Day 1,912 of Traveling the World | Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii | April 27, 2023

Waikiki Beach is iconic, even in Hawaii. It is the shooting location for many TV shows and movies, including From Here to Eternity and Hawaii Five-O (of course). So we took off for the beach, stopping on the way for a delicious açaí bowl, which we described and showed photos of in October when we were here on another cruise.

All the photos were taken at or along Waikiki. As you look at these other-worldly photos, keep in mind that the wide beach running along the ocean is artificial – comprised of imported sand, largely from Manhattan Beach, California. We read that it arrived by barges, and it is dizzying to think of the number of barges of sand required! Almost 2,000 feet of sand has been replenished over the years at a cost of $2.4 million, as erosion claims about one foot of sand per year.

In the 1800s, Waikiki was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty, and they enjoyed early forms of surfing on longboards. A few small hotels appeared in the 1880s, and the area became more popular once Robert Louis Stevenson stayed on Waikiki Beach as he explored the South Pacific (winding up in Samoa for the rest of his life, as we related a few weeks ago). The high-rise hotels started to go up in 1955, and this area has only grown in size and popularity since then. Believe it or not, the income generated from Waikiki makes up a whopping 42 percent of all of Hawaii’s tourist income!

So we wandered along the beach and took photos. There are various statues, a small water feature with waterfalls, a gigantic baobab tree with multiple trunks, and people, people, people – all enjoying both the beach and the ocean. There were far more people than we saw on all the beaches of French Polynesia combined. It was warm but not as hot as in French Polynesia, and we noticed one more thing: during dinner, at 6:30 pm, we could still see the entire landscape outside. Just a few days ago, when seated next to the window at the same time, it was just utter darkness at 6:30 pm. So we have moved back into the light! It is great to be back in the US – back in the US – back in the US of A!

Looking south along Waikiki, you can see Diamond Head!
Lots and lots of people were enjoying the beach.
There were quite a few boats out in the sparkling water, and we also saw a paraglider.
The gigantic baobab tree.
We liked that someone was sleeping in this hammock strung between the trees.
A mixture of trees provides ample shade.
The small waterfalls along the path.
They built a sea wall here so that people could swim/float on inner tubes without being hit by waves. It works like a very large saltwater swimming pool. On the left, you can see the covered hut at the end of a concrete walkway.
Lifeguard shacks, like the one at the right, were placed every so often along the long beach.
A statue dedicated in 2001, “Makua and Kila” illustrates the story of a Hawaiian boy and his seal companion.
Walking out to the hut on this walkway.
Action shot! Out along the walkway there were teens jumping off the side.
The view from out on the walkway shows the many hotels across the street from Waikiki.
This woman was floating around just offshore.
One area of the beach is dedicated to surfers only – the waves were pretty good.
Some of the (expensive) sand!

Day 1,910 of Traveling the World | Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii | April 25, 2023

We visited Cruel Sun, Maui, Hawaii, today. You never heard of it? That is the translation of the word, “Lahaina.” In 1820 it was chosen as the Royal Capital by King Kamehameha II, but only lasted as the capital until Honolulu was named as its replacement in 1845.

We last visited here four years ago, and it looks exactly the same. There is a long main street with beautiful items for sale in retail shops, along with their most famous ice cream shop, Lappert’s. In addition to premium ice cream and shave ice, it offers Dole Whip, a pineapple sorbet. The island used to be a center of pineapple and sugar production (before tourism replaced them), and there are many pineapple-themed foods and souvenirs to be found in the shops of Lahaina. At the end of town you can now find the Maui Outlet Shops. Everything is walkable. We saw a movie theater and got momentarily excited about seeing a movie. We have been on ships or small islands for quite a while now, so we haven’t seen many new releases. But we found the theater only shows films in the evenings (and of course, we were here during the day).

As you will see, it was a dark and stormy day. Some people got absolutely drenched when there was a sudden downpour. We walked through a light rain that stopped after 15 minutes or so, but the afternoon brought more showers. The rain did mean that it wasn’t quite so hot as normal, so that was great.

