Tag Archives: society islands

Drift Snorkel and a Rhumerie

Our friends Mark and Isabel on Jolly Dogs have been hanging out with us near Taha’a.  This is their first time here so we decided to show them the coral gardens and the local rhumerie.  Isabel and I did the drift snorkel three times while Matt flew the drone.

Coral Gardens Drift Snorkel

The coral gardens are the most renowned snorkeling spots in the Society islands.  It is crystal clear, turquoise waters gently running from the Pacific Ocean to the Taha’a/Raiatea lagoon.  It is also called a “false pass” because water can get in and out but boats cannot due to the shallow nature.  In some places the gardens are only 1-2” above the coral while other places you can easily float by.  The current generally comes from the Pacific and pushes out toward the lagoon allowing tourists to drift snorkel over the coral gardens.

Matt took these photos with the drone.  The first photo is facing the Pacific and Bora Bora.  The second photo is the opposite direction facing the lagoon.  The bottom photo shows my friend Isabel and I walking to the end of the motu.

Here are some more drone shots.  The top is closer to the lagoon showcasing the Taha’a Resort.  The bottom photo shows Isabel and I drifting down the gardens.

Lots of amazing sea life.  My favorites are the clown fish and puffers.  I’ve written a lot of posts about the Coral Gardens so be sure to read those as well.  Use the search function on the blog by typing “coral gardens.”

These drone shots give you the entire picture of the drift snorkel.  First, you walk toward the pacific on Ilot Mahararae (top photo), then you drift down the gardens (2nd photo), then you walk out and repeat (bottom photo).  Isabel and I are in each of the 3 photos – can you find us?

Mana’o Tahiti – Rhumerie

After our snorkel we moved the big boats to Baie Tapuamu which is directly across from Ilot Tautau.  It is Mar’s birthday and he wanted to celebrate at the rhumerie.  The Mana’o Tahiti Rhumerie is a small wood structure that was built about a year ago.  It is super cute and quaint.   I love their mask sign.

Anaise started us off with a sugar cane tasting.  Who doesn’t like sucking on sugar cane?  As we were enjoying our sugar cane, she told us that Taha’a has 12 different types of sugar cane on the island.  They distill each variety separately then blend them together to make their rhum (yes it has an “h” in it as it is different than rum).  All of their rhum is agriculture rhum and made with pure sugar cane, not molasses.  Which, in my opinion is not nearly as tasty. 

Behind the rhumerie they have 7 of the 12 sugar cane for viewing.  It was really cool to see the difference in color of the stock, shape of the stock and growth of the stock.

Wine, Rhum, and Beer Tasting

We sampled the white wine next which was very dry, but ok.  I really wanted to try the rose and Mark wanted to try the red, but they would only open on bottle of wine for sampling 🙁

Next we moved on to the rhum tasting.  Afterall we are at a rhumerie and need to taste the rhum.  They have a white rhum and a dark rhum.  The white rhum was very harsh and difficult to consume.  The dark rhum is aged for one year in an oak barrel which gives it the brown color.  Both rhums are organic and received the first ever “organic rhum” rating in the world.

The sugar cane is grown, picked and distilled in Taha’a.  But the fermentation and bottling process happens in Tahiti.

The last sampling was of their local craft beer.  They had blanch, blonde, amber, and triple.  We tried the blanche and amber were pleasantly surprised.  Not bad for 380 xpf per bottle.

After a quick trip to the boat we headed to Jolly Dogs for a birthday dinner.  I made a chocolate cake, homemade mango salsa, and fresh lemon cubes (mojitos).  Even the sun was celebrating Mark’s birthday with a gorgeous shot.

Maupiti to Ilot Tautau (Taha’a)

It was really hard to leave Maupiti, but we needed to start making our way toward Raitea.  We had a great weather window toward Taha’a (Ilot Tautau) which is in the same lagoon as Raiatea.  The day before, we moved to the Maupiti pass anchorage to swim with the manta rays one more time and position ourselves for a quick exit.  On the day of our departure, we had North Easterly winds which were perfect for our short trip.  Up at dawn gave us a beautiful sunrise.

It is only 42nm from Maupiti to Taha’a/Raiatea which is about 8.5 hours.  We left at 0600 to exit the pass in “good conditions.”  We had 2.5 kts of outgoing current which helped us along.  Nice for us as we were exiting, but would be challenging for someone wanting to come into the lagoon.  You can see the large waves breaking on the reef on either side of the red and green markers.

We had a consistent breeze, small swell and pretty skies.  It was an ideal trip that took us 6.5 hours with an average of 6kts.  We arrived at one of our favorite anchorages and dropped the hook in 2 meters of stunning water.  You can see to the bottom and all the way across to the Bora Bora caldera.

Ilot TauTau (Taha’a Resort Island)

We anchored in our favorite spot which is near the Ilot Tautau where the Taha’a Resort is located.  We drop the hook in 2 meters of sandy water and get a beautiful view of the sunset behind Bora Bora.

