Day 5 of rain and our last day. We figure this is the most rain we have had on holidays of ALL our holidays put together. Since our check-out isn't until 3:30, we managed to get a vanilla tour at the last minute since this is the Vanilla Island. We were told that the island smells like vanilla but we couldn't tell. Maybe if it was sunny you could smell it. Really neat tour and it only rained a bit!
It poured while we packed and now we are off to catch the first flight of 4 to make our way home for Sunday night.
Stay posted for pictures!
Dark clouds still looming on the horizon but it didn't rain all day. We went kayaking in the morning over the coral gardens and fed baguettes to the fishes. We then walked around the hotel grounds since it was really cloudy out. Not a large area so it didn't burn up a lot of time. We relaxed on the patio of our bungalow to catch a few rays through the clouds, drank minibar beers, listened to music, and swam a bit. At least it's not raining! We decided to take the boat shuttle to the main island Гўв‚¬вЂњ Taha'a. We landed at a gas station with nothing else around except houses. We walked left for a bit then right for a bit and only saw coconuts, land crabs, and hibiscus flowers. Everyone we passed always greeted us with Ia Orana which means Hello. The polynesians are really friendly people. We walked a total of 5km and called it quits! We told the hotel today is our anniversary so we'll be getting an anniversary cake for dessert tonight! Pretty funny since this will be our third anniversary cake since we got one on the ship and also at the other resort!
No wind last night. Woke up and the deck was dry but it was cloudy. Looked promising! David spotted a sting ray through the bathroom window. We rushed out to the patio and were able to take pictures of him under our bungalow. Then the rain started.
It poured most of the day so we killed time using the their business center Гўв‚¬вЂњ internet and TV. The only english channel is World CNN so we are up-to-date on worldly events. We actually went to the gym for a quick work-out. As soon as it stopped raining we went snorkeling in the coral gardens. We didn't see any rays or sharks but there were lots of colorful fish and neat coral buts lots of dead coral too. The was one really agressive colorful fish with teeth that wouldn't leave us alone. He followed us every where! I found it too shallow to snorkel and we got stuck in few spots. I prefer snorkeling in 35ft deep water with sharks! We actually started getting cold so we decided to stop. Dinner doesn't open until 7 so we had pre dinner cocktails. I had a lime-mango-vanilla margarita and David had a creamy rum concoction made with icecream. I thought it tasted like suntan lotion but he liked it. Dinner was fantastic as usual. I had local pork stew with curried rice and David had calamari steak on candied lime infused spinach. Dessert was molten lava chocolate cake with Tahitian vanilla ice cream. Yum Yum!Just as we were ready to leave for breakfast Гўв‚¬вЂњ RAIN!!!! It was coming down in buckets sideways. I think this is the wind we were supposed to get last night! They provide big umbrellas but you still get soaked from mid thigh down. Breakfast was fantastic sitting in the trees watching the rain. At some points it was coming down so hard that you had to almost shout at each other to hear over the downpour. But it's still very warm and we're still on holidys so we're not complaining!
A stingray came by our bungalow to say goodbye in the morning as we walked to breakfast. Weather looks bad again today. It rains in paradise too. Our flight was only 20 minutes but then we had to take a 30 minute boat ride to get to Le Taha'a Private Island Resort & Spa. Funny since you can see each island from the other. It's pretty cloudy today and raining off and on. By the time we got to our overwater bungalow it was pouring rain again! This resort is nicer than the one on Bora Bora. I can see why they shot an episode of the Bachelorette here. The bungalow is almost the size of our house! The resturant is on the second level in the trees so it's like a tree house! The rain let up a bit so we can explore the grounds. There aren't a lot of people here as they said only 20 rooms out of 60 were booked! Its very quiet here and obvious low capacity. There are coral gardens here for drift snorkeling beside the resort so when the rain eased we were going to check them out. When we got back to the bungalow it started pouring again! It never let up so we relaxed in the bungalow until dinner. Tonight we ate in the resort restaurant as we did'nt know how to go to Taha'a nor did we want to go out in the rain. The restaurant was very upscale, quiet and romantic. It never amazes me how many idiots go to dinner in athletic shorts and flip flops in these nice French restaurants. There were probably about 6 couples eating while we were there. Had great Mahi Mahi, Jackfish and Creme Brulee made with local Taha'a vanilla. Before leaving we were warned that strong winds were expected tonight . . . . oh oh! Went back to the bungalow for the night and drank our complimentary bottle of champagne.