Early morning view of Lahaina from the cruise ship.
Taken a minute after the above photo, this is from the other side of the ship!
The Yellow Submarine you see (which is what everyone calls it) is actually the Reef Dancer, designed as a deeper glass bottom boat, for passengers to see the local fish and turtles.
The Historic Baldwin Home Museum, dating to 1834.
There were a lot of silly/fun names in Lahaina, like the Dirty Monkey.
How could we resist anything with the word “Beyoutiful” in it?
The Chinese Museum. All of Hawaii has a lot of Chinese history, as immigrants added to its rich culture.
Note how wet the streets are and how the cars had their lights on. The rain kept many of the tourists off the streets and made everything a little quieter than normal. We liked the trees blowing in the distance.
Oceanfront cheeseburgers and….grog!
A giraffe statue with monkeys wrapped around its neck.
Old Poi Factory. Poi: the tabula rasa of Hawaii. It tastes like whatever you put on it!
This was the gray ocean view for most of our day in Lahaina. There was lots of rain, then a little, then none, then a little…..
Here is Cheeseburger in Paradise.
They. Came. From. Outer. Space. THE SAND PEOPLE!
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac lives on Maui and has a restaurant/bar as well as a gift shop in Lahaina.
There were several blocks of covered sidewalks here, which was great when the rain started. It gives the city an “old Hawaii” look.
One of the multi-level shopping and eating malls in the center of Lahaina.
The park across from the above photo is overflowing with gorgeous old banyan trees.
Start Me Up – charter fishing boats. Guess they like The Rolling Stones?
Cannons from a sunken Russian warship, brought to Lahaina to protect the Royal Capital.
This poor boat apparently ran ashore, and had been there for quite a while.
A pretty covered walkway along the oceanfront.
Some advice for all of us.
Somebody added goo- goo- googly eyes to this beautiful woman’s photo, making her look very creepy.

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Day 1,905 of Traveling the World | Taiohae, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia | April 21, 2023

As we said in our post of the same location when we were here in November 2018 – look at that title! What a mouthful!

Nuku Hiva is the name of the island we visited in the Marquesas, the largest in fact, and as you approach, at once it feels very different from all of the other islands we visited in French Polynesia. No wide, sandy beaches with lazy palm trees throwing some shade. Rather, the Marquesas are a series of volcanic mountains that have dramatically risen from the ocean over millions of years, with any “beach area” minimal at best, and generally black sand due to its volcanic nature. The population here once totaled about 100,000, before western “explorers” appeared and brought western diseases with them. By 1911, the population here was just 3,000. Today, it is a little over 9,000 – nowhere near its high.

We found the village of Taiohae to be little changed since our last visit. There are two small, curving arc-shaped bays with some sand and palm trees on both sides of the port, although nobody was out in the water. The surf was a little rough, and as our tender boat came up to the dock, we were slammed against it by an unexpected surge of water.

Everyone walks up the small hill in town to get pictures from above and to visit the statue, Tiki Tuhiva, on Tu Hiva Hill. She is 35 feet tall, and she rules! A “tiki” isn’t just a figurine you name your bar after. Tiki, according to South Pacific tradition, is the god who created everything. The Marquesans carve everything, and we mean everything. We didn’t pass a rock or large piece of wood that didn’t have a carving on it. Sadly, the Polynesian traditions of body tattoos (denoting class and status), along with carvings, were forbidden by the missionaries that the French sent after they took control in 1842. These cultural customs were lost for many decades. They are now back with a vengeance! While not proponents of tattoos, we were happy to see that the ancient traditions have returned.

Leaving French Polynesia feels bittersweet. We have been in the region since mid-October, and are now heading for Hawaii. It has been such a beautiful place to be for six months! Yes, there are mosquitoes and flies; yes, it is very hot and humid – BUT the gorgeous vistas and crystal waters have been amazing and at times other-worldly. Mike has done more diving than usual, and he ranks two of his recent dives among the best top five ever. After we disembark in early May, the ship and its crew will spend the summer cruising to Alaska – far, far different from the warm, humid islands of French Polynesia.

