Hollywood stars and other Rich settled in the fifties with flying boats jetting over the South sea Islands. Long ago, these coral route is set. The photographer Michael Martin follows her now from island to island.

To the Person Elfriede Martin Michael Martin , born in 1963, is a graduate geographer and a renowned wilderness photographer. Munich has since he was 17. Years old 150 travel in the Desert made and more than 20 books published, including “The deserts of the earth” and “Planet desert”. Martins new project: a portrait of the planet earth. Topics page at SPIEGEL ONLINE website

The dream destination of the “South sea” is as old as tourism. In the fifty years of wealthy passengers realized it on the so-called coral route From Auckland flew Rich, actors and other celebrities from 1951, with luxuriously equipped flying-boats on the Fiji and cook Islands to Tahiti. A year later, the stops in between Samoa and Tonga were either.

The pot-bellied flying boats of the type “Solent” messengers of passengers up to 45 passengers and twelve crew members comfortably, and flew 5000 miles in 50 hours. Landed and coloured water of the respective lagoons and small water planes was started on the turquoise flew so low that the corals in the water were easy to see.

I want to follow with my wife Elly for four weeks, the “Coral Route” through the South Pacific. After the last of the “Solents” is already in the Museum, in the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, we fly a modern Airbus in a few hours ‘ flight from Auckland to Nadi on Viti Levu, the largest of the 330 Fiji-Islands . From there, every Morning the Yasawa Express starts, a fast boat that combines the most beautiful Yasawa Islands to the roadmap.

We spend a week every night on a different island, the accommodations range from simple thatched cottages to modern Resorts. Highlight was the snorkeling with the manta rays that patrol in front of Nanuya Balavu Island on the sea floor. The island of Nacula, I dive for the first Time in my life, with equipment, in the company of a diving teacher. The half-hour dive makes me get a sense of why, for many, the most beautiful diving areas of the earth in the South Pacific.

Of humpback whales surrounded

Continue on to Vava’u, an island world in the North of the Kingdom of Tonga . Unforgettable of the in 2006 deceased, over 200 kilograms of king Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, whose invitation to the Gentiles to the Kingdom of Tonga to many Europeans followed.

One of them is the Austrian, Joe, we meet on the first evening at the quay wall. The long hair became grey in the three decades to Tonga. He is today as a painter and plasterer plenty of work and was only once at his brother’s wedding back in the homeland. Today, no Freaks to Tonga, but to Chinese businessmen, who control more and more parts of the economy. Australia and China are engaged in a struggle for economic and military spheres of influence in the South Pacific.

On a Sunny Morning we take part in a Whale-Watching Tour. Again and again we see in the distance humpback whales, but once we come closer, you are pulled further. On the way back, we’re in luck. Three humpback whales circle around a half an hour the boat. We go into the water and follow by our divers, the elegant movements of the colossi glasses. A diving experience is waiting for us in the Swallows Cave, where the afternoon sun penetrates into the cave and swarms of small fish in the glass-clear water to shimmer.

the flight to the South of Ha’apai Islands , the vegetation of coconut palms and surrounded by coral reefs. We are quartered at the Northern tip of the island of Foa, and are not surprised at all of the 100 dollars for a simple straw hut without sanitation facilities due and payable. The next destination is the tiny cook Islands , which belong to new Zealand. On Rarotonga, it goes to Aitutaki, for many, the most beautiful lagoon in the world.

Threatened by climate change

Among sailors there is Agreement that the Islands of French Polynesia offer some of the best beaches and lagoons of the entire South Pacific. We are flying to Papeete on Tahiti , the capital of the French Overseas Departments. With a rental car, we follow the Bay shores of two Islands, Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti. The most spectacular scenery we experience at Teahupoo Beach on the southwest coast of Tahiti Iti: Deep-cut valleys lead from the coast into the rugged, densely vegetated volcanic landscape.

With a relatively low Air Pass to the local Airline Air Tahiti, we go to Tikehau, a tiny Atoll which is part of the Tuamotu archipelago . Atolls are ring-shaped coral reefs that enclose a lagoon. Around it arose to a still valid theory by Charles Darwin to today, often sunken volcanic Islands. The coral reef forms a fringe of very narrow Islands, known as Motus.

The Frenchman Jean Louis Depierre picks us up at the tiny airport in his rickety BMW and drove us to his nearby property. He shows us the simple room, and then the passionate chef goes into the kitchen and sizzles for his six guests a multi-course menu. “Pensions” mean such accommodations in French Polynesia, great Hotels are the absolute exception.

to see there’s not Much to Tikehau. To monotonous the land areas of the Atolls, the infertile soil is mostly coconut palms thrive. The sea is full of fish. However, tourism offers better earning opportunities than fishing, especially since the markets for fish are far away. Chinese fishing fleets do not threaten the rich fish stocks in French Polynesia, the French Navy controlled the territorial waters effectively. Many parts of the South Pacific but due to the many illegal fishing fleets now considered to be overfished.

Tikehau, juts like the other 300 Pacific Atolls, only one to two meters out of the water and is threatened by climate change directly. The IPCC assumes that in the worst case scenario of a sea level increase of 82 cm and up to the turn of the century.

Jumping dolphins as a companion

As the ferry services between the Islands are rare, brings us a ten-minute flight to Rangiroa. With a small boat across the second largest ring Atoll in the world. Target the lagoon Bleu, which is part of the large ring, in turn, the Rest of the smaller volcano. I’ll let my photo drone upgrades, and marvel at the abstract beauty, the shows, the bird’s-eye view.

After a boot of the captain of the excursion to the Île aux Récifs controls the small boat in the natural channel between the two Motus Avaturo and Tiputa. In the fierce flow of dozens of dolphins playfully jumping in front of and beside our boat meters high out of the water frolicking.

It is one of those experiences, which the South sea Route, 57 years after the setting of the Coral to make it a dream destination.

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