Paradise has teeth: Travels in French Polynesia

by Mark Moxon

travels in french polynesia guide book

Author: Mark Moxon
Pages: 49
Copyright: Mark Moxon © 2005. "I’ve released this book and its companions via a Creative Commons Licence, which means you are free to distribute it to everyone and anyone, as long as you distribute it on a non-commercial basis and make no changes to it."


Rikitea is an interesting mixture of tropical primitiveness and modern influence. The islands are full of lush vegetation, with fruit trees everywhere that provide more fruit than the population can eat: the result is a paradise where you can walk around picking fruit whenever you want it, or even plucking one of the plentiful fishes or lobsters from the sea. On the other hand, the shops sell canned fruit, canned fish and other western delicacies like Coca Cola and ice cream, and the islanders find it easier to buy cans than catch their own meals. It’s a bizarre turnaround when you consider how westerners think of cans as a poor substitute for fresh produce.

There are other problems too. The lobsters and fish inside the lagoon are not fit to eat for two reasons: there’s a nasty red algae that originates in the vicinity of L’Île des Lapins, and then there’s the bacterial contamination from raw sewage released off Île Mangareva. The locals told me that their lobsters were bad to eat because of the nuclear tests in nearby Mururoa: they said that the French had washed their contaminated ships down inside the atoll and had poisoned the fish. However this, like much of the local gossip relating to the nuclear tests, is just a myth: in fact the 1995 tests in Mururoa were performed underground in sealed chambers and no external contamination was possible, and in 1996 a test by the International Commission found no contamination in the Gambiers.


New Zealand to Polynesia
Anatomy of a Yacht
The Strange World of Sailing
Sailing to French Polynesia
The Gambier Islands
Gambier Islands
The Sociability of Yachties
Rikitea Harbour
Gambier Islands (Southeast)
Gambier Islands (East)
Heading for Tahiti
Man vs Cyclone Kelly
Amanu Street Scene
Escape from the Yacht
Bushwalking in Tahiti