French Polynesia includes five archipelagos – the Marquesas Islands, Tuamotu Islands, the Society Islands, The Australs and the Gambier Islands, 121 islands scattered across more than five million square kilometers. These islands were formed from undersea volcanoes and include steep volcanic peaks, high islands with fringing coral reefs and large lagoons, and coral atolls surrounding submerged volcanoes. French Polynesia’s Islands are a 3 part series, covering each group of islands separately, due to their individual characteristics and uniqueness.
THE MARQUESAS ISLANDS
Wyntersea and crew journeyed 3,500 miles from the shores of Mexico before arriving by sailboat in the beautiful island paradise of Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia. The Marquesas islands are mystical and its towering peaks are often shrouded in cloud as if hiding secrets of long ago.This 37 minute documentary examines the life of artists Jacques Brel and Paul Gauguin who made the Marquesas their final home and died there. Wyntersea sailed into bays on the north shores of Nuka Hiva where writer Robert Louis Stevenson anchored his sailing vessel, Casco, and into the village of Taiohae where Herman Melville jumped the whaling ship; which inspired him to write Moby Dick and Typee.
When approaching the Tuamotu Islands by sea it offers an image of little more than palm-tree tuffs marking the horizon. The islands, or more accurately the ‘atolls‘, are flat and cannot be seen until one is virtually on their shores. Perhaps that is why, in 1947, archaeologist and anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl crashed into the outer reef of Raroia with his raft Kon-Tiki. His arrival made the headlines but could not have been more memorable than the experiences that Wyntersea Productions captured on video for this 29 minute documentary. There are coral bedded lagoons of crystalline waters, unexplored motus surrounding the atolls, rare flora and fauna, pink sand beaches shaded with rows of coconut trees, there are pearl farms abound and the secret of pearl cultivation is revealed.
The Society Islands are often referred to as the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands. They are comprised of 12 islands. Eleven of these 12 islands have towering peaks and immense lagoons protected by an outer reef. Inside the reef the manta rays and sharks share a little corner of the lagoon and outside are the barracuda, trigger fish, bonita and the giant trevally fish. These islands, deep in the South Pacific, are lightly populated and maintain age old traditions, lifestyle and legends.