Monday, 6 October 2014

SAILING IN FRENCH POLYNESIA. SOCIETY GROUP. PART 2

Hiking to Mt Aorai
Bourayne bay in Huahine island (Society group)

SOCIETY ISLANDS

TAHITI  is the largest and highest island of the Society island group and the whole French Polynesia. 
The mountainous interior is adorned with deep valleys, clear streams, and high waterfalls. The coastal lands, edged with a rugged coastline, are home to fields of tropical flowers and most of the island's population. I thought it was a combination of Marquesas and Tuamotus but no one else agreed L.

For those who still don't know what part of the world I'm talking about, here is a little help

After the speedy sailing from Rangiroa (Tuamotus group), we made it to Tahiti ITI (Little Tahiti), Cook bay at Tautira, at the end of the North coast road. The sea was still quite ugly but the bay was pretty well protected. But outside the bay was pretty bad - heavy winds (25-30 knots) and huge swell. We knew we would be stuck here for a while.
I´ve already been sailing for almost 2 months in French Polynesia, cruising the islands of Marquesas and Tuamotus Sailing in French Polynesia. Part 1 and it was nice to make it to the civilization for a change! Real supermarkets, traffic, internet, people...I can´t believe I missed that!
You don't need to be a good photographer to take a decent photo of this
And apparently someone else is taking the same photo behind me :) As you see we are the only boat in the bay
Time to put my thumb up again
Got a ride to Taravao and then when wanted to head back the same guy appeared and asked me if I wanna see Teahupoo – where the famous Billabong Pro surf competition take place (part of the tour of 10 world events of the classification WCT). It is at the end of the other road in Tahiti Iti, the south coast road. Of course I wanted. Had to be quick cos in 1 hour he had another work appointment and we had to go back to Taravao.
The steady flow of surf pilgrims every august has allowed openings of many family guesthouses. But it offers more than just ride the waves – exceptional walks, amazing views and complete lack of commercialism. 
On the way to Taehupoo
The famous Teahupoo, only a month after the contest. Almost no one surfing now
Prawn farm
Not the first double rainbow, not the last one
I didn’t stay much on the boat cos it was rainy and grey at Cooks bay. Hitch hiking was pretty easy and distances quite short. Before even we left the anchorage (had to wait 5 days before the winds calmed down a bit and let us leave) I went all around the island. Run into Rithy, a French - Cambodian guy I met in Rangiroa and he introduced me to his circle of friends which were lots of fun and took a god care of me. One of them, Cedric, happened to be the editor for the Polynesian Radio 1 and he had the idea to interview me and help me find a boat to NZ. It was fun, I had my 2 minutes of fame on the radio, twice.  And also on the radio web site.  Actually a guy from the main newspaper contacted me and wanted to meet up and write an article about my adventures around the world but I was already in Moorea when I got the message. 
JP's house (Jean Philippe), right on the beach in Paea
JP and Rithy
JP. We'll go to North Korea together one day!
Marae Arahurahu
Marae Arahurahu
Double rainbow again
Roulottes (food trucks) in Papeete
Rithy at the roulottes in Papeete
Concerts in Papeete
Lidie and Hinano
The best beer design in my opinion. Hinano Tahiti
Cedric and Rithy
What a house I would say
Mikela's house in Paea
Finally the winds slowed down and we were able to leave. Dropped the anchor for one night at Point Venice and then headed to Marina Taina where everyone was. The time was ticking and I had to find another boat going to New Zealand but I just didn’t want to deal with that yet. Norvic, a boat we´ve been running to each other in Marquesas and Tuamotus was willing to take me with them to NZ via Tonga and Cook island but they were leaving in 2 days and I just started to have fun in Tahiti with the new friends I made. So I decided to take my chances and stay. 
Karaka was also anchored in Marina Taina so I went on a few adventures around the island with some of them. 
Marina Taina. The amount of sailboats in front of the marina was even more than appears on this photo.
Getting into Marina Taina
Marina Taina, Tahiti
The super yachts at the dock at Marina Taina, Tahiti
Marina Taina
Fuet d`Olot in Carrefour, Tahiti. Of course I bought one, been a long time
Igor, Louise and Metaki Hou (New wind in Marquesian) from LARKA
Maraa grotto, Tahiti
Saw humpback whales from this beach
Not only white sand beaches in Tahiti

