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Tahiti Cruise -
and Off Ship
The sun sets around 6pm all year long.
We bought a 60 unit card ($20) and used it to
make at least 10 calls to dive shops, plus 3 calls back to the states. The
phones have easy to use English instructions, and we had no problem using it to
Ren. has a currency exchange service that is very unfavorable when changing dollars into the foreign currency. I wouldn't suggest using them unless it is an emergency. For example, in Tahiti, they offered 107 Polynesian francs for one dollar, plus a 5% commission. The actual exchange rate was 127/$1, available at the ATM machines with your debit card (with no commission or interest charged). The interesting side of this is that they will also buy back your francs at the end of the trip for their 107 exchange rate with another 5% commission. This still allows about a 12% gain, if you originally exchanged through the ATM machines. I doubt that they will continue to buy back foreign currency if the passengers start trying to exchange large sums of money.
We did most of our shore exploring on our own, which was easy to do, and a lot cheaper. There are tour people on the docks at all the destinations.
They don't seem to know about anything except
their own excursions (or maybe they just don't want to tell you).
Morning tours are good, because it is soooo HOT when the sun hits you in the afternoon, you just want to die.
...still can’t believe...ship charges more than double on some the excursions like Sting Ray feeding and on some “Motu” snorkeling trips so do it on your own...very safe.
...only tour I took that I can not recommend is the Lagoonariam in Bora Bora. There were a couple I felt were so-so and a couple were great.
Others that we talked to did a lot of the excursions, and enjoyed them.
... another thing about the R3 excursions: They'll take your name for a waiting list for the ones that are sold out, but they fail to notify you if a space becomes available. Three of us had wanted to go on the riding trip but they had only one space left for each outing (because couples had signed up, I guess). We left our names. When my friend went to go on the trip it turned out there were two more spaces available, but they'd never told us about the cancellations. So if there's something you want to do, it's worthwhile to keep checking back at the Excursion Desk (it's open only a few hours in the morning, which is another drawback).
There are some beautiful sand beaches, but the majority are coral.
...sign up immediately for anything that seems interesting...can cancel up to the day before if you change your mind. However, you can do almost all the same activities yourself for 2/3 the price just by getting off the ship and arranging them yourself. At most of the ports you'll see several people standing with signs for scuba diving, horseback riding, snorkeling, boat tours, etc.
...those on the Ren tours were also fully happy with their tours.
Those early excursions turned out to be the best, afternoons often got a little cloudy although we never actually got caught in any rain.
Be SURE to bring and wear a t-shirt when you go snorkeling, even if it's just for a minute!! I was very careful the first day I went to the beach--sat in the shade, put on sunscreen, etc. But I went out snorkeling for what seemed to be about three minutes (you will definitely lose track of time) and burnt myself to a crisp.
...rented cars on Tahiti and Moorea, and bikes on Raiatea...used the Lonely Planet guide book, which gave a complete circle tour of each island...heard some people that took the Ren circle tour found the pace too slow, and the tourist stops a little long... enjoyed being able to set our own pace, and stop when/where we wanted to!... weather was mid 80s and humid...saw rain everyday, but it only rained on us once... did not take any insect repellant, and had no problem at all with bugs...thought we were used to the sun, but we got careless one day and both burned, so be careful!
DIANE and BUIL's EXPERIENCE:
The R4 excursion staff is varied in their knowledge and
helpfulness. Ren does provide a relaxed feeling on their tours and we
suppose will standby them in case of problems, though many times they are twice
the cost. We have not yet heard of problems with non-Ren excursions and
all our experiences were more than positive.
The R4 excursion staff is varied in their knowledge and helpfulness. Ren does provide a relaxed feeling on their tours and we suppose will standby them in case of problems, though many times they are twice the cost. We have not yet heard of problems with non-Ren excursions and all our experiences were more than positive.
The Polynesian people are naturally happy, smiling, warm, and somewhat mischievous. They are very competitive in a fun way amongst themselves regarding sporting activity.
All these islands have a road close to the water circling the island. These islands are lush with the anticipated tropical plants and have magnificent mountains, just as you have always expected. The sheer beauty is definitely of the basking variety. We rented a car on Moorea, Huahine, and Bora Bora. When we go back again, we will rent one on Raiatea as well. It is an easy drive on all the islands.
Almost all the houses have a breadbox out front (for a good photo see the Pengelly website). This is like a mailbox, but is usually slightly higher off the ground and much more long and slender and usually has no door, but does have a roof. The bread is delivered daily (sometimes twice a day) and picked up right after delivery like the mail. As we drove around the islands, we saw many breadboxes and some with a baguette sticking out the end. At different times, we also saw a man walking along the road with one or more baguettes clasped in his hand sans bag.
Most of the coconut palms (very tall and majestic) are dangerous to walk under or park under. Many of the coconut palms have a band of metal flashing which is to protect the coconuts from the coconut crab and the rat, though the rats are said to be held at bay by the many domestic cats. The coconut crab is responsible for most of the holes in the ground seen everywhere. The Polynesians capture the coconut crabs, feed them nothing but coconut for several weeks to purge their system of other elements, then eat them.
We encountered (driving) a number of grocery stores on these islands which sell cold drinks, wine, beer including Hinano, about 165 CFP for the bigger bottle, Fruit Drink (a 10% alcohol with pineapple juice & also not too expensive), and toothpaste for about 1200 CFP a tube (around $12). Hinano beer in cafes and bars run $2.50 - $5 (mostly on the higher side, $3.50-$4).
We brought the French wines portion of a wine catalog
(several pages, with ratings), which is published by a supermarket sized wine
store near our home. There were many of these French wines rated well in
the catalog. Though there were a large number of French wines in the
French Polynesian supermarkets and grocery stores, we did not find any of the
rated (87+) wines in the catalog at any price. We enjoyed the shopping
experience, and we ended up buying about six French wines over the course of our
10 days. Some were barely ok, and some were not so good. It's
possible someone with more French wine knowledge would have fared better.
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