Saturday 20 August 2016

NEW YORK TO SYDNEY PART 6 - French Polynesia 16th/18th August

 Moorea, French Polynesia Tuesday 16th August

Popultion 16,191 (2007)

French Polynesia consists of five island groups:  Society Islands, Marquesas Islands, Tuamotu Archipelago, Austral Islands and the Gambier Islands. Moorea, and our next two stops Tahiti and Raiatea, are all part of the Society Islands. The climate is warm and tropical, the daily temperatures hover in the mid 80’s Cooling trade winds blow through the island throughout the year. The rainy season extends variably from December to April

We had been here and toured the island before so today, for the modest taxi fare of $5m each, we decided to chill out in the sun at the Intercontinental Hotel where we had beer and nibbles whilst observing the “beautiful people” in habitué. A delightful few hours in this sunny paradise.

Many believe that the idyllic Bali Hai, a fictional island from the musical “South Pacific” was based on this island and Mutiny on the Bounty was partially filmed here.

Tahiti (Papeete), French Polynesia Wednesday 17th August

Population 26,017 (2012)

This was an overnight stop from 4pm on 16th until 9.30pm on 17th so there was ample opportunity to wonder into town and enjoy the local nightlife.
We berthed right beside two amazing yachts, the Vertigo and the Dragonfly.  This is when you really need our good friend google.  It’s so frustrating that the wifi on ships is so expensive and unreliable and on this trip we have not even had the luxury of wifi on land because the places we have visited had been too backward, remote or poor to have free wifi in the cafes.  However, one of the ships crew had managed to find out that they were both for hire.  Can’t wait to get back to google land.

Imagine owing or hiring one of these two beautiful yachts, paying exorbitant docking fees, only to have a gigantic cruise ship pull up beside you with 3000+ people watching your every move.  Nightmare!

The town of Papeete is currently the capital of French Polynesia’s this largest and most widely known Island of Tahiti.  Throughout history, Papeete has served as an impetus of economic and urban advancement for the rest of the island. Its superior coastal location has guaranteed a welcoming setting for waterfront shops, markets, restaurant and luxury ships.

British inhabitants eventually replaced the former native cultures, and in 1820, the Pomare dynasty’s last queen officially declared Papeete capital of the dynasty. Despite these lingering French and British influences, the city ceased to gain modern popularity until famous French painter, Paul Gauguin, relocated here to focus on paintings of scenes capturing the local life experience.

We had also been here too but thought it warranted a Princess Cruises “Highlights of Tahiti” 3.5 hour driving tour for the exorbitant cost of $127.95. Apart from “picturesque island vistas” and beautiful beaches, this half day tour took us to the historical point where James Cook’s astronomer tracked the transit of Venus across the sun and then onto the reconstructed home of the American author James Norman Hall who wrote the “Bounty Trilogy”.  Very interesting.

Tahiti is also known for its dazzling array of black pearls. 

Raiatea, French Polynesia 18th August
Population: 10,000

And so on to Raiatea.  We walked around dock area but all we could hear was the work being done on the ship which has been going on since we left Panama.  I think they are sand blasting, scraping rust off the life rafts and repainting with a pungent silicon smelling substance (not that I’m an expert on marine repairs) making it virtually impossible to sit out on deck 7, my favourite location where I can look out over the tranquil sea and enjoy the sunshine.   

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