Raiatea, Society Islands, French Polynesia

Today we docked in Uturoa, Raiatea in the Society Islands. It was light enough to see the island during the sail in.  It is a lush mountainous island and the mountains were covered in mist. (photo) This island is known as the sacred island and was known to ancient Polynesians as Havai’i Nui. It is considered the cradle of Polynesian culture in the South Pacific.  The island lies 100 miles northwest of Tahiti and is part of French Polynesia, a departement of France.  It is encircled by a lagoon.  I took at tour to Fa’aroa Bay from where the ancient Polynesians sailed first to Hawaii,  naming Hawaii for the homeland as so many settlers do, and then to New Zealand. We went out in the lagoon on an outrigger canoe and we had a terrific local guide, Bernadette (photo). On leaving Uturoa we had a good view of Bora Bora (photo) which we are visiting tomorrow. We then travelled some distance down to Fa’aroa Bay past spectacular scenery (2 photos) and then up the Fa’aroa River.  The rainforest on both sides of the narrow river was very dense (photo). We stopped to buy fruit from some women who ran a fruit stand on the river. I tried the Rambutan and found it very sweet. We then headed back out into the lagoon to a motu or small island (photo) for a swim and for a chance to taste some more fruit such as starfruit, coconut, small bananas and passion fruit.  This was the first time I have gone swimming on this trip though it won’t be the last.  The water was wonderful and there were some small fish to be seen.  We returned to the ship for lunch.  Afterwards I explored the town all of which could be seen from the ship in the next three photos.  I visited a Catholic Church with very nice stained glass windows (photo) and all of the numerous craft shops. Most sell ,hand-dyed pareos and hand made shell jewellery which is quite stunning. Since Roratonga, we have been in the area where Black Tahitian pearls prevail.  It would cost a king’s ransom to purchase a necklace of gem quality pearls.  However, some shops have necklaces of one poorer quality pearl strung on silk cord or leather for about $30.00. I haven’t yet succumbed but we have five stops to go! We sailed past some more wonderful scenery as we left Raiatea on our way to Bora Bora.

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