The winds finally came and we were able to leave Moorea for the leeward islands of Hahine, Raiatea and Tahaa, and Bora Bora.
We are now sitting in Bora Bora, the Pearl of the Pacific, according to the local publicity. For sure it is beautiful, in a tropical way, and there are some glamorous and correspondingly expensive places to eat and shop but I do not think it will ever be our favourite. This is home to the very expensive beach resorts and on the motus (little coral islands) there are numerous beach huts sitting out over the turquoise blue lagoon. The locations are stunning but quite what the people do in these resorts will remain a mystery. It is not intrusive in any way but the motus are effectively all private. Being used to our freedom, this of course does not please us, so we have limited our visit to the main island and have had a fabulous cycle around the island (30km) with Bill and Moira from s/y Krabat. Actually the main village is very pleasant – a couple of small supermarkets, a few tourist shops and as always very clean and tidy. We do wonder if such overtly segregated tourism is really such a good thing – it is certainly not for us.
The snorkelling is good but not amazing, and the fish (and sharks) are often fed by tour boats to bring the fish close to the tourists. This does not seem like a good idea to us.
We have passed by Bloody Mary’s – a very well known (among the rich and famous) eating establishment. It seems from their notice board anybody whose anybody has been there. Even Julian and I recognised some of the names.
First world thoughts I know, and we have been seriously spoilt, but it is interesting when you reach these mythical places and get beneath the hype and the tourist brochures.
We rather “fell out” with Raiatea and after an overnight sail we just struggled to find a satisfactory anchorage. The holding in the bay we picked was very poor, the mooring buoy looked dodgy and there was a strong easterly blowing. We moved quickly on to Tahaa and Hurepiti bay where we anchored for a couple of days. The highlight here has to be the restaurant Tahaa Maitai. Not only was the food excellent, they had the most amazing whisky collection and this included Caol Isla which is Julian’s favourite. Food in general is expensive in all of French Polynesia, and wine extremely costly although, I am sure it will not surprise you to know, that the range is excellent although almost entirely French. The price for Whisky is extortionate and even on A Capella of Belfast this treat has had to be abandoned! but in this restaurant Julian just had to have a glass of his favourite.
We had the most lovely time in Moorea which is an island about 20 miles from Papeete. The anchorage was stunning – a reef on one side, mountains on the other and crystal clear water. This was a very relaxed sort of place and we were particularly interested to see pineapples being grown commercially. This is the first time since we have left Panama, that we have seen any serious agriculture. The fruit is plentiful but mostly seems to be grown in gardens or tiny small holdings. We really enjoy buying fruit and veg from the roadside tables. Pak Choy, mangoes, and pomme d’etiole seem to be in season and of course bananas and coconut are ubiquitous. Strangely tomatoes do not grow and can be hard to find.
Our beautiful anchorage in Moorea
The hiking was great on Moorea and we did three hikes. One was classed as “difficult” up the side of a mountain which was lead by Claudia and Phillip from s/y Bruno’s Girl. We thought it was more like mountaineering, but the view was stunning. The second was more leisurely and through the pineapple fields, and the third up to the Belvedere which again had a great view, but was rather spoilt by those who had arrived by quad bike! Albeit I did overhear a couple describe us as “awesome” for having walked, which gave us a definite glow.
Walking through pineapple fields
Claudia and Phillip from s/y Bruno’s Girl
We will now leave French Polynesia for the Cook Islands and Samoa. We will have been in French Polynesia for three months and it is a great spot – much, much bigger, more varied and more remote than I ever imagined. In fact we are still getting to grips with the sheer size of the Pacific. We still have over a 1,000 miles to sail to Tonga! and then New Zealand will be just over another 1,000 miles south.
We have had a wonderful time in French Polynesia. In particular we will remember the dramatic scenery and the high volcanic mountains, the mystical tikis and sites of ancient sacrifice, bright blue crystal clear water, outrigger canoes, tattoos, simple but tidy well kept houses and gardens, endless rhythmic drumming in the evenings and very friendly colourful people. Wearing flowers in your hair to go shopping or drive a bus says it all.