Category Archives: Society Islands

Including Bora Bora, Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Ralatea Tahaa

Aquarium Snorkeling

Our Own Personal Aquarium

Our 5-hour passage from Raiatea to Huahine was spectacular.  It is not often that we are able to raise the full main and jib as we tend to sail conservatively. However, we had fairly light winds at 15-17 kts so we through caution to the wind.  Heading to course had the wind hitting on our nose.  So, we sailed a zig zag course to catch the wind and fill the sails.  Everyone enjoyed being at sail but were anxious to see a bit of the aquarium.

Rocco and Linda enjoying time aboard Sugar Shack

Rocco and Linda enjoying time aboard Sugar Shack

We anchored off of Huahine Iti (the smaller of the two islands) at Pointe Teapara.  There is a beautiful, but popular beach just off Port Bourayne.  It was crowded full of locals and the passengers from a large 40-meter yacht called Imagine D.  They had a few Polynesian musicians, full food/beverage spread, floats and a javelin spearing contest (who could spear a coconut).  Pretty fun to watch.

Huahine always provides some amazing sunrises and sunsets

Sunsets abound!

Sunsets abound!

Matt made his super tasty chicken roti for dinner, brownies for desert and topped the night off with a little rum tasting.  A sampling of rum from Antigua (English Harbor), Bonaire (Ron Rincon), Diplomatico (Venezuela), and St. Croix (Captain Morgan Private Reserve)

Our Personal Aquarium Pool

We snorkeled three spots off of Huahine.  The reef, the Avapehi Pass, and the “nursery.”  The reef had a large selection of fish and colorful coral.  The pass had much larger fish as the waters were a lot deeper.  The pass also had several different species that we had not seen before.  But the best snorkel was the “nursery” at it felt like we were swimming inside an aquarium.  There were tons of fish, perfect clarity, and a bountiful underwater life.  Here are few pictures.

There are lots and lots of clams and they all have different colored lipstick on.  The top left shows one with green outline, yellow lips and spots whereas the center one has bright blue lipstick.  The top right is a Christmas tree worm that retracts when you come close to it.  They come in yellow, blue, purple, green and red and are no bigger than an inch.

Coral and Clams at our Aquarium

Coral and Clams at our Aquarium

Tons of fish species all around.  However, my favorite fish is the center one. His top and bottom dorsal fins are transparent.    I think the bottom right is a puffer

Super pretty fish at the nursery

Super pretty fish at the nursery

We swam with lots of schools of fish as well.  The sea life was spectacular.

A variety of fish schools

A variety of fish schools

Rocco found a shell and as we were swimming back to the dinghy a school of butterfly fish hovered about.  They were eating out of the shell.  No fear and tons of curiosity.

Rocco becoming one with the fish

Rocco becoming one with the fish

I think Rocco is part fish or was a fish in another life.  He thrives in the water and is genuinely excited to see everything.  It is such a pleasure to share this experience with he and Linda.  Swimming in our very own aquarium.

Snorkeling in the Aquarium

Snorkeling in the Aquarium

On Shore at Huahine

We did make it to shore and stopped by Izzy’s for her fabulous burgers.  We also found Marae Tahu’ea on the way to the Pearl Treehouse.  Marae Tahu’ea was dedicated to the sea-god Ruahatu.  The marae’s platform (called an “ahu”) was made up of upright coral and basalt slabs with an interior fill.   This marae dates between 16th and 18th century.  The top photo is Roco, Izzy and I, the center is Linda watching over Sugar Shack and the bottom is Marae Tahu’ea.

Huahine Adventures

Huahine Adventures

Piazza's and Mitchell's

Uncharted Territory with the Piazzas

We returned everything to the boat after our provision run in Uturoa.  Mt. Tapioi was uncharted territory for Matt and I, so we decided to hike to the top of Tapioi which overlooked our bay.  The peak of the mountain is about 775 meters high and we took a well paved dirt road to get there.

Hiking Mt. Taiopi

Hiking Mt. Tapioi

We passed lots of wildlife including chickens, cows, horses, pigs, and hogs just hanging out on the trail.

Fun cows and horses hanging out on the road

Fun cows and horses hanging out on the road

We made it to the top in 52 minutes with lots of sweat – it was a hot one.  Check out Matt hanging from the rock (top left) and jumping over Raiatea (bottom).

