are bommies that you need to be aware of and you have to anchor in some deeper water than normal. We anchored in forty to fifty feet and you can’t see the bottom here so you’re going on a hope and a prayer. We were fortunate that we didn’t get wrapped around any bommies. We do know others who did. The good news is there are plenty of divers around if you need help unfouling your anchor.
The holding there wasn’t easy where we anchored in that we had to drop our anchor a few times before we finally got a solid hold. Seemed as if there was a little rock mixed in with the mud on the bottom. But, once we got a good hold we never had a problem with dragging.
NOTE: Due to new regulations there are some areas on the southern portion of Fakarava that are no longer available for anchoring. Please check with Noonsite or Soggy Paws for additional information.
There are moorings there but we’ve been warned that most are not serviced regularly and could be an issue. The anchorage was packed when we were there so anchoring was the only option. Given what we’d been told we would have anchored anyway.
You can tie up your dinghy near the main pier where the supply ship comes in. There is a u-shaped wharf area that is nicely protected but the fact is, most of the things you will want to do are south of here so it’s going to be a bit of a walk. We found a nice spot on the beach near the big church and pulled our dinghies up on shore. We tied them to trees and locked up our motors as always. Just be careful to watch the tides as some areas have lots of bommies that become exposed at the tide goes out.
The Total Gas Station at the wharf near where the supply ship comes in does have diesel and gasoline. You’ll have to haul it via jerrycans as there’s not a place to dock there.
There are a few magasins located in Rotoava Village where we anchored in the Northeast corner. There is a brand new one that opened up right on the shore near the main wharf that is air conditioned and very clean but it was more like a convenient store that a grocery store.
Further south, but within walking distance of the anchorage you’ll find two others. One is on the beach side and the other is almost directly across the street. It’s the Boulangerie Havaiki and it seems to have a bit more to offer. Also, they have the fresh baguettes every morning so we liked this one the best.
There are several restaurants and a few roulettes in Rotoava and most have free WiFi if you purchase something. We found it enjoyable just to sit by the water, have a few beers and lunch and check in with our friends and family back home.
Rotoava Grill is right on the water and serves your standard fare. We all had burgers that were much like burgers you get everywhere in French Polynesia which is to say they weren’t all that great. We heard others say the food was really good so maybe we should have tried the more traditional dishes like Poisson Cru. The views are unbeatable and the people were lovely so we’d definitely give it another go.
Havaiki Lodge is a very pretty resort and pearl farm here on Fakarava and it also has two restuarants. We ate at the beachfront Sleeping Shark Shack for lunch and found them to have the best burgers we’d had in all of French Polynesia. Not sure why but by this time in our trip we were all craving burgers. LOL
Havaiki Lodges even has tables in the water. Just be aware that the Black Tip sharks swim around there because everyone feeds them. They are pretty well trained so no really worry, but if you aren’t paying attention and one brushes up against your leg it could be a bit startling.
The Meko restaurant inside looked pretty nice as well but we didn’t eat there. Be prepared if you do, however, because these resorts tend to be a bit pricey. Of course, by this time you might just be ready to splurge a bit.
Fakarava is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Divers literally come from around the world to explore their famous waters. At the north pass you can see hundreds of sharks. The southern pass, Tumakohua, is great for divers of all levels because it has mild conditions and the currents are not as strong as those on the north pass.
Dan did dive the north pass with some friends who were taking dive lessons from Top Dive. When he got out his gear to join them he had an issue with his regulator so he rented equipment from them and was pleased with the price and quality of the equipment. It cost him around $60 USD which included the tank, regulator and trip via boat to the pass. The dive was about an hour. Of course it depends on how fast you are sucking up your air!
Dan was happy to rent the tank because it wouldn’t deplete the tanks we have on board for emergency. Of course we did have to get a new regulator in Papeete a couple of weeks later.
The morning of their dive our friends had been out and saw literally hundreds of sharks swimming through the pass. When Dan joined them on the afternoon dive there were just a few but he did say it was a beautiful dive spot. Had we stayed a few more days he would have gone back.
Fakarava Yacht Services can facilitate getting laundry done for you. If you’re like us you will probably be ready to have someone else do it for a change. It wasn’t all that expensive and it came back clean, fresh and nicely folded. FYS can facilitate other things for you as well including dive trips, airport transfers, bicycle rentals, parcel receipts etc… They also offer free WiFi at their office/home where the have a nice outdoor deck for you to sit and relax. They are closed on Sundays.
ATM & Post Office
The ATM is located directly beside the post office which is just up the road from the main dock where the supply ship docks. (See Below) They have a maximum of 25,000 XPF per transaction but you can do back to back transactions. The most we did was two back to back. Just one more reason to bring cash from Nuka Hiva.