From atop Tu Hiva Hill is this stunning view of one of the bays and the magnificent orange-flowered Royal Poinciana tree.
From the cruise ship we captured how the island looks as you sail past.
Another view of the volcanic mountains from Tu Hiva Hill, with our cruise ship way, way out there.
Passengers were greeted by the woman on the right, who loudly called out in a traditional welcome. Then the musical group under the canopy played some welcoming songs.
The bay on the opposite side of the first photo, adjacent to the dock.
There were pretty landscaped paths around the port area. The buildings are for selling arts and crafts.
Yes, this is a carved piece of rock.
That carved statue is adjacent to this open-air restaurant, which is typical of most restaurants we saw in French Polynesia. This is about as good as it gets.
A pretty view along the bay. These rocks have carvings on them, of course.
There are lots of boats moored out in the bay.
Two women enjoying the view.
The road along the bay. It was planted with quite a variety of trees, not just palms, as is more typical.
Our cruise ship and the other boats.
We had to circle this to find the face…and the hands!
The gate to the path leading up to Tu Hiva Hill wouldn’t stop anyone – we think it was just an opportunity to fashion one and paint it!
It isn’t quite “carved,” but is a rock that has had “accoutrements” added to it.
The black clouds look ominous. We were lightly sprinkled with a very very very light rain for about 4 minutes on top of the hill, then it stopped. The good thing was, nobody else was up there with us – the rain actually helped us have the site to ourselves.
Another tiki carving on the top of the hill, inside a lovely archway made of natural stones.
…Equal Opportunity Photographers! We show both sides.
Some arts and crafts kiosks in the port – what is that on top of the hill?
…It is Tiki Tuhiva herself! Her navel is hollow, and locals write their longings on a piece of paper, climb up, and place it in her navel for good favor.
On the other side is the Tiki Tuhiva Warrior, but he is only 24 feet tall compared to her 36 feet. Hmmmmm….wonder what that means???
The Warrior has his (carved) staff and his tattoos, and is protected by the larger woman. What more could he need to look ferocious?
This is the view through the warrior’s leg and staff.
One more carved statue as we headed back down. The bright red hose casing is for water.
On the tender boat back to the ship were two barrels of yellowfin tuna that the crew bought from some locals. The people who eat sushi were quite happy.
On sale in the arts and crafts hut – yet more carvings by the locals. They seemed to be doing a good business, as passengers were lined up to purchase them.

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Day 1,902 of Traveling the World | Bora Bora, French Polynesia | April 18, 2023

Here we go again! This feels like an embarrassment of riches…for the fourth time in just a few months, we are back in Bora Bora. AND, we fell under the power of Bora Bora’s lure yet again. Since we have always rented a scooter here and driven completely around the island, we remembered the outstanding beauty of the water and the sky and wanted to see it all again. But the memory of having driven on a scooter in Tahiti for five hours, with the attendant saddle sores, was sharp, so this time we rented a Fun Car.

What is a fun car, you ask? It is a teeny-tiny two-person electric car that, in its entirety, is a little smaller than the size of a ferris wheel cage. There are two photos of it below. Of course, it drives just like a regular car, except there isn’t a window to roll down – the door is one piece of glass. There was a small sun roof for air circulation, and the vehicle did have air conditioning. But we quickly discovered that using the A/C dropped the remaining power precipitously, from 100 percent to 89 percent in just a few minutes. So we learned to love the sun roof with just a little breeze. We suppose it is called a fun car because we stopped frequently for photo-taking, and every time we turned around and saw this tiny munchkin car, we laughed.

Having been in many places in the world, we really do think Bora Bora is the prettiest island of all. As you will see in the photos, every time we drove just a mile or two and stopped for photos, the water and sky were different colors, dependent on where we were in relation to the sun and the geography. It is so interesting to see. All the islands of Tahiti have pretty multi-colored water and gorgeous skies, but many have a large numbers of houses on the beach, making good chunks of beach inaccessible. Businesses like restaurants also claim a lot of the beach access. But Bora Bora is very generous with views of the beach and parking for scenic viewpoints. It is all beautiful and wide open for swimming, snorkeling, and water sports. We saw a paraglider today, its parachute colors brightening the sky.

We were here over the weekend, and then after a quick trip to Papeete to pick up new passengers, we’re right back in Bora Bora. Mike went diving and said the manta rays were about about 10 feet across. They were the largest animal Mike had seen while diving, and the sight of them was other-worldly. In the pre-dive briefing, the dive guide told the divers to stay as low as possible and move as little as possible, so as to not scare them away. She said that they had a curious nature, so might approach us, but if they went past us, not to chase them, as they might otherwise return. Sure enough, several mantas passed above several times, looking majestic as they moved slowly by, as if they were moving in slow motion. Some reef sharks were seen on the second dive, which are, of course, a very common sight in French Polynesia. There are photos of rays and sharks below, but they were taken with an older GoPro camera. Due to that and the murkiness of the water, they aren’t the best quality, but will give you an idea of what’s down below.

