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Travel Diary: Rangiroa, French Polynesia

Updated: Apr 17, 2022

Thursday February 14, 2019:


Moon, Photographer (Unsplash)

We had booked no tour through Oceania or private. Reach the port by tender which is no problem at all. Because we have the cabin we have, we are not required to get tickets for the tender rides. We can just right to the exit, show our card and get on.

There are less than 2700 inhabitants on the Island. The first thing that one seas is the gorgeous blue color of the water. Lots of passengers had booked glass bottom tour, snorkeling tours or a tour of the black pearl factors.

When BGM did her last minute look, she decided we should go to the black pearl factor. We were fortunate enough to find one of the four taxis on the Island, shared that taxi with another couple we had met on the ship (she is from Germany, he is from Mumbai, India) who now live in Naples Florida. They are very nice and extremely bright people, which means, in part, that their political views are consistent with BGM’s.

For $10 per person, a very nice taxi driver to us to the pearl factory and drove us around a great deal of the island. It was only supposed to take an hour but it took closer to two hours. The taxi was not unconditioned, but, fortunately, the weather was not so hot as to make the taxi uncomfortable.

The pearl factory was very interesting. We were able to see the whole process from the oysters coming out of the water, to the removal of the pearl and the process of putting the pearl back in the water after a white pearl is placed back in the shell.

There was a tour from the ship there and we could audit the lecture on the grading of pearls. I went ahead of Barbara into the store where the pearls are sold and had a chance to see what they had. A number of the people on the ship’s tour were buying things. One retired nurse from Ohio had done a great deal of research and told us that the quality of the pearls for sale was extremely high and that the prices on this island were at least 50% less than the prices at our next port Papeete, Tahiti.

It being Valentine’s Day, and BGM wanting black pearls, we bought quite a nice necklace for her. They are a nice size and the necklace looks great on her. The earrings she wears the most are gold and black and so this necklace really complementary.

When we returned to the dock, many people were raving about the glass bottom boat tours. However, they were all sold out. The cruise line had bought all the tours available. Only two cruise ships a month come to Rangiroa so there is not an excess of anything.

I had never seriously considered booking a glass bottom boat ride to see the coral and the fishes, All I could think of is the joke “why does the new Italian Navy have glass bottom boats? So it can see the old Italian Navy”.

However, BGM decided, after hearing the raves, that she wanted to go. The tours, I think there were four of them left every hour, but, as I said were all