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Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, Rangiroa June 2001
French Polynesia Map
Small Island in Polynesia
Lonely Planet info Tahiti
CIA World Factbook Tahiti
US State Dept Warnings
India/Bangkok Travel Diary: 24 Nov 2000 to 31 Dec 2000
Burma/Laos/Thai Islands Travel Diary: 1 Jan 2001 to 20 Feb 2001
Singapore/Borneo/KL/Bali/Australia Travel Diary: 21 Feb 2001 to 29 Apr 2001
New Zealand Travel Diary: 29 Apr 2001 to 12 Jun 2001
Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia and contains the capital Papeete. Usually skipped over by visitors, it is lush and worth exploring.
Moorea is a magnificent volcanic island just a 10 min flight from Papeete with great diving and resorts.
Bora Bora is spectacularly beautiful, with jagged volcanic remains, a multicoloured lagoon, and sensational manta ray and shark diving. extremely honeymooney!
Rangiroa, known primarily for its great diving and concentration of sharks and other large aquatic creatures, is an enormous atoll (ring of coral surrounding a lagoon) in the Tuamoto archipelago
11 June 2001 on to Chicago Fly to Chicago, see Mom and Bob and BBQ skirt steaks at Leo´s house
12 June 2001 on to Auckland fly O`hare to Auckland on United (just 4 hours to LA then 12 hours to New Zealand), cross date line and lose a day
14 June 2001 Auckland arrive early at airport, take 50 min $4 bus into town, try to book hotel in Moorea, everything extremely expensive, stumble upon the Club Med office in Auckland (located on the third floor of a nondescript office building 2 streets behind the main street) and reluctantly convinced to spend 5 nights in pampered luxury and comfort at the club in Moorea, have a big steak lunch at favourite Tony´s steak house, visit Antarctic World Tourist Attraction, which contains artifacts from Antarctic expeditions and 30 penguins living unhappily in a big underground freezer with windows, return to airport and catch great Air New Zealand flight to Tahiti, fly back over date line and redo day!
14 June 2001 Tahiti arrive in Papeete early (1am) wait around airport until 6am for first flight to Moorea, take transfer bus 40min to Club Med. The Club Med is pretty summercamplike with cabins, a food hall, numerous little activities and counselors that do and try to get you to do silly things. I eat breakfast with 3 Italian Honeymoon couples, including Paolo and Leila from Ancona. I would soon realise that the Honeymoon thing would be the recurring and overwhelming theme of my visit in French Polynesia. Meet interesting Katrina, a law firm consultant and geologist from Melbourne, at the beachside bar during a rainstorm in the afternoon. Have dinner with some kind nice Americans: Terry, Julie and Paul from the west coast at the English speaking table. silly funny show by the staff, the disco a bit slow.
15 June 2001 Moorea great visibility during two morning scuba dives outside the lagoon, great views of the island on scuba boat. Mai Tais in afternoon with Katrina, disco again, recieve shortband radio from Paul.
16 June 2001 Moorea 2 more excellent dives, black tip sharks, lion fish, stone fish. do 4x4 safari tour around island with Katrina, another Aussie, some Japanese people and a funny NZ couple, assured that the highly likely rain would not dampen the enjoyability of the trip. we get soaked, are freezing, and can´t see anything while the driver refuses to take us back to Club Med claiming that the weather would "turn soon", finally stop for mixed drinks at a little mercado and feel much better despite the uncomfort, visit alcohol factory and sample very strong drinks.
17 June 2001 Moorea more scuba, dinner at the Tiki Restaurant with Katrina, pouring rain!!, cool Tahitian Fire show
18 June 2001 Moorea lunch at Tiki Restaurant, sunny afternoon, fun carnival games
19 June 2001 on to Bora Bora quick breakfast in Moorea where I run into Terri and her sister, Julie, who had fled from the Club Med Bora Bora explaining that it was the most boring boring place on earth and completely completely filled with Honeymooning people. As I was about 10 minutes away from taking the shuttle bus for my flight and had already paid for my three nights at Bora Bora, I was quite thrilled to hear this development, but I figured that they must be exaggerating. How bad could a Club Med really be? I share the shuttle with French honeymooners, Natalie and Ludovico, and we take a 50 min flight to Bora Bora. Dramatic spectacular view of Bora from plane. Eventually we arrive at the Club Med. I actually felt overcome with lethargy as I checked in and began to absorb at the apathy of the club staff. The club was 92 percent honeymooners, me, and a completely disinterested aloof workforce.
Bravely, I knew that I could survive this. First of all, the club had much better rooms, with airconditioning, balconies, and color TV. Secondly, the food was about 50 times better than the mediocre food at Moorea; the downside was that they since they don`t seat you with other people, I was forced to eat most of my meals alone and shunned at a segregated "singles" table. That afternoon, I took a windsurfing lesson, from a reluctant Fabian and had fun going back and forth in a little lagoon bit. In the evening, met nice interesting honeymooners from Duke Business School, Jason and Kory. We saw the most bizarre Club Med Show in history about a Faustian musical dance extravaganza with demonic possession of humans, compacts with Satan, and scantilly clad succubii. It was quite entertaining.
20 June 2001 Bora Bora Phenomenal Day! Manta ray scuba dive with Top Dive at 8:30, see about 10 different rays ranging from 5 to 12 feet long, swim just above and around them in the murky lagoon, wonderful dive! Then at 10:30 we went outside the lagoon for a shark feeding dive, we attracted 6 huge (10 foot) lemon sharks and numerous black tip sharks swimming fiercely above our heads; it was an incredible thrill. After a lone lunch, met three honeymoon couples for a 4x4 adventure excursion: Brian and Filana, Western Canadian doctors, Jennifer and Stuart. A great trip with exhilirating scary driving. We later rescue two jeeps full of Cruise people who are stuck in mud, given great Californian wine and sandwiches from grateful rescuees. Have dinner with Jennifer, Stuart, and Dennis and Vicky, from NY, the Cabaret show is horrible in need of serious editing.
