After leaving Moorea and its cuddly stingrays behind, we bounced through the rest of the Society Islands, pinball style, quickly hitting the islands of Huahine and Tahaa before settling in on Bora Bora.
The island, an extinct volcano fringed by a barrier reef and a handful of motus, is actually quite small – just 32 km around. And as it turns out, that’s the perfect distance for a bike ride. Spurred on by Mark from s/v Compass Rosey, we rented bikes and peddled our way around Bora Bora.
So we’re riding along when we spot this blue cooler sitting on the side of the road. The sign taped to the front advertised iced coconuts for 200 francs (about $2US). Being that it was a warm day (and that we love coconut anything), we turned our bikes around and skidded to a stop. A family – dad, mom, son and a passel of dogs – came hurrying over from their house next door. We turned over the cash, and the dad hacked the top off a chilled coconut and inserted a bendy straw into the hole. The icy cold coconut water was slightly fizzy and incredibly refreshing. Gotta love a coconut break.
Once we’d finished sucking down a liter or two of coconut water, we handed our now-empty coconuts back to the dad. He expertly sliced them open with a huge knife and scraped out the thick, sweet layer of coconut meat for us. So, so good. In the process of removing Mark’s coconut meat from the husk, a few prime pieces accidentally fell on the ground (where the dogs ate them). We weren’t worried about it, but they wanted to make sure we got what we paid for. So the dad grabbed two new coconuts and proceeded to fill a bag for us with the delicious coconut meat. While we were waiting, the mom ran off into the house and sliced up a fresh mango for us to snack on! How nice is that?
Ever since I first spotted them for sale in the Marquesas, I’ve wanted to buy a Polynesian pareo. It always felt a little touristy, so I resisted … until we rode past this woman selling hand-crafted pareos from her house.
The artisan (and her cute kid) showing us how she makes the pareos. First the white cloth is soaked in water, then it’s transferred to the white tubs (on the right), each full of a different color of dye. Think “tie dye.”
The dyed cloth is placed on a table to dry in the sun. Meanwhile, cut-outs of words, flowers, turtles, geckos and other images are placed on the damp cloth. The dye is absorbed by the cut-out material and voila!
We were starving by the time we made it back to town (especially Mark, despite the fact that he stopped for two ice cream breaks along the way), so we grabbed baguette sandwiches at a little lunch spot. Right next door was an arcade, and the guys couldn’t pass up an opportunity to play foosball.
Oh yeah, and it was the Fourth of July! So that night, we took a mooring outside Bloody Mary’s restaurant and splurged on an delicious seafood dinner. Despite the fact that there were only three Americans and no fireworks, we still had a great time. Sand floors and a flip-flop check (no one needs a coat here) made it all the more fun.
So, okay, we’d done the relatively easy bike ride around the island, hugging the base of the volcano. Now it was time to venture inland for a little hiking. Rising over 2,000’, Bora Bora’s peaks tower over the lagoon below and provide an impressive backdrop from any vantage point on the island.
Sure the sign says that we’re strongly advised to hike with a guide, but where’s the adventure in that?! Besides, we read that a guide would cost over $120US, so we decided to go it alone. How hard could it be? Well, let’s just say that the goats who first trampled this trail didn’t believe in switchbacks. So, yeah, that basically means the trail goes from sea level to 2,000’ feet in a hurry. Going up was one thing, but coming down … holy quad workout! I’m still sore a week later. :)
But the trail quickly turned into a Bravo-style, four-paw scramble up tree roots and rock walls with a few strategically placed ropes along the way. This is the only picture we got during the hike, since our hands were a little busy keeping us attached to the mountain. At least we wore real shoes this time.
Sweaty arm shot. And look! Aaron got a haircut! From a Parisian dude with a downy-soft white poodle named Lulu who sported a glitzy pink collar and sat on my lap while the coiffeur worked his magic on Aaron’s locks.
Let’s transition to food for a minute. I’m a long-time sushi fan, but Aaron is a newcomer to the cuisine. For years I tried to get him to taste sushi, and for years I failed (“raw fish, ewww!”). But friends on s/v LightSpeed showed him the proverbial light by making us tuna rolls and sashimi when we reconnected on Hiva Oa a few months back. Lo and behold, Aaron loved it and couldn’t get enough. Which means he’s been pestering me to make sushi, like a lot. We’ve eaten sushi on Bravo a few times since Aaron’s awakening, and he came up with the clever idea to ask Cindi to give me sushi-making lessons. Our friends aboard m/v Mystic Moon joined in, and Cindi proved to be a stellar instructor … sushi night was a hit!
Time flies when you’re having fun, and French Polynesia has been a blast. Our three-month visas are expiring, though, and it’s time to decide what’s next. We thought we had our answer – sail straight to the tiny island nation of Niue more than 1,000 miles away – but after chatting with friends and analyzing the weather, we’ve changed our minds. What? We’re allowed to do that.
Now we’re playing the waiting game, letting some super-strong winds move through so we can head to Suwarrow, a remote atoll and national park in the Cook Islands. Niue is most definitely still on the itinerary, but visiting an isolated, far-flung atoll – one with such a rich maritime history – is a rare opportunity. But we still may change our minds! Ah, the perks of cruising.