Stuck in paradise

Here we are: Bora Bora, the pearl of the Pacific. One of these mythical paradise names we always dreamed of sailing to. And we have to admit: it is rather wonderful to be here… Especially as it is blowing a hoolie outside! We are stuck here for at least another week until the weather calms down and we can set sail for Tonga.

On arrival from Tahaa we spend a few days at the anchorage near the Bora Bora Yacht Club and then decide to head south. We have to go around the northern end of the island to reach the south, as the southern tip of the lagoon is too shallow to cross. It’s eyeball navigation as the charts are very inaccurate and we have to dodge several reefs and bommies as we work our way around the lagoon. We anchor behind a motu, to find shelter from the strong winds. The next morning we dinghy over to a recommended snorkelling spot and we also say hello to our friends from Nelly Rose who are anchored a mile further south. We discover a much quieter anchorage area behind the Sofitel private island motu and check the depth and channel location by dinghy. It will be touch and go as the depth of the channel to get into that side of the lagoon is no more than 2 metres in places and very narrow with reefs everywhere. But we manage and it is so worth it to be here: beautiful calm water, great snorkelling and access to several hotels. We manage to pick up free wifi that works (which is totally unheard of!) and go for happy hour drinks at the intercontinental hotel. We literally get welcomed onto the beach by the staff. We leave our dinghy on the silky sand and head over to the beautiful beachfront bar. The kids are given towels for the tropical swimming pool and we are handed the happy hour cocktail menu. We are in heaven!

the mythical island of Bora Bora!

the mythical island of Bora Bora!

we had to go around the north to go south!

we had to go around the north to go south!

eyeball navigation

eyeball navigation

anchored in turquoise water!

anchored in turquoise water!

view from the cockpit

view from the cockpit

the swimming pool at the intercontinental

the swimming pool at the intercontinental

great snorkelling spot

great snorkelling spot

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Tahaa

Tahaa is famous for its coral gardens so that’s where we go! We have to wait a day for the sun to come out and then we can admire the true colours of the corals and the fishes. It’s absolutely stunning. After a final snorkel on Sunday morning we lift the anchor and sail to Bora Bora. It’s a perfect day with a gentle breeze, 15 knots on the beam, and relatively flat seas. We arrive late afternoon and drop anchor outside the Yacht Club just in time for happy hour drinks😀

 

coral gardens in Tahaa

            

view from the cockpit with Bora Bora in the background

  

approaching Bora Bora

 

Huahine, the wild one

This is more like it! After crowded Tahiti and touristy Moorea we enjoy one of the quieter Society Islands very much. Huahine, l’île sauvage, is mountainous and fertile. We arrive under glorious sunshine and the intensity of the turquoise water is stunning. A huge reef surrounds the entire island and there’s a pass on the northwest side close to the main village. In the afternoon a couple of humpback whales come through the pass (a mother and calf) and it’s beautiful to watch them reappear several times before they head out again.

Fare is a laid back welcoming settlement with a decent grocery store, some roulottes (food vans) serving steak frites and chow mein and even a yacht club, which does happy hour every night. The brilliant sunshine doesn’t last and the next few days are overcast. In fact, the weather has been a bit strange lately with lots of squalls and unseasonal cold weather. We even have to use a blanket at night, tch tch! Apparently this is due to El Niño, a weather phenomenon that occurs every few years. Anyway, it’s perfect weather for a bike ride! We hire four bicycles and go around the northern part of the island, which is about 20 kilometres. There are a few steep hills (15%) where we dismount but apart from that even Aeneas (who is only five) manages to cycle the whole way without any complaints. During the trip we stop at the archaeological site in Maeva, we see some very fat sacred blue eels in Faie, we visit a pearl farm and have lunch from a roulotte. It’s a great day out and a real pleasure to be on bikes again, it’s been a long time! After three nights in Huahine we decide it’s time to head for the next island, Tahaa: famous for its vanilla and its coral gardens …      

the view from our cockpit with raiatea in the backgroind

      

view from the top

 

approaching huahine, surrounded by one big reef

    

the anchorage near the villlage

 

 
 

bike trip around the island

 

archaeological site

 

sacred eels

 

Moorea

It’s hard saying goodbye each time you leave somewhere. The boys made several new friends and are sad to leave Tahiti on Thursday. After filling up with (duty-free!) diesel we cross the ten miles or so to Moorea and flat turquoise water awaits us in the anchorage just outside Cook’s bay. We see several humpback whales on approaching Moorea and feel very lucky. Some come so close to the boat that we actually have to slow down!

