Archive for May 16, 2018

Avatoru, Rangiroa

     On the morning of January 21 the Amsterdam slid through the Tiputa Pass into the lagoon of Rangiroa.  In 2016 we didn’t make it onto deck in time to see the arrival through the pass as the Captain had gone through a little earlier than we had been told, so this time Rick got up an hour before the scheduled arrival.  But to no avail, as the Captain beat us again.

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     Rangiroa is a series of long, thin, low coral atolls surrounding the second largest enclosed lagoon in the world.  The lagoon is tens of miles wide & you can’t see from one side to the other. Very few people live here & there isn’t much to do unless you are into water sports.  Rick went snorkeling last time we were here at a place called “the aquarium” just inside the Tiputa pass, and you can see the photographic results here:

But today was a Sunday and in Polynesia everything closes on Sunday, so there was less to do than usual.  We decided to tender ashore & walk around for awhile.  But before that, in the early morning we watched a storm pass by from the ocean over the atoll and off into the lagoon, hardly touching our ship.  Afterward, however, there was a magnificent rainbow that dwarfed the island.

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     We were greeted at the dock, as is usual in these islands, by a group of singers & musicians.  A tent market was set up behind the dock.  As we walked up the road away from the dock we ran into our friends Robert, Bill & Lee near the local grocery.

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     It doesn’t take long to walk across the atoll to the Pacific Ocean.  While the lagoon waters are rather calm the Pacific coast is rough, with pounding surf.  Rangiroa is made up of coral atolls & a lot of the rocks along the road are coral pieces. We did pass one or two buildings, at least some of which are resorts, nestled among the palms. 

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     As is true throughout Polynesia, this island has a great deal of colorful flora, as well as birds & fish.  Most of these flowers were growing on trees or bushes, not directly out of the ground. Rangiroa also has the only vineyard in Polynesia, but we didn’t see that (it is not open for visiting).

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    It was really very hot & humid, & the irregular ground was something of a challenge for Mary’s new knee, so we headed back to the dock.  There wasn’t much more to see anyway.  On the walk back we passed whole fields of palm trees & we saw people swimming from a beach beside the dock.

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     We stopped for a Hinano beer at a little open air restaurant just off the dock, a great refresher on such a hot day.  From our seats we could see the Windstar sailing ship that was also anchored here today (a much smaller ship than Amsterdam).  There were also fish & birds to be seen from a tiny rock outcrop right beside our table.  After that we tendered back to the ship.

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     We had heard that dolphins often play in the ship’s wake as it goes through the pass.  So we went down to the second deck at the aft end of the ship for the sail away in hopes of seeing them.  It was a lovely & very sunny evening as the ship circled through the lagoon in order to build up speed for the run through the pass.  It didn’t reach 88 miles per hour, but then we weren’t trying go go Back to the Future.

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   We were pretty disappointed since we didn’t see any dolphins (or other wildlife) as we traversed the pass.  We were just about to give up & leave when suddenly there they were, leaping in the ship’s wake.  So cool! Well worth the wait.

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     Not sure which night, but probably after Rangiroa, was Polynesian night in the dining room, with Polynesian dishes on offer & Tahitian straw hats distributed to everyone.  And here is another ending with towel animals.

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16. At Sea to Nuku Hiva58. At Sea to Nuku Hiva72. At Sea to Nuku Hiva73. At Sea to Nuku Hiva