Tahiti 2011:
Day 6 - Rangiroa


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Tahiti 2011: [Day 1 - Moorea] [Day 2 - Tahiti] [Day 3 - Tahiti ] [Day 4 - Huahine] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Rangiroa] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Raiatea] [Day 9 - Bora Bora] [Day 10 - Bora Bora] [Day 11 - Moorea] [Day 12 - Tahiti] [Day 13 - Tahiti] [Day 14 - Coming Home]

Friday, February 25: At dawn, Rangiroa still wasn't visible on the horizon.
By the time the sun came up, we could see it in the distance. It is an atoll with no mountains of any sort, and with a maximum elevation of about 36 feet, it's pretty flush against the ocean.
Breakfast this morning included blueberry crepes and churros, along with fried rice-of-the-day, potatoes-of-the-day, muesli, smoked salmon and pineapple. Seriously, Princess does breakfast right.
We entered Rangiroa's huge lagoon at Tiputa Pass, one of the best snorkeling and diving locations in French Polynesia.
We made a large circle to get past the reef at Tiputa Pass, and doubled back to anchor near it.
We had a shore excursion later in the morning, so we took a tender after the crowds had died down. The water next to the dock was beautiful and filled with fish.
On the dock, there were a couple of tour operators and a group of musicians to serenade us.
Here's a wider view.
We got into the water for a few minutes, ...
... and peered down at the fish below us.
Next, we sat on the broken coral beach in the shade. Ahhh, that's nice.
Frigate birds flew by overhead, and we watched one pluck a fish out of the water.
At some point, Tom found a J-shaped piece of coral, and that led to us spelling Jill's name in coral. It's pretty much the only name in the world that can be spelled using only pieces of coral.
When it was time, Ugo picked us up for our shore excursion.
The excursion consists of a very short boat trip across the water to "The Aquarium," a coral garden teeming with marine life at Motu Nui Nui near the mouth of Tiputa Pass.
It's just a tiny crescent of sand, but the number of boats moored nearby indicates that this is definitely a place worth visiting.
This odd boat had submarine-style seating just below the water's surface. We'll have to try this some day.
Almost there!
Please, sir, may we get in the pretty aqua water?
Yes, you may.
One by one, our tour group got in the water. Our guide was a taskmaster, barking out orders to stay close to him, but with so many slow snorkelers, it's an amazing feat that he was able to keep our group together the entire time.
Once we were all in, Ugo threw a chunk of food to the fish and there was a feeding frenzy. We were surrounded by hundreds of fish and it was very cool.
Ugo spotted an eel on the ocean floor, so he dove down to coax him out with some food.
The fish went crazy but a lot of us didn't get to see the eel.
So, down went Ugo again.
This time, we saw him. Wow. It turns out that moray eels really are, in fact, 10 feet long and thicker than a human arm. Fortunately, they're pretty shy so this guy chose not to come out and chomp off our feet.
We couldn't identify these fish, but there was a cute little school of them.
The coral garden is correctly named. It was a beautiful backdrop to this raccoon butterflyfish.
This was probably about 30 feet deep, and fish were everywhere.
A school of unicornfish swam by at a distance, so we didn't get a great photo but you get the idea.
Here's a school of flutemouths.
If conditions are right, coral will grow just about anywhere, manmade or not.
Ugo dove down again, ...
... and came back up with a ridged sea cucumber for us to touch. It was flat on the bottom and rough on the top. Cool.
Tom did a little skin diving too.
These little yellowtail damselfish look particularly pretty against the coral.
This section of coral contained all manner of interesting things. You can see the clam in the upper center of this photo, ...
... but let's look much closer at this white and pink spiral anemone, ...
... and this orange one.
Tom did some more diving to get this shot of Debbie floating on the surface. This was the last snorkel we did with our flotation vests, because we just didn't need them.
Ugo tossed in another chunk of food and there was another feeding frenzy of paddletail snapper.
This guy ended up victorious.
We were thrilled to see a black tipped reef shark swim past us a couple of times. We had last seen these in Australia on the Great Barrier Reef.
Soon enough, the snorkeling was over, and we were back on the boat where a bowl of fresh coconut was passed around for a snack.
