Thanks to the Friend of the Bar who alerted me to this: a full episode of La Tresor de Pago Pago, TF1’s answer to Fort Boyard by some of the people behind Fort Boyard. It has a Russian (?) commentary track, but don’t let that stop you.
Three couples compete across three stages, at the end of the first two the worst performers are eliminated. The first stage is your typical adventure racing stuff (kayaking, net climbing, crossing a swamp). The second takes place in the village of Pago Pago (*), where the villagers protect the legendary pearl treasure and our contestants must prove themselves worthy in a number of village-y things (not flinching whilst having an arrow shot at you, bamboo dancing, sumo wrestling, being locked in a basket and thrown underwater). The winning team then get thirty minutes to complete underwater challenges, hampered by resident freediving pirates who want the treasure for themselves, to find a combination to a padlock which blocks the domed grotto containing the pearls, and earn bracelets which can be exchanged for using breathing apparatus held by the treasure’s topless guardians when collecting said pearls.
It’s certainly a bit of a curio, running for 11 episodes on TF1 across two runs – we’re aware there was a German version as well (Edit: actually might have crossed wires there). We quite like the Vangelis-style soundtrack, but there’s not much of it. Ultimately it suffers from Ice Warriors syndrome – there’s only so many ways you can dress up doing stuff underwater really, although it frequently looks gorgeous.
(*) There is in fact an actual village of Pago Pago in American Samoa, but this was filmed in the Turks and Caicos Islands.