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Tahitian Jewels

Kate Kail Dixon '01, MA'07
January 30, 2014

A look at some most gracious Polynesian people and unforgettable places encountered during WAA’s Tahitian Jewels cruise through islands of French Polynesia:

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Maxsim was the kind, French sailor who guided our catamaran across these beautiful bays of Moorea, including Cook’s Bay (which Captain Cook did not actually visit, but that’s a whole different story). Part of the sail went through some bumpy waters, but was cheerfully described by sailing assistant Rana as the “Tahitian rodeo.”

What a treat to meet the lovely and quick-witted Elvira, of Snack Mahana on the island of Moorea. Not only did she serve us the trip’s best mahi mahi and cold beverages for “snack” (a.k.a. lunch), at a spot with an amazing ocean view, but she was also kind enough to personally drive us back to the pier to meet the ship. Maruuru, Elvira!

Our local guides, Marie and Manu, transported us near the more remote island of Taha’a to experience a hidden coral garden treasure. Best experienced as a snorkel “drift,” these shallow waters allowed experienced snorkelers to relax and float along a natural channel filled with sea life among intricate coral gardens. Marie was admirably and fiercely protective of this delicate beauty, while at the same time, patient and determined to ensure that first-time snorkelers left with at least a glimpse. The least experienced among us instead enjoyed a peaceful walk along this literally uninhabited stretch of white sand and towering palms. A most gracious hostess, Marie also served papaya, coconut, banana and pomelo grown from her own fruit trees.

The multi-talented Tiki was our guide in Bora Bora as we snorkeled in three breathtaking, aquamarine lagoons. Not only did Tiki feed sardines to the black-tip sharks (tame) and stingrays (oh-so-tame) to bring them near, he also helped fellow snorkelers to navigate some currents in 100-foot, crystal-clear waters over a coral garden. (And that’s not to mention that he drove the boat while simultaneously playing his ukulele.)

Peter, our guide and driver, and Joseph, the ukulele song master and deck assistant, offered us a jet boat circle tour of Bora Bora and its surrounding motus and lagoons. (As it turns out, tropical fish will swarm for a meal of sardines. As we learned at another stop, roast beef and baguette sandwiches are similarly irresistible and can pique the curiosity of the occasional hammerhead shark or moray eel.) Joseph kindly waded in the water to offer a fruit platter to those travelers relaxing in the warm, clear waters of the sandbar near the famous Matira Beach. Fellow travelers greatly appreciated Peter’s Tahitian flavor of good humor, to which he replied: “We’re not funny, just happy.” On these beautiful islands, we could see why.

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