French Polynesia includes 118 islands covering five archipelagos: Austral, Gambier, Marquesas, Tuamotu
, and Society.
A slightly different interpretation of the suffix -roa is offered by Henry, who believes that the Tuamotu
islands Takapoto and Takaroa mean, respectively, 'short separation' and 'long separation'--presumably referring to distance from Tahiti (Teuria & Babadzan 1993, 114 & 117).
The Marquesas are dramatically unlike the flat Tuamotu
atolls, thin lines of palms and sand, encircled by gin clear waters and reefs.
The modern voyagers passed through the Tuamotus
on the way.
The likely sea route between Hawaii and Tahiti, one of the Society Islands, via the Tuamotus
has favorable winds and currents for roundtrip sea voyages, the researchers say.
After stopping in the Tuamotu
Islands, Tahiti, New Hebrides, the Solomon Islands, and New Ireland, Bougainville enthused: "I thought myself transported into the garden of Eden.
Making use of the trade winds that blow out of the southwest, he kayaked through the Tuamotus
, a group of 78 coral atolls that stretches 1,500 kilometres across the South Pacific.
The nutrients needed to support the growth of the oysters and pearls occur naturally in the atolls of the Tuamotus
The commerdal quest for pearls began around 1870 as island divers wearing only tiny goggles plunged effortlessly to depths of 25 30 metres in the Tuamotu
lagoons to collect oysters.
I've seen evidence of this myself, since commercial flights to and from the outer islands of the Tuamotus
make frequent stops at remote atolls.
One of Sophie's tasks will be to watch for coral reefs, which could rip the bottom out of the boat - a big risk in the Tuamotus
Islands in the Pacific, known to sailors as The Dangerous Archipelago.
I had been renegade diving in Maui--renegade because I had never completed a scuba certification course, though I'd tooled around with a tank and regulator in the Caribbean, Bali, and the Tuamotus
without ill effects.