On Friday morning we travel a bit further west. There’s an underwater tiki exhibition nearby where we’re anchored and we snorkel over to check it out. It’s very cool and the coral and wildlife near the reef is pretty too. Also nearby is “stingray ally” and we’re in for a treat! Those rays are used to being fed and are very friendly and curious. On Saturday morning after breakfast we head over to the recommended location, anchor the dinghy and get out amongst the stingrays. They are very inquisitive and are all over us! A bit freaky! There are also tens of black tip reef sharks circling around us but they don’t come as close as the stingrays. We feed the rays sardines and they love it! After everything is gobbled up we dinghy back to the boat and half an hour later Tyrii sees a humpback whale jump up out of the water right next to the boat. Amazing! We get the cameras out and Seathan jumps in the water. We can’t believe our luck. The whale swims around the boat for half an hour and then finds his way back out to the pass to exit the reef. What a morning!
Moorea is absolutely gorgeous and reminds us a bit of the Marquesas with its bright green mountains and deep bays. The only difference is that there is a big reef around the island. We want to spend a few more days here and then it’s off to the next island, probably Huahine.

 

we see a lot of whales on approaching Moorea

  

Moorea coastline

  

underwater tiki

  

beautiful corals near the reef

  

our anchorage on Saturday morning

  

seathan cuddles with stingrays

  

they are very inquisitive

  

the sharks are out too

 

they eat out of our hands

  

a humpback whale right next to the boat

 

Tahiti

Ahhhh… The luxury of being in a marina for a few days: shore power, Wi-Fi, unlimited water on tap, access to all the shops and amenities, being able to go for a run in the morning…

We spend the first week in Tahiti anchored near Taine marina. It’s a roley anchorage and after having checked it out by dinghy we decide to move to the marina in the centre of town. We motor the five miles through the channel inside the reef and call port control for authorisation before proceeding past the airstrip. The marina is brand new and has only been open for a few months. We plug into shore power, get the scooters out of the stern locker and off we go exploring the city!

Pape’ete is not a big city by anyone’s standards but there are shops, restaurants, big supermarkets and plenty of city activities. There’s a large park nearby and there are other kid boats on our pontoon. All the kids have scooters and we go and race them in the park. In the evening we have dinner at one of the roulottes near the waterfront. They are small food vans set up every evening and there is plenty to choose from: traditional French food, sushi and sashimi, pizza, barbecue and grill, … You have to bring your own drinks and there are fold out tables and plastic chairs to sit on. It’s a great ambiance with street music and entertainment nearby.

I’m sure we’ll soon yearn for a quite and remote anchorage but for now we are making the most of city living. A few more days are needed to fill up the boat with provisions and diesel before we can head off to Moorea and the other Society islands.

PS – Make sure to check out our newly uploaded videos under the vimeo link and Tyrii’s update on the kids blog!

the channel alongside the airport with Moorea in the background

the channel alongside the airport with Moorea in the background

Papeete marina with with Mirabelle 5 in the background, the largest single masted yacht ever built apparently

Papeete marina with with Mirabelle 5 in the background, the largest single masted yacht ever built apparently

cruising kids love their scooters

cruising kids love their scooters

the market in Papeete

the market in Papeete

Belgian beer night aboard Rehua!

Belgian beer night aboard Rehua!

the roulottes

the roulottes

crazy cloud bridge over Moorea

crazy cloud bridge over Moorea