la Orana! And we are back in French Polynesia! Today was our first day of the season, and we are excited to return to the paradise of the Tuamotus in French Polynesia. After leaving Tahiti last night, we sailed across beautiful blue seas throughout the evening and morning to arrive at Ana’a Atoll, our first landing of this trip.

Upon arrival, some of us did our checkout SCUBA dive. In most parts of the world, a checkout dive involves sitting on a sandy bottom without seeing much. Not for us. After a brief skills check, we enjoyed a beautiful wall with healthy coral and abundant fish. We spotted a few reef sharks, along with many butterflyfish, angelfish, and other vibrant reef fish. A remora decided to tag along, and many divers had this odd fish hitch a ride on their tanks, fins, or even legs.

The residents of Ana’a gave us a very warm welcome when we went ashore. Flowers, crafts, music, and endless smiles greeted us. It was a real treat to witness the local sport, which involves a coconut on top of a tall pole and some very sharp spears. The idea is to pierce the coconut with the spears from a good distance. It was very impressive to observe a sport unique to the area.

For the rest of the afternoon, we were free to wander. Most of us headed to the lagoon for a dip in the warm water. This place is ‘postcard perfect,’ and it was an incredible start to our voyage.