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Home > Member Reviews > PalmLady's Port Reviews of Huahine, Rarotonga, Bora Bora, Moorea

PalmLady's Port Reviews of Huahine, Rarotonga, Bora Bora, Moorea
Paul Gauguin cruise in June 2011
Member Name: PalmLady
Cruise Date: June 2011
Embarkation: other
Destination: South Pacific
Member Review: PalmLady's Paul Gauguin Review
Huahine
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
Huahine--Based on other recommendations we booked the ship's "Sacred Sights and Legendary Places" cultural tour. Our tour guide was excellent and we were taken to several areas with remains of temples (maraes) and villages where we walked around a coastal area and took a short hike up a hill. The last stop is in a village where we saw blue-eyed eels in a small creek. After returning to the ship for lunch we did not have time to go back to shore to explore further. (We later learned from the Captain that the ship had trouble exiting the lagoon due to a very strong incoming current that afternoon. The sea was very rough that night and we did not make it to dinner or the show).

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Rarotonga
Port Rating: 3.0 out of 5+
This island is lush and mountainous and is where most of the Cook Islanders live and work. The coral reef surrounding the island is closer to shore so the lagoon is much smaller and there are not as many nice beaches and only a couple motus. Here we booked a ship tour called "Raro 4X4 Safari"--unfortunately our vehicle had a substitute driver so the narration was lacking. Overall it was dissapointing for the price--we first went up a rough road to a lovely lookout point and thereafter stopped a a few other places around the island to see remains of ancient temples. We stopped at a nice beach area to use the bathroom but were not given much time to look around before we were hurried back to the truck. At the end of the 3-hr. tour the guide dropped us off in town so we could wander around and check out a few shops before returning to the dock to tender back to the ship.
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Bora Bora
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Bora Bora--Day 1: This island and its lagoon is even more beautiful than the photos you have seen. The coral reef surrounding the island is huge and there are many motus of various sizes along the outer reef. Based on other reviews we booked a 3/4 day lagoon tour on our own through Patrick T. (company called Maohinui)--we had good snorkeling and a lovely lunch but have several complaints. The price is supposed to be based on number of passengers and he told us he wanted payment in local currency (available on ship)--the tour ended up more expensive than advertised because he uses a set exchange rate regardless of the actual exchange rate, which was more favorable to us. We also did not get a discount when another couple joined our boat (so we had 6 instead of 4). Our tour guide was Mareto and he gave us little to no narration. We first snorkeled out near the reef where we were in the water with sting rays and black-tipped reef sharks and then another location in deeper water where we saw more sharks. Our third snorkeling stop was in a coral garden area with quite a few fish.

Patrick and his passengers joined us on his family's private motu for our Polynesian feast buffet lunch. The island was lovely with a great view of Bora Bora across the lagoon. Although the food was good we did not receive the advertised bottle of wine or champagne per couple. When I asked, Patrick opened one bottle of champagne and poured several persons small servings--and that was it. Apparently no one else asked for any though that was advertised as part of lunch. After lunch we stopped to snorkel one more time before returning to the dock.

Later that afternoon we returned to shore in Vaitape and visited the Tahia Pearl shop where I bought a piece of black pearl jewelry. When I hesitated to buy because I had heard they had a larger shop on Moorea, the clerk advised that I could exchange or trade up if I found another piece I liked better there. As it turned out, I did not find anything I liked better. There was a local festival going on in town that night but we opted to eat on the ship and stay on board--in hindsight, we should have gone to the festival.

Day 2: The next morning we returned to shore and wandered through several shops--lots of pearl and souvenir shops but not much in the way of art galleries, which I'd hoped to find. We did not have time to rent a car and drive around the islands.

After lunch we took the ship's tender service to their private beach area. There are no chairs and no restroom facility but it is a nice beach with good snorkeling and they had a kayak as well. They do offer drink service--pop, beer, rum drinks, and water.

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Moorea
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Moorea--Day 1: Another gorgeous island surrounded by a coral reef though not as many motus along the reef as Bora Bora. Our first morning we went to shore and took a free shuttle to the Tahia pearl shop (20 min. ride each way). After lunch we took a ship tour called "Lagoon Discovery"--we cruised from Cook's Bay to Opunohu Bay and made a brief stop at a resort to see a dolphin before we stopped for snorkeling on a sand bar where we were in the water again with sting rays and black-tipped reef sharks. Our next stop was a rocky, shallow area between two motus near the outer reef where we snorkeled--not as much in the way of fish or coral in that area. After snorkeling we returned to the dock and the ship.

Day 2: This morning we took the ship's "Aito Off-Road Safari" tour--in the back of a pick-up type 4WD vehicle. The tour first headed up a valley agricultural area through pineapple fields and stopped at the Belvedere lookout point for a wonderful view of both bays and the mountain in between. Another stop was at the top of a steep trail on "magic mountain" for more views of Opunohu Bay and lagoon area. Our last stop was at a juice factory/distillery where we tasted a few samples. We had time to shop but because it was the end of the cruise so we opted not to buy a bottle of anything.

Back at the dock we considered walking about a mile to the nearest village to check out the shops but decided against it because it was warm and looked like it might rain. There are always a few jewelry and souvenir vendors by the docks.

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