Looking Forward, Looking Back
Tahiti Easter Island Moorea
3rd – 30th July 2018
After a couple of phone calls to my sister back in OZ the wheels were set in motion to have her come stay with us for a few weeks. It would be a pretty full-on Itinerary taking in two of the windward islands in the Society group plus a bucket list side trip down to Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, as it is more commonly known.
We decided that it would be a whole lot easier for Helen if we kept GWTW in the downtown marina for the majority of her time with us and that worked out pretty well. Access to Papeete, the Capital of Tahiti, was on our doorstep literally, so my sis could take in the sights of the town at her leisure. Given the demise of her aging back, stepping off GWTW onto terra firma was definitely more practical than having her climb in and out of the dingy for every shore excursion.
We had several days in Tahiti before catching the plane to Rapa Nui and together the three of us made the most of it.
Helen walked her tootsies off, pounding the pavements visiting some of the beautiful old French colonial buildings around town, taking in the sights of the central market and the myriad of excellent street art which adorns many Papeete buildings.
We rented a car for a few days to do some obligatory errands, provisioning and also to visit the highly recommended Museum of Tahiti, which is quite a distance out of town and hard to get to without wheels.
A highlight of our time in Papeete was attending the opening night of the Heiva. Heiva is a massive dance competition held on various scales on just about every island throughout French Polynesia annually during the month of July. As we found out first hand it is a truly spectacular event.
With dance troops of one hundred or more on the stage who are totally in sync, it is a date to mark on the calander if you are anywhere in French Polynesia.
Not only are the dancers unbelievably talented but likewise for the traditional bands which accompany each troop. The costumes too are quite amazing. All are hand sewn and are true works of art.
Sadly the event organizers have a very strict no camera rule once inside the stadium, however I did manage a couple of sneaky shots on my phone. But the Heiva is not only dancing.
There are also singing competitions and a variety of sports events including javelin throwing at lofty coconuts perched up on sticks, banana tree races where participants carry a hefty sized half branch full of said bananas around a race track. Then there are outrigger canoe races and a whole host of invented sports that we from other countries would never imagine could be part of the competitive variety.
Helen and I also signed up for an around the island tour so she could see more than just the hub of Papeete.
It was a very good day out, stopping at all the tourist sights, tropical gardens, waterfalls, the highlands of Tahiti Iti and even the sight of the Billabong Classic surfing competition plus a few more. Being based in the marina also gave us the chance to catch up with a few cruising friends and have a couple of meals out at local venues.
July 10th rocked around and it was time to board the weekly Tahiti - Rapa Nui direct Lan Chile flight. The Boeing Dreamliner 787 whisked us south to the land of megalithic statues and legends in just a few hours.
Spending a week there allowed us to explore every corner of this special island and we had a ball. To get the fullest experience we took one full day tour and two half days, went to the Kiri Kiri cultural dance show just two blocks from our hotel, walked the rim of an extinct volcano, and so much more. Too much to write about at this point
I’ve included just a few teaser pics of our adventure as to do the place justice I really need to write it’s own dedicated blog post. That will happen when I have time to filter through the hundreds of photos we took, so don’t hold your breath on that front but I promise it will happen.
Our first stop was beautiful Cooks bay, the location of our recent sailing rally…see previous post. Once again we rented a car to show Helen the sights and we absolutely brained it with the weather compared to our previous day trip a few weeks earlier. This time we also included a couple of the archeological sites that we’d missed previously. Moving on to several other pristine anchorages we watched on as Helen’s face lit up while she swam with stingrays and black-tipped reef sharks, and snorkel the clear waters with a huge array of fascinating fish life.
We witnessed mother nature’s displays of awesome sunrises, sunsets and the full moon rising over Tahiti’s glittering lights and Tahiti soaring peaks.
We made the move from our stunning anchorage in Moorea back across to Point Venus in Tahiti where the annual Va’a outrigger canoe races were being held over the weekend.
As we arrived hundreds of canoes were lined up on the foreshore for the 14 klm race down the coast and back. We watched until the race was underway and then ventured ashore for the finish.
The place was really pumping with loud music, television crews, a live band, big screen TV showing drone footage as the outriggers made there way around the course and food/drink and racing apparel stalls. GWTW was anchored very close to the final rounding mark so we featured in a few of the aerial shots.
By the time the leaders crossed the finish line the rowers were totally spent. It was great afternoon of fun. The following morning there were more races but this time a much shortened course with less competitors, GWTW became a rounding mark, literally, and after a few near misses with our starboard bow as the races vied for the inside position, we decided to drop our dinghy in and tie it to the bow as a little bit of insurance against being hit.
The month with her on board had come and gone so quickly we all wondered where the time had come.
We’d packed a lot into the four weeks and Helen’s South Pacific Adventure is one the three of us will remember for years to come.
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