Top of Tapioi with Matt, Rocco, and I

Top of Tapioi with Matt, Rocco, and I

The views were breathtaking and clearly showed the lagoon, reef, and Pacific Ocean.  On the bottom right corner, you can see Sugar Shack (past the little water hut and before the turquoise water)

Top of Tapioi with Matt, Rocco, and I

Top of Tapioi with Matt, Rocco, and I

Tiparmauo motu

Our last stop in Raiatea is a small motu called Tiparmauo. As we pulled into this anchorage, we passed a little pearl farm called “Perles d’O” and on the other side it said “How Born a Pearl – Free Visit” which was rather humorous considering nobody was home.

Perles d'Oh at Tiparmauo

Perles d’O at Tiparmauo

Exploring Uncharted Territory

We decided to hunt lobsters on the reef for dinner.  But first, we needed to find a way out to the reef without damaging us or the dingy.  First, we tried heading to the reef in Sweetie.  The waters shallowed up way to fast and left us far away from the reef.  So, we tired Sweetie to a tree and went exploring on shore.  Rocco made a friend with a little crab. We had to traipse over foliage, palm fronds and tree limbs.  It was no easy path.

Hunting crabs on a small motu

Hunting crabs on a small motu

It is a pretty island, but the lack of grooming made it a challenge to explore all around.  We stuck to the shoreline as we headed back to the dinghy.

Enjoying the beach side of the motu

Enjoying the beach side of the motu

Foiled by the lack of access to the reef, the boys took the paddle boards out to the reef.

Rocco and Matt Sup'ing

Rocco and Matt Sup’ing

Stay Tuned for more Piazza Adventures

We sail to Huahine, have cheeseburgers in paradise, and see some spectacular underwater spectacles.

Piazza's Pizzazz Up Sugar Shack

Piazza’s Pizzazz Up Sugar Shack

Our friends Rocco and Linda Piazza came for a short visit.  Rocco and his mom, Linda stayed at Hotel Conrad for a few days before we picked them up.  It was door to door service, we brought Sugar Shack to motu Toopuia where the hotel is located and picked them up in Sweetie.  Matt flew our giant Texas flag just in case the Piazza’s were uncertain as to which sailboat was Sugar Shack.

Pick up the Piazza's at Hotel Conrad

Pick up the Piazza’s at Hotel Conrad

A trip to Bora Bora would not be complete without dinner at Bloody Mary’s.  Lucky for us it was happy hour night as well (happy hour is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).  When you are ready to eat, they take you to their “menu table” where the fresh selection is laid out for you.  The host walks you through each selection of fresh meats and fish, how it is prepared and the cost.  You place your order and are seated on beautiful, varnished tree stumps in a Robinson Crusoe style dining room.

Dinner at Bloody Mary's

Dinner at Bloody Mary’s

BORA BORA TO TAHA’A

We left the next morning for Taha’a.  It was a beat into the wind and the waves making for an unpleasant first experience for our guests.  But the Piazza’s were troopers and kept smiles on their faces.  We raised the jib once we entered the lagoon for the short 2-mile jaunt to the Tautau motu and the coral gardens.  It was really busy in front of the gardens, so we decided to anchor in front of the Taha’a Pearl Resort.

Rocco jumped in the gorgeous water immediately!  It was time to wow them with the beauty of the coral gardens.  We did a little walk about on the resort’s property which had a lovely little beach.

Taha'a Anchorage

Taha’a Anchorage

We jumped in at the mooring entrance after securing Sweetie.  There was no current which made our leisurely snorkel even more enjoyable.  I am still working on the underwater camera settings and filters, so forgive the funky colors of the fish.  Hopefully you still get a feeling for their true beauty and curious nature.  The top photo was meant to be a stellar photo of Rocco, but a butterfly fish had different plans.

Coral Garden's underwater photos

Coral Garden’s underwater photos

We found an area that was teaming with a wide variety of fish.  They were incredibly friendly and inquisitive!  My favorite is still “Nemo” playing with the sea anemone.

Coral Garden's Underwater Photos

Coral Garden’s Underwater Photos

Little Shopping

The next day we made the short journey to Uturoa, the main village of Raiatea.  We picked up a mooring from Dream Yacht Charter and headed into town.  It was fun exploring a new island and markets with the Piazza’s.  We did some provisioning and found some cool new plates for the boat!

New plates for Sugar Shack

New plates for Sugar Shack

Coming Up Next

Be sure to read our next blog where we hike to the top of Tapioi, hunt crabs, snorkel and travel to other Society Islands with Rocco and Linda.