I still remember the first time I saw an image of Whitehaven Beach. Someone had posted it on Facebook and I immediately thought it was a scam; that intense aquamarine water had to be photoshopped, those swirls of white sand couldn’t be real. But now that I’ve been there, I can give you my word: Whitehaven is every bit as breathtaking as you’ve dreamt it.
- Mapu’a ‘a Vaca blowholes
- Relaxing in a paradise beach in Vava’u
- Swimming with whales
NICE TO HAVE:
How did we end up in this little piece of heaven? Eue’iki is a private island in the Tongan archipelago of Vava’u, home to the Treasure Island Eco Resort. A few days back, when we were wrapping up our time in French Polynesia, we started looking into places to spend the last days of our round-the-world trip, and we stumbled upon this one. We booked it without expecting much and we got lucky: it is as close to paradise as it gets.
- Bareboat sailing, pure freedom
- Landscapes of Moorea
- Beach and snorkeling in Huahine
- Lagoons of Bora Bora
- Shark diving
- Heiva festival in July
NICE TO HAVE:
Continue reading “Destination guide – French Polynesia”
Our time in Bora Bora was not what we had expected. We arrived at the southwest tip of the island in the afternoon, after spending the morning snorkeling in Tahaa. We were really looking forward to this paradise island, but the weather turned on us. The sky got completely covered, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. As we were fighting the waves (some of us puking our guts out) and trying to enter the protected area inside the reef, our starboard motor stopped working. We troubleshooted for about an hour and eventually resorted to calling the harbor engineer to come on board and help. With his help, we were able to get control of the boat back and anchor near Matira. It was too cold and rainy to enjoy the beach time we were looking for. You probably wonder what you do on a boat when this happens, and the answer is simple: play cards. We spent that whole afternoon playing card games and some charades to mix it up a bit.
After a fantastic introduction to Polynesian landscapes in Tahiti, Moorea and Huahine, and before culminating our trip in Bora Bora, we spent a couple of days in the central Society Islands of Tahaa and Raiatea. These two islands are ‘connected’, encircled by the same reef and lagoon, and are probably the most sailed area of the South Pacific Ocean.
The 12 hour overnight leg from Moorea to Huahine was a test of our sailing capabilities. To be honest, it was easier than I expected, considering that none of us had sailed at night nor done anything different from ‘line of sight sailing’ (where you can see where you’re heading), before preparing for this trip. We weighed anchor from Moorea’s Opunohu Bay right before sunset, to be sure to cross the reef with enough visibility. Once in open ocean, the night fell quickly, and the pitch darkness was only broken by the position lights of our catamaran and the handful of other sailboats doing the same passage. Our skippers, Erica, Brett and Trey seemed to have everything under control, and we organized double shifts to keep them awake and in good company. We took it slow, and arrived in Huahine when the sun was up, again to find the reef opening safely.
After spending our first night on the boat at the marina in Tahiti, it was time to set sail. Moorea was a mere 3 hours away on low winds, and its shape as we approached was glorious. The steep green peaks rising over the calmed deep blue waters of Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay were a sight I won’t forget. We anchored at Opunohu and jumped on our dinghy to get to the motus (small islets formed on the reef) off Hauru Point.
The South Pacific islands are one of the most desired and challenging travel destinations. Most people believe they can’t afford to enjoy places like Bora Bora or Fiji, and it’s true… unless you plan smartly.
Picking a destination in the South Pacific
First, let’s take a look at all countries and territories (a total of over 20,000 islands) that compose the three key regions of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia.
Getting from Coron, where we came for wreck diving, to El Nido, the travelers’ hub of Palawan, is not as easy as one would expect. There are no flight connections, so most people are forced to pick one of the two, or try their luck in rather unreliable bangkas (7-10 hours and several mishaps). Because we didn’t want to waste a precious day and wanted to do something special for Elena’s birthday, we contracted a private 3d/2n trip with Abandon Paradise Expedition. I cannot recommend them enough; Don and Fred are very professional and fun, and they offer a memorable experience.