21 June 2001 Bora Bora Do the same dives again, excellent again, meet Brett and Monica from California, have dinner with Jason and Kory hear gross out stories from Kory´s survival course in Kenya, watch excellent Tahitian dancing show.
22 June 2001 on to Tahiti Went to get catamaran (at club med everything is free except drinks and scuba). really unhappy Fabian, since I was completely unqualified to take the huge expensive thing out on my own, he had go with me for an hour and a half which interrupted his mid morning nap. He showed me a little how to control the boat, but I couldn´t get the hang of it, and he had to sail the whole time while I lounged, tanned and observed the island from a big boat. At lunch the children of Bora were invited for a yearly lunch and shows by the staff. It was really fun seeing these thrilled kids, when they landed a helicopter and all of these bizarre characters came out (a giant lobster, Neptune, and Miss Tahiti).
fly to Tahiti, stay at really really really scummy Chez Sorenson pension by the airport, (dirty, no fan, shared dirty bathroom all for $23), take a public bus (a Le Truck) to Tahiti Beachcomber Resort Hotel, ironically have Seafood Extravaganza Buffet (everything at Club Med is a buffet) and Traditional Tahitian Dancing Show with Fire by the impressive swimming pool with Terri and her sister, Julie. Drinking excellent frozen drinks, we compare thoughts and notes on Log Cabins, the Club Meds, specific Honeymoon couples, general observed Honeymoon behavior, conceptions of the ideal "Honeymoon", and the growth and development of the Honeymoon Study field.
23 June 2001 on to Rangiroa wake up, have coffee and bread, meet Tyler, a young wide-eyed Mormon missionary from BYU who is on Tahiti for 3 months. Fly one hour to Rangiroa which looks like a huge necklace from the air (there is no island, just a thick ring of coral surrounding the second largest lagoon on earth), stay at charming family run bungalow at Miki Miki Village (a Tahitian bargain at $70 including dinner) on lagoon. Rush to Kiora Village Resort for first drift dive (the only reason I came to Rangiroa was for diving), we jump into little zodiac boats with our gear, and ride out through the pass in the lagoon to the stormy ocean, drop down to 90 feet, see some big grey sharks, explore some caves, then get sucked into the lagoon in the strongest current I`ve ever felt. It felt like flying underwater. We ended up in the Aquarium site at around 20ft with really bad visibility and speargun fisherman all around us, very disconcerting, but we weren`t hit. Have dinner back at my hotel with the other guest a nice French retired guy. Fantastic fresh tuna dinner and dessert. Really getting tired of everything being in French and speaking French.
24 June 2001 Rangiroa have early breakfast at 6:30, have first dive at 7:30, a so so reef dive, see a couple of little turtles. read Lord of the Rings and tan at the luxiourious Kiora resort while waiting for second dive in the afternoon.Eat a great Mahi Mahi burger. Extremely exciting second dive, a grey shark takes a keen interest in me and Monica, other silvertips swim around us, Brett has his finger bitten by a Giant Trigger fish and is bleeding, which causes up to be completely swarmed by fish and sharks, difficult to swim through, finally the divemaster has Brett swim behind us and the rest of us get away. Eventually a traumatized Brett returns to the Zodiac with a gushing finger.
25 June 2001 Rangiroa we dive at Avatoru Pass where the big sharks are supposed to lurk. The divemaster and his assistant go down with the remains of a huge tuna and two ski poles, the rest of us (5 including U of Michigan couple, Andy and Barbara) decend to 60 feet and rest on the coral about 10 feet away from the feeding frenzy, we attract 4 12ft sivertip sharks, and an scavange team of about 10 smaller blacktips who are looking for scraps. The divemaster and assistant are bashing the big sharks with the ski poles to keep them from getting the food from the other fish and sharks, which seems to anger them as they swim closer and more ominously towards our little defenseless group, then they return to the food where they get belted again and more pissed off and finally swim back to our terrified group. We all knew that sharks don´t generally attack humans; it is only when they are provoked. Slugging enormous sharks when they are just trying to get at food would seem to constitute provokement to me and doesn`t seem to be the greatest of ideas. Fortunately, we all survived the dive. But I decided that would be my last dive with them.
26 June 2001 Rangiroa rent a scooter and drive around Rangiroa. I explored some deserted areas and beaches, read more of the Lord of the Rings. Ran into Brett and Monica who´d rented a silly three wheeled thing.
27 June 2001 On to Papeete return scooter, take flight to Papeete, stay at the bit rundown, old Royal Papeete Hotel ($65 with a/c and good shower), ate on Promenade at French Bistro with horrible service. Return to hotel and realise that the block that it is on comprises the transvestite prostitute area. very charming.
28 June 2001 Tahiti Excellent day! Take a 4x4 adventure trip in Land Rover to explore the island. There were two honeymoon couples from Illinois, Pete and Dinah, and teachers, Tennile and Bob. Our driver was Rodrigo who took us through the lush center of Tahiti, up volcanos, by waterfalls while philosophising about the nature of being and being in the present and about living in India and his guru. Fantastic trip. Have great roast veal dinner at a Le Rouloutte truck near the docks. Arrive at night for the flight to NZ, see Brett and Monica who are flying to LA and Paolo and Leila who are returning to Ancona. Truly feel like I`ve met every couple in Tahiti.
29 June to 2 July 2001 Easter Island, Chile visit archaelogical sites on remotest inhabited land on earth
For current time in Tahiti click here