Tag Archives: society islands

A Twirl through the Societies, Part II

We continue to show Donald the beauty of the Societies. It was time to leave Huahine and head back to Raiatea.  

The great thing about cruising the Societies is that the islands are not very far apart.  We had a small weather window and decided to sail back to Raiatea.  We still had lots of gusts (up to 35-38kts), but it was our best opportunity.  This trip was with the wind and waves so it would be a lot easier than our trip to Huahine.

As we left, we had gusts up to 38kts and then they would die down to 7-8kts.  Talk about learning and trimming the sails a lot.  It sure was interesting.  We ended up completing the passage in 4 hours (as opposed to the 6 hours it took to get us there).  We had top speed of 11.5kt when we had a wind gust and surfed down a wave. 

Approaching Raiatea – I love how the mountains all wear cloud hats :0

Raiatea wearing a cloud hat

Raiatea wearing a cloud hat

Baie Haio – New Bay for Sugar Shack

We found a new baie to us.  Baie Haio is gorgeous and is located on the southern tip of Raiatea.  We are surrounded by palm tree shores.

Baie Haio, Raiatea

Baie Haio, Raiatea

We went exploring on shore and came to the town of Fetuna where there is a church, a small magasin, and a school.

Baie Haio, Raiatea

Village of Fetuna in Baie Haio, Raiatea

The moon peered out from behind the palm trees making a spectacle of himself.

The next morning Matt broke out the drone and captured more magnificent photos of Sugar Shack.  This is certainly my favorite bay in Raiatea and might be one of my favorite bays in the Societies.

Shot towards the motu as the sunrises

Shot towards the pass showcasing the reef and motu.

And the grand poo ba of them all – a shot toward the mountain.

Heading North

We got up early to head north.  It would be an upwind passage so we could not even take out the sail.  Just a motor.  But it was really pretty.  We exited the southern pass (Passe Punaeroa) because the is no navigable passage inside the lagoon in this area.  We re-entered the Passe Tetuatiare with the hopes of finding a good anchor spot behind Ilot Horea.  However, with easterly winds it dropped us too close to the reef so we decided to move on to plan B.

This image was taken as we were motoring outside the lagoon.  Check out the huge waves breaking on the reef between us and the lagoon.

Plan B was to move into Passe Rautoanui and hang a right to see if we could anchor near village Tevaitoa.  However, there were no moorings and it was way too deep for us to drop the hook. So, off we go to Plan C.

Plan C:  motor up to Baie Apu, Taha’a.  It was directly into the wind, so we motored the entire way.  We hopped on a mooring and took Donald to the Chompon Pearl Farm.

We started at the bottom of Raiatea (south) near Ile Haio, then exited at the first pink dot (lower left).  Plan B was in at the 3rd dot until we moved to Plan C and headed to Taha’a.

New Anchorage – Point Tenape

Donald told us about a cool place to have lunch – Raiatea Lodge.  So, we headed south toward a new anchorage across from the lodge.  It was a beautiful sail day with just the jib pushing us along at 5-6kts.  We passed by 4 different huts on sandy spits.  The locals use these for fishing or kit surfing spots.

Raiatea Lodge

Raiatea Lodge is a pretty little hotel.  They have a long pier and turquoise buildings.

Raiatea Lodge

Raiatea Lodge

They were kind enough to let us have lunch with them.  It was pricey, but tasty.

Raiatea Lodge

Raiatea Lodge

The next morning, we made French toast and motored closer to the airport where we picked up a mooring ball near Raiatea Carenage.  We had a lovely time visiting new spots to Donald, new spots to Sugar Shack, and new spots to both of us.  Although we did not get to do an overnight to Mo’orea due to weather, we had a great time.

Click here, if you missed Part I “A Twirl through the Societies.”  Events in this post occurred between 2-5 Oct. 2020.   Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind our adventures.

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.