Friday, December 6, 2013

Visiting the Marquesa Islands French Polynesia - Part 5

(Here is the link to Part 4. If you want to see all the posts about our trip click on Aranui in the right sidebar.)

We revisted two previous islands: Nuku Hiva and Ua Pou. These were more relaxed days as the only thing on the agenda for passengers was wandering around town, visiting handicraft centers, and just taking it easy.

We set sail that afternoon for another day and a half at sea. Our final port of call was Rangiroa, another atoll in the same group as Fakarava. Our day here was another relaxing one, with a fascinating visit to a pearl farm and beach bar-b-q and swimming.

At the pearl farm we learned about the oyster used (black-lipped) to create the black pearls, how the oysters are seeded and how they are harvested. BTW, although the pearls are all referred to as black, they come in many shades, from gray (like in the picture below), through blues and greens, all the way to pitch black.

There was plenty of time, of course, to also spend in the farm's small boutique where a bunch of pax (including myself) did some shipping. Prices were very good.

The rest of the morning and the afternoon were spent on the beach. I learned how to make the flower tiara I'm wearing, we had a delicious bar-b-q lunch, and then I swam in the warm, turquoise water. Perfect day!

We docked back in Papeete around 8 a.m. We had another two days on Tahiti. Our original plan was to fly out that night. But the documents from Aranui make it very clear that there is no guarantee the ship will be able to keep to its original schedule. So, to be safe, we made arrangements to fly out the following night.

We spend the day relaxing, a strolled into downtown for the Internet cafe and some final shopping. Lunch was at a nearby pizzaria and then we picked up stuff for dinner to eat at our hotel.

Plans for our final day were to rent a car at the airport, take the circle road around the island, cross the land bridge to visit Tahiti Iti and, finally, return the car to the airport well before our flight. Everything worked out as planned except for the cost of the rental car ... I had reserved and rented from Hertz which had a per kilometer charge and it ended up costing more than I anticipated. (My recommendation for anyone planning on doing the same is to just wait until the day you need the car. There were four car rental booths at the airport, including Avis, which I understand does not charge for the mileage and is, therefore, overall cheaper.)

We drove clockwise around Tahiti Nui. Once out of Papeete, traffic was light and driving was very easy. We made it to Tahiti Iti and found the road to take us up to an area where we could look over the straight to Tahiti Nui. What a fantastic view.

It was a long, tiring day but it was nice seeing more of the island. Back at the airport, we headed to the upstairs restaurant which had air conditioning, unlike the open air downstairs restaurant. Like many international airports we have been to, agent gates do not open until about 3 hours before flight time and, without boarding passes, could not get into the airport terminal.

BTW, weight limit for carry-ons for Air Tahiti Nui is 10 kilos and they are very serious about this. There are airline agents wandering around with baggage scales. I had to repack the suitcases because I wanted to carry one onboard. Interesting though that no one bothered to check my back pack where I transferred the weight ... until I got into the terminal. And then I threw it all back into the suitcase.

Overall, we had a great trip. I'm really glad we did it. It certainly was a unique experience. As one passenger said, the Marquesa Islands are where you go after you've been to everywhere else. There is no doubt our fellow passengers were all very well traveled but we did manage to outdo most with our trips to both Antarctica and the Amazon. :)