In some places, the clouds and water made extraordinary companions, both dazzling us with their color and drama.
The sky here is almost completely – clouds!
There is one lone swimmer out there in the clear water.
The mountains here always seem to be enveloped in clouds.
The ocean is largely devoid of swimmers, so there are loads of views just like this one.
One of several long docks that we saw.
There are lots of little curving bays like this in Bora Bora.
The sky and ocean are different colors here than the previous photos. You just never know what you’re gonna get!
This was a very broad beach where a few people were sunbathing, a few were in the water, and these folks had a beach stop on the tour they were taking.
Loads of tranquility to be found here!
Two more swimmers (or splashers). Look how shallow it is for quite some distance.
A tiny motu just off the beach.
A few over-the-water bungalows.
There is the paraglider!
Two motus off in the distance, framed by two trees.
Several more motus.
Boats resting in the shallow water.
After a few hours of driving around the island, the clouds are still there on top of the mountain.
There were lots of boats. We love the pale blue water out where the reef rises.
Over the weekend in Bora Bora, it rained all afternoon. At 5:00 pm, we were rewarded with this perfect rainbow. There is an outrigger on the left. You can see the ends of the rainbow dropping into the ocean. Everyone was quite in awe.
This is a photo of one of the divers on Mike’s scuba diving trip, when they were quite a distance offshore.
One of the manta rays. Tip to tip, it was about 10 feet.
Some of the reef sharks.
Our cute little Eli electric car.
Here is Eli, parked at Bloody Mary’s. Established in 1979, the restaurant/bar capitalizes on its name, offering Bloody Marys and bar fare like burgers, salads, and tacos.
The inside features a sand floor and open-air concept.
Out front is the “Celebrity Hall of Fame.” It features people like Johnnie Depp, Slash, Marlon Brando, and many other notables of our day and past days who have visited here.
This totem pole looks like an endorsement of the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers.
Across from Bloody Mary’s is this pretty view.
Sunrise in Bora Bora – not to be forgotten.

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Day 1,898 of Traveling the World | Uturoa, Raiatea, French Polynesia | April 14, 2023

This was our second time in Raiatea, the first being last October. But it was raining for most of that day, so we focused mostly on Mike’s diving excursion. Today, however, we walked around the little town of Uturoa and followed the ocean boardwalk and pathway for a while. The views were lovely. Mike went diving in the afternoon, and he saw several black tip reef sharks, possibly some of the same ones he saw at the same dive spot six months ago.

The visibility was good and the dive site, known as Mira Mira by the locals, is pretty colorful, with a good variety of sea life, but the reef sharks are the stars of the area. The last time Mike was there he was surprised when he saw two of them swimming near him as soon as he put his mask in the water. This dive was pretty similar. They were there for most of the dive, circling around the divers. At one point, early in the dive, the dive guide was pointing out a white tip reef shark sitting at the bottom between rocks, as they often do, when he pointed over Mike’s shoulder. When Mike turned to look, one of the black tip reef sharks was passing a few inches from his head. It startled him for an instant before he saw that it was just an old friend.

As is common with these volcanic atolls, there is a reef a distance off the mainland, which juts close to or above the surface. That is true with the Mira Mira dive site. As the dive master said he might do before the dive, he led Mike close to the point where the waves were breaking and they floated a few feet below the surface and enjoyed the sensation of the wave surge. Then they returned to deeper water and the sharks before finishing the dive.

A few thoughts about sharks: they do bite people from time to time and occasionally even kill people, but it is a rare occurrence. Far more people are killed by falling coconuts each year than sharks. When scuba diving, especially in the South Pacific, there is a lot of discussion about sharks, but it nearly always focuses on where one can find them and how to get close to them. In a recent dive in Sydney, Australia, Mike was listening to a dive guide’s pre-dive briefing to a group of divers about lemon sharks. Lemon sharks can grow to 11 feet in length, and a few unprovoked bites to humans by them have been recorded. Australia is known as one of the more common areas of the world for shark bites. When the guide spoke about the possibility of seeing lemon sharks on the dive, his face and voice became very serious and he tried to catch each of the diver’s eyes to make sure they were paying close attention. His next words were, “If you see one, approach it slowly. If you rush toward it, you will scare it away.” Mike smiled, and thought that these were statements one would hear said only to divers.

