Polynesian paradise from the view of a kite

Polynesian paradise
The extreme beauty of a dreamlike landscape, captured from an unusual aerial perspective. The result: one of the best collections of pictures to appear in Atlas of Wonders.

Whether at a substantial altitude or just a few feet above our heads, Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) offers exceptional panoramas (2020 update: this was written in 2013, before drones became so popular!). Such results usually require the use of radio-controlled devices, expensive helicopter rides, or some way of gliding that asks for specific conditions. Here all we need is a camera attached to an innocent little kite, that can be suspended over almost anywhere, thanks to a bit of wind.

On the other hand, using a kite to take pictures is much like fishing: you never know what images you’ll catch until you check what's in the camera's memory. Because of course when the shutter is released, there’s nobody behind the viewer to frame the scene.

All images are provided courtesy of the outstanding work by Pierre Lesage, kite flyer, photographer and wind lover, and are taken in French Polynesia and Easter Island. Enjoy!

Kite Aerial Photography
Polynesia, about a thousand islands spread across the vast Pacific Ocean. Welcome to Fakarava, in the Tuamotu Archipelago.

French Polynesia
Fakarava is one of the largest atolls of French Polynesia. It's a narrow strip of emerging land, 37 miles long by 13 wide, encircling an internal lagoon of 433 mi².

Polynesia From Air
Located 450km northeast of Tahiti, only 855 inhabitants are settled around the main village of Rotoava. As Pierre explains, the rest of the atoll is desert and offers unlimited miles of white sand beaches by a crystal clear lagoon.

Beach from Air
Diving in this atoll, classified by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve, you can meet manta rays, hammerhead sharks, dolphins and turtles, not forgetting the luxuriant corals.

Tuamotu Archipelago
This is one of two natural passages linking the internal lagoon with the Pacific ocean.

Society Islands
Kite photography can provide very compelling images from heights lower than those normally associated with aircraft.

Kite Photography
The kite is flown first without the camera, allowing it to settle in steady clear air above the ground-level turbulence, before the camera system is attached to the kite line. A sudden change of weather over the ocean could lead to an unplanned session of underwater photography.

Marlon Brando Island
Tetiaroa is a gorgeous atoll, located 33 miles north of Tahiti. In historic times, it belonged to the royal family and only they could come here, until they donated it to the only dentist in Tahiti. Later on, Marlon Brando purchased it from the doctor's direct descendants. Currently there are plans to build the most luxurious eco-hotel on the planet here.

Leeward Islands
We have arrived at the reef of the mythical Bora Bora, in the Society Islands group.

Bora Bora Island
South seas islands are an alluring destination for artists. Paul Gauguin in the late 19th century and Matisse in the 1920’s, among others, were inspired by the dazzling colors found in the lagoons and coral reefs.

Hotel InterContinental Bora Bora
Thirty years ago, a hotel built the first bungalows here, standing above the water using stilts. Now they belong to the set of stock images visually associated with luxury and heavenly places.

Polynesian Resort
A tourist resort beyond our reach. As Wikitravel states, Bora Bora is a tremendously pricey destination. Everything from catering to activities ranges from "expensive" to "indescribably expensive".

Tahiti Vacations
Tahiti is the largest island of this overseas country. It's right in the middle of the massive Polynesian triangle formed by Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island. Not so far from the Magnum house!

Backpacking French Polynesia
Moorea is the cheapest island if you are visiting French Polynesia on a budget. It's similar to Tahiti but smaller, cheaper and less touristy.

Windward Islands
This circle is a net used in a traditional fishing technique called stone fishing, organized in the island of Tahaa. And no, they are not trying to hit fish by stoning them.

Polynesian Beach
It basically works when a lot of boats in the lagoon move a giant net that encircles the fish by throwing stones hung on a rope into the water. They create a funnel effect which makes the fish go through a canal to a trap waiting for them on the beach.

Windward Islands
Here you can appreciate the kite's rope from a boat sailing from Moorea to Maiao, in the Windward Islands.

KAP Photography
Finally we are moving to one of the most extraordinary and unique places in the world: Easter Island.

KAP Photo
One of the applications of KAP is to help archaeologists discover shapes that can only be spotted from a certain altitude. Pictured, the untouched altar of toppled moais, Ahu Vaihu.

Polynesia Travel
Sunrise in Tongariki, this time from the sky. If you haven't seen them yet, follow this link to find a post including more wondrous images and info about Easter Island.

View in a larger map


All comments are reviewed prior to publication