Rhum de Taha’a

The resort on Motu TauTau with Bora Bora in the background seen from Baie Tapuamu on Taha'a.

The resort on Motu TauTau with Bora Bora in the background seen from Baie Tapuamu on Raiatea

We like the island of Tahaa. It reminds us of Huahine: fewer tourists, fewer resort bungalows, life seems to be lived at a lower key than elsewhere. A few larger, obviously more expensive homes dot the hillsides but, for the most part, houses are modest and neatly kept. Villages dot the islands like occasional beads on the perimeter road that threads around the shoreline. A village may have its small general store, but most carry just the essentials on their shelves: bread, a limited selection of dry and canned goods – including the ubiquitous corned beef, toilet paper, soap, maybe a few fishing lures and a shelf of engine oil. The main village here on Tahaa, Patio (pronounced Pah-TEE-oh) has a bank with an ATM, but the ATM keys are rusted and rust surrounds the rim of the dead screen – obviously this ATM has not worked in a very long time. Fortunately for us, as we were running low on French Polynesia francs, there was a post office just down the road. All post offices here in French Polynesia seem to have working ATMs outside, and the postal service gives a better exchange rate on withdrawals than do any of the commercial banks.

There is a story behind our visit to Patio looking for currency, and it entails our search for a wifi connection Continue reading

Huahine Iti

We left our mooring in Fare on Tuesday, August 9 after first stopping at the main village dock to top up our water tanks. The dock is in reasonably good shape but lacks cleats, bollards or bull rails – anything easy to tie a line to. You have to take a round turn or two through the decking, which makes it interesting when there’s a strong wind blowing off the dock, as there was for us that morning.

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The wooden municipal dock, sans cleats. Not to be confused with the commercial wharf, which is concrete and larger. This one is for visiting yachts. We tied up to take on water, buy ice and fresh vegetables.

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Looking the other way, the sign reads (in French and Tahitian) “Welcome to Huahine Fare.”

We enjoyed our stay off of Fare; we liked the slow, quiet pace of the village. But more secluded anchorages beckoned.

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Huahine

This is the closest of the Leeward Islands in the Society Group to Moorea and Tahiti.

We left Marina Taina in the early afternoon of Thursday after 11 days tied to the dock. Life is convenient at Marina Taina – showers, nearby shopping, buses to downtown Papeete – but it can become too easy to stay tied to the dock. 

The overnight sail from Marina Taina on Tahiti to Avapehi Pass on Huahine was uneventful if not very comfortable. There was a strong, short swell from the southeast and a longer but also strong crossing swell from the southwest, and both swells persisted for the entire passage. But although we had an uncomfortable swell, at least we had good wind almost the whole way and arrived at the pass through the coral reef when we wanted to. 

Fare on Huahine is a nice change of pace. It’s a small village with one main street. We are on a mooring right off a public beach that’s popular with local families. The nearby Huahine Yacht Club (actually a restaurant/bar) has a new dock, and offers potable water as well as cold beers and great hamburgers. Next door you can rent bicycles, scooters and kayaks, and get your laundry done for good measure. There is a farmers’ market on Saturdays, as well as a larger and well stocked grocery store. The island is popular with tourists who stay at small resorts or rental houses (pensions), but it’s all very mellow and the number of visitors is small compared to Tahiti.

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Main street, the town of Fare on Huahine.

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Moorea Again

We went to Moorea twice in July: The first time was when Randy’s mom and sister flew to Tahiti to visit (and bring stuff for us and the boat). We all went together on the high speed ferries that commute between Tahiti and Moorea daily. We really very much enjoyed the time together, mostly just being together. But we did a little sight-seeing as well. On Moorea, mom rented a car for an island tour. We circled the island that included an excursion inland to a viewpoint and a large archeological site where there were several stone platforms (marae) with standing stones. Below are some photos of the site, and of the nice resort we got to stay at for three nights – luxurious!

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One of the larger marae. There were several on this site. These are the first ones we’ve seen using rounded stones to build the platforms. These must have taken a lot of work to shape and fit.

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Same marae, from the bottom end.

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Jungle fowl, or what we think of as just “chickens” are everywhere, roaming free. Ruth took the photo; remember that she’s interested in birds? This is taken in the parking lot for both the viewpoint and the trail leading to the various marae sites below.

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View from the top. Opunohu Bay is on the left and Cook Bay on the right. We anchored in both bays when we came back to Moorea on Velic. Both bays are portions of one large caldera. The rocky point between them is what remains of the volcanoe.

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Breakfast in the dining room of the Pearl Moorea resort: Mom, Sara and Randy around the table in the background.

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The swimming pool and some of the over-the-water bungalows. Below the nearest pool is a lagoon open to the ocean, a kind of lagoonarium.

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Sara and Ruth beside the “over-the-water resort bungalows. Aimed at the honeymooners it seems.

The second time we went to Moorea it was just the two of us on Velic. We anchored first in Cook Bay for a few nights, then moved around the peninsula to Opunohu Bay. Both are great anchorages,although we found a bit of swell came into Opunohu at times. While in Opunohu Bay we took  in the tropical gardens overlooking the bay, found a short walk into the village of Papetoai on the east side of the bay. On a different day, we walked along the west side to have a look at the first Protestant church built in French Polynesia, which is notable for its distinctive octagonal roof. Next to the church is a small harbor and quay used by local fish boats, with a covered shelter and benches nearby. Ironically, the Paul Gauguin cruise ship was there with all its guests. The local townsfolk had set up some tables of jewelry and crafts to welcome the guests. However, the production in Hapatoni was much more extensive. We’re lucky that we got to see it back in the Marquesas.

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Cook Bay. We anchored near this church. On Sunday, we could hear beautiful singing coming across the water.

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Looking toward the head of Cook Bay and the valley behind.

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View from the botanical gardens we visited while anchored in Opunohu Bay, looking out over the bay. In the distance you can see the red octagonal roof of the first Protestant Church built in French Polynesia.

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Vanilla pods, not yet ripe for picking.

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Vanilla orchids in bloom.

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Botanical gardens.

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The road we walked leading up to the gardens. Straight up.

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First Protestant Church built in French Polynesia.

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Quay for local fish boats and recreational use. One of the nicest ones we’ve seen so far.

Moving along

Just a short post and no pictures with this one. We’re leaving Marina Taina and the island of Tahiti today. The laundry is folded and put away, the last shopping trip before departure was completed yesterday, and the sun awning came down this morning; next we’ll fill the water tanks and the ice box, and take out the garbage. Then we’re off. The marina has been a good place to get some projects done (like reinstalling the water maker and working on the engine) and wonderfully convenient for shopping, but we are very ready to move on.

Our plan is to sail to Huahine, another island in this group. It’s a bit over 100 nm to the northwest, so it will be an overnight trip. We anticipate dropping the anchor inside this island’s coral reef sometime around mid-day tomorrow. We’ve heard the snorkeling in the large lagoon is very good, with lots of fish and coral. We’re looking forward to exploring this new-to-us island.