Tuesday May 3
Hot and sunny morning so David went stand-up paddling first thing this AM. He saw Stingy again but no Sharky. Life is rough when you have to stand up paddle in the morning in Bora Bora for your daily workout and see Stingrays around you even if you sweat from the hot morning sun. Today we are booked for a circle island motu picnic tour with Maohui Nui. Our tour guide, Crazy Mareto, picked us up at 9am in an outrigger canoe decorated in palm leaves and hibiscus flowers. Wait till you see the pictures of this guy with his freaky hair, curled down long toenails and of course playing the ukelele as he steered the boat with his feet. We heard he was crazy online but now believe it because all the other tour guides tell you that he is. It must have been from wearing the G string and mooning all the other boats. The first stop was snorkeling with sharks in 35 feet deep water outside the reef. There were at least 10 black tip reef sharks near the surface and one big lemon shark lurking at the bottom. He was at least 9 feet long and luckily stays at the bottom! What an amazing experience as these sharks swim all around you. Nothing like staring down a shark. I got great pictures and video that you have to see to believe. The next stop was feeding sting rays in very shallow water - waist deep. They were very hungry and a lot of fun! They would climb up your chest if you were holding a fish and theirs mouths would try to suction on to our stomachs! It was hilarious, had a few nipped fingers and their rough tails were not fun on the shins. After a while, a few black tip sharks joined in the fun circling amongst us for the free fish that were being handed out. Next was reef snorkeling. Same fish we've seen the last 2 weeks but the reef was the biggest we've seen so far.
We've worked up quite an appetite so it was off to a motu for a lobster and champagne lunch on picnic tables in the warm water! The skys darkened and it started pouring rain! We thought it would ease up but the clouds just kept darkening. They had to move the tables under a big hut but we still had a fantastic meal. Lobster, chicken, and tuna all grilled. The veggies were, breadfruit, taro, and tapioca. As soon as we finished eating, the rain stopped - Murphy's Law!
We were dropped off at our hotel just after 2 and had enough time to shower and get realy for our tattoos!
I went first and it didn't even take half an hour. I got a manta ray with a turtle inside on my lower right hand side of my back. David got a spearhead shaped tiki on his upper right hand side of his back.
We had dinner on the main island again tonight. we both had shrimp - we're getting a bit tired of mahimahi! As we were eating I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and spotted a land crab walking out from under a cart, across the restauant floor, and out into the sand! What a sight! By the way, all these restaurants are open air with thatched roofs so critters can come and go. There were cats at the other restauants that were sooo cute but hungry :(
We've decided to get tattoos since this is where they started and this hotel has a local tattoo artist named Matatiki working out of the spa. His hours are Monday to Friday 9 - 3 so we waited around all morning for him. He decided to take the day off so we booked tomorrow afternoon with him. So excited!
We took the water shuttle to the main island then a bus shuttle to the only public beach in Bora Bora called Matira Beach. It's small but nice and not a lot of bugs! We grabbed lunch at a little shack on the beach and of course ordered MahiMahi bugers. It ended up being tuna and 3 huge pieces piled high on the bun and were great. The ketchup was in a coke bottle though . . . I didn't get sick so it was a-ok! We stayed at the beach for 5 hours swimming and relaxing. Our bus shuttle picked us up at 5:30 and dropped us off in the main town for a little shopping. We went to the local grocery store and picked up a liter of pineapple juice, some peanuts, and deoderant for David :)
The 6:30 boat shuttle picked us up and we quickly got ready for the Polynesian Dinner at our hotel.
