Thursday, April 18, 2019

Bora Bora French Polynesia

Our last island to visit in French Polynesia was Bora Bora which is located about 160 miles north west of Tahiti.  Bora Bora is very similar to Moorea in terms of beauty but much smaller with a population of about 9,000 people.  This island is unique in that it is almost completely surrounded by a tall reef and between the main island and the reef are many small islands called motu's.  Many of the fancy hotels are located on these small motu’s which can only be reached by water taxi.

One of the many hotels on the moto's surrounding the main island

Like Moorea the ocean bottom is covered in white sand

There are lots of road side stands selling local fruit

Yes they still have phone booths…

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Moorea French Polynesia

The sail from Tahiti to Moorea may only be about 10 miles but the islands are totally different.  When someone mentions Tahiti, what comes to mind are clear skies, picturesque beaches, and clear blue waters teaming with life.  We did not find that Tahiti met any of these expectations but Moorea far exceeded our expectations.  The mountains and shore lines were stunning, and the surrounding waters were perfectly clear - a deep blue color with a white, shallow bottom.  Of all the islands we visited Moorea was definitely the most beautiful.  While on the island we took a half-day excursion on a sailing catamaran in the waters around the island.  The sail included a stop along the reef to snorkel, which was an unforgettable experience. 

The water is so blue and clear…

First experience snorkeling …. definitely will not be the last!

Just before we anchored to snorkel this guy came to visit.

These are hotel rooms which can be rented for around $2000 per night.  Bet it is a pretty awesome experience.

Not too bad of a place to park the ship…The view was pretty nice when we woke in the morning!

Just unbelievable… this lady played solitaire on her I-pad the whole time we were on the sailing catamaran sailing in some of the most beautiful waters on the planet……

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tahiti French Polynesia

Tahiti is a small island within in the nation of French Polynesia which itself is a territory of France.  As expected, there is a huge French influence in the island.  The language is predominately French and they even use the French Franc (which France no longer uses).  We found the island to be very crowded with narrow streets, lots of noise and not very appealing.  It felt very much like a big city even though the main city of Papeete only had a population of about 26,000.  The outlying areas were less crowded but lacked the beauty that we were expecting.  It was obvious that the island is relatively poor and has an unemployment rate of about 25%.  We did not find the people to be particularly friendly and welcoming like they were in Samoa but of course the language difference is a barrier.

Before we even reached the dock the friendly guy came alongside to welcome us to Tahiti

Tahiti gets lots of rainfall so there are spectacular water falls.  Some areas of Tahiti have received 8” of rain in a hour and the daily totals have been measured in feet!

Much like Samoa there were lots of churches in Tahiti

With so much rainfall it doesn’t take long for the jungle to eat away at an abandoned car.

A local group of Tahitian dancers came aboard to demonstrate some of their traditional dances

Sunday, April 14, 2019

American Samoa (Pago Pago)

When we first opened the balcony door in American Samoa on our morning of our arrival we knew we were in a very different Samoa from the one we had just left they day before.  We were greeted to the sound of traffic, honking horns, sirens, and other sounds of a city.  Long gone were to tranquil sounds of Samoa that we experienced yesterday.  While the two countries are only about 50 mile apart and the people have a common heritage they have two completely different cultures.  American Samoa, which is a US territory, is totally “Americanized” and could be mistaken for any other US city.

Kind of weird to see old glory waving out in the middle of the Pacific!

We arrived in American Samoa on their Flag Day so were greeted with lots of flags, banners, and celebrations.

Yes all the typical American brands are available here…Almost all the cars are Fords whereas in Samoa most cars were from Japan (of course Samoa drives on the left whereas American Samoa drive on the right).  Actually Samoa changed to driving on the left only a few years ago because Japan offered to give them a large number of used left hand drive cars!

As part of their Flag Day Celebration they were racing these loooong canoes.

Like Samoa, American Samoa is very religious with lots of churches

Trees along the city main street are loaded with Flying Foxes (aka bats).  They live in the trees instead of caves and fly around in the late afternoon feeding on insects.  They are huge as their wing span is over 3 feet.

Looks like someone found an cute Samoan baby.  This baby is only 3 months old!  Yes the Samoan people are all very large!

The island is covered by jungle and it doesn’t take long for the jungle to reclaim anything left unattended.

The locals are continuously battling to keep the jungle from overtaking their property.

A few of the locals we had the privilege to meet