Saturday, June 8, 2019

A tour of Taha'a: Tres Terrifique!

Taha’a shares the lagoon with Raiatea, and is a very quiet island, with 7-8 villages across 33 square miles, and a estimated population a little over 5000.  Its nickname is The Vanilla Island, and Taha’a produces 80% of all Tahitian vanilla.  The only way to access the island is by ferry commuting boats that go back and forth across the lagoon, or private boats.  There is no airport.  Most of the economy is based on tourism, pearl farming, fishing and vanilla plantations.  

There are many tour companies listed online for Taha’a - this one stood out by its referral from another cruising catamaran, Panache, who had just finished the tour with a party of six.  We jumped at the opportunity to try it ourselves.  Would give the day a 10/10!

The following activities were included:  swimming with swing rays and black tipped sharks in open water, guided tour of Vanilla Farm with full process of growing and harvesting explained, snorkeling in the 1st of 2 Coral Gardens, buffet lunch in very pleasant setting, lagoon side at a local families home, guided tour of the Pearl Farm “Chan”, 2nd Coral Garden snorkeling through very shallow areas with coral and fish, Tour of the Taha’a Rum distillery and transportation back to Shindig.

The highlights were having plenty of time in the water (3 different sessions), a great pace of activities, conversational tour guide and driver. Having a guided tour in the 2nd Coral Garden, allowed us to swim along different channels, where we went single file following the leader through the maze of Coral.  In addition to lunch, there were snacks, including rum punch provided, and at the end of the day, cold Hinano beers.  (Nancy had another punch instead)
The group had a total of 10 participants, we were the only cruisers, English speaking and the oldest (!).  One young French man was temporarily working  in San Francisco, and he had lots of fun conversations about his perspective of California, France and other places he enjoyed.   

It was a fabulous day spent as tourists, and highly recommended.   

Shindig at the end of the rainbow in Taha'a

Nancy wanted to book this AirBnB

Goofing off with sharks

Did I say "Sharks"?

Lots of Sharks

Vanilla crop after it has been dried

Vanilla drying box at the Rum distillery

A very fancy German-made still

Getting a refresher on Tahitian pearl production

graft material used when implanting a new nucleus in an oyster 

technician adding the graft and  nucleus to an oyster

removing pearls and adding new, larger nucleus
(Each Oyster may be able to produce up to 3-4 pearls, one at a time) 

Pearls sorted by size after being removed from the oyster

Fish posing on a drift snorkel 

Nemo found in French Polynesia !