It started raining so the restaurant was full and we had to wait for a table. The dancers started before we satdown so we missed part of the show. The meal was ok and the dancers were ok. Definitely not worth the money! It's pouring rain all night. Hopefully tomorrow clears up because we have a tour to go on!
A day at the hotel since everything is closed in town. We decided to try stand-up paddling. It started in Hawaii and only started here 2 years ago. it is basically standing on a surf board and paddling! Sounds hard but is really easy and a great workout! Too bad were stuck in Alberta otherwise I think this would be a sport we would take up! When David was out paddling, he spotted a sting ray so he rushed back to our bungalow to get me. He told me to cut through the bungalows by ducking down while paddling under the walkways to get there quicker. I thought it was an accident waiting to happen so I jumped on the board and paddled out around the bungalows and was able to find Stingy. He didn't like me and tried to take off. I followed him for a bit but he was too fast and I gave up. I went back to the bungalow and David wanted to get a picture of Stingly so he took the board out again and took the short cut under the walkways and told me to watch him to see how easy it was. Well, the waves steered him a bit off course and by the time he readjusted, it was too late for him to duck. He smacked his head off the wooden walkways, he tried to grab a hold of it but there was plastic piping underneath, which sliced his hands open, he fell backwards into the water while the board shot out from under him. I just about fell over from laughing so hard! He said we was OK and continued on to find Stingy. His hands were cut pretty bad and started dripping blood down the paddle and onto the board. He did find Stingy and also Sharky! So here's David standing uneasily on a board in the water above a shark dripping blood everywhere trying to take a picture of Sharky and Stingy!! That's the bravest stunt I've ever seen!
Today is really hot. It's about 40 on the deck with 68% humidity. It's been that temperature most of the trip.
This hotel has a coral nursery and lots of fish so we did lots of snorkling. The beach is small but full of ants and bugs so we stayed off of it. In fact, almost all of the beaches here are like that. I only have 20 mosquito bites on my legs :(
We went to the main island for dinner again and had pizza. It was fantastic!
We left the ship early in the morning to check out the famous market in Papeete.Lots of crafts and fresh fish and veggies.
Our flight out of Tahiti was that morning and we landed in Bora Bora less than an hour later. The Bora Bora airport is very small and open out to a boat dock where the big hotels each have their own shuttle boat. Our boat wasn't wating for us because our flight time changed so we waited about 20 mins and admired the beautiful blue waters!
Check-in was a breeze and we were promptly taken to our overwater bungalow. It actually brought us to tears! I had a little nap while David checked out the fish and coral around the hotel.
This hotel offers boat shuttles to the main island and then from the pier van shuttles to restaurants will pick you up so we went out for dinner for 3 of our 4 nights. The dinner van shuttle picked us up at 6:40, we were at the restaurant by 7, finished eating by 8:30, walked around for half an hour before the 9pm shuttle picked us up. We started dinner with Breadfruit Gnocchi in tomato sauce. It was the BEST appetizer Ever! I had MahiMahi on a volcano rock and David had Lagoon fish. Yum Yum!
When were were walking back to our bungalow, we heard splashing in the water along the shore. We looked back to see a shark thrashing along the shore! It was a black tip reef shark and wasn't too big!
Tomorrow is Sunday and everything is closed in town except for a few restaurants so we'll hang out at the hotel for the day.
We rented a car and drove around the island. It was only about 100km total. There are fresh fruit stands every where. The first stop was Belvedere lookout which allowed us to view 2 bays with a mountain in between. The view was fantastic! On our way down we stopped at the agricultural farm where they make fresh ice cream. David had coconut which had huge chunks in it and I had passion fruit. It was the most flavorful thing I've ever had.
We then stopped at the Fruit Juice de Moorea company which makes fresh juice and is also a distillery. We sampled tropical fruit punch and pineapple juice. The pineapple juice is unsweetened and won the silver award in Paris in 2010. They also make Tahiti Drink which is 8% rum which was my favorite. They also had cream liquors that were vanilla, coconut, or coffee flavor. We bought the vanilla one, it tastes like a dessert! The local police were even there sampling!
