Sunday, March 18, 2018

A wonderful Cruise in French Polynesia

When we sold the Beast back in November 2016, we decided we had to save up and take our favorite ship to our favorite place.  Windstar Cruise is by far our favorite cruise line and French Polynesia is our favorite place to go.  We love the laid back outer islands and the folks that live on them are a delight to talk to and do business with.

We flew out from Los Angeles late in the afternoon and arrived at our pre cruise hotel the LeMeridian  at 2 am for a quick nap before settling into the ship for the next 11 days.   The hotel was a beautiful place and I purchased some kid post cards for our new grandbaby due the end of March.  We will be daycare when Ashley goes back to work in the fall so we have set up a little nursery in our new home.  Yes our lives have changed and will continue to change!

But I digress-

We boarded the ship at 1pm and settled in to our room.  The ship is amazing even though small and we enjoyed a wonderful outdoor dinner while sailing away from Papeete, Tahiti's capital city.

After a day at sea just relaxing, we arrived at Fakarava, a tiny atoll along the outer edges of the Tuamotu's.  We rented bikes and enjoyed the gentle breezes while riding along the one road that spanned from North to South.

This Church was full of shells strung across the ceiling

I loved the giant clam shell as a font!

A Tahitian Pearl Farm-the first of many

This limestone structure faced east to the vast ocean.  It was a lighthouse at some point in the past.

The eastward side of the atoll was full of shells and coral

The weather was hot of course and after our morning of riding we enjoyed lunch, a cold beer and relaxed by the pool bar.

The Sunsets are amazing!
Our next stop along the way was Rangiroa.  Each island is the same and different at the same time.
In the morning the tide comes thru Tiputa pass.  It is great for a swift drift dive!

Fishing as the tide comes in from the ocean

The dolphins call this pass home.  They are a little smaller than others we have seen

The sharks hang out by the restaurant for scraps
Can you see the little dolphin playing in the surf?

We did a leisurely walk on Rangiroa around the island.  So peaceful.  Then lunch and naps on board the Wind Spirit.

Another day at sea brought more rest and relaxation.  I was actually able to finish a book.  I read Headhunters at my Doorstep.  Seemed fitting as it is all about traveling to the areas we visited.  It was entertaining and perfect for a no-think vacation.

Tahaa -Motu Mahaea a perfect setting for a picnic, corn hole games, and snorkeling.  Relaxing on the beach sand, enjoying a coconut drink-a little bit of heaven!

After a full day of sun, sand and salty water it was nice to get back on the boat.  We slowly made our way past Raiatea and on to Huahine.  On Huahine we did an island tour stopping at a vanilla shop (not exactly a plantation), a pearl farm, stone fish traps, coconut drying, and a marae-an open air sacred site.
looks like a fun life to me!

coconut drying

Feeding the Blue eyes eels.  They really do have blue eyes!

Some of the blue pottery at the pearl farm.  I bought a blue pottery shell dish.

More drinking from coconuts!

these are old fish traps

Vanilla plants

A Marae in Maeva  Rituals and celebrations would be held here.

The next day was a Sunday and to our surprise most of the shops in Raiatea were closed.  We took a short walk from the pier to the center of town and found a delightful shop open with a fun woman who of course had been born in Raiatea.  She told us of all the legends and customs of this beautiful island and called a friend to give us a private tour of the island.  I fell in love with a carved manta ray so that became my big souvenir of the trip.  I bought a sweet little baby cover as well with two surfing babies for the nursery at home.  We loved this island and it turned out to be our favorite of the trip.

Our guide explains that Raiatea is the center of the octopus and is the home to all Polynesians.  Raiatea used to be called Havaii.

Breadfruit is abundant here

How lush can one place be?
We enjoyed Raiatea-then came Bora Bora!  Everyone has heard of this beautiful island and we couldn't wait to get back there again.  It was a beautiful as we remembered.  We took an island tour that lasted all day with several stops along the way. 

Rats!  Bloody Mary's was closed for renovations.  Sad-I wanted a drink there and to get a t-shirt!

Taking the flowers to market

The dive master on the boat pointed out this is Manta Mountain.  I saw the resemblance as soon as he said Manta

The motu picnic


Fire Dancing

So-not the best beer, but it tastes so good.  Must be the scenery

I loved these swim floats off the back of the ship.  So relaxing to float in the salt water

A crocodile in Bora Bora.  This was at sunrise.  

Our last stop was Moorea.  Moorea has become a little more crowded over the years as more people discover it.  We were supposed to take a private tour, but the when we went ashore, we did not find him.  Oh well, we were about toured out anyway.  We wandered around the handicrafts and went back to the ship to relax and enjoy the view.  

I am not sure what this is, but it looked like fun!

What a beautiful bay

See the hole in the Mountain.  Legend says a god pierced it with a spear

We ended the trip with outdoor dining as we sailed the short distance from Moorea to Papeete.  It rained a little, but that made it all the more memorable.  You expect rain in the South Pacific.  We overnighted on the ship at the dock then off you go.  We spent the day at the Hotel as our plane didn't depart until midnight.  I walked around talking photos, taking in as much sunshine, humidity and warmth as I could.

In our two previous trips to French Polynesia we did all water sports, snorkeling, kayaking, skiing and scuba diving.  This time was all about the land and islands.  We learned a lot about the culture and surviving with little.  This is truly an amazing place and should be on everyone's bucket list.  The colors are intense-I have never seen such a deep blue as the open ocean and the lush green of the plants.  The reds, pinks, whites and yellows of the flowers were magically offset from each other and were so vibrant. 

Til we voyage again....