<< Google Earth image of Anaa
Most of the islands of the Tuamotu archipelago are atolls, and usually an atoll can be characterized by a barrier reef with motu (small islets made of coral sediment) laid in strings along its inside margin and a large lagoon in the center with one or more passes that bring in water from the open ocean. Anaa is like this but is has been uplifted slightly by tectonic forces so that the motu all have a raised base of ancient fossilized reef (called feo locally). This means that the motu are larger and the lagoon is much more shallow than a normal atoll. There is no pass through the reef so that there is very little circulation in the lagoon, and it is full of fine sediment that give it a spectacular blue-green color.
<< Google Earth image of Tukuhora Village, Anaa
The color of the lagoon is so brilliant in fact that you can see the reflection of it on the clouds for kilometers away on the open ocean. The people of Anaa are known as the Parata (Paumotu word for gray shark) and in ancient times they were fierce warriors that controlled most of the islands in their vicinity. In modern times Anaa was a center of copra (dried coconut meat) production with 10,000 people living there at the turn of the century in five thriving villages. However in 1904 a massive cyclone hit the island that devastated four of the villages and began the movement of people to Tahiti. In 1984 another cyclone hit the island that destroyed the remaining village, and it had to be rebuilt at a more secure site.
<< Feo along the north shore of AnaaToday there are only 400 people living there, but a fascinating history lies in the deserted villages, all of which still have existing churches and other municipal buildings, along with graveyards, and old cays. Our visit to Anaa was the first time that they had hosted a large group of tourists and they hope to use this event as a way to start up tourism business. One sector of tourism that Anaa is well situated for is sportfishing. The shallow lagoon is perfect habitat for bonefish and there are many large flats where fishermen can access them. Tahiti Expeditions has already sent fishermen there and we hope to work with the people of Anaa to develop this in the future.