Today we reached Raiatea, the first of five stops in French Polynesia. We were welcomed by a beautiful sunrise over the island.
This cruise was originally supposed to stop in Bora Bora. However, Bora Bora instituted rules limiting the size of cruise ships which could dock there. Our ship was slightly larger than the upper limit and so we were unable to stop in Bora Bora.
To reach Utoroa on the island of Raiatea, the Captain had to navigate a passage inside the Tahaa North Reef. Tahaa is an island just north of Raiatea. It was a beautiful passage.
Once we reached Uturoa on the island of Raiatea the ship anchored just off the coast. We then had to take tender boats to reach the shore.
We docked right at the city center, so it was an easy one block walk to get to the indoor shopping area once we were ashored.
We also visited some other local businesses, buying some Belgian and local beers, taro chips and a baguette. They were all very good and, as we'd been told, the baguettes at the french bakeries here were not to be missed.
We'd booked a Holland America tour, Anapa Pearl Farm & Snorkel. One of my favorite aspects of this tour is that it was a "small group" tour with a maximum of 16 people. It was interesting to see how cultured pearls are made. It is quite a process taking longer than you might have realized and requiring patience and precision to insert the tissue graft from a donor mollusk, upon which a pearl sac forms. Elizabeth enjoyed looking at the various pearl sets available there while I was off snorkeling.
We stopped at another vanilla bean plantation on the way back to the ship. It was much different from the one we'd previously seen, being enclosed in some kind of mesh. The mesh provides the shaded light needed by the vanilla plant which is a member of the orchid family.