Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could gave been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:
Five archipelagos with 118 islands and atolls, scattered in the Pacific, on a vast territory like Europe ... Polynesia is just huge!
Nothing beats a card
I was there… in october 2012. Two and a half years have passed already. I dream of returning to Polynesia and having time, one day, to explore its five archipelagos: Society Islands, Tuamotu, Marquesas, Gambier, Australes. In 2012, my two-week trip only allowed me to discover 4 out of 118 islands: Tahiti, Moorea, Maupiti (Company) and Rangiroa (Tuamotu).
As before each departure, I wanted to locate myself on a map. I know the islands of South-East Asia, but until then I did not know anything about Polynesian geography ...
On several websites, I found this presentation that I like very much: it is a map that superimposes the five archipelagos to Europe. At a glance, we take the full measure of the immensity of Polynesia!
Islands-mountains and atolls
Tahiti, the entry point, is a high island, the highest in Polynesia (2,241 m). It was born from the volcanic activity of the ocean floor, whose drift and hot spots have created a whole "rosary" of mountain-islands in the Pacific.
And then there are the famous atolls. They are ancient volcanoes too. So old that they disappeared with erosion: all that remains is coral, which has developed into a crown all around. These rings at the water's edge are both beautiful and moving with fragility.
Rangiroa famous dive spot where I spent a few days, is one of the largest atolls in the world: 80 km long and 32 km wide, and more than 200 km perimeter ... When we arrive by plane, we do not see the butt! Only a tiny portion is inhabited and the widest parts hardly exceed 300 m, wedged between ocean and lagoon. This one has the dimensions of a small sea, to which it happens to be as tempestuous as the ocean!
Coral plays its role as a barrier against the Pacific. But living at the edge of the waves, on an atoll lost in the immensity of the ocean, is a bit strange. I admit, I felt more vulnerable than elsewhere ...