One of the 3 waterfalls
Climbing Mt Aorai. 
Mount Aorai is the second highest peak on the island. Although a trail is leading from Belvedere to the top of Mount Aorai, only experienced and well prepared hikers should consider getting there: the one-way-distance is more than 10 km, more than 1400m in height have to be overcome, and the ridges are knifesharp so that a slip might result in a several hundred meter deep deadly fall. It starts as Le Belvedere and climbs the ridge to Fare Mato (hut), 1600m. From there, the route continues up the ridge and climbs some steep cliffs by way of fixed ropes before reaching the second hut of Fare Ata(1800m). The trail then follows the knife edge ridge to the summit, which is above timberline but the route is steep and slippery especially if it rains and I have the feeling that it always rains on the top.
Asking for directions in the outskirts of Papeete, a French girl gave us a ride to Le Belvedere restaurant which was very nice of her cos there is no transport taking you there and it´s around 10 km. Basically until the first hut it is all normal but after that gets so steep and narrow that is more like rock climbing than hiking. We both hike pretty fast, made it to the second hut in the afternoon and got ready for the night. No one else was there which was nice. It has no beds or other comforts but it  is good enough. At least there is a water tank so you can fill up your bottle. There was one at the first hut too (some local kids were staying there for a few days). Gets pretty cold at night though. 
Just after Le Belvedere (600m)

That was the first shock. I asked "Is that the trail?"
Yes, that's the trail


No way without ropes
Almost there
Steve going vertical


The path is not always a path...
Second hut at 1800m. Pretty decent. And pretty cold.
Almost there
Moorea from Mt Aorai, 2066m
As Steve said - the best shitter in the world
And no wander - what a view!
When we made it back to our boats in Marina Taina, all I wanted was to sleep. So tired. I knew my muscles would be sore next days but didn't expect that to last 5 days. But Steve was just like me, so I wasn´t the only  soft one. Not when you live on boats with little or no leg muscle exercise.
Gilles had rented a car for the next day and somehow convinced me to go with him to Papenoo valley. I only wanted to relax the whole day but it was a good chance to see the valley, the only place in Tahiti I didn´t have the chance to see so far. I couldn´t say no. It was pretty scenic too and I don´t regret it even though I wanted to die every time I had make more than 5 steps.
Papenoo valley
It would've been easier with a 4x4 vehicle but Gilles is trained from Africa so we keep going
Photo of the photographer
I know I'm already getting annoying with all these beer photos but I really like the design

Ok, last one
Lunch time
One of the three cascades, went there again with Gilles
Craft market in Papeete
Black pearls, sea shells, flowers and traditional weaving products
Getting fuel at the fuel dock and sailing to Moorea
The speed boat between Tahiti and Moorea

MOOREA


The weather was pretty weird so we dropped the anchor at Vaiare bay, near the Sofitel hotel, the closest anchorage to Tahiti. There were only 3,4 other boats. We saw a female whale and a bay inside the pass. I went with Steve exploring the beaches and we ended up staying at this awesome homestay, near the airport. 
Vaiare bay


Vayare bay, Moorea
The homestay

The room for only 7000 CFP (80US$) and a kichen outside


Cooks bay
With Zack from Karaka
Zack was staying with some locals on Motu Fareone and we headed that way two to be completely isolated for a few days. The motus are small islets that were  formed on the coral reef encircling the lagoonThere are no roads here, only coconut groves, white coral’s sand beaches, sunsets that set fire to endless horizons and marine worlds too spectacular to capture in words. Ives, whom we visited, has no fresh water source, no electricity, not even a toilet. But he is happy and free and guests are always welcome to his little paradise. We brought water, beers and some food and had 2 amazing days only snorkeling, talking to these interesting people, eating coconuts and crabs...simply enjoying simple life.



