Tahiti 2011:
Day 8 - Raiatea


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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]

Sunday, February 27: As usual, we awoke at dawn to watch the sail in to the latest island -- in this case, beautiful Raiatea on the left and her sister island, Taha'a on the right.
The islands are contained within the same reef lagoon, ...
... which is visible in the larger version of this photo. That's Taha'a in the distance, and the reef snakes around behind this little motu in the foreground and around to the right of Taha'a in the distance.
We approached Raiatea's shiny new cruise ship dock. Here it is to the right ...
... and to the left. We never did figure out what those big white bagged things were, but we saw them on Taha'a too.
The new cruise ship terminal is quite pretty, with little huts containing vendors for shopping, which turned out to be nearly the only open shops within walking distance because we had arrived on a Sunday.
This was a rare non-tender port, so everyone was off the ship in no time, ready for their shore excursion to be called.
There's our cabin! It's in the center of this photo -- the last balcony on the right before the round windows on the top deck of balconies. It was nice not having any neighbors to the right of us. The single woman to the left of us sometimes entertained a gentleman caller on her balcony, but we were rarely out at the same time so we had plenty of privacy.
Our excursion departed right on time, and we got some photos looking back toward the dock.
There's the ship and the silent shopping/entertainment complex next to it.
Our guide spoke a ton of languages, having lived in South Africa, Australia, and Tahiti.
Pretty.
We had another boat of people behind us on the same tour. It's good to be first.
Raiatea has interesting rock outcroppings; just not quite as interesting as Moorea, Bora Bora, and Huahine.
Markers in the lagoon warn when the water suddenly becomes shallow, like right here where you can see the reef and the aqua water just beyond the marker.
We crossed the lagoon from Raiatea and rode along Taha'a's coastline.
Taha'a isn't as populated as Raiatea, but we saw farms, houses, churches, and people along the route.
This is a pretty excellent location for a church, don't you think? Views of Bora Bora and Raiatea, and a nice ocean for a quick after-church swim.
Just past Taha'a are a group of motus. One contains a resort with overwater bungalows.
There isn't much of a reef below these bungalows, ...
... but it is an easy snorkel or wade through the water to our destination, ...
... this coral garden between the motus with a fantastic current running through it and majestic Bora Bora in the distance.
We waded through the water from our boat ...
... to the white sand beach, ...
... then hiked through the jungle ...
... glimpsing out at the amazing coral reef between the motus, ...
... to the start of our drift snorkel. You can see the ocean just beyond the mouth of the channel.
Our guide cautioned us about the sea urchins in the water, so we carefully stepped around them.
Here's Tom at the starting point of the snorkel, ...
... and it turns out that Orchy was along too. We foolishly thought we'd be able to send him back to the boat with everyone's shoes, but he ended up in the shoe bag floating along with our guide through the water. Good thing he's waterproof! Well, except for those little pipe cleaner arms and legs, but we have plenty of replacement parts back home.
We got our snorkeling gear on, and our guide got out the shoe bag.
He gave us leaves to wipe down our masks to prevent fogging.
And we're off! Following our guide, we entered the water at 5-second increments so that we were in a line. Here's Tom behind Debbie, ...
... and here are the people in front of her.
It's time to look around. It was gorgeous down below, and the current just pulled us through the channel in the center of the coral. Debbie got distracted at one point and floated over the top of some coral, but scrapes and cuts just mean that you had a good time.
This is a clown coris, according to the fish book we bought.
Here's a banded sergeant and a bird wrasse. You can probably figure out which is which.
This is a pair of melon butterflyfish. We nearly always saw butterflyfish in pairs.
Cool purple coral.
No idea what this is.
These little fish were tiny but very striking.
We encountered another huge school of convict surgeonfish, one of several we saw throughout the week.
Here's a baby white-spotted puffer.