A few calm days allowed Matt to explore on the SUP.  He left at sunrise and tried to go all the way around Ilot Tautau but the waters got to shallow (2-3”)

Day Run to Raiatea

We made a day trip to Raiatea Carenage.  We will be hauling the boat out to do some work soon and the owner needed to evaluate some fiberglass work.  So, we motored 2 hours from Taha’a to Raiatea.  The owner Dominique said he needed a few hours before we meet so we went to find lunch.  There is nothing around Raitea Carenage except another yard called CNI.  Neither place had a magasin or restaurant.  So, we went to Marina Apooiti where they have several charter companies (Sunsail, Moorings, and Tahiti Charter).  Surely they will have an eatery. 

Lucky for us, they had one restaurant called La Voile d’Or.  There were no customers when we arrived at 1200. We sat down ordered drinks and perused the menu.  Matt’s beer arrived luke warm and he was not pleased.  At 780xpf per bottle it should be ice cold, but nope.  The lunch prices were extremely expensive and they were out of Mahi. So, we finished our drinks and left.  Too bad as it is a really cute place with pretty ambiance.

On the way back we were able to motor sail part of the way and made it back in 1:45. All in all not a bad day trip and we received confirmation that the yard can do the fiberglass repair.

Back to Ilot Tautau to enjoy another gorgeous sunset.

The events on this post occurred in early September 2020.  Blog posts run about 6-8 weeks behind our adventures.

Nounou at the helm, our captain

Maupiti Fishing with Marlin Star

One of the locals, Nounou, offered to take Matt and I offshore fishing. We were told that the locals harpoon mahi, and catch wahoo, tuna, and marlin between Maupiti and Bora Bora.   We met Nounou a few weeks ago, got his number, and scheduled our outing.  Nounou catches a lot of mahi – check out his Marlin Star Facebook page.

Nounou and his mate picked us up at 0900 with our packed lunch, beverages, and smiles.  He did not waste anytime putting the pedal to the metal.  We sped across the lagoon covering the 2.5 miles in 7-8 minutes.  Gesh this is a rocket on water!

We said a prayer before leaving the pass.  I prayed for safety and no sea sickness but I am sure the boys prayed for fish.  It is a fishing trip after all.  We exited the pass at 30-35kts with little effort – ridiculous.  Then we started the bash toward Bora Bora.

The Boat

Nounou came to pick us up in his superfast 35’ speed boat called Lady Kea.  He has one turbo diesel engine with 340 horse power and a top speed of 40kts!  He fishes daily during the week in this boat and takes his family out on this “faster” boat on the weekends.  Lady Kea is a beautiful orange and yellow boat with logos on the side.

Lady Kea

Lady Kea

The Captain

The captain / driver sits inside a well and moves a metal pipe or pvc tube right and left to steer.  The throttle is where is right hand is and his left hand is on the steering mechanism.

Nounou at the helm, our captain

Nounou at the helm, our captain

Shots of our fearless captain, Nounou.

Nounou, our fearless captain

Nounou, our fearless captain

The Equipment

The boat is outfitted with (2) fishing rods each with 130 reels.  These reels are monstrous.  To put it into perspective, we have a 50 reel on our boat and that is huge for us.

There is a large assortment of lures on either side of the boat.  They put the port line out really far and the starboard line closer.

To catch Mahi Mahi they search out the birds.  We found several flocks of birds during the course of our trip.  Our captain and crew would spot the birds several miles out and we would race toward them.  Nounou would circle the mahi which swim near the surface while feeding. Then he would expertly throw the harpoon at the Mahi hoping for a catch.  We unfortunately only had one opportunity to do this and he got away.  Photo of harpoon.

Mahi harpoon

Mahi harpoon

Heading out to sea

We zoomed out about 18-29 miles toward Bora Bora which was into the wind, waves, and sea.  Not a pleasant experience.  Going 35-40kts, top speed, bashing hard while trying to hold on was difficult.  I literally had a volcan death grip with both hands and both feet wedged wherever I could stick them.  After about an hour of holding on we turned and went side to the waves.  Slightly better.

The little bonito (tuna)

The first fish to catch our lure was a small bonito tuna.  It was a relief to catch him as we had been trolling for over an hour and a half with nothing.  He’s small, but will be tasty.

Fishing: Bonito tuna

Fishing: Bonito tuna

We would switch between looking for mahi and fishing for marlin and wahoo.  They used the lures for the marlin and wahoo.  They used the harpoon for the mahi.

The Marlin

After another several hours we landed a beautiful, fat marlin!  With two people, a fast boat, and the perfect execution, they reeled in a 60 kilo (135lb) marlin!

Nounou will clean and cut the fish and give it to the local school to feed the kids!  This baby will feed lots of kids for awhile.

Marlin! Now that is fishing

Marlin! Now that is fishing

We headed back to the boat around 1500. 6 hours later.  Every inch of my body ached.  Holding on, clenching every muscle, falling a time or two and being tossed around the fiberglass boat did a number to my body.  With several bruises, bumps, scrapes and blisters we climbed back onto Sugar Shack.

A quick rinse in the lagoon to get the 20 layers of salt off us and then a fresh water rinse.  Matt cleaned the bonito which Nounou graciously gifted us.  We called it a day, took some advil, made a drink and crashed on the bean bags.

By the way, we never took a sip of our drinks or a nibble of food.  We were too busy holding on, fishing, and looking for fish.

This fishing excursion happened on 31 August.  Our blog posts run 6/8 weeks behind our adventures.