Raiatea means “faraway heaven” and “sky with soft light,” and they seemed to have nailed the name! It is the second-largest island in French Polynesia after Tahiti, and seems to have been the jumping-off spot for early explorations to New Zealand and Hawaii. We looked for, but did not see, the strange, rare, local flower that grows only on this island – tiare apetahi. Google it – it looks like it forgot to finish growing, as it has five petals forming a half-circle. When it opens each day at dawn, it is with a slight crackling sound.

The biggest revenue on Raiatea comes from the production of Tahitian vanilla, which is supported by a local research facility. Coconuts and pineapples are also grown, of course, and pearl farming provides income to the locals. The island, indeed, proved itself to be a faraway heaven, with glorious water and deep blue sky. It was a delight for our senses in all ways.

The little coastal town of Uturoa provided gorgeous views of the bay.
The little motu (island) out there, crammed with trees, was in most of our photos. A few speedboats made it their destination.
We took this photo just before we disembarked for the morning. Both sky and ocean were very welcoming.
The catamaran in the distance provided a nice centerpiece for photos.
These small retail huts were all around the port.
There were lots of boats in Uturoa’s harbor.
The town even had a boardwalk. You can see that our cruise ship was easily the biggest structure there.
Crystal-clear water, like everywhere in Polynesia.
The church had a lovely lawn and beautiful stately palm trees.
They call this street the “Waterfront Route,” lined with trees for driving along the ocean.
By mid-afternoon, this band of turquoise water appeared!
These are the local government offices.
The shapes of the roofs on the government buildings are interesting.
This house was just down from the government offices, looking very inviting.
A beautiful jelly.
RAROMATAI SWEETY. Such a cute name. Underneath, it says, “Fashion at low prices.”
Sunset, you think? Think again. It is this morning’s sunrise, but we are putting it in reverse order, at the end, just because.

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Day 1,896 of Traveling the World | Rangiroa Atoll, Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia | April 12, 2023

We know, we know – You are thinking, “Are they ever going to go to anywhere NEW???” All of these gorgeous atolls/islands/motus look much the same. It was our first time in Rangiroa, but it felt like an old friend as we walked across the island in 5 minutes (again) and wandered along the windward side again. It wasn’t as windy as Fakarava’s windy side, but nobody was laying out on the beach or snorkeling on that side, either. Everyone was on the calmer and prettier lagoon side, with pale, clear, jade-colored water and drooping palm trees.

Rangiroa is the largest atoll in French Polynesia and the second-largest in the world. Like a string of pearls, forming a circle, the atoll is 46 miles long and 15 miles wide, so large that the entire island of Tahiti could fit comfortably in its central lagoon. There are two major industries on Rangiroa in addition to its famous diving spots and other water sports, and one is very surprising. The first is pearl cultivation, and six of today’s ship excursions were to “Discover the World of Pearls.” They come in a range of colors here, from white to shades of gray to cultivated black pearls. The second largest industry – surprise! – is wine-making. The vineyards are on the edge of a lagoon beside coconut trees, and they produce two harvests per year.

We found, once again, that while the temperature is very hot, the people are very warm. All of the locals waved to us, said hello, and had big smiles. We passed by several homes that looked very inviting. Once again, the colors of the ocean are simply amazing, with a range of blues, jades, and turquoises. The clouds are white and look overstuffed, and the sky is a penetrating blue. Below are just a few of the 200 photos we took over a few hours. We also shared a sweet encounter with some children. All in all, a perfect day for wandering around French Polynesia.

Like glass! This was our first photo from the rear deck of the cruise ship, before we ventured onto land.
Arriving via tender, we were greeted by about a dozen kiosks of local arts and crafts, along with small boats offering lagoon tours.
Check out that water! We couldn’t believe our eyes.
Some of the bars and restaurants are along the shore, naturally, offering seating with these intoxicating views.
Such a lazy feeling!
There were many scenes like this – loads of coconut trees in a plantation.
On the windward side of the island, the water was a darker blue, evidence of deeper water. This little motu (island) was sitting just offshore.
Two women taking photos below us.
The ring road here is paved, and there was quite a lot of traffic as we walked along!
The windward side wasn’t lined with many coconut palms, but with these sand-loving trees.
Another photographer, grabbing some shade wherever possible.
Some very rustic signage for destinations on the atoll.
One of the pretty houses off in the distance.
We were shocked to come upon Rodeo Jam, Country Music Tahiti – complete with a logo of a buckin’ bronco!
We then walked back to the lagoon side and saw these over-the-water bungalows on the right.
Still life, with boat.
This house has a lounge chair facing the lagoon, and behind it is a double swing. There were also kayaks and barbecues.
Some boats are anchored way out in the lagoon.
A lovely bunch of coconuts.
These kids were capitalizing on fallen coconuts, keeping them cold in a cooler. It was 200 francs (about $2 US) for a coconut, and the little girl cut the top off to reveal a coconut filled with milk. We were both nervously watching her as she cut the top off, hoping she didn’t cut herself. We really just wanted to give them some money to encourage their entrepreneurship, not caring much about the actual coconut. Her t-shirt said, Newport Beach, CA! They did not speak English, so we tried a few words from our 2 years of studying French, and we will say – we got along fine! We were able to ask in French how many coconuts they had sold that day, and they replied, “10.” Not bad business for an unpaved road on a tiny island, hawking coconuts they harvested from the ground.

