Tuesday, September 18, 2018

53a Raiatea, where have you been all my life.

If the number of photos taken is an indication of how good a port is, then
this place is a big winner. Every aspect of this day was fantastic. Put
together the sunshine, the sparkling blue clear waters, the lush green
foliage that covers the island, oh and you can't forget Bora Bora in the
distance, and you have the most amazing sail in to any tropical paradise we
have been to.

53b Raiatea, where have you been all my life.

We had the warmest welcome from the locals, who had planned a whole day's
activities along the foreshore for our visit. Traditionally dressed, they
sang and patiently took photos with us as we disembarked this morning. The
small information centre just off the wharf had many tours available for
those who didn't already have plans for the day. Unfortunately, we would
miss the dancing and other demonstrations as we were off on a whole day
tour. Once again it was straight off one boat then on to another for us. No
lounging or relaxing in the sun on this boat; it was all about the speed.
Three huge engines propelled us at a breakneck rate across to Raiatea's
sister island Tahaa. Like a dog hanging out of a car windows our faces
contorted in the wind as we watched with our tongues hanging out, all the
beautiful vistas that passed us by.

Tahaa is much smaller than Raiatea, and as both islands are enclosed by the
same coral reef, it is believed that they were once a single island. Small
in size, but big with the opportunities of things to do.

53c Raiatea, Pearls, Pearls and more Pearls

Black Pearl farms are scattered throughout the glistening lagoons on Tahaa
and Raiatea, and touring one of these farms was our next stop. Each step of
the process to create these beautiful cultured pearls was explained to us.
We watched on as the craftsmen meticulously retrieved the completed pearl
and carefully insert a new sphere of shell which the living oysters would
slowly cover in a stunning array colours over time.

53d Raiatea, drift snorkelling the coral gardens

Next was the highlight of the day: snorkelling in one of the coral gardens
that can be found dotted around the island. With views of Bora Bora not far
in the distance we drifted through the corridors of coral and watched as the
colourful tropical fish darted from one side of the garden to the other.
Although the current was not as strong as it could have been, as mesmerised
as I was, there were moments of nervousness as I was pulled too close to the
coral for my liking.

53e Raiatea, Motu lunch

Next, we were taken to another part of the island for a Motu lunch. A
spread of fish, chicken and vegetables were beautifully laid out, enticing
everyone to over fill their plates. Plastic bottles of homemade rum punch
filled our glasses over and over again.

53f Raiatea, Vanilla

Our last stop before we headed back to Raiatea was a Vanilla farm. First
introduced in the 1800's, Tahaa is also known as the "Isle Vanilla" and it
now produces over 70% of French Polynesia's vanilla. Packets of pods, jars
of paste and powder were all available for us to purchase. Oils infused to
create medicinal and therapeutic products were also on sail.

53g Raiatea, sailing away..

Back in our little jet boat we completed the full navigation of this small
island and headed back to the dock that we left from this morning.

On leaving Raiatea, we were treated to a different passage to that which we
used on the way in. Carefully our pilot and captain navigated us through
the narrow channels. Reefs on either side so close it felt like you could
reach out and touch them.

We witnessed an amazing seascape as we sailed away from Raiatea: the
wonderful sunset colours against the dramatic outline of its neighbour Bora

Please, please, please .. I wanna come back here!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

52 Tahiti - Papeete

In the early morning as the sun rises it is always a beautiful sail in to
Papeete. The water starts off a beautiful deep blue colour; but it's easy
to spot the outlying reefs, the water lightening to turquoise as the water
becomes shallower and shallower. So clear is the water that you can see
straight down to the sandy bed.