French polynesia, Travel Diary
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Tikehau – day three

Tikehau French Polynesia

Struggling with time on Tikehau, it was about 3 am when I woke up properly. 4 am a storm came in. At 5:30 am I lay in bed and watched the sky dance with colours as the sun begins to rise. I tell Triston it is a pretty sunrise. He opens one eye, agrees and rolls over.

Breakfast this morning is at 7:30am (we were told so at dinner last night). By 6am I can no longer take pretending to sleep. The morning has already been so pretty so I mutter to Triston about going droning before anyone is awake. That way we don’t have to worry about accidentally having people in the shot.

The wind has completely died away after the storm, the water is calm. This is the first time we see the water still. It has always had a tide or breeze ripple in it. We are transfixed. The water is almost one with the surroundings, it is so clear, so calm.

Tahiti French Polynesia Tikehau Beach Resort DJI phantom 4 drone
I set up the drone and flew towards the edge of the Tikehau lagoon

We decide to walk out to where we had walked last night and rather than walking all the way, I could drone over the wall. Off we go drone in hand. Ready for the new and wonderful things we might come across. About 20 minutes into the walk, we give up on the idea or the full trek and decide to launch from where we were standing.

There is a hard and decently flat surface to set the drone down on. This is going to be our best bet as there are sand and rocks and small coral pieces the rest of the way. With the updraft on take-off and landing, those things could blow up and scratch the camera.

Droning over Tikehau

My drone is a DJI Phantom 4 so the camera is not easily replaced. Phantom 3 has the ability to have a go pro attached but mine has an inbuilt camera. It is a great little camera, great drone. I always try my best to know the rules, follow the rules and not disturb anyone when I fly my drone, which is why it is never used.

Tahiti French Polynesia Tikehau Beach Resort
Triston took photos of everything on the walk while I was busy. Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort. Our Bungalow. Looking back from the edge of Tikehau towards the centre of the lagoon.

The flight is out over the water, just a couple of minutes flying. Right on queue, the wind picked up. While my drone can handle winds, I have a very small landing spot. I actually need to land the drone on its case to make sure the camera isn’t damaged. This is a challenge in the sudden wind.

My flight was about 12 minutes, 8 or so of those were bringing her in and lining up to land. Not a whole lot of interesting footage in that flight but it was nice to actually go out and use old droney mcdoesntdronealot.

We usually bring the drone when we go away and we rarely find a spot, or time, to use it. Often the difficulty is launching the drone. People tend to be around and different countries have different laws but I err on the side of caution. Sometimes we don’t get to use it because we don’t have enough time, or it wasn’t charged enough. Then there is the issue if my phone is flat or I can’t get a GPS signal.

Look, MUM! I used the drone

This trip we did get to use it. Pretty happy about that. Possibly one of the more interesting places for a drone flight as well so it feels good. Just a shame I didn’t capture anything interesting in this flight.

With the drone down and safely put away, we head off to see if there are any spots for a trash the dress shoot. We walk over the rocks, away from the resort. We find a path through different deep water channels so that we don’t need to get wet to get to a beach away from the resort.

The plan would be to use the drone. Set it to hover and we want the beach and water in it so we need to find a way to walk to a beach, away from everyone. Away from the hotel. A place we can get to without having to go in the water as we can’t get the drone wet. We find a way, it seems like it will work and we head back in for breakfast.

Breakfast is all the same buffet items as yesterday. We ate. I had resolved to not let the sunburn take away from my holiday. We had creams, gels, sprays, tablets. Everything you might need to have a productive day so I use a combination of those and suggest going for a snorkel now, right after breakfast, before the sun is too high and hot.

The best solution is to stay inside

My arms have been very well covered with sunscreen and I ask Triston to do my back. He says how about I wear a shirt in to keep it covered. Not having grown up on the coast, or ever concerned with being tanned, I have not been sunburnt too many times in my life. I enquire if I should still put sunscreen on, to which I am told the shirt ‘will be right’ and we head out.

Tahiti French Polynesia Tikehau Beach Resort
This is an atoll so there are more rocky patches than the long sandy beach but this is more than enough for us

We set off from the sandy spot on the beach, the same spot as last night and head along with the shade to our bungalow. That is the plan. I see so many new and cool things that I get a bit distracted following things. I end up in the sun more often than not. Triston is sitting on the sandy patch under our bungalow for most of this. Not snorkelling, just sitting, relaxing in the water. I am exploring. Eventually, I end up over there.

