Tahiti proved to be everything I imagined the South Pacific would be like and more. The swaying palm trees and crystal clear waters and fish galore did not fail to impress and leave me a little heart broken at the time I was scheduled to return home. But Tahiti is the first stop to an archipelago that will blow your mind with its beauty. Tahiti itself is a volcanic, but modern island. The downtown is as busy as any other small city, but what's exciting about the city is that the beaches are not crowded. In fact, all of the French Polynesia sees very little tourism. They would love to see more people, but when they do get visitors, they welcome you home as if you belong there. I had the advantage of being able to speak French, and perhaps, looking a little Tahitian myself. At least, most people first welcomed me with Ia Orana, the greeting that sounds like the Spanish, La llorona, but with an A, llorana. Certainly, by the time I finished my nearly two-week stay, I looked Polynesian. It's hard not to catch some sun, despite all the sunblock and rash guards I wore while snorkeling.
Although I had my snorkel gear, you really did need it to see fish or coral in the water.
|The beach at Fakarava, Tuamotu|
|This family invited me in their home and allowed me to use their shower after I snorkeled on the beach. Mama, on the left gave me coconut water, coconut meat, and a shell to take home with me. This was day three in paradise.|
|Our knowledgeable tour guide, Manava. His name means power.|
|Huahine, my favorite island due to its remote, peacefulness.|
|The Sacred Blue-eyed eels|
|The Eels really do have blue eyes and are protected and revered.|
|Maneuver calling the eels.|
|The eye of the stingray|
|The moment when I try not to panic because I am encircled by sharks. Taking selfies helps. At least this wasn't the last photo ever.|
|shark in Bora Bora|
|The obligatory Fire and Dance show. I have seen many of these types of shows in the Hawaiian islands. I find the rhythms of the dances intoxicating. I was happy when the dancers asked me to join them.|
|Fire Dancers in Bora Bora.|
|Feeling very happy in Bora Bora.|
|The last stop before returning to Papeete, Tahiti, was Moorea, home of the famous jagged mountains that inspired James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific.|