Port and Shore Excursions
Took the tender to Viatape at about 10 am. Plenty of tour operators were offering trips, all dealing in US $. Some were offering a $5 van ride to a beach at Point Matira, other offered a Circle Island Van tour for $25. There were outfits offering 4 hour Circle Island Boat rides with 3 or 4 snorkel/swim stops, all charging $80p/p. The ship was asking 199 p/p for a 3 hour snorkel run at 9am. Our boat had a Captain named Maroney, he was fabulous. We stopped at a private island where he had a picnic shelter and a fenced-in section of lagoon where he had a giant Moray Eel that we got to watch being fed. He supplied masks, but not fins. You needed fins for only 1 of the 4 stops. Two of the other stops required water shoes to protect your feet, so where those for the day. Our first stop was to see sting rays and black tipped sharks, an incredible experience.
There were two bicycle rental places in town and about 6 shops worth walking into. Most people carried their Oceania umbrellas. The smart brought rain panchos from home. the wind was often too strong for umbrellas. We did see a couple rent bikes, but they didn't get far, the rain and wind were too much.
We prearranged a private 6 hour sailing/snorkeling adventure ($100p/p) on a 50' sloop. We reserved in advance but did not have to pay in advance. You paid on the boat, cash only. We sailed and snorkeled and stopped for a picnic lunch on a beach (bring your own lunch), Claude and Martine supplied water & juice. Their website is http://www.tahitisailingcharter.com/
And their email is mailto:email@example.com
Marina offered a 3 hour snorkeling trip for $189p/p, which people seemed to enjoy. The ship provides free shuttle to the little village of Fare, about 15 minutes away on Le Truck. Here we met our sailboat. You can find a place that rents kayaks and bicycles right at the shuttle stop, they open at 9:00 or so. No need to reserve, just show up. Prices were very reasonable. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org. The business is named Adventure-Vous.
We tendered in around noon and checked out the pier side offerings in their pop-up tents. Jewelry, t-shirts, the usual. No bicycles to rent. A fair offering of tours to take at 1/3 to 1/2 the price the Marina was charging. We didn't take any of them due to the drizzle and potential for heavy rain (which happened). Scooter rentals were available at the tender pier.
We would up taking a taxi to the nearest village (5 miles) for $5 each. The village was a collection of shops and restaurants. The other people in this shared taxi were dropped off at a beach, where they must have been drenched. Had the weather been good, there were snorkeling trips available from the tender pier that we would have taken.
This is the only port that you dock at, despite what your cruise documents say, which is heavenly, easy on & off. The ship docks right in the main city of Uturoa, a very small city. They do have concessionaires right at the terminal building that provide the same excursions as the Cruise ship offers. We took the 3 hr bus tour of the island for $35 p/p on the Le Truck. They took US $. The ship offered the same trip for $139p/p. Trips on Le Truck are not for everyone, they have hard wooden benches that face sideways. There is no PA system for the guide. The scenery is beautiful, all coastal road with several interesting stops, a Black Pearl Farm (on the water), a sacred site from the ancients, a Vanilla Bean farm. This was a 9:30 am trip that didn't leave until 10:15, but we still got our 3 hour tour.
You can also rent cars in Utuora for about $72 for 4 hours. There is one main road and very little traffic and the pavement is good. You'll get a map to tell you where to stop. Four hours is more than enough to see the whole island. Bring snorkel gear and you'll find good snorkeling spots with beach access. Avis has a counter in the Terminal building, but they don't have that many cars, so you may want to reserve it or get there early.
The ship sold lots of 1 hour snorkeling trips for $149. We found the same trip at the pier for $30, but you had to be patient and wait till some guy in a boat, pulls up to the dock. You check with him to see if he his offering a snorkeling trip. You can find these trips after 11am, but you do have to be patient. There is no ticket counter waiting to sell you a trip. All the snorkeling trips go to the "Aquarium Garden", which is a 10 minute boat ride to a reef that is 20 to 30 feet deep. The Dive trips went here also, as do the Glass Bottom boat rides offered by Marina. There were 2 Dive Companies near the pier. You need to contact them ahead of time, they were booked, at least in the morning.
The Aquarium Garden was just amazing, thousands of fish. Some people saw sharks and Sting Rays, I saw a huge eal. You get a 40 minute snorkel and then the boats go back to the pier.
We got to the pier at 9:15am and couldn't find anything to do. The nearby resort hotel would not allow cruise passengers to enter their property, there was a guard. We found no bike or car rentals. There was 1 or 2 taxis, but they were busy. Some people took the cab to the nearby Village, there was nothing there, so they came right back.
We did find some half way decent snorkeling within walking distance from the pier, either way. It was very shallow and rocky, so forget fins and just walk in with good hard bottom water shoes. There was good variety of fish, but the coral had a lot if sand on it, but it was free and fairly easy to do.