November 25, 2013 – Rangiroa, French Polynesia
This is again, a completely different type of island. Rangiroa, which lies about 150 miles northeast of Tahiti and Moorea, is a circular chain of flat coral atolls, with no volcanic mountains at all. It is a part of French Polynesia, so the language and culture is that unique blend of Polynesian and French and the money is the Polynesian French Franc – at an exchange rate of about 80 Francs to the dollar, Sally got quite a stack of pretty pink money at the front desk before we hit our first port in this area.
This circular chain of atolls is about 30 miles top to bottom and 10 miles across. Each island link in the chain is long and narrow, about a mile or two long and 100 to 200 yards wide.
The ship entered slowly and carefully through a narrow opening between two of the atolls and anchored about a mile inside the lagoon.
Tiputa Pass, as we edge through it – note the deck of the small hotel on the right.
Since our snorkel trip wasn’t scheduled until after lunch, we elected to stay on board in the morning, and headed on shore around noon. You may have wondered about the process of getting from the ship to the tender – here is a good shot of the operation, taken from the tender which has just backed away.
This place is really flat – quite a contrast to Moorea, Tahiti, and Bora Bora.
There was not much to see on shore so we took a walk along the shore. It was obvious we had moved a few miles closer to the equator – it was really HOT!
We retreated to this bar to wait for the snorkel boat.
It was too early in the day for a beer – but I snapped this picture of our neighbor’s brew to add to our collection of strange local brands on this trip.
The boat arrived and we boarded for the quick trip to the snorkel area.
Just a few minutes off shore, adjacent to the channel by which we entered the lagoon, was this little island with one lonely palm tree – our destination for the snorkeling tour.
One can’t tell from these photos, but there were literally thousands of fish at this spot. On previous trips we had seen a few fish, here and there, but here there were giant schools of fish, of all kinds – they surrounded you and it looked you were inside a silo of fish. Nearer the island were some reef sharks, but these guides were much more cautious when it came to the sharks.
This was the best snorkel tour of the entire voyage. We headed back to the ship and cleaned up for dinner. Tomorrow is a much needed day at sea after four swimming ports in four days.