Tahaa to Maupiti
05 September 2016 | Societies
Jane, warm and sunny
From Huahine we crossed to Tahaa and Raiatea, two islands that lie within the same coral reef. This is where one can charter a boat to sail around French Polynesia. The Raiatea marina there is very efficient. We had a small welding job done costing us only $10 and our friends who hauled said the place was excellent and prices fair.
We spent most of our time in Tahaa as there is an incredible coral garden between two motus on the western side. Here the fish ate out of our hands. The yellow butterfly fish especially liked bananas and I managed to get some great footage with my new go pro - such fun. We also visited the pearl farm closeby, fascinating how they make the black pearls, so many different variations - gorgeous. Sadly the weather became overcast and windy, not the best conditions to see the two islands. We would certainly consider chartering a boat one day, as we did not really get to know the two islands.
Our next island was Bora Bora, with its spectacular volcanic peaks surrounded by an extensive lagoon of varied hues of blue. It is known as one of the world's most beautiful islands and we can understand why. Sadly though tourism has taken over and the motus are covered with hotels that seem to spread for miles. Apparently there are approx. 2,500 palm covered rooms over the water. We managed to find a quiet area, but with the winds the water had become murky so snorkeling was left to cleaning Ta-b's hull. Dissappointing, however we did have fun.
The Mai Kai marina has become very popular with cruisers, possibly because of their wonderful happy hour and amazing band that plays on Tuesdays and Fridays. We had a couple of terrific evenings ashore with friends. We also went to the St. Jame's gastro restaurant with another couple for their six course meal with accompanying wines, yummy. A real treat; especially when a Manta Ray entertained us when attracted to the dock lights. At this point I should mention shoes. Over the last six months I have hardly worn shoes, well maybe some flip flops or sandles for going into town. So out came my favourite shoes for going out. To my horror not once, but twice, the second time at a five star restaurant my shoes literally fell apart (see picture of second pair). Luckily our tender was right at the dock where we were seated so I did not have to walk anywhere. Living on board has certainly distroyed my wardrobe, the humidity, salt, rust stains and rotting have taken their toil.
Our last island we feel is the jewel of the Societies - Maupiti. This island of only 1,200 people lies 27 miles northwest of Bora Bora and is the most western of the islands. It is a remnant of a volcanic peak and its highest point at 1,250 feet is near the center of the island. We hiked to the top one day, well the last bit of cliff and rope I gave a miss, but the views from close to the top were magnificient.
We were fortunate that the locals were having a party the Friday we were there. Most of the boats at anchor went and we were treated to memorable evening. The games consisted of opening and emptying coconuts, teams of three, to see who could do the most in five minutes. Three teams, including one with women who did a fantastic job. Another game was husking coconuts. This is what they do for work each day, so they are amazingly efficient. Then there was the weight lifting. Seven guys competing, although they got some of the cruising guys to try to lift the smaller rocks. The locals managed 146 kilos each, well six of them did, incredible. What to do for entertainment instead of watching TV. The buffet was local fair with a dance troupe finishing off with wonderful singers and a band for dancing. So much talent in such a small community, fantastic.
We would have liked to have stayed much longer. The snorkeling was excellent and watching the huge Manta Rays at the cleaning stations near the pass was magnificient, they are such stunning creatures. There was even a fabulous sand spit for kiting, but sadly the wind was not in our favour. A lot of people do not visit Maupiti as the pass has a poor reputation, because in rough conditions it is hazardous to enter. It is a shame as it is a delightful place, very clean, with warm, charming locals who make visitors very welcome. There are a few pensions for tourists and even an airstrip. We can understand the pass having a bad name as we had a very sporty entrance, the wind suddenly came up from the wrong angle, but the pass was luckily still just attainable. We however had a very boring exit, taking the opportunity to leave before the next bad weather came through.
It was sad to leave French Polynesia. A truly stunning location to cruise around. We certainly recommend that our friends following us allow more than one season in the area; which we have now found is possible and well worth the time. We now sail to the Cook Islands where we will no longer have to try to speak French and Polynesian - phew. Looking forward to a new culture to explore and experience.