Tahiti to Bora Bora
Mon 23 Jun 2014 22:42
We left Tahiti mid June for the next island of Moorea - a very relaxing 3 hour motor away (no wind!). We anchored near the Hilton Resort off what we discovered to be the nicest beach on the island. Moorea has a dramatic backdrop of rugged mountains and is the second most populated of the Society Island chain. The next day we took the bikes ashore and went exploring, there is one very good road going the whole way around the island (no hills or challenges so extremely boring!). We were gobsmacked by the standard of the roads on these little islands and could only assume they were kind courtesy of Euro grants!!!! There are not a lot of interesting sites to see and Syd was NOT impressed by the historic Marai (sacred sites) which basically were a pile of rocks!!!! I had heard about a place where you could snorkle and see life size Tiki statues of the Gods which had been placed there by local sculptor Tihoti, so we asked and searched and got lots of differing answers as to exactly where these statues were? In the end I asked 2 men who were walking along the road and one of them definitely did know where these statues were - he was Tihoti the sculptor! He told us exactly where they were situated right on the outer reef. By that time we were hot and tired and Syd was totally fed up with searching for non-existent statues, so we took a track into the mountains and saw the amazing pineapple plantations that Moorea is most famous for. Then spent a very non-cultural evening drinking Mai-tais at happy hour in the Hilton Resort!
We left Moorea late afternoon and sailed the 92 miles to Huahine overnight and discovered the downside of being in these wonderful reef protected anchorages was that we had got very used to the boat not moving so when we headed through the reef and hit the Pacific swell and felt the boat lurching and rolling again, it felt pretty uncomfortable! We made good time though and arrived at the lagoon entrance to Huahine early the next morning. Huahine is 2 separate islands protected by one reef, we opted to anchor off the less developed Huahine Iti with it's clear water and beautiful white sand beach, as it was Sunday the local beach restaurant had a Polynesian buffet and live music (of the ukelele variety - interesting!), it was all slightly surrealistic when the Polynesian musicians launched into the 'Benny Hill' theme - I had no idea Benny Hill was big in Huahine!!!! We cycled round both the islands the next day as they are connected via a bridge. The scenery was beautiful, lush and tropical with the scent of vanilla from the vanilla plantations as well as the gorgeous unreal looking flowers everywhere. We decided we had definitely made the right choice as Huahine Nui the other island was busier and nowhere near as beautiful.
The next few islands were pretty close so we headed over to Tahaa in torrential rain and anchored in a very deep bay (all 300 foot of anchor chain went out!). Syd decided he was definitely not swimming when a baby shark appeared under the boat! The rain carried on and we did'nt feel inspired to bother to get the bikes off, so motored to the next island Raiatea which was protected by the same reef as Tahaa. Raiatea is the most populated of this group of islands and was home to the main yacht charter bases of French Polynesia so first stop was there and we managed to buy an excellent detailed chart for Bora Bora - the lagoons are pretty treacherous with depths that can go from 40 feet to 1 foot far too quickly and many isolated coral heads. The French are extremely good with their channel markers so main channels are safe to use but to go into a lot of the nicest bays you need local knowledge or very detailed charts, so we were very pleased to be going to Bora Bora armed with this. The next stop was the local boatyard where Syd headed to the outboard engine repair place to try and sort the Yamaha dinghy engine which has been not been right since he bought it, the outcome was not good as he discovered that the engine had never had a thermostat, a fault that should have been noticed by the supplier in Panama! The weather was still pretty wet so we left for Bora Bora.
As we entered the lagoon at Bora Bora and looked at the beautiful turquoise waters I could see why people rave about it. We anchored near to the Hilton Resort - all the hotel resorts are built on Motus (tiny islands protected by the reef that surrounds the central island), the accommodation is in thatched huts on stilts built out into the lagoon, giving guests their own private pool (the sea). As soon as we arrived the sun came out and made the colour of the sea even more incredible. The next day we moved closer to the town and anchored off the Maitai Marina where we could get the bikes ashore. The cycle round the island was pretty uninspiring, one flat coastal road and apart from one big mountain in the middle of the island, it was not very scenic. In fact the highlight of the day was when Syd tried to do a bodge repair job on the strut that the pedal is attached to and managed to drop a vital part down a crab hole! The land is a warren of crab holes but what we did'nt realise until we started digging was that the labyrinth of tunnels went straight down, our digging soon attracted a passing local who insisted on going and getting a spade and joining in, soon we had a group of locals and children all trying to find this mysterious bike part. It was starting to look a bit like an excavation sight with tree roots being chopped and holes getting ever bigger but everyone seemed in good spirits and appeared to be enjoying the challenge! About an hour later we suggested that maybe it was a hopeless task and left the happy group of diggers still searching! The Polynesian people are some of the nicest we have met on our travels but there is a huge contrast between the opulence of the luxury resorts and spas on the motus to the poverty of the main island of Bora Bora, but the hotels do provide jobs and a lot of the population commute by boat to work every day.
Armed with our wonderful chart we daringly chose to anchor in a very shallow absolutely stunning part of the lagoon sandwiched between the St. Regis Resort and Le Meridian Hotel, with the dramatic backdrop of the mountain and main island and surrounded by clear shallow turqouise water we decided to stay put for a few days and relax and enjoy. Syd's birthday had been and gone on our travels so we had a belated celebratory meal at the Le Meridian Hotel, amazing restaurant and food to match - the weirdest part was that the chef came from Windsor (it is such a small world!)