Makatea Island

(post updated in 18. January 2023)

Makatea Island is a former atoll (elevated atoll by origin), located 220km northeast of Tahiti, and 80km southwest of Rangiroa. Its area is 24 km2, its length/width is about 7.7 km by 4.7 km, and its height is about 80 m, with almost the entire island being immediately raised. About 70 people live on the island. Spanish explorer Pedro Fernandes de Queiros visited first this island in 1606, then Duch explorer Jakob Roggeveen in 1722. Makatea Island is just one of Makatea is one of three Pacific raised coral islands that had large phosphate deposits, and the other two are Banaba (in Kiribati) and Nauru.

this island has beautiful nature and hills

There used to be more people while the mine was working. It had large deposits of phosphate rock that were excavated by the British and French from 1908 until the depletion of supplies in 1966. Phosphate mining has attracted hundreds of people to Makatea. Makatea has been a very active island for over two decades because of the ships that arrived to load phosphate and deliver supplies and food to many workers and their families who lived there. After the end of the phosphate exploitation, only a few families remained to guard the island.

original untouched south Pacific beauty

The excavation produced hundreds if not thousands of hand-dug holes along the upper Makatea plateau. Each hole has a diameter of about 2.4m and a depth of 15m to 23m. Once an active village where miners lived, it had a school, a bakery, a medical first aid center, and everything that was necessary for life. Everything that is left today is destroyed by time and nature. The school and other places were razed to the ground and eaten by the jungle.

there is a dense jungle on this island

There are also many caves, some with freshwater inside, where people used it in the old times to have drinkable water. The nature on Makatea Island is almost untouchable. The island has many plant types, trees, and a lot of coconut palms on the beaches (kilometers of coconut line). There are some endemic bird species on the island, such as Makatea fruit dove (that lives only there) and the Polynesian imperial pigeon.

we see marina for ships
old mining remains overgrown by jungle
destroyed part of the island by mining back then. Now we still can see the holes.