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Day 1,893 of Traveling the World | Fakarava Atoll, Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia | April 9, 2023

Fakarava is a tiny, skinny atoll floating in the South Pacific and is the second-largest atoll in the Tuamotu Island group. It is described – unbelievably! – as being 37 miles long and 13 miles wide…BUT, that is including the ocean water that is in its sphere. The actual “land” looks like a wavy string resembling the number 7. Our ship was anchored on the leeward side, and our walk across to the (very windy) windward side took 5 minutes, if that, proving that it is NOT 13 miles wide!

On the leeward side is where all the small boats, and our ship, were moored; where people were swimming and sunbathing; where the calm blue water was gorgeous and inviting; and where the stores and restaurants were located, although there aren’t that many. The atoll’s population is only about 850 people. Houses were found on both sides of the island, but as you will see in the photos, the wind and surf are pretty enthusiastic on the windward side.

Fakarava has one of the world’s most pristine and undisturbed coral reef ecosystems. It is home to the highest concentration of gray reef sharks in the world (their school numbers about 700), and they are fully protected. Consequently, one of the biggest draws on Fakarava is scuba diving. Mike said the dive here was one of the top three in his 45 years of diving. He saw dozens of gray reef sharks and large shoals of other fish.

It was the largest concentration of sharks that Mike had ever seen. Some were very active, hunting just a few feet from the divers. Others were sitting still on the bottom, making use of the strong current flowing past to oxygenate their gills so that they didn’t have to swim. At one point the sharks scattered and the dive guide later said that he was sure that meant there was a hammerhead shark nearby, although we didn’t see it. Other divers, diving on the other side of the boat, said they saw several hammerheads.

Life here is hot, sleepy, and slow. There are only a few miles of road, so there are hardly any vehicles. There is no public transportation. People get around on bicycles or scooters. The atoll is first mentioned by a Russian navigator in 1820, who “named” it Wittgenstein Island. Never mind that it already had a name and was already inhabited by native Polynesians. Thankfully, the atoll reverted to its native name of Fakarava. It seems to fit well, evoking the South Pacific character.

A picture-perfect day, with kayakers near the shore and our ship anchored in the distance.
The crystal-clear lagoon and some of the atoll’s businesses.
In the rear is the biggest bar and restaurant that we saw. Notice how many bicycles have been (temporarily) abandoned in search of a cold drink.
The trees and clouds drew us in.
This is called the Evotia Shop – clothing, pearls, and souvenirs.
You may not be able to see her, but this small landscaped house with the thatched roof has a woman sitting out front, watching all of the cruise ship passengers walk and cycle by.
Advertising black pearls and their companion – ice cream.
All the views of the lagoon are pretty – and calm – on this side of the island.
A small dock with a boat-in-waiting.
This is just about a complete list of all the public buildings on the atoll!
As expected, every house built on the coast had a boat adjacent. (But even those a little inland had their attendant boats!)
A small house is buried in this foliage.
On all of the Polynesian islands, we encountered quite a number of stray dogs. They were all slow-moving, docile, fearful of us, and made a wide circle to avoid us – or just ignored us completely, like this one.
Coastal still life.
So you can see, immediately, that this is the windward side of Fakarava.
This little coconut palm cluster was adjacent to these houses. Notice the many fallen coconuts, which we saw all over.
The surf was pretty wild on this side.
This ring road went around most of the atoll. We walked about half of it.
The clouds and their choreography!
It all looks totally different from the photos of the leeward side, doesn’t it? No boats out there, no businesses, no people…
A sea of glass for all the boats we saw.
Almost-sunset over Fakarava. The colors were other worldly.