Tahiti French Polynesia Tikehau Beach Resort
Nice deep, soft sand launch spot

Did I need the sunscreen?

I got in trouble for going into the sun and Triston said the shirt was basically see through so now he wondered if it was working at all. That was great to hear, given he had said not to worry about sunscreen. Anywho, we decide to go sit on the beach that sits opposite Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort.

We will sit in the shade of a palm tree or any other tree offering decent shade over there. This was a new spot for us. There were new reef spots to explore, I got distracted by those and lost the pace a little. I was again in the sun. Triston came over and I told him I was now stuck, the reef was shallow and I didn’t know which way to go to get to the other side. I could get back out of this spot but I couldn’t see a way forward, without walking and we don’t like walking on the reef.

There is so much down there, best to float over it. Triston went first. He made it through the spot directly in front of me.

I was about to head through as well when I had my doubts and I thought about the sharks. My back felt like it was burning even though the water was cooling it. Walking in the sun to a tree seemed like a lot of pain to me. I kind of just got scared and decided to head back and sit in the shade by reception. I just wanted to be out of the sun and done with the burning for the day.

Tahiti French Polynesia Tikehau Beach Resort
Big coral under Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort

Hello shade, my old friend

Triston was on the other side as I arrived in the shady spot of my swim back. I waved. He had our camera. I tried to wave him back but he was sitting on the sand. I wanted to take some more photos. Without the camera, I loitered less, so it was a good thing I didn’t have it. Back on shore, I keep out of the sun and 10-15 minutes later Triston arrived back. He says I look like my sunburn has been sunburnt. Great news. It feels like it, I don’t doubt that it has happened. To the room. My creams, sprays, gels and tablets. I need to drink as much water as I can. I don’t want heat stroke or dehydration to go with the sunburn.

Tahiti French Polynesia Tikehau Beach Resort
Tikehau Atoll and the ocean

We decided we should rest as much as possible and stay out of the sun. Burn on burn is not great so we don’t want to burn it any more. It is about 10am now and it isn’t too long before the wind drops again, the water is calm, glassy. I suggest we stay out of the water and drone again. The sun was rising before so the water was black, in shadows, this morning and now the sun is up you can see all the hues of blue.

Tahiti French Polynesia Tikehau Beach Resort
The sailboat stayed for the days

Tikehau shark do do do do

On the way back from our walk this morning, we found a short cut. We did not need to walk over as many rocks, we could walk along the beach, past the beach bungalows and overwater suites that are on the other side of the hotel from our room and past the spa. This would technically be a staff area, I think, we came from the staff side not he way back so didn’t see any staff only signs – but I think if you want to walk from the hotel through that spot it does have one. Going past the spa isn’t staff only but we are walking past a barge. A tiny barge. I think this would be a staff area.

Tahiti French Polynesia Tikehau Beach Resort
Itty bitty barge

Our plan is to go all the way over to the beach that we found access to this morning but we get to the barge and see 3 sharks circling in the water. I want to try and film that. We should have used our cameras but they were so close yet so far and I thought it would look cool from the air so we set the drone up and flew it off.

It is a bit loud and taking it close to the water disturbed the water so I didn’t hover low for too long. I could’t see the sharks in the water or on the screen so I flew it off to capture some of the beauty of the atoll we were on. There was a sailing ship in the water near the resort. I had to get far away from the resort, to make sure I didn’t breach any general or local drone rules so I flew towards the sandbar we had canoed to.

Hello, can you hear me?

At this point the drone was over 200m away. I couldn’t hear it, I could barely see it. I had told it to stop flying but looking at it and looking at the screen I thought it was still going further away. A little bit of panic set in. Phantom 4’s can fly further away than that but maybe the GPS isn’t great here. If it loses signal it should return home (to the launch spot) but what if the signal is messed up? I launched on the edge of water. I have a bit of a panic so I turn the drone, I want to see if it is responding or not. Did I just lose my drone in Tikehau?! Eventually I see a response to the remote and I panic a little less.

This flight is 15 minutes, though only the first 8 were recorded. We did fly it out over the ocean but none of that footage was saved. At one point my phone fell out of the remote holder, not long after this the footage cuts out so I may have hit the record button to stop filming when I was putting it back in. I am not sure. The file could have been too large for my phone or it might be saved in a spot I can’t find it but for now there is only footage by the barge and out to the sandbar and back. Over the ocean is currently lost.

