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French Polynesia: The Best Snorkeling Ever!

French Polynesia: The Best Snorkeling Ever!


avatar   Scott
Trip Date 03/22/2014
Posted On 02/10/2020 17:15:00

Cruise | Tahiti | French Polynesia | Huahine | Raiatea | Bora Bora | Moorea | Rangiroa | Snorkeling | Sharks | Beach | Best Snorkeling



After exploring the beautiful island of Moorea on our own, we were ready to board a cruise ship to see more of the islands which make up French Polynesia. One of the many attractions that made our cruise around this unique part of the world so spectacular is the snorkeling - the best snorkeling ever, that is! We've done a fair bit of snorkeling around the world, but to date, nothing competes with what we were able to experience around these islands.

If you are planning to visit one or more of the French Polynesian Islands, you won't want to miss this three part series. Part One is filled with details on getting to and enjoying a DIY visit on the island of Moorea. This post, the second in the series, has suggestions for independent tours on five of the islands commonly visited by cruise ship passengers. (If you've already read part one, we have included the promised update on my wrist as well!) The final segment will be focused on what to see and do while on the main island of Tahiti. These islands are an expensive part of the world to visit, but you'll definitely want to make the most of an exotic trip like this one!



10 Night Tahiti and Polynesia Cruise

The 10 night Tahiti and Polynesia cruise took us to five islands in the French Polynesia chain. Our embarkation/disembarkation port was Papeete located on the main island of Tahiti which has a large international airport. Ports of call were on the more remote and rural islands of Huahine, Raiatea, Bora Bora, Rangiroa and Moorea. Although not the ship used in the TV series The Love Boat, we sailed aboard the Pacific Princess which is the successor ship sharing the same name.


Tahiti-French Polynesia Cruise Route

Tahiti-French Polynesia Cruise Route

Tip: If you don't already own an underwater camera and plan to take advantage of the excellent snorkeling opportunities, we highly recommend purchasing one to capture as many memories as possible!



Papeete, Tahiti

We boarded the cruise ship and spent our first night and most of our second day in Papeete, Tahiti. Stacy had been wanting to get a bouquet of flowers before a cruise to brighten up and have some color (and scent) in our stateroom. With a City Market within walking distance of the port, this was the perfect opportunity. She chose from the many great bunches of tropical flowers all inexpensively priced.


Before Boarding the Pacific Princess

Before Boarding the Pacific Princess

The City Market

The City Market

Before departing from Papeete, we took advantage of our remaining hours by exploring the port area on foot. It's easy to navigate on your own, and in addition to the market, there's plenty to see and do to fill your time.



Huahine

Our first port of call was on the island of Huahine where we were met at the wharf by our guide from Huahine Nautique. Our prearranged Marc's Combo Island Tour and Motu Picnic with 4x4 and Outrigger Canoe small group tour began with an introduction to the town of Fare. Although it started raining, we continued our tour in a 4x4 Jeep to a Marae, followed by a visit to a vanilla plantation where we also saw the Sacred Eels of Faie.


Sacred Eels of Faie

Sacred Eels of Faie

We also got to see and sample lychee, an interesting fruit grown on the island.


Lychee

Lychee

Next up was a ride in an outrigger canoe to a small island with a lagoon where we did some snorkeling. Before heading back to the ship, we enjoyed a traditional lunch which included the island favorite poisson cru (similar to ceviche).


An Islander

An Islander

Serving Poisson Cru

Serving Poisson Cru

The food, drinks, surrounding scenery and native music were the perfect end to our island day ... and a good time was had by all!



Raiatea

We spent our day on Raiatea touring with Bruno, driver and guide manager of L'Excursion Bleue. We boarded a Polynesian canoe and, in addition to time spent in the beautiful waters, we made some interesting stops to learn about the island's history and culture. We saw where vanilla is grown as well as some of the required processing steps to make several vanilla products on a short tour of a Vanilla Farm. We also saw how black pearls are harvested and mounted in jewelry at a Pearl Farm.


Pearl Farm

Pearl Farm

Getting Ready to Make Pearl Jewelry

Getting Ready to Make Pearl Jewelry

During the course of our day, we made three amazing snorkeling stops, each better than the last. Our final stop was at a Lagoonarium where we snorkeled in a lagoon so full of fish that is was like an aquarium.


Stingrays

Stingrays

Colorful Sea Life

Colorful Sea Life

Before leaving the west coast lagoon in our canoe, we were treated to another great Polynesian lunch with coconut drinks, poisson cru and so much more. We enjoyed our day in the life of a Raiatean islander!


