The Society Islands

Tahitian sunset from the Soffitel Hotel with Mo'orea as a backdrop.

A mixed bag of islands and adventures were had on the 7 different Society Islands that we visited. Most of the time we were pleasantly surprised with each. The clarity and comfort of the anchorage in Tahiti, some wonderful snorkeling in Bora Bora, renting scooters in Moorea and Huahine were just some of the great memories we made.

Papeete, Tahiti

We received word that our friends the Elste's were coming for a visit so we sailed away to Papeete with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's voices echoing songs of the Southern Cross along the way. We arrived at dark which was new for us in these islands. It is something you take seriously and with caution. We found calm and snug anchoring on the east side of the island until morning when we could safely make our way into the Marina Taina anchorage. You could smell the island of Tahiti long before we saw it. A full blown metropolis in it's own right filled with bustling cars, multi floor buildings, busy shipping harbors, and an airport with plenty of tourists. The anchorage itself was surprisingly clean and calm. We took many an afternoon swim between neighboring boats. The island of Mo'orea sets as a beautiful backdrop to the north. A day at the pool of our friends hotel and some long hot showers were an extra special treat.

Colorful Leis from the Market

Though the town is always busy with stores and booths filled with artisans works for sale, the highlight of shopping had to be the open air market. The size of an enormous city block and continuing to spill into the neighboring streets, you could find everything and anything there to purchase. Fresh produce, fish, ornate headdresses or leis, carvings and shells. Karen, Julie and Kelly, the gals from Sarabi, Capaz and Moorea respectively and I took to the streets at sunrise one morning to partake of the fun. Utilizing the ever interesting transportation, "Le Truck", we woke our bus driver up and caught a ride to town. I brought the biggest back pack I could find and carried at least half my weight in produce home for feasting.
Maybe even more fun than buying lots of food is eating lots of food. We were quickly introduced to the roulettes. At 5:30 each evening a fun parade of small van style trucks winds their way into an open air parking designed just for them. With great speed and efficiency they whip open their doors, prop up their hatches and create the finest, fastest, cheapest food (by French Polynesian standards) we had seen yet. Pizza, hamburgers, spaghetti could be found but our favorite was chow mien. Of course no meal was complete without a hefty helping of crepe for dessert, complete with ice cream, whip cream and a dash of Gran Marnier. yum

Mo'orea & Huahine

A pleasant day sail away and you arrive at Mo'orea. The name actually means golden lizard so we were on the hunt. So excited to have the Elstes visiting, we set out to cover the island and uncover it's treasures. We quickly realized that it is difficult to travel around the island due to lack of public transportation. So we did the next best touristy thing and rented scooters for a day. One adult and kid per bike with helmets blazing we covered some serious ground and circumnavigated the island. We turned quite a few heads as well. We were able to take in a local tahitian dance show and check out a previous anchorage we stayed at in Haapiti on the west coast. We spent a few nights in Cook's Bay, enjoyed the snorkeling off the beach of local hotels before making our way to the neighboring island of Huahine.

The island of Huahine is just far enough away from Mo'orea to necessitate on overnighter. Our friends were eager to experience life at sea and we delivered with a nice evening sail. Though their tummies didn't quite have time to adjust to the motion a great time was had by all and we navigated 8 people living in a 42 ft space for two weeks with style.

The amazing crew of Ohana Kai

You thought 42 ft was small, try 10 ft.

Huahine will always hold some bitter sweet memories. The highlights were any adventure with the Elste family. We rented scooters here as well and took an amazingly rain soaked adventure around the island. The unfortunate side of the story would be when our three surf boards were stolen during the first night while we slept. We were one of 5 hits that would take place over a two week period. We should have paid closer attention to the history books as it was on this island that Captain Cook had trouble with thieves as well. With little help from the Gendarme we took the rest of our time there to enjoy our company before they had to depart for home.

Raiatea & Tahaa

Another day hop away and you can move easily from island to island. Next on our list was Raiatea. We were able to sail right into the pass and found our way to the first dock to tie up to since Mexico. It was great fun to connect with all these buddy boats who represent the entire west coast from Canada, Washington, Oregon, Northern and Southern California. We had a great pot luck dinner, enjoyed a nice hike to a point overlooking the entire island and could see as far as Bora Bora. A nice town for provisioning and stretching our legs. They too were having a variety of activities in celebration of the Heiva.

Matthew and Abby play with neighboring cat on Aguja

The boys hit the ground running and broke out the scooters instantly. You don't realize what you miss until you have it once again. We have also made some new pals aboard the boat Sea Kardinal. Frank, Jenny and Abby, their 8 year old daughter have brought some great companionship to the gang.

The winds picked up fierce and we had a bit of a time getting all the boats off the dock here. Once underway we all found nice anchorages on the west side of Raiatea or the southern end of Tahaa at a great little place called Taravana Yacht Club.

View the photo gallery for this island

Click on first photo to view images larger

Bora Bora

We had heard plenty of mixed reviews about Bora Bora so we decided to check things out for ourselves. We instantly fell in love with this remote anchorage off the south coast of the Toopua Iti Motu. Shallow sandy bottoms with a view of the pacific in one direction and Mount Otemanu in the other, sprinkled with thatched huts sitting out over the water. We stayed clear of land and the effects of tourism as long as we could. The highlight here definitely had to be the snorkeling. It is tough to beat Tuomotus Islands for the underwater views but this was the next best.

Though hurricanes had been known to damage the reefs in the past, they are making a comeback. And the frequently guided dive tours that feed the fish have them trained well. You can no sooner get your dinghy anchored before the fish come running for hand outs. If you can get a good hold on some food they will eat it right out of your hand and you will find yourself surrounded in a cloud of colors.
We officially checked out of French Polynesia here, added one more stamp to the passports and had one last celebration dinner with friends at the famous restaurant of Bloody Mary's to toast our time in this wonderful part of the world.