Our flight from Easter Island to Papeete, Tahati was smooth as was our arrival to another airport hotel. While not charming, it was key to our early morning departure. The following morning, we left the Island of Tahiti by plane to a smaller island that along with Tahiti and myriad of others makes up the society of French Polynesia. On the isle of Huinhue we meet the captain of the Catamaran we would be sailing for the next week. Didier, his wife and a French dude named Eddy were our crew. Didier was most definitely in charge of the boat and kept a neat and tidy ship. Pauline (although I called her alternatively and equally wrong, Geraldine and Josephine for the entire trip!) was the cook and keeper of the snacks. Eddy, we are not sure what he did. He spent a lot of time playing video games on his laptop and observing the anchor being dropped. He was apparently spending some time on board as a summer intern. We were suppose to be impressed he could play the bagpipes at some level that if you know bagpipes you would be extremely impressed. Needless to say Eddy didn’t make much of an impression. I don’t think we heard 3 words from Eddy. However, the rest of the crew more than made up for Eddy’s lack of personality.
It was a great adventure for us. The kids loved the boat. We napped, read a ton, sunned, played a lot o board games and had some truly great meals on board. We also spent a fair amount of time off the boat. We explored the islands as well as the motus or smaller islands that will eventually surround the existing volcanic island after it erodes into the sea and becomes a hug lagoon after about 1 million years. More on that later. Everyday there was a new coral garden to explore, mostly by snorkel. Although one day we all (Georgie included!) went for a reef scuba dive. That was cool.
We had wonderful meals that I didn’t have to cook and we were weren’t dragging the kids to a restaurant every meal. We had a ton of fresh fish served as carpaccio, sushami or grilled. The fruit, especially the papaya, mango and passion fruit was served at every meal. I woke up each morning to the dishes clattering as the kids pour their hot chocolate and fought over croissants, some of which were filled with chocolate! Pauline was a great cook and the kids loved her dinner deserts and mid afternoon cookies.
What I loved most about this part of our trip was the natural rhythm of the day. Never before have I woken up at 6 o’clock in the morning not wanting more sleep. But we all got up with the sun and went to bed soon after it set. Everyday was a good mix of nothing and something exciting and new, never before seen. The islands themselves are as you would expect, absolutely spectacular. They are green volcanic islands, dramatically steep and jagged. What you won’t find in the Tahitian Islands are wide sandy beaches. They are surrounded by coral reefs, making them paradise for divers and snorkeling. Not so great for taking a long walk on the beach. That why the boat was key, it’s the best way to see these islands. The swimming off the boat was like a dream. The color of the water could be the lightest of aqua blue when the bottom was sandy or the darkest sapphire blue in the open water, as well as every shade of blue and green in between.
We understood from the people we talked to locals are either involved in tourism or agriculture. GM and I were both kind of amazed that even though its was high season it wasn’t that crowded with other tourist. Other than the obvious waterfront resorts that dotted the islands there was very little evidence of bustling tourism. We did an agricultural tour of one of the smaller islands Tahaa and saw a family peal farm and vanilla farm at work. It was interesting to see how both these products are brought to market and most of the economy is driven by these small scale family farms.
We were fortunate to be in French Polynesia in July as it is a month long Festival of boat races, dancing and singing. While moored outside Bora Bora’s main village we caught two nights at the Heiva Festival. The Polynesian music and dance was seductive in a playful way and it put a smile on your face.
After a week, it was time to move on and we flew to Rangoria, an atoll located NE of the Society of French Polynesia.