Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Society Islands, French Polynesia

May 31 - June 8


We arrived in to the bustling city of Papeete. We decided to stay at the Papeete Marina in the heart of the city ( The price was comparable to the other marina outside of the city. It is called Marina Taina. 

We enjoyed Papeete. It was strange though, everything shut down early. The bustling city would become a ghost town by night.

We did enjoy the ability to shop, shop, shop. I was able to get some retail therapy in, which was nice. There are lovely fabric stores, everything shops and a fruit, veggie, and souvenir market. It is a nice market but, is one of the more expensive markets that we have come across in our travels.

June 8 - June 12


Hands down, Mo'orea is my favourite island that we visited. We anchored in Opunohu Bay. It is a lovely narrow, straight, 3 km long bay with stunning  views. 

stunning view

Not far away in Cook's Bay, there is a juice factory that offers a free, self directed tour, including a juice tasting and alcohol tasting (for those that would like to partake). The name of the factory is Mantea Tahiti - Rotui Juice Factory and Distillery (their Facebook page is linked here -

Our good friends on s/v Westie, Jason, April and Aksel joined us on the trip over to the juice factory. It was informative and delicious. Well worth a visit.

the dinghy ride over
a tiki out front

Several months earlier I had promised to take the girls horse back riding. We ended going with Opunohu Ranch on a 2 hour ride, each of us got our own horse. The ranch also picked us up on the side of the road to give us a lift back to the ranch. At the end they brought us back to the same place so we could be picked up by the dinghy.

Upon arrival, we were asked to grab helmets, and then we were introduced to our horses. The ride took us up into the valley through the pineapple plantation (used in the juice factory), past the outdoor fitness areas, to see wonderful views. It was a beautiful day with my lovely daughters.

in the truck on the way to the ranch
waiting for the horses
all saddled up and ready to go
the views along the way

Shaun and I had celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary in April. We were in the Marquesas islands at that time, and hadn't found anything that we really had wanted to do together. While we were in Mo'orea, we found a golf course, the Mo'orea Green  Pearl ( We were so excited! We hadn't been golfing in a very long time. Before we started sailing, golfing was one of our favourite pastimes. Manuel and Naddia offered to take care of the girls while we went and had a great day. The golfing was fun but, the views were amazing!

Shaun teeing off
the fairway
Shaun's happy place
another fairway

at the end of one of the fairways
if you miss the green, this is where the ball will end up

me teeing off
a view looking down from one of the higher tee boxes

While we were in Mo'orea, Shaun decided to take the plunge, and get a tattoo. He had been thinking about it for a long time, and designing one himself. He showed it to James the artist, and James then designed his own rendition which, turned out amazing! It took approximately 5 hours with breaks in between. It is not for the faint hearted, that's for sure.

the beginning hand drawn outline

during the process
the finished product on one side
the finished product on the other side
On a separate occasion Manuel took Jordan over to the sting ray feeding area before all of the tourists arrived. Jordan became nervous when a ray decided to touch her so, she ended up sitting in the dinghy and observing from there while the others were snorkeling.

a ray and a black tip in behind

There are numerous hikes in the area, one of which can be accessed by dinghy. We rounded up several cruisers, and headed over to the Magic Mountain trail. It is a short 30-45 minute moderate/hard uphill hike. There is a small fee (200 french francs/person), that is paid to a lady because the entrance is on her property. There are two routes, a shorter steeper one, and a longer less steep one. The effort is worth it, as you are rewarded with breathtaking views at the top.

June 13 - 16


Much to my sadness, we left Morrea and made the 80 mile, bumpy, overnight passage to Huahine. Our sailing friend on Westie and Ripple also made the passage.

Upon our arrival we grabbed the last mooring of 7 mooring balls near town. The town is small but, has a grocery store on the main street. 

On June 15, we decided to rent scooters and tour the island. This was THE best decision ever! So much fun. We were able to see some awesome sights, including the famous, sacred river eels. We even go to paint a portion of a pareo. On our way back to return the scooters, we came across a vanilla plantation, and decided to stop for a quick tour. I understand now, why vanilla is so expensive worldwide. Instead of leaving the pollination to the bees, a worker pollinates each flower in order to maximize the amount of vanilla produced.

river eels

look at that water

young vanilla pods
45 year old vanilla vines
Element on the mooring ball

June 16

Raitea and Tahaa

It was time to leave Huahine and make the short 21 mile hop over to Raiatea and Tahaa. These two islands are located in the same coral lagoon. We grabbed a mooring ball outside the marina so we were close to land. 

