Today we went to the first of the three French Polynesian islands we would visit. Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia located on the island of Tahiti. It is famous for its beaches, pearls and tropical fruit.
The captain had forecast the day before that today would probably be a wet, rainy day, but when we arrived in Tahiti, it was sunny and remained that way all day. We docked next to an Oceania ship, the Marina, which (according to rumor) was the ship that brought the virus to Pitcairn.
Today was all about the water. While there were land tours available and the drive around the island is interesting, I was eager to check out the Tahitian water. We took a ship’s snorkel tour and after we got off the ship, we boarded a smaller boat that took us out to a reef. We did not know that this reef was only a 20 minute boat ride from our ship and was next to the airport and its runway. We were in calm waters, but we saw several planes take off and land while we were snorkeling. Doug took a picture of this small plane that didn’t quite make it! But it made a great reef for the fish.
I was the first one off the little boat and into the water which was very clear. The reef was rather small, so we had checked it all out within the first 45 minutes of being in the water. We asked how much longer we would be here and were told we had another 2 hours! We had hoped we’d be able to go to another snorkel spot, but apparently the snorkeling is not that great in Papeete, and we were at the best spot. So we went back in and circled the reef a few more times! Even though we saw better fish and coral in Hawaii, it was still fun to be in Tahiti snorkeling!
I did learn one new thing that was interesting and pretty in the water. I asked our guide what this “pink circular donut-looking” thing was on top of the coral. Well, it’s the same coral that is around it, but this is what it does when it wants to protect itself and eat without predators interfering. It curls up into itself and this pretty color (in this one, pink) is the only thing that shows. I saw some in blue and some in off-white. If you click (or maybe double-click, can’t remember) on this picture, hopefully you’ll see the pink circles – one is at about “6 o’clock” and the other on its side at about “1:30” They are really fun to see in the water.
We were back to the ship in time to get lunch and clean up for the local folklore show. In some ports, the ship will get some of the local people to perform in their native dress with singing and dancing before the ship leaves the port. This was a really good show with great costumes and great dancing – very lively! Near the end of their performance, they went into the audience and had some of the guests up there dancing with them on the stage. There was one Oriental older woman who was great . . could match them step for step. It was a very good show.
Before dinner met up with Barb & Charlie and their friends, Jack and BJ and had drinks in the Ocean Bar before dinner. Doug and I didn’t feel like dinner in the dining room, so we had dinner in the Canaletto (the Italian ship restaurant.) It was a great dinner and nice to just have a dinner for two for a change. For Doug the highlight of the dinner was the cotton candy they served with dessert! It was like seeing Doug as an 8 year old again – he was so excited and ate almost the whole thing himself!
A great first day in the Polynesian islands!