This is the 18th post of a trip to Tahiti, which started on May 10/2022 (here)
Day 11 -(Tuesday) - Aranui Cruise from the Marquesses back via Rangiroa
Sailing Back from the Marquesas
Sun- Rise of last day on the cruise
Sailing from Fatu Hiva to Rangiroa
Rangiroa - "Vast sky" atoll
is the largest atoll of French Polynesia and the second largest in the world.
There are approximately 100 narrow passages, called hoa, in the fringing reef.
The atoll has a flattened elliptic shape, with 80 km (50 mi) in length and a width ranging from 5–32 km
A huge Pacific ocean lagoon of a maximum depth of 35 m, bordered by coral reef which consist of a long and narrow strip of dry flat land beaches, and many, mainly coconut trees.
It is like a vast "ocean pool" in the midst of the end-less Pacific ocean, so large that it has its own horizon. Due to its shallow depth, the currents that come in and out through the passes, together with the winds, can sometimes create interior storms.
The island is home to about 2,500 people and as the island has no permanent fresh water bodies, .each household must collect and store rainwater in cisterns
The economy of the island was driven by fishing and the production of copra. The inauguration of the Rangiroa Airport in 1965 allowed rapid development of the tourism industry as underwater diving facilities and hotels were built. Furthermore, breeding of pearl oysters in the lagoon, which are in abundance, produces black pearls.
These pearls, which have a wide range of natural colors, from white to dark and all shades of grey, are the only cultured pearls in the world with so many different natural colors as the famous green rose peacock.
via the Tiputa Pass,
Playful dolphins greeted the ship, as it entered via the Tiputa Pass, one of the 2 large entry passes to Rangiroa’s most amazing translucent turquoise lagoon water.
Each high tide creates a strong incoming current, while each low tide creates a strong outgoing current within the two passes. The water were quite turbulent in the early morning, when sailing via the pass Tiputa Pass,
Early in the morning the Aranuie passed the NuhiNuhi small elongated narrow Moto islet, situated, right on the Tiputa Pass and then turned into the lagoon for an anchorage.
Coming on Shore
Snorkeling in the Lagoon
We were the first group dispatched off board at 8:00am onto the barges, and were brought a shore to board the bottom glass boat.
It was an extra activity offered (along with scuba diving, snorkeling and swimming), on this last beach day.
Apparently scuba diving is ranked here as one of the best in the world, but we settled on snorkeling.
The old outdated model of the glass-bottom boat was a bit disappointing, as was the coral garden itself, to where we were taken, especially in comparison, to other sites we encountered around the world.
However lots of colorful school of fish including sharks, were encountered through the glass bottom, as well as while we snorkeled and swam by the NuhiNuhi Moto around the boat, in most heavenly clear water.
Photos taken through the glass
On the Beach
Joining later the others, via a walk from the glass boat dock toward a small strip of white sand beach, where the group gathered, we met the local “mamas” with their display of shell necklaces, chains, key rings, or other small souvenirs for sale on the beach.
Last chance for more trinket shopping....which I had enough off, and opted for swimming.. and having a great lunch which the staff put masterfully right on the beach were the main formal planned activities, for the rest of the day.
The white lovey Dovey on the beach tree
The Drive in the island toward the Black Pearl Farm
At the Gauguin's Black Pearl Farm
The 4 of us, who were more curious to explore, took the free van ride, right from the beach we stayed, to the Black Pearl Farm about 20 minutes ride away.
This is an initiative service offered to the incoming tourists by the Farm. However, the explanation at the Farm on its operation and Perl production are given only in French.
The technique to produce marine cultured pearls was developed in Japan and, except some minor details, is similar in French Polynesia. A mother of pearl bead is inserted in the animal, together with a piece of tissue (mantle) taken from another pearl oyster.
The piece of tissue, as a graft tissue, will develop quickly and will form a skin around the bead and then will deposit mother of pearl on the surface of the bead.
The prices at the display shop, are outrageous and specially designated
for gullible tourists.
Tahiti Black Perls are indeed an expensive brand, but at the shop they are over the top..
We did, however enjoyed viewing the special cultivation of Oysters at the sea water pools and the work being done to produce worthwhile Perls, as well as seeing a bit
more of this enchanting rugged island, during the ride
When back from the Pearl Farm, the staff arranged a great sit-down picnic lunch, on the beach,
With more swimming to digest the food and the perfect beauty of the surroundings,
it was time to go back to the ship, especially as the entire day was spent at the beach under the blazing tropical sun, and ... that is sufficient explanation on
how Tikis came to be about..
Back to the ship
Leaving at Sun Down
The Aranui departed in late afternoon leaving the lagoon behind on the background of another spectacular Sun-Set , on the way back to Papeete.
The Last Supper
At the last dinner, and one of the best, the entire Aranui staff who handled the passengers, all lined up in 2 rows at the entrance to the dinning hall, welcoming the incoming diners, as well as saying their goodbyes with traditional Polynesian singing which created a mushy warm atmosphere.
Overall, although the cruise catered much more to the French speaking clientele, who was, as usual the majority, on this Aranui 5 freighter cruise, this unique voyage was truly a magical experience, to all the senses and the heart, as well as one of the best trip we have ever taken, around the world, and especially, to a remote corner of it.
If the Aranui wishes to attract more of the English speaking clientele, it has to recruit qualified staff, whose mother tongue is adequate English, as to serve the English speaking passengers, equally to the quality of guidance given to he German and French speaking clientele.
Regardless of this one drawback, the 11 days at sea and on the islands visited, so different in size and with its each unique charterer. were culturally educational, most intriguing, and thoroughly fascinating.
It was so special to meet and interact with the local Marquesan islanders.
We loved the Aranui 5 incredible ship, on its luxurious cabins, versatile daily program, entertainment decks and Happy Hour, excellent French restaurant food, the generosity of free wine served with meals, and free laundry service..
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But most, we loved interacting with the ship's most dedicated staff, who due to the fact that there was a smaller group on this cruse, of only 105 passengers, they, got the time and will to dedicate their personal time and knowledge, beyond the call of duty.
Furthermore, they super cared for the safety, well-being and comfort of all passengers,
catering to all needs and wants.
So this this Aranui voyage is highly recommended and this life changing experience is not to be missed!!
Special thanks to Mila, Muana, Yan Jorge, Teno Dr. Fred, Soraya and Florian, who will, especially remain in our memories and close to our hearts,
as all others with whom we share exchanges.
Thanks also to the few other co-voyagers, especially Bruce and Ina - our dear long time friends, with whom we shared conversations and experiences, and who also made this trip so much more worth while.
And many thanks to my dear friend Donna, who took this trip 25 years ago, on the Aranui 1, at the time, and insisted we don't miss it!
The following morning, on June 1, once Aranui anchored at the Papette harbor. the ship got emptied out, off the disembarking passengers by 8:30am.
Many were lefty with wet cheeks, if not due to the departure separation sentiments then thanks to the French 3 Good-by kisses. on the cheeks.....
The ship and the staff have 3 days, only to rest, load again, and sail off for the next 12 days round, to the enchanting Marquesas islands and their special inhabitants.
Since our flight only left at midnight, we spent the day wondering in Papeete city center, as is reported in my next and last post of this trip to Tahiti - the French Polynesian enchanting Islands.
To be continued....