Raiatea/Bora Bora/Moorea/Tahiti

Sunday, March 18, 2007

We found out that we had published a blog but no pictures when we tried at sea (we had gotten a “publish error”) but a few days later found it goes more quickly when you use wireless while in port.  We arrived in Raiatea on Tuesday, March 13th and took a Circle Island Drive in the morning.  There are so many different shades of blue in the water and sky, making French Polynesia incredibly beautiful.  We stopped at a botanical garden (it could have been called a jungle) and also stopped for photos of the tallest mountain and Faroa Bay.  Raiatea is second in size to Tahiti in French Polynesia and has a population of about 10,000.  Tourism is not a major industry here, as we were told a cruise ship stops only about every ten days.  There are no natural beaches on Raiatea and the island is sinking each year (they have one man-made beach).  Pearl farms are located out in the very shallow water.  On Wednesday morning, March 14th, we left Raiatea and headed for Bora Bora, passing the island of Tahaa on the way.  There were dark clouds and rain in the distance, so we kept our fingers crossed that the day would be sunny.  We dropped anchor in the beautiful lagoon that is encircled by a barrier reef.  The reef was created by a collapsed volcano, and along the reef are a number of small islands (motus) that make Bora Bora unique.  James Michener described it as the most beautiful island in the world.  The water is deep enough that the Navy used Bora Bora in World War II as a refueling station.  You can still see the bunkers and some cannon that were placed around the island, but there was never any combat here.  The bunkers are now used as shelters when hurricanes/cyclones threaten.  Only about 4,000 people live in Bora Bora, and like Raiatea, it is sinking a few millimeters each year.  Our tour, in another Le Truck, went around the entire island (it is only 27 square miles in size).  We had an occasional light rain shower, but this made the day much more comfortable.  Bora Bora (and Raiatea) do not have cemeteries and they bury their family members in their front yards.  We saw some of these grave sites.  We stopped for photos of the highest mountain.  At another stop we watched women making the beautiful pareus that Polynesians tie in various ways creating different articles of clothing.  Along the drive we stopped at the side of the road and threw pieces of coconut and flowers from the truck to sand crabs (they came out, quickly grabbed the food and flowers and disappeared with it down their holes).  We stopped at Bloody Mary’s for refreshments.  Unlike Raiatea, Bora Bora has a lot of tourists and many nice hotels, some with suites that go for thousands of dollars a night.  During dinner on the ship we saw a lot of lightning and had heavy rain for a few hours.  The ship stayed in the Bora Bora lagoon overnight and we took another shore excursion on Thursday, March 15th.  We went out on a glass-bottom boat to the reef at the edge of the lagoon.  Our beautiful guide/driver (she looked like Mariel Hemingway) dived over the side and fed the fish, so we have photos of many colorful fish.  The day was overcast and cloudy and quite comfortable, but we still went back to the ship for the rest of the afternoon to enjoy the air-conditioning.  We had another formal night tonight.  We’ve had such a great time with the couples at our table.  There are some real pranksters and sometimes we laugh so hard we have to wipe the tears from our eyes.  Friday, March 16th, was warm and sunny again.  We spent the day at our last stop, Moorea, which is only about 18 miles from Tahiti.  Most of the passengers said they liked this island best when they did a little survey at the show that night.  It is a little different than the others, as it has more kinds of vegetation, including pine trees.  We did an island drive tour here, too and saw some beautiful scenery.  We took pictures of the Sofitel Hotel on Moorea, where the huts on stilts over the water are $900 a night.  There are many hotels on Moorea as it is such a short trip from Tahiti and it is much prettier with no traffic or crowds.  Jay did card tricks at dinner tonight, and Darlene, who’s from California, learned two of them and had us laughing as she tried to hone her skills.  The waiters were probably glad this was our last dinner, as we were having so much fun we were usually the last ones to leave and they had to ready the tables for the next dinner seating.  This cruise is different than any other we’ve been on as you’re not required to disembark early on the last day.  Because only two flights leave Papeete for the U.S.  each day and they are around 9:00 and 11:30 at night, they allow you to stay on the ship all day, but you must leave your stateroom by 10:00 in the morning.  So on Saturday, March 17th, we had a leisurely breakfast at the buffet.  We also got together with the three couples we’ve been dining with each night for ten days.  We all had a nice last lunch in the dining room and then said our goodbyes.  Jay and I left the ship around 2:00 PM and took a taxi to the Radisson.  It was raining a little so we had a lazy afternoon and evening in our nice room.  On Sunday, March 18th, it was sunny again and we enjoyed the pool and sitting in the shade near it.  It was the most comfortable we’ve been outside since we arrived in Tahiti.  The Radisson is letting us have a very late check-out, around 8:00 PM, because of our 11:30 PM flight tonight.  We have thoroughly enjoyed this celebration of Jay’s retirement but are now looking forward to returning to Minneapolis.  We miss Anne, Chris, Jeff, Sarah and especially Henry, our grandson who will be 5 months old tomorrow.  We are also anxious to see and talk to the rest of our family and friends.  We’ve enjoyed doing this blog and sending pictures.  It is a journal of sorts and certainly a record of this trip for us.  We hope you’ve enjoyed it too.

Raiatea - Circle Island Drive

Raiatea - Circle Island Drive

Raiatea - Circle Island Drive

Raiatea - Circle Island Drive

Raiatea - Circle Island Drive

Table 37 on the Tahitian Princess

Rain in the distance at sea

Bora Bora - Burial site in front yard

Bora Bora - tour

Bora Bora - Making pareus on tour

Bora Bora - tour

Bora Bora - Hotel on motu

Bora Bora - tour

Bora Bora - from glass-bottom boat

Bora Bora - Glass-bottom boat

Bora Bora - Glass-bottom boat

Bora Bora - Glass-bottom boat

Bora Bora - Driver of glass-bottom boat

Snorkelers near boat

Moorea tour - Bali Hai

Moorea tour

Moorea tour - Sofitel Hotel

Moorea tour - Tahiti in background

Beach at Radisson Plaza

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