Freshly caught crab for dinner (4 of them)
The view when I opened my eyes in the morning

A little visitor I found in the tent
No toilet, no shower, no electricity. But happiness
Simple life
Opunohu bay
Cook´s  bay (apparently there is one on every island, captain Cook has been everywhere)



The local team. They take it pretty seriously
Oponuhu bay, Moorea
Every day they train
KM 3. Along the road are Kilometers markers from 1 to 35, all have the shape of the island
Both bays from Belvedere lookout - Opunohu bay on the left and Cook´s bay
Oponuhu bay
From Belvedere. Cooks bay
Pineapple plantations

Joined them for some drinks while waiting for my ride
Leaving Moorea
HUAHINE


Despite being blessed with untouched beaches, isolated coves, enchanted lagoons, killer reef breaks and many marae (traditional temples), Huahine has managed to escape the rampant package-tourist overdevelopment afflicting neighbouring isles. There's only one real luxury resort and locals aren't keen on developers' plans to construct any more. Huahine is actually two islands joined by a short road bridge. What I loved here was the amount and variety of fruit available everywhere. The locals were nice and generous as always, not as used to foreigners as in Moorea or Tahiti.
The route so far in Tuamotus and Society islands
Fare is where we anchored the first night after a few hours stop in Maroe bay (in between the two islands). It is where the banks, post office, roulettes, cybercafés dive centers and the big supermarket are. It is nothing like a big town but it is still a lively village and every morning you can observe the local life while meeting farmers and fishermen who come to sell their products in the village center.
Freshly picked them myself from the plantations
Gilles after waking up
The cashier in the supermarket in Fare
The bridge between the islands

Motovaiorea
I suprised Gilles and myself too husking this coconut with bare hands
Samara II at Baurayne bay

Locals singing and dancing at Avea bay
Avea bay
We stayed at Avea bay near Parea a bit longer since it wa really beautiful and calm anchorage.
I cycled around the little island (Haunhine Iti), took me more around 2,5 hours. It reminded me of Marquesas, so much fruits everywhere. Unfortunately mangoes weren’t ready yet. 

I think I picked the yellowish one. In 2 days was ready.
Vanilla plantation. 5 months to go

The famous blue eyed eels in Faie. It is a killer to go there by bike - massive 2 km hill and back!
RAIATEA
This part of French Polynesia is the sailor’s paradise called Leeward Islands ‒ because these islands are downwind from Tahiti. Most famous is Bora-Bora, but others offer similar exceptional sailing experiences. Charter yachts are based on Raiatea, which lies in the same lagoon with tiny Tahaa. The fourth island is Huahine where we just came from.
It was a few hours sailing from Huahine and as soon we dropped the anchor at Faaroa valley, at the mouth of the river, we took the dinghy on the river. It is the only navigable river in French Polynesia and it was pretty wild. Faaroa river was calm but the vegetation around reminded me of the rain forests in the Amazon.
Faaroa river



Gilles and a local guy we met on the river
Got some bananas for the boat
Sailing to Marina Apooiti


We made it to marina Apoiti next day where my next boat was anchored. Gilles was going to spend the cyclone season (till March) in French Polynesia and I had to move on. Means: find another boat to New Zealand before it gets too late. Sorsha was my new boat. It was my last day on Samara II. Thank you Gilles for all that lovely time I spent on SAMARA II, it was the best boat I've been to with the best captain! 
10th of October – I changed boats again. Sorsha – my 3rd boat. I didn't get to go to Bora Bora (just next door) but after seeing so many paradise islands for the past 3 months wasn't a big loss.

SORSHA. Boat No 3
Leaving Samara II for good. 
I spent next few days exploring the island, again with the help of the locals and was pretty much entertained.
Silliness in Lulu´s house
Went hunting for fruits and the first car that picked me up offered to take me to some plantations on the other side of the island. It was Sunday and the guy had ll the time in the world. It was a good practice for my French too. Picked plenty of grapefruits, papayas and coconuts for the crossing, cooled down in a nice river and got a free tour around the island. Also was given some weed for the boat for free, which made Sorsha´s crew even happier. I gave him 2 packs of cigarettes that I still had form Panama and thanked him for all the help.
In a local fruit plantation, Lulu gave us some local delicacies and home made alcohol
Lulu and his homemade liquor (with a warm inside)

On boat number 3 - SORSHA. Genna and Luis
One of the motus in the lagoon Raiatea and Tahaa share


Steve making a deposit...as usual :)
I bought a new hammock in Panama and it is still new. Doesn't matter how hard I tried, people in French Polynesia never let me use it and always took me to their houses. Every island, every random person I meet.

16th of October 2013 – I left French Polynesia direction Tonga after 3 months of cruising the islands. I will always remember those picturesque landscapes, sharks, pearls, the most beautiful beaches I've seen but above all, the hospitality and generosity of the people on the islands who genuinely wanna make you  happy. 

The cheapest flights in Europe