Valley of Faaroa – Apoomau River, Raiatea

Tiny island enroute

With the wind howling we sailed to Raiatea and took ‘shelter’ in the valley of Faaroa. It was still blowing up to 30kts so although we had limited waves inside the reef and valley, it was pretty windy. But as the borders are still shut the yacht charter company here is having to store all their un-rented catamarans — unfortunately this means many of the anchorages are full and the mooring buoys taken where they have dumped their boats.

Dumped charter catamarans fill anchorages

Never mind we headed elsewhere. At the head of the valley lies the Apoomau river which is the only navigable river in French Polynesia. We anchored and decided to explore further by rowing up the river.

The river was very peaceful with the birds singing away. We rowed up to a small and very well maintained botanical garden. It was slightly surreal seeing manicured paths, mown lawns and neat picnic benches after the wild jungle of the river banks.

A perfect spot for a picnic lunch though admiring the beautiful tropical flowers.

Back on the river we got chatting to André who was working on a farm beside the river. He kindly offered us fruit and we happily went with him round the farm (although picture semi chaotic jungle rather than ‘farm’) picking bananas, rambutans, coconuts, avocado, guava, papaya, cucumbers and even green beans. We were so delighted and rowed the mile back carefully balancing all our hoards of goodies and five people in a small inflatable dinghy!

Paddling back full of fruit
Sheltering from the rain

Later we spotted André paddling his battered outrigger and fishing in the river head near our anchored yacht. We quickly sorted out some spare fishing gear and paddled over to give it to him. Delighted, he promptly gave us fish – still alive. We are not going to go hungry in this valley!

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