The French Polynesian Islands
Updated: May 25, 2019
Saturday, March 2, 2019
After another two full days at sea, we arrived in Fakarava. I was absolutely stunned at the shape of this island! It's just a circular, extremely narrow and long strip of land. You can see both sides of the land in a lot of cases.
In the photo below, the green strip is the actual island. It is about 16sq kms in size. There are around 845 inhabitants on the island and they are mostly pearl and coconut farmers living primarily in the two villages of Rotoava or Tetamanu. Since their livelihood depends on natural resources, they understand the importance of protecting it. This coral atoll is a natural reserve for many rare species of birds, plants and sea life and is one of the best places for diving.
On one side, the waters are rough with coral everywhere you see.
The other side is one sandy beach after the next, lined with palm trees and pure bliss.
The map below on the right demonstrated how narrow the island is. The beautiful plants, flowers and some trees were breathtaking and all I could smell was jasmine in the air. The tree below totally fascinated me, with its mangled root system that looked like some sort of carving. It was absolutely beautiful.
We rented bikes as it was just too hot to walk around. We drove down and back along the strip for 17 kms in total, taking in the local life. After returning the bikes we relaxed on the beach for a while & swam in the beautiful ocean. The water was super warm - about 30 degrees - almost too warm!
After several hours we went back on ship and we left Fakarava that evening. Moorea Island - Sunday Mar 3, 2019
The next morning at 6:30 we arrived in Moorea. I got up just in time to see us approaching the island. It was gorgeous.
We anchored near Opunohu Bay. Today we were doing a snorkelling excursion which we booked through Crystal. We were out by 9:30AM and onto an excursion boat.
If anyone knows me well, they know just how much I am in absolute HEAVEN when I am in a warm ocean & a tropical climate. There is nothing more luxurious and calming for me. I dont think I could ever tire of this. I could totally become one of these locals living the simple life. It is pure bliss for me!
We had an amazing day swimming with black tip sharks, so many fish and beautiful gentle sting rays. At one point the guide took us outside of the reef into the deep waters and we got to see & swim with two lemon sharks which were about 6 ft long.
These incredible clear and turquoise lagoons always take my breath away. I dont ever want to leave! These islands are pure heaven on earth! After another magical day on another magical island, we sailed off into the beautiful sunset.
Raiatea & Tahaa - Monday, March 4, 2019 It was 7AM and I had woken just in time as we were arriving at Raiatea. Its wonderful having a balcony as you dont have to scramble to run out on deck for the views. This was our first actual docking since we left Valpairaso. It was so amazing watching how they maneuvered this monster of a ship and managed to dock it so perfectly.
We wondered around town & browsed through some shops here. We also watched as the locals did a dance and welcome ceremony for our captain.
We then went on our afternoon excursion to the smaller sister island called Tahaa for our four wheel drive tour (which again was booked through Crystal). Booking excursions through Crystal has its benefits. It ensures you get back on ship on time; if there are any issues whatsoever, they are responsible and will make sure everything is resolved. Also you are ensured that the tour company is legitimate and safe. Its literally worry free and the best way to go.
We were taken to a pearl farm and learned all about the cultivation of black pearls on the islands. We got some dance lessons, some coconut cracking & extraction lessons and some great views of the islands.
There's lots of great murals here as well & beautiful scenery everywhere you look!
And again, the gorgeous sunset occurs while Louis Armstrong's "It's a Wonderful World" is blaring on the ships loudspeakers each time we set sail.
Bora Bora - Tuesday March 5
And finally - Bora Bora. The island I have been waiting for... and dreaming about for over 40 years. I couldn't believe I was actually here at last. I woke up at 6:30 and again, just in time as we were arriving. We were anchored and cleared by 8AM. Today John had booked a private tour with a company called VaVau. And it was an all day excursion on a boat again, with snorkeling, swimming and touring around the island. He knows what I love! We took our tender out and got to shore by 8:20.
We were met at 8:45 by our tour guide. We ended up on one of the big traditional outrigger canoe boats... it was very cool. It holds 12 people but we had 13. Our crazy tour guide showed up basically naked, wearing a
thong. He was hilarious the whole time, full of energy and laughter. Quite the character, joking around and singing and playing his ukulele for us. We left the port and went to our first lagoon where we swam with a ton of reef sharks & stingrays again.
We spent the entire glorious day being taken around the island to various areas for swims, hikes and views to die for. Then a great lunch where we sat at picnic tables which were in the water and there were hoards of fish swimming all around our feet. The views were surreal. The shallow lagoon that had such "fine as flour white sand" was absolutely incredible and I had to keep pinching myself.
I was dying when I saw the huts on the water. Its been something that I always wanted to do and I was certain that after today was done, that we were not coming back since the ship was leaving later in the evening with Tahiti as our next stop. Little did I know....
Papeete, Tahiti - Wednesday Mar 6, 2019
Our final full day on ship today! I was starting to feel panicky thinking it was all over! I was up at 6:30 AM again & just in time as we were arriving in the town of Papeete. I was a bit surprised by the views of the island, not realizing how much bigger it is then the rest of them. It is the biggest and busiest of any.
This is when we did our day tour of Tahiti in Brief and where we got to go to Matavai Bay and learn all about the The Bounty (see first post of Pitcairn Island & Tahiti) and visit James Norman Hall's house. We also went to a waterfall and did some walking around, taking in the scenery, the plants and the flowers. This pretty Tahitian gardenia is Tahiti's national flower.
Another view of Matavai Bay.
Traffic was insane on the way back. There is literally one main road which goes along the waterfront and the only way in and out to the port and to the city. We were stuck for over an hour in traffic and so didn't bother to go explore the town & the shops but headed back to ship as this would be our last night on board! Super sad and it felt as if it was only a few days and not 16!