Our Coconut Drink

Our Coconut Drink

Bora Bora

Since we stayed docked at the port of Bora Bora overnight, we had two full days for exploring the island. We spent our first day on a Lagoon Safari with Raanui Tours. In addition to lunch, our full day prereserved tour was to include shark feeding, ray feeding and snorkeling. Our day was tremendous and we were even treated to a few surprises along the way!



Our first two snorkels of the day were with stingrays, octopus, moray eels and more. There are so many exotic sea creatures in Bora Bora which make snorkeling a wonderful experience.


Stingrays

Stingrays

Feeding the Stingrays

Feeding the Stingrays

Our Guide With an Octopus on his Head

Our Guide With an Octopus on his Head

Moray Eel at Arm's Length

Moray Eel at Arm's Length

Next up was swimming with sharks. As we did not expect this, we were hesitant and decided to pass on the opportunity. After watching everyone else in the boat get in the water, we decided to swim with the rest of the group.


Feeding the Sharks in the Bay ...

Feeding the Sharks in the Bay ...

... and More Hungry Sharks!

... and More Hungry Sharks!

Swimming with the Sharks!

Swimming with the Sharks!

A delicious lunch was served on Motu Tapu, a tiny private white sand island surrounded by the blue Polynesian waters. Our guide, the patriarch of the family run business, was very entertaining. He even serenaded us on our return trip while one of the younger family members steered!


Unexpected Polynesian Serenade

Unexpected Polynesian Serenade

Our second day on Bora Bora was primarily devoted to relaxation. We took a shuttle to Matira Beach and enjoyed the afternoon swimming, sunning, walking and enjoying the views. We did make a stop at Bloody Mary's Bar before returning to the ship. The venue is well known as a place that the rich and famous frequent while vacationing in the South Pacific as they escape Hollywood.


Calm Beach Waters

Calm Beach Waters

Bora Bora Beach

Bora Bora Beach

Blooding Mary's Restaurant & Bar

Blooding Mary's Restaurant & Bar

Rangiroa

Our next port, Rangiroa, was further away than the last few so we had a sea day before and after our arrival. Fortunately, the final snorkeling excursion of our cruise did not disappoint! The full day Blue Lagoon Excursion included a boat ride to the stunningly beautiful lagoon, snorkeling, relaxing and lunch. We even got to feed all of the leftovers to the baby sharks surrounding the lagoon.


The Beautiful Polynesian Blues and Greens

The Beautiful Polynesian Blues and Greens

Feeding the Baby Sharks

Feeding the Baby Sharks

On our return back to the ship, we stopped at a place in the bay known as the Aquarium, a snorkeling spot where the tropical fish where so thick that you could not see through them. It was just awesome!


Tropical Fish All Around Us

Tropical Fish All Around Us

Visiting the Medical Center aboard Pacific Princess

Throughout the first week of the cruise, my wrist continued to stiffen up and hurt from my fall in Moorea the day before our boarding. We finally decided to have it checked out at the cruise ship Medical Center.



After having an X-ray, the good news was that my wrist wasn't broken. The doctor thought that it was sprained and he also had some concern about the scaphoid bone. In order to stabilize my wrist, he put on an old style plaster cast and encouraged me to visit a doctor when I returned home. Fortunately all was fine after a few months!

Experiencing the X-ray process on a cruise ship was most interesting. The nurse had to assemble the portable X-ray machine with us sitting in the exam room. She then used a tape measure to ensure that the various distances were correct so that the focus of the image would be good.

Moorea

Before our cruise ended, we had the opportunity to spend one more day on the interesting island of Moorea. We were met at the port for an ATV Tour that we had prearranged through Albert Transport. After being driven to the office where we picked up our ATVs, we were ready to go!



With my wrist in a cast, Stacy was the driver of the ATV and I road on back. We spent a lot of time on the perimeter road during our days on Moorea prior to the cruise, so this was our chance to see some of the island's interior including its volcanic crater. We made several stops on our off-road journey for magnificent panoramic views including Le Belvedere, a well known scenic overloook. Since the area is volcanic, there are occasional earthquakes, some of which trigger tsunami warnings. Le Belvedere is an important evacuation destination for residents to go to a higher location.


Our ATV Ride on Moorea

Our ATV Ride on Moorea

Viewpoint over the Bay

Viewpoint over the Bay

Papeete, Tahiti

Following our port day in Moorea, our cruise returned to Papeete, Tahiti. Before returning back to reality, we extended our stay so we could see more of the main island. Don't miss reading 31 Great Things To See and Do in Tahiti, the third and final post following our first visit to French Polynesia. The article features ideas for both walking and driving tours as well as dining suggestions and more ... plus lots of photos.

The Islands of French Polynesia

Of all of the islands within French Polynesia, which is your favorite and why is it at the top of your list?


French Polynesia: The Best Snorkeling Ever!




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