Sunday, March 27, 2011

Touring Tahaa

Yesterday, we took the advice our the hotel owner and took a full day tour of the neighboring island, Tahaa. The islands of Tahaa and Raiatea share a coral reef lagoon, therefore travel between the two islands is protected. While Raiatea contains the second biggest city in French Polynesia, Tahaa is very natural and relaxed and is home to only 4500 people.

Edwin picked us up in a huge outrigger canoe (powered by a merc 150) from the hotel dock, and we went around Tahaa to the north end. We anchored in ankle deep water and walked across the coral reef to the outside of the lagoon. Then we stepped into the water, and let ourselves drift into the lagoon with the current flowing into the pass. It was wonderful snorkeling, and we quickly walked across the reef to do it all again!
One of the guests managed to get a spine of an urchin into her heel. Our guide was only two happy to assist by providing some of his own urine to pour over the wound. An hour later the guest raved that the remedy was successful!! In addition, a couple of us managed to get small scrapes on the coral (mine was a result of chasing my wayward shoes through the shallow reef). Edwin quickly cut open a lime and sqeezed the juice and pulp all over the would. It stung like crazy - for at least 10 minutes. But today, it has healed faster than any other coral wound we've had in the past!

After the snorkeling, and snacks of fresh papaya, mango, banana, pomplemousse, and coconut, we headed back across the lagoon and visited a local pearl farm. 1992, there were 50 pearl farms on Tahaa. Now there are only 3. We had a full tour, showing us the grafting and production process. It was all very interesting, and we managed to leave with our wallets intact.

Next, we loaded into 4x4 Land Rovers, and headed across the island to a Vanilla Plantation, owned by Edwin and his family. They gave us an interesting tour (again, in english and french), explaining the production
and drying process. Surprisingly, they didn't even offer to sell any of the beans, but we managed to go home with a few to test out. After the tour, we were treated to a delightful lunch, created by Jacqueline and her daughters. We feasted on rice, coconut bread, taro root, sweet potato, blue marlin poisson cru, fish balls (also blue marline), mahi mahi with crème freche and vanilla, and other delicacies.

With full bellies, we loaded back into the trucks, and headed across the island on a dirt road. We had heard from other sailors the they had to get out and push the truck through one of the deep mud holes last week!!
Luckily, we were able to stay in the truck for the entire trip. It was rocky and rolly, but we were rewarded with a spectacular view point from the top of the mountain overlooking Hanamene Bay.

Finally, we loaded back into the canoe and were taken across the lagoon, back to Raiatea. This was the best tour excursion any of us had taken...what a treat! A full day with lots of local info provided by Edwin, Jacqueline and their son Ivan. We returned to the hotel still full with barely any appetite for dinner!


Mark / Donna Stuart said...

Hi there guys I hope you are having fun with
uncle Dave and aunt Nola Have a great time

From Nicola

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