Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Bays of NukuHiva

Nuku Hiva, the seat of the French administrator and the bishop, has many deep bays and a dramatic coastline. Hatiheu Bay
Ananho Bay can only be reached on foot, horse, or by ship.
Changing coastline seen from the Aranui3.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Ua Pou greeted us with a rousing dance performance: the haka.

Ua Pou

Our first Marquesan island: the dramatic peaks of Ua Pou. Our first hike up to the cross above Hakahau Bay.One of the fascinating freight items for the Aranui3: a racing canoe.
During the unloading of the freight, the local children play on the rope.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Rangiroa has a pearl farm. Pearl oysters are usually farmed far out in atolls without tourists, but this one is on Rangiroa.The workers chuck oysters that are grown right outside their door in the lagoon.
Oyster shells are shipped to India where they are made into buttons.
These workers attach oysters that are impregnated with a pearl seed to strings that are hung in the lagoon.
Although edible, there are too many oysters to be eaten.
Oyster nets will be filled with shells and hung in the lagoon. Not many of them will produce high quality pearls, but all of them wind up as fashion jewelery or buttons.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Our first stop was in Fakarawa. The whale boat crane did not work, so the captain decided to have us transported in life rafts. Although the lagoon appeared as still as a mirror, these tiny thingies danced on top like corks. Two sailors kept the cork still at the pier and two other crew members helped us out.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Atolls

You have to see the blue of the lagoon to believe it. Rangiroa is the largest atoll of the Tuamotus in French Polynesia. Its passage is wide enough to accomodate the Aranui3 (see in background). We crossed the Tuamotos - aka graveyard of sailships - on our way north to the Marquesas and then again on our way back to Tahiti. On the way up, we stopped at Fakarawa and on our way down, we stopped at Rangiroa. Fakarawa is popular with divers. Rangiroa has become a regular destination for cruise ships.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Aranui 3

We boarded the Aranui 3 in Papeete, Tahiti.After one night and one day on exceptionally calm seas, we arrived in Fakarawa, one of the atolls of the Tuamotos.
Time to decrompress and follow the example of a truly Polynesian dog whose goal in life is to take it easy.It will take several weeks to accomplish this trip into the blue yonder of the South Pacific, no internet, no posts.

Friday, February 6, 2009


When the Germans came up with the expression 'monkey cold ' = Affenkälte, did they have in mind these monkeys in the Auckland zoo? It is cold in Florida and it is affenkalt in NJ.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


BoraBora of James Michener fame is an attractive rock with an unbeliebably blue- turquoise lagoon.Over-water bungalow hotels on the motus compete for well-to-do guests and honeymooners who take this trip as a once in a life time experience. Beware, you might be infected with the Polynesian virus which forces you to return to the South Pacific every year and to dream of living there forever.
The photo below shows Raiatea in the background and over-water bungalows at the edge between the dark blue and turquoise.No South Pacific vacation is complete without a colorful pareo. You can buy many designed and produced directly on the islands. They look better than any dress you might have brought along in your suitcase.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Lovely laidback Tahaa with its deep bays offers a relaxing vacation. Families grow vanilla which is of very high quality. The vanilla farmer has to go out every morning to pollinate the flowers of his orchids by hand. The natural pollinator is an insect native to Central America where the vanilla orchid originates.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Impressive Raiatea is the ancient religious center of the Society Islands. Voyages to other islands probably originated here.Raiatea has the only navigable river of the group. One of our fellow passengers remarked, "I feel exactly like I did in Vietnam."Without beaches, Raiatea has few tourists but a humungous pier for large cruise ships whose passengers are then tendered to the neighboring island of Tahaa with whom Raiatea shares the lagoon. Fiu, take it easy, just a small catamaran. Let's wait for a big cruise ship with shopping crazy Americans.Today, Raiatea is the administrative center of the northern group of the Society Islands. Its shores near the capital boast pretty homes.

Monday, February 2, 2009


A motu, one of the many small islets on the coral fringe that provide solitude.We started our cruise on the catamaran Haumana in Huahine. The crew was delightful with Tomita (dancer) responsible for the cabins, a barman, a French chef and sailors who loved to sing.

The kitchen crew served a Polynesian lunch in the shallow water of a bay fringed with coconut palms. If you haven't relaxed yet, this is the moment.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Moorea is of stunning beauty. Its fertile interior grows pineapple and various other tropical fruits and supplies the Papeete market with gorgeous flowers. The commute from Tahiti to Moorea is convenient with several hourly ferries running right from downtown Papeete. In the ferry terminal on the Moorea side, passengers can stock up on fruit before heading home or to their hotel.
From the Belvedere, two bays offer a gorgeous view: to the left Opunohu Bay (below), to the right Cook's Bay (above). Our hotel "Les tipaniers", set in a tropical garden, is popular with French tourists. Americans may not necessarily appreciate the sometimes smelly plumbing.The open air hotel reception is covered in foliage and flowers.
The hotel is in walking distance from a small shopping center with a supermarket. It also has a reasonably priced breakfast and lunch restaurant right on the water and a good reasonably priced evening restaurant.
What a spectacular view from the hotel garden. The water is clear, shallow and warm. The nice beach, the restaurant and the dive center attract locals and tourists from other hotels. This gorgeous beach is not crowded but not very private either. We spent most of our time watching the action from our front row deck.The pier belongs to the dive center. Feeding the fish with dry baguette is a popular pasttime.