Kite Photos of Tikehau Island Now in Google Earth

Tikehau motu kite aerial photo in Google EarthWhen Google updated its imagery last week, my latest set of kite aerial photos went live from our Tahina Expedition. This time a small motu island in the Tuamotus atoll of Tikehau, in French Polynesia is now visible in very high resolution. The photos were taken last June when we visited the island on our sailboat Tahina.
One day, during our week long explorations, we had a chance to take some kite photos. I had found a small motu that looked like a good candidate. Jason, one of our temporary crew, helped fly the kite. I drew “TAHINA” in the sand hoping it would show up in the pictures (read more about that day). Jason was holding the kite string while wading in the shallow waters upwind of the island so we could capture the entire island with the camera dangling from the kite string a 100m in the air. I was standing on the beach holding the remote to control the camera, and my image was captured in several of the straight down photos. Weeks later, I managed to upload all the photos to our server. My friend Stewart Long, of GonzoEarth, is a professional at processing aerial photography. In his spare time, Stewart worked over the imagery and, a couple of months later, we sent it to Google. Finally, the imagery went live in Google Earth early last week. So, now everyone can see it!
Kite Aerial Photo of Tikehau motu with Tahina on beach
I was pleased to see our name TAHINA showed up clearly, and not only that – because of the way the imagery stitched – pictures of me ended up showing up twice on the beach! (No, that’s not my twin – just Frank twice!) If you visit this place in Google Earth , you can see the rest of the motu in ultra high resolution (much higher than most Google Earth imagery, you can even zoom in further than seen above). Or try visiting the location in Google Maps.
This is the fifth set of kite aerial imagery we have had published so far. For some other examples check out: Manihi village, BBQ Island, and Petite Tabac. If you’re interested in how we take the photos, read this post and view the photo album to see how its done.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Great pictures. One question: where’s your boat?

  2. Your probably asking about how we got to the island. We had a rubber inflatable dinghy parked on a beach which didn’t end up in the picture (the blank area just to the NW). That’s because it was at the most upwind point and we couldn’t easily get the kite over that section (without Jason going swimming with the end of the kite string)!

  3. Great little addition.
    You had me looking round those islands and I found some breathtaking photos too, so thanks for that too.

  4. Wow … really white sands. Looks beautiful.

  5. Amazing!! I show up in google maps lol but they covered my face of course. I wish I knew before tho so I could dress up =)

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