Here, we have pretty coral and pretty fish, including a peacock damselfish and a three-stripe damselfish.
Ah, yes, the rare and beautiful Hinano beer bottle cap.
At the end of our snorkel, our guide showed some of our group where they could snorkel the rest of the time, before heading back for another drift snorkel. Please disregard the water droplets on our waterproof camera case.
The second tour group was visible snorkeling in a line through the reef.
Back at the start of the snorkel, ...
... our guide went first, and Debbie went second. This time, we took a few turns toward the end of the channel for some variety.
This might be an adult peacock damselfish, but don't use this site as a reference, please.
Our guide dove down to pick up a big rock, then dove down again a few feet later and crushed some of those evil sea urchins.
The fish descended on the severed sea urchins immediately. Mmmm, delicious!
Sixbar wrasses are some of the most colorfulful fish around.
This is a striated surgeonfish.
Here's a big bunch of adorable, unidentified blue fish.
Here are some three-spot damselfishes.
It turns out that not every puffy fish is a puffer. This is a spotted boxfish.
Tiny and shiny.
Big and bulky.
We're not sure what this is -- pufferfish, porcupinefish, boxfish?
Lunch is served.
Orchy did a little snorkeling with his saddle butterflyfish, clamshell, and sea urchin friends.
This yellow guy is poetically named a lemonpeel angelfish.
This is an orange-lined triggerfish.
Once again, Debbie's favorite type of triggerfish (white-banded) showed up to be photographed.
Behold, the spooky flutemouth.
Tom finally wrangled the camera away from Debbie and captured these three-stripe damselfish frolicking.
Back on the boat, we had a platterful of fresh fruit: bananas, papaya, pineapple, and the sweetest grapefruit we'd ever eaten.
Bye-bye, excellent drift snorkel! Mysterious Bora Bora, we have a date with you tomorrow.
We sped back to Raiatea. You can just see Bora Bora and the motus on the horizon behind us.
We really didn't see much of Raiatea, but Taha'a looks like an island where we'd love to spend some time.
This hillside farm is one of Taha'a's famous vanilla farms.
There's Raiatea getting larger and larger in front of us.
After a shower, we went up on deck for lunch and the view.
That's the island of Huahine in the distance.
Lunch highlights included fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, churros again, and lots and lots of seafood. Tom loved the wide selection of soups. Princess is the hands-down winner for best cruise line buffet food.
The cactus cake had already been cut into by the time we got a photo, so we had no choice but to request a piece ourselves.
After lunch, we went for a walk along the water front.
We found this giant rock positioned along the sea wall, ...
... and this pretty plant nestled in the smaller rocks.
Before long, we were back at the cruise ship terminal, admiring the water lilies in the pond next to the visitor center.
But we really admired this Coke machine where ice-cold cans of Coca-Cola Light could be had for only 100 francs! That's about $1.15 in a country where we never saw one for less than 300 francs. We spent every coin we had and tried in vain to get more change, but only had enough for two.
But, oh, those two cans were pure heaven.
Back on the ship, the Academy Awards were starting. It was only 3:30 in the afternoon, but we were watching them live. Even better was that the satellite feed didn't include commercials, so we got this display with movie theme music playing when everyone in the US was watching commercials. Sweet!
We'd use the commercial breaks to step outside and remind ourselves that we were still in Tahiti.
Yes, we were still here and that's Bora Bora on the horizon. You gotta like that.
On deck, a group of Polynesian dancers was getting ready for a show.
This little guy was pretty adorable, ...
... and even more so when he decided to hang out with the band.
The show started up, and by the second song, they were inviting the guests up to learn to dance, so we left. The Academy Awards were on!
It was Italian night in the restaurant, so we snuck a photo of our waiter and assistant waiter in their funny Italian shirts.

Our ship left port very late since the distance to Bora Bora was so short, so we got to enjoy the skyline from our balcony. We watched "Sabrina" on the in-room movie channels and called it a night.

Day 9 >


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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