In 2006, Fredrik Fransson and the rest of the crew members aboard the *Maiken* yacht had every scientist green with envy. The group had departed the northern Tongan islands group of Vava’u in mid-August and soon witnessed the emergence of an island, which made rich grounds for new research. “We looked out, and in front of us it was as if there was no more sea,” Fransson described in one account. “It was like the Sahara, with rolling hills of sand as far as the eye could see.” They later learned that they had been sailing through a “vast many-miles-wide belt of densely packed pumice.” Fortunately, when they were far enough away, they saw Home Reef, which was initially an under-water seamount, growing into an island one volcanic explosion at a time. Island formations are quite common, especially in parts of the Ring of Fire, but they often occur underwater and other hard-to-reach places. Scroll below to see an incredibly rare photographic account of this phenomenon.