We continued along the road which was right along the water all around the island and stopped at a snorkeling spot noted in the Lonely Planet book. Great snorkeling! Saw lots of coral and fish but no rays or sharks.
We then drove to a hotel for lunch - mahimahi burgers again! I then had a nap on the beach while David snorkeled.
The day went by quickly as usual. We're now packing and looking forward to staying in the overwater bungalows on Bora Bora and Tahaa the next week.
Thursday April 28: Tahaa
The boat was offering only one tour to Tahaa island, otherwise we had to go to Motu Mahana which is a little private island owned by Paul Gaugin. The crew from the ship set up a huge bar and served drinks out of fresh coconuts and then also set up a BBQ lunch where you could have hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, fish kabobs, grilled fish, poison cru, and fresh salads.
we snorkeled first thing and say a big grey stingray but it didn't have a tail! David saw a black tip reef shark but I was too busy trying to fight the current! We might have seen an eel or sea snake but we're not sure . . . should have gone to the sea creature lecture on the boat!
We spent the rest of the day on the motu learning how to tie pareos and how the dye them too! They also showed us how to make poison cru, cut coconut and the various uses of it, and also a vanilla tutorial.
The ship had a sail away party on the pool deck with live music.
Wednesday April 27: BORA BORA
Pulling into the lagoon to drop anchor, we saw flying fish off the bow from our balcony. We also saw the resort where we'll be sataying next week - the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort. The overwater bungalows on the turquiose lagoon looks fantastic! We started the day with an island tour by Le Truck - basically a wooden open school bus. We drove around the entire island and made a few scenic stops along the way including stopping for drinks at Bloody Mary's. We also saw the place where Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando stayed. They are larger overwater bungalows which can now be rented for $2000 a month. These islands are filled with land crabs and you can see their holes dug every where in the sand. The truck stopped at one spot and told os the throw all of the hibiscus flowers that were tied to the sides of the truck towards the crab holes. We then waited for the crabs to emerge from their holes and grab the flowers and drag them back into their holes!
Then for the afternoon we went to a motu where we saw a stingray while snorkling.
We then rushed back to make it for another tour - sunset jet boat cruise around the lagoon. Got some fantastic sunset pictures while we fed sharks and munched on fresh pineapple and coconut! We saw men standing amongst the reef and asked our guide what they were doing. He said catching lobster since it's lobster season now. we asked how do they catch them? His reply . . . they pick them up!
It was Polynesian night on the boat where they did traditional wedding blessings for those who have an anniversary or honeymoon while on the ship. We got our picture taken with flower crowns and wrapped in a traditional blanket.
The weather cooperated tonight and we were able to star gaze. The milky way was very visible right from the top deck of the ship. They brought out a telecope and were able to view saturn. The big dipper is very low on the horizon and is turned upside down. The the only northern constellation visible here is the big dipper. We also saw the southern cross which is a big deal i guess but we've never heard of it!
The evening entertainment was the hostesses of the boat dancing and singing tahitian songs. It was very impressive.
Tuesday April 26: Happy Anniversary to us!
