Society Islands: Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora-Bora.
After sailing so many months between remote islands and atolls with only few houses or small villages, it was actually and to our surprise quite nice to return to the well known “civilisation” in Papeete, Tahiti although we slowly got enough after a couple of weeks. Papeete is the capitol of the whole of French Polynesia which covers an area equal to all Europe, and it is the biggest city in the pacific region. Here we enjoy most of the goods from the well known French supermarkets and to European prices. The traffic is intense as we know it, although drivers are more considerate and much more willing to stop for pedestrians than we are used to.
Tahiti is a beautiful island and is surrounded by a coral reef behind which it is possible to sail and anchor. We have spent most of the time in an anchorage on the west side with a breath taking view to the neighbouring island Moorea, and can enjoy spectacular sunsets.
The water is clear, and the snorkelling is good. The female humpback whales with their calves are swimming just outside the reefs, and those of us who had luck have also been swimming with them.
Visits to Moorea’s beautiful bays, Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay took us back to “the nature” again where we were anchored behind coral reefs with a water colour like in a swimming pool and with a beautiful view into the bay and the mountains. In Opunohu bay we were swimming together with 1 – 2 meter big sting rays which came close and touched the body with their soft fins.
The distances between the Society Islands are short and only days sailing is needed.
In Huahine we visited a pearl farm, and bicycled around the island where we among other things saw the old stone platforms called marae which were used by the Maoris for their religious ceremonies. They were in their construction comparable to the same type of platforms which exist on Easter Island.
In one of the rivers we saw the special big blue eyed eel. From our anchorage at Fare Bay we could see the spout of whales outside the pass in the reef, so the ships heading in through the pass had to stop and change course before they could continue to the harbour. The whales are not afraid and move around as they like.
Raiatea and Tahaa are very interesting and it is possible to sail inside the reef surrounding them. Here the second largest town in French Polynesia, Uturoa is placed. Raiatea is the centre for most charter boats operating in this region.
Bora Bora is spectacular. Captain Cook called it the pearl of the South Pacific. Many hotels and resorts are placed here and the atmosphere and activity is different compared to the other small Society Islands. We saw the finish of the yearly long inter island canoe race between Tahaa and Bora Bora starting from Tahaa. Most of the locals took a day off and were out in the shallow lagoon in their boats and watched the race while enjoying swimming, drinking, and eating lunch.
It is interesting to make a comparison between the East Caribbean Islands and the Society Islands. In the Pacific the nature is much more beautiful, there is more wild life to look at, more and bigger fish to catch, and much less boats and the local people are very friendly. In addition you do not have to go through a sometimes exhausting and expensive check in / out procedure every time you go to a new island, and deal with officials who sometimes are unfriendly and practise reverse racism. The French style of administration here is efficient and helpful.
Our Pedro Gecko is still going strong and his tale is close to normal size now.
Pacific passage, Society Islands to Southern Cook Islands.
The passage to the Aitutaki atoll was made in very light easterly wind, and it took 3 days to sail the 488 Nm. We saw no ships and did not catch any fish. They all got off the hooks.