This morning, National Geographic Orion left the dock in Hao and headed for the only pass in the atoll that would allow us to exit the large lagoon and French Polynesia’s fourth largest atoll. We did not have far to travel and arrived at Amanu Atoll around breakfast. We headed for shore and were welcomed with quite a reception, complete with leis, music, and a lively atmosphere. Musicians and children led us into their community in a procession. Upon arrival, we were gifted hats woven from palm fronds, greeted by the mayor, and entertained with a sweet performance of hula and music. After the performance, we wandered around the town of about 100 residents to observe and learn about life on an atoll. The area’s main economy is coprah, dried coconut meat. Around the island, we observed people drying the meat in the sun. After two to three days of drying, the meat is put into 25-kilogram bags and shipped to Tahiti where it is made into coconut oil. The islanders earn $1.50/kilo, and cargo ships arrive twice a month from Papeete. After exploring the community, some people chose to try weaving their own hats while others enjoyed drinking from cold coconuts and checking out the incredible shell jewelry for sale. Heading back to the ship for lunch, we were joined by the band, and the music played on. This atoll sees very few visitors. There is no airport, and only a handful of ships have stopped here. This made the experience extra special for everyone. It was another incredible day in French Polynesia!
Photo caption: Visiting Amanu Atoll.