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Day 1,890 of Traveling the World | Moorea, Tahiti, French Polynesia | April 6, 2023

Did you know….the number of annual visitors to French Polynesia in a year is equal to the number of weekly visitors to Hawaii?? That is amazing! Yet, we bumped into several people who think nothing of flying from the West Coast to Tahiti, just an 8-hour flight. One was a man from Colorado, who is bringing his two teenage daughters here several times, each time for just a few days, to get scuba-certified. Others fly here just to take a cruise around Polynesia, and then fly back to the US.

The overwater bungalows were “invented” in Moorea in 1967. A failed vanilla plantation was developed into a resort called Bali Hai Boys, and they built the overwater bungalows for guests, a concept that has since been used around the world. Another fact, interestingly, is that there is no Tahitian word for “please,” since people here share willingly with no need to ask!

We spent a week in Moorea, and Mike went diving twice with the same company (Nemo’z Diving). They picked him up at the door of our hotel, and he saw loads of huge turtles, a few moray eels, a few sharks, and a few trigger fish. In one of our posts about Bali, Mike said the only time he had ever wished he had something in his hand to defend himself while diving was when he encountered a Titan Triggerfish off the coast there. He had never heard of them and was swimming along minding his own business when a colorful, two-foot long fish started to come at him, trying to bite him with its huge, weird-looking teeth. Not having anything to push it back, he put his fins between them and swam quickly away. Mike, not knowing that the triggerfish has a defined territory, swam back into it and (unhappily) repeated the encounter. When he got to the surface, he asked his dive guide, who was laughing uproariously, “What the hell is that fish’s problem?!” Mike later found out what it was and that they are known for biting divers’ hands or portions of their ears off when they wander into its territory.

When Mike stepped on the dive boat here, he saw the poster (in the photo below) about triggerfish, prominently mounted on the boat. The dive guide briefed all the divers about them and talked about how the triggerfish protects its brood of eggs on the seabed by chasing off any intruders, but was calm and nonaggressive if it wasn’t protecting eggs. The guide told the group that if a triggerfish got aggressive, just put your fins between you and it and swim quickly away. In the meantime, the guide would intercept the fish and try to intimidate it with noise and movement. That sounded fine to Mike, as in the only encounter he had with a triggerfish, the intimidation went in the other direction. A couple of triggerfish were spotted during the dive, but they ignored the divers. Apparently they were bachelors.

Unfortunately for Jan, she is a “Mosquito Magnet,” and if both of us were sitting out on the deck eating, all the mosquitoes would bite her and totally ignore Mike (unlike trigger fish). She has 27 bites on one leg, 19 on the other, and several on her arms. About half of them developed into welts the size of a quarter! All of these bites came after using an ointment that was 80 percent Deet. And the clusters in the bend of the knee are especially annoying, as each step squeezes them! Consequently, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and even walking outside, were out of the question. When not in the car circling the island, she pretty much quarantined inside with some well-appreciated air conditioning. Even so, some mosquitoes got into the room at night – once again, they favored Jan and ignored Mike! It is a gorgeous island, but most every accommodation is along the beach, where there is also a lot of vegetation. Resorts do spray to achieve some mosquito abatement, but we read that mosquitoes can “sense” their desired flesh for biting from about 150 feet away, so – they clearly had the upper hand!

You truly never know when the photo you take is going to be something special. As we swiped through out photos, it was – okay, yeah, fine – and we came to this one and said – Wow! What a gorgeous photo. None of them are carefully planned, of course – it is just point, shoot, and then, later, see what we got. This one came out beautifully, in great proportion.
This is the first photo we took on the island, from a viewing lookout above the Sofitel Hotel. Every time we drove by this lookout, entire buses were stopped for everyone to get a photo. There must be millions taken of this view!
Also taken from the lookout, with a view of the island of Tahiti.
A typical scene around Moorea – boats, boats, and boats.
A view of the volcanic mountains that make up the island’s center.
Water, water, everywhere….
Can you see their long fishing poles?
Only in French Polynesia have we seen the water take on bands of turquoise far out, where a reef emerges from the ocean.
It is almost impossible not to take a photo when you see multi-colored water.
A view of Mt. Rotui, taken from Mike’s dive boat in Opunohu Bay.
Mike loves triggerfish when they are lonely.