It sneaked up on us yesterday evening. At night. Late. Ten minutes before midnight. It starts in Kiribati, a small island group just west of the international date line.
In 1994 the government of Kiribati decided that all of their 33 small atolls, spread over more than 5 million square kilometres of Pacific ocean should have the same date.
Hence, the big bump in the dateline and consequently the New Year starts there.
I have no idea if this was a silent scream for attention, a question of being practical and have the same date in the country or just a boring day at work for the Kiribati government, but here it is. The bump in the international date line and being the first to kick of any New Year.
Being in French Polynesia, we are almost the last persons on the planet to have it. The New Year eve.
After the whole planet have enjoyed their New Year dinner while kids grow tired and grumpy and as the parties slow down in Kiribati, the French Polynesians wakens.
Not so much with a big bang. Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas the fireworks was downscaled to some few flares but the party continued into the small hours.
— ¤ —
We have spent our time the recent weeks to look at maps of the Pacific and read up on the available information we find on the nations west of us. We are trying to figure out where to not visit.
It is truly a challenging task that increasingly occupies us. Even with available time, we just cannot EXPLORE all interesting islands, nations, settlements or underwater worlds. The space between the islands are vast.
After much deliberation, we are at a place where we think we know our 2023 itinerary and we are excited. Excited to EXPLORE, LEARN and SHARE.
We will stay in French Polynesia / Marquesas (all the way to the north east in the map) until the beginning of March. The reason is that we are still in the hurricane season and – trust me – we do not want to get too close to one of those.
In March we will depart and head south west 500 nautical miles for the Archipelagos Tuamotus (still to the east in the map). The Tuamotus are famous through history of seafarers for danger and beauty. Danger because of low reefs and strong currents that have sunk more than one ship from under the feet of experienced sailors. Beauty because once inside in the lagoon, the turquoise waters embed your ship and invites you to EXPLORE the famous underwater world.
From the Tuamotous, we will swing by Tahiti, the main island of French Polynesia with the capital Papeete. We will stay short because ‘big’ city life is not what we look for.
We will visit Mo’orea, before we head a little NW to visit Raiatea and finally Bora-Bora, where we will check out of French Polynesia after spending a year here.
Hold on – here comes the list of far flung islands that is on our 2023 agenda after leaving French Polynesia (with links to wikipedia); South Cook Islands, Niue, Kingdom of Tonga, Fijii, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and finally Australia – Brisbane.
We will be in Australia by end of October 2023 before the next hurricane season. Puhh…. and again – Puhh.
As you see from the map above, it is a great geographical distance but it also incorporates shades of all colours of the Polynesian culture. We have so far learnt about the Polynesian cultures; their history and differences.
We will write up and SHARE our LEARNININGS from our year in French Polynesia in a separate blog on this page.
There are many places not on this list that we would love to visit. It does not look like this will be the season for New Zealand, The Minerva reef of islands north of equator.
Keep tuned and look, for updates and our progress.