It's our 4th wedding anniversary and 9th of being together. We spent the day on Huahine, our first day in the Society Islands.This is one of those dream islands completely surrounded by a reef and turquoise lagoon. We went on a circle island tour by outrigger canoe and motu picnic with Huahine Nautique. We started with a pearl farm tour which was basically a wooden hut floating on the lagoon. Here they grow and graft the pearls. They explained the pearl creation process and showed us how it is done. They also have a pearl shop on site where Avaleen bought a black pearl anklet. Next we were brought to a snorkel site where we did our first drift snorkel. Pretty nice, just jump in, put your face down and let the current take you away. Average snorkel site in 10 ft waters with small fish and not great visibility due to being dark and cloudy. We then continued sailing around the beautiful island full of many bays, turquoise waters dotted with dark coral and the amazing pounding surf on the reef that surrounded us. Amazingly enough the dark clouds,sky and rain shower disappeared in time for the motu picnic. A beautiful site on a private motu with white sand beach, crystal clear waters fringing the blue lagoon and of course picnic tables and Hinano beer umbrellas along the shore. A fantastic Tahitian lunch of BBQ chicken, salads, curry rice and freshly made Poisson Cru marinated in front of our eyes. Can you say yummm? Oh can't forget to mention that as soon as we hit shore a large cold bottle of Hinano beer was handed out by the captain adorned in his traditional Huahine dress. Time was available here for taking pictures, walking the beach, swimming in the lagoon, watching the fish, picking up shells with hermit crabs and enjoying more Hinano while realizing that we are actually in dream land. Not to mention listening to the captain singing Tahitian music and playing a ukelele. Next it was back sailing the amazing blue waters and playing tag with leopard rays and sting rays around the island to the last site for the day. This is where one can say they save the best for last. We arrived at a floating wooden boat permantly moored to the bottom in the middle of the shallow lagoon. After donning our snorkel gear and jumping in we opened our eyes to see black tipped reef sharks swimming everywhere around us. A genius set up of ropes and metal walkways under the water for a natural shark aquarium. There must have been 50 sharks there in the 6 ft of water. It was literally a shark soup with a few brave humans surrounded by these amazing creatures. Yet there was no fear whatsoever. Totally harmless creatures to us as they swam amongst us within arms length but looked very agressive when our guide threw in a piece of food for them. Truly a once in a lifetime experience and yes we have the underwater pictures and video to prove it. And yes there was outstanding fish and coral there too but who really noticed with sharks everywhere.
Sunday April 24 and Monday April 25 were days at sea. VERY calms waters, can hardly tell we are moving. We are travelling against the current now so the 2.5m swells aren't noticable. Where going with the current causes large movements of the boat!
Great weather both days. Monday was reading 38 on our little temperature reader. The captain said the sea temp was 80 and air temp was 82.
We are really looking forward to Huahine tomorrow!
Still can't figure out how to post pictures so I'll narrate!
The first day at sea was very rough with 3m swells. We are right at the front of the boat so we were really rocking and rolling. I actually had to take a sea sickness pill. They had barf bags laid out on all the tables in the hallways! :(
The first stop was Fakarava which is just a little strip of land in the Tuamotus Islands. Pop. is 800. This is where black pearls are from so I bought a bracelet and earings. We rented bikes and rode 20km while stopping to snorkel and eat at the only restaurant. Fish burgers were to die for - fresh mahi mahi caught that morning. We spotted a stingray playing in the water right from our table.
Wed April 20: Had another rough day at sea on route to Fatu Hiva of the Marquesas Islands. This is the place to bye Tapa (bark paintings). We bought a small one. We decided to go for a hike to find some petroglyphs and got caught in a downpour. Our path back down the mountain was washed out so we had to do some scrambling (literally) to get back. The ground I was crossing crumbled under me and David had to catch and pull me up. My legs were trembling.
The next stop was Hiva Oa in the Marquesas where I bought a hand painted pareo (sarong). There wasn't much to do so we just walked around town.
Friday April 22 was Good Friday and were supposed to stop at Ua Huka. This island has 3 times as many wild hourses as humans!. The seas were rough and the tender boat couldn't get in so we continued on to Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas. Since we didn't have anything planned we went for a 3 hour hike to try to find the beach where they filmed Survivor. The description in the Lonely Planet book is WRONG. We still found a neat little beach where I got some nice shells!
Sat April 23 was a 4x4 tour of half the island and a local lunch of shrimp, breadfruit, and tuna prepared 3 ways: grilled, fried, and raw in coconut milk (poisson cru). It was FANTASTIC! The weather finally cleared up so we got some fantastic pictures of the valleys and bays of this rugged island with a pop. of 2000.
The next 2 days are at sea en route to the Society Islands which are suppossed to be breathtaking! Hopefully the ride won't be rough!
We are just leaving the Marquesas Islands. Sorry for the gap in updates it's hard to find time to download pics and info while on holidays! We love being disconnected! These islands were very wet - they haven't had rain in 2 years and now its been raining for 3 months! I''l try to upload pictures but the connection is a bit iffy!