It was Saturday evening, and we had read in the compendium that there was traditional dancing somewhere near the town dock. Our friends on Ripple and Bravo were thinking of looking as well so, off we went. We stopped at the supermarket to grab an alcoholic beverage, before continuing on to try and locate the dancing. We were told that there was dancing going on near the marina. It turned out to be a local concert not traditional dancing. We had already paid the money, before we realized that it wasn't what we were looking for. Note to self...... ask better questions before paying. We made the best of the situation, even dancing a little bit before we decided to leave.

We weren't impressed with the area we were in, in Raiatea, there was a lot of smelly areas as we walked.... We decided that it would be best if we headed over to Tahaa.

local rock concert

Jordan dancing up a storm
Jordan and I dancing

The next day we all agreed to head to Tahaa. It took us an hour to make our way to the sand bar near the cruise ship motu (Motu Mahaea). The water is stunning, just like gin and tonic. We anchored in 2 meters of clear water.

a birds eye view of Element
the pass that we snorkeled
Yesterday, Manuel, Jordan and I went to Toahotu pass and did a small drift snorkel. These are some of the best corals we have seen since the south pass in Fakarava. On our second pass Jordan found us some clown fish (nemos). Super exciting! Later in the day Manuel took Paige to see them as this was on her bucket list.

Paige free diving to see the clown fish
We moved Element around the corner to the sandbank in front of the Le Taha’a Resort in 2 meters of gin and tonic water. We were just south of the coral gardens.

Bora Bora

Our last stop in the Society Islands was the famous Bora Bora. It is a beautiful place, but my heart is definitely in Mo'orea. The views are stunning!

Our first stop was at Maikai Marina Yacht club. They have mooring balls and allow people using the mooring balls to access the pool. F
airly close to the yacht club there are food trucks that we frequented. Good food, large portions, and reasonable.

The kids were fortunate enough to be able to spend time with some other kid boats while we were in Bora Bora. 

Element on a mooring ball at Maikai Marina Yacht Club
kids in the pool with Element in the distance

Again we decided to rent scooters to tour the islands. Well worth it! It gave us a chance to see some lovely spots. We found the famous Blood Mary's, took a small hike to see some of the WWII bunkers and cannons. We also happened upon a great shop where we were able to make our own pareo's for 15.00 Polynesian Francs each. This was a huge highlight and recommend it to anyone visiting Bora Bora. 

some of the over water bungalows

a cute puppy
Jordan having a little help with the dye
finished product
the rubber templates that are used to lay on top of the drying pareo

several pareos drying int he sun

our newly tied pareos

We decided to leave the anchor ball and head over to an anchoring spot not far away where several of our new friends were anchored. We even partook in a floaty party, hosted by sv Bravo. It was a huge success. S/V Sedna, Westie, Tioga, Bravo and Element were there. Fun times!

We decided to head around the island to the "resort" area, to anchor for a few days. Across the way from our spot, is a manta ray cleaning spot. It is well marked, with buoys to tie the dinghy up. We decided to snorkel and, were able to see several manta rays. While swimming along, if the conditions are good, there are stones placed in a manta ray design along the bottom. It is neat to see.

During our time on this side of the island, Manuel proposed to Naddia. Of course, the answer was a HUGE yes!

A quick side note, although the beaches are stunning, be aware, the resorts do not want cruisers coming to land. 

for thousands of dollars a night you could stay in these bungalows

We decided to move back around to the yacht club in preparation for our attendance for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Heiva Celebration. It was well worth seeing. Polynesian songs, stories and of course, the dancing.  If you are able to time your trip to coincide with this celebration, it is very entertaining.

2018 Heiva opening ceremony

On July 1, we Canadians (and token Canadians our crew) got together to celebrate Canada Day on Windancer IV. We were joined by our friends from Tioga (from Vancouver). Such a great group of people celebrate with.

Before our departure from Bora Bora, we had to visit Bloody Mary's for dinner. They do in fact make the BEST bloody Mary drink I have tasted. Not long after this dinner we said farewell to Bora Bora and headed towards Tonga but, found a hidden gem along the way.......

Bloody Mary dinner

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