We had decided to spend 8 days in Raiatea because we got a good weekly rate deal on a decent bungalow with a kitchen (important to stay under budget), and that number was just the way it worked out with the flights to Maupiti. It gave us some time to chill out and catch up on some tasks that we needed internet for – so a couple of those days we effectively spent working.
We stayed at Pension Manava which was about 6km outside of the main town of Utoroa. Not having a beach or any decent access to the water for swimming or snorkelling, I was initially worried about being a big cut off from anything to do. In fact we didn’t find any great water accessible from the shore in Raiatea – the best turned out to be the town “Beach” in Utoroa – which was good for swimming but not great for snorkeling. But in the end it was fine – one day we rented bikes to go to town, we rented a car for 2 days to explore the island, we did a day’s diving excursion and a day tour of Tahaa island – so filled our time well enough.
Lovely flower ladies posing for a photo- there was a flower competition on the beach the day we went:
Taputaputea Marae- located right at the only “beach” so we enjoyed walking around both times we visited. This is the main altar:
The highlight was probably the diving – we weren’t expecting much but we got a great pass dive with more sharks than I’ve ever seen in the water at once, big schools of eagle rays, barracuda and jackfish.
Family of 13 eagle rays which was admired from about 25m:
One of about 7 sharks in the passe, most black tip but also grey reef:
Huge schools of jackfish and barracudas were everywhere! These are jackfish:
This was followed by lunch on the nearby motu – we were left there for about 3.5 hrs with a cooler full of great food, very few other people around and some nice snorkeling nearby. We then found some dolphins on our way to the second dive – they enjoyed playing in the bow wave and wake of our boat and we messed around with them for 20-30 mins.
The motu where we were dropped for lunch:
Pod of dolphins that played with us between dives:
The second dive was also pretty good – the wreck of the Nordby which sank in 1903 – a three-masted ship which is much older than any other wrecks we’ve dived on before.
On the 5th day, we did a boat tour to Ta’haa which is a neighboring island. The weather was not ideal but we enjoyed a late morning snorkel in the coral garden, a tour of a vanilla farm (smelled delicious!) and lunch on a motu. The water in the coral garden was so clear and although challenging due to the shallow depths, it was really fun to interact with the fish.
John making fish friends with the help of some old baguette:
Above water of the coral garden which was between Raiatea and Tahaa:
After 8 days of relaxing, we were ready to head to Maupiti!! We enjoyed a Leffe beer at the airport as it was the same price as the local brew! And there was great live music so barely noticed the flight delay which we now assume is the norm:)