To our delight, we didn't head right back to the dock. Instead, we cruised out through Tiputa Pass. This photo was taken as we were in the middle of the pass, looking toward the island that we did not go on.
We passed that island, and the waters got rougher ...
... as we left it behind and got out into the open ocean.
Our boat's flag shows the outline of Rangiroa -- a series of islands and motus around a huge lagoon. We were located at the topmost point of this outline.
We passed some scuba divers, turned around, and headed back. Our view to the right this time was the island we had departed from. We could see a nice beach and an overwater restaurant (not pictured here), so we knew we had some exploring to do in the afternoon.
Close to the dock, we passed our balcony dinner waiter, doing exactly what he said he loves to do every day with his time off between the breakfast and dinner shifts: fish. He's the one casting his fishing rod in the center of this photo.
We headed back to the dock and caught a tender back to the boat.
Lunch included fried calamari -- all we could eat. We did our best to be good and not overeat, but it was hard. Fortunately, we were getting lots of exercise every day so we weren't bloated when we came home.
After lunch, we headed ashore again and headed down the single road leading from the pier. There wasn't a lot to see except some houses, ...
... and pretty, pretty flowers. Why oh why won't plumeria trees grow in Indiana?
After a very short walk, we found the beach we had seen from the boat. This is why we always book morning shore excursions -- so if we see an interesting place in the morning, we can visit it in the afternoon.
Here we are. Pretty, huh?
There's Tiputa Pass and the island we had passed earlier.
The beach was pretty much deserted. This was just one of several times that we had a beach or a lagoon to ourselves. French Polynesia is awesome.
We spent some time just watching the waves crashing over the rocks.
What's that on the rocks?
Crabs! Hilarious, territorial, skittish crabs. They are so amusing to watch.
Yay! Tide pools! Let's go check them out.
OK, they were a little boring, but here's a little hermit crab, ...
... and here we are. Tom loves this shot. He says so every time he sees it. Go ahead and test him.
Speaking of Tom, he looks good on a beach in Rangiroa.
Next up: finding the overwater restaurant we had seen. We walked a short way back down the only road, ...
... and turned onto the dirt road next to this sign. There was another sign and another dirt road right next to it.
Where will the two roads go?
They lead to beer. Awesome.
We found ourselves at Les Relais de Joséphine, a family resort and restaurant. It was indeed the overwater restaurant we had seen from the boat.
When a table freed up on the deck, we grabbed it.
Our beers long gone, we ordered Coca-Cola Lights and an ice cream sundae with two scoops of tiare flower ice cream, and one scoop of coconut.
Our view included Tiputa Pass, of course, and a little blowhole at the very edge of the reef in the center of this photo.
Plus, extremely colorful fish frolicking in the shallow water.
On our way out, Tom cheated on our cats back home by petting these two friendly dogs. If you're ever in Rangiroa, check out Josephine's.
Back on the ship for sail out, we spotted these overwater bungalows. Perhaps we may have to come back some day and stay there.
There's Tiputa Pass again in the background, but now we've seen it up close.
Long white garments do a great job of covering up sunburn.
From up here, we can see the curve of the atoll.
We passed Josephine's and our deserted beach.
There is Josephine's ...
... and there's the deserted beach. But it wasn't so deserted anymore -- it was lined with locals who came out to watch the big cruise ship sail by.
That single road we had walked down earlier turns sharply as it meets the beach and then follows the shoreline.
Now we're shooting directly into the sun, so it is probably time to go get ready for dinner.
At some point, Debbie decided to just order a different foofy drink every night with dinner. It's a good excuse to get some vitamin C.
This evening, Debbie ordered a steak while Tom ordered a pot pie -- the fanciest little pot pie we had ever seen.

Dessert was Black Forest Cake, last enjoyed by us in the actual Black Forest eight months earlier. It turns out that it is delicious no matter where it is served.

Day 7 >


Tahiti 2011: [Day 1 - Moorea] [Day 2 - Tahiti] [Day 3 - Tahiti ] [Day 4 - Huahine] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Rangiroa] [Day 7 - At Sea] [Day 8 - Raiatea] [Day 9 - Bora Bora] [Day 10 - Bora Bora] [Day 11 - Moorea] [Day 12 - Tahiti] [Day 13 - Tahiti] [Day 14 - Coming Home]

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