Get Away With Fran

May 3, 2010

Snorkeling in paradise on Paul Gauguin cruise

Filed under: Cruise — Tags: , , — admin @ 9:37 pm

Shipmotu

Views today were even prettier than the day before, though yesterday I would not have thought that possible. Cruising in Tahiti is truly amazing.

The Paul Gauguin cruise ship actually didn’t move very far. We overnighted in Raiatea, the second largest of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, and then within the same barrier reef, cruised this morning to Taha’a, a tranquil, mostly undeveloped place where people fish, raise livestock, grow vanilla and, occasionally cater to tourists (long ago the thing here was firewalking but that’s rare today).

Shipcap

Two Polynesian fellows took about a dozen of us passengers from the ship out in a small, open boat for about 15 minutes to an uninhabited islet so we could explore an underwater coral “garden.” The excursion ($129) was billed as being for experienced snorkelers and was challenging only in that you needed to avoid the coral in very shallow water, maneuvering in a mild current. Minimal effort and well worth it. And I say this even though I did manage to get my knee slightly rubbed on coral early in the trek, and have a few itchy dots to prove it (I fought the coral and the coral won).

The multi-colored corals themselves were spectacular – purple, blue, orange. And I saw yellow fish and tiny blue ones, black fish and some with multiple colors (sorry fish folks, I am not a pro). None were bigger than you’d find in a fancy doctor’s office aquarium, but there were sure lots of them in the very pale, clear water.

ISland

After our trek we played on another motu, Mahana, owned by the cruise company, and operated as a private little paradise for Paul Gauguin passengers. We indulged in a lovely outdoor lunch – the buffet including the Polynesia version of tuna ceviche, grilled burgers and hot dogs, chicken and fish on skewers and lots of salad fixings and fresh fruit.

Couple

Waiters served drinks, loaded or unloaded, including in whole coconut shells – a bonus on the Paul Gauguin is that all drinks are included in the cruise fare.

The sea was calm and perfect for wading and the scene idyllic, except perhaps for a lack of enough lounge chairs (but who wants to sit for long anyway when you can dip your toes in nice warm water and sand). There were people around, but a few corners where you could pretend you’re Gilligan (like the one above), a particular bonus for couples on a romantic getaway – there are a good number of honeymooners on the ship.

Borasunset

Back on the Paul Gauguin, sail away was at sunset, with views of our next destination, Bora Bora, in the distance.

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