Tikehau – two hour lunch window

I bring the drone back from the open water and land. Happy that I have managed to land it on its original case. It is difficult but I don’t want the camera to scratch and we haven’t come up with a better solution for when we travel, yet. Packed up, we take the drone back to our room and head to lunch. Lunch is 12-2. We get there right on 12.

It has been a big day already. Drone, snorkel, sunburn. I have the hamburger. Triston has the margarita pizza. Both are fine.

Tahiti French Polynesia Tikehau Beach Resort
Hamburger with chips and a pizza.

More tablets, more aftersun, more water. My skin is hot. Very hot. Burning. The breeze comes and goes, it isn’t consistent today so we again go for a snorkel. This time, I do only stay in the shade. I take a shirt but a different shirt. It is a bit more hardy. We sit under our bungalow. Just kind of sit, we don’t really snorkel. We don’t take flippers, just reef shoes. Thongs don’t do well when swimming and I don’t want the soles of my feet to burn. It feels like 10 minutes, it was closer to an hour.

Hot sun, hot skin, sunburn problems

I start to get cold in the water. I don’t want to stay in the shade of our bungalow or go in the sun. Too cold, too hot. I need more water, possibly more tablets. The resort does have a pool so we decide to head up there and sit in the shade in the pool. The pool water is warm and I will probably still be cooler than our room but not tempted to look at fish. Also, the pool area has a little bit of the limited internet so I play on my phone on the internet while we wander around the shade in the pool.

Tahiti French Polynesia Tikehau Beach Resort
The water is far clearer than my foggy mask plus foggy case give it credit for. It can be hard to see if you have taken a photo of anything. We tend to point and hope for the best.

Eventually, we head back to our room. On the way, we ask about diving for Triston. The pass is one of the reasons we came here so I think he should dive it. We ask about the bird island tour also. It is mostly selling at the full day tour and I would want to do the half-day tour at most. We book diving in for the next morning and the bird island tour the day after. We aren’t committed to going on the full-day tour because on a boat, in the sun, for a full day won’t be fun for me at the moment. If I am ok in two days time we might go. We will assess closer.

Dinner time

Triston has steak, but a different steak. Prime Rib. I have the bolognese. Yes, sticking with pasta, did I mention the do them really well?

Tahiti French Polynesia Tikehau Beach Resort
The big dipper visible above our bungalow on Tikehau

Today has been a big day. It was meant to be a stay out of the sun and relax day but we ended up in the sun more than any other day. I got my sun burn more burnt, we flew the drone twice, walked over the rocks and now safely back in our room, after dark we decide to try and take better photos of the night and stars.

Tahiti French Polynesia Tikehau Beach Resort
Our night time view with the moonlight. Tikehau lagoon looking to the ocean

While I get the tripod and camera ready Triston ties up the mosquito net. If I couldn’t handle it touching me last night, you can guarantee I will not be ok with it tonight. We set the timer for 8-second and 15-second exposures and test it out. Triston doesn’t like the 15-second exposures. He thinks it looks like daytime and why do I want a nighttime photo to look like day time. We play a little more and then pack up. I put the chip in the laptop so we can see what they look like on a normal screen when I notice something weird with the fan.

Trouble in Tikehau paradise

Triston is sitting on the bed, so I point. I say fan. I don’t really have the words. The mosquito net has somehow caught itself on the fan. The fan isn’t moving so I asked if it had been on and is now stuck or if it was off. Triston isn’t sure but he thinks it was on so quickly checks to turn it off. A gust of wind has blown our tied up mosquito net on to the fan where the moving fan has twisted it and wrapped it around it. Triston untangles it.

The net is not broken, the fan works when turned back on, though we leave it off to let it rest. We don’t want to over work the motor. He ties the net up again, better this time. I am in too much pain to sleep so I sit up a while longer and take tablets. I set the alarm on both phones. Triston has diving and meeting it 8:15am. His phone is notorious for the alarm not working and I have mine set but I set Triston’s alarm as well. Just in case. Eventually, I have another terrible sleep and before I know it I am watching another pretty sky during the sunrise.

Tikehau day 3 was 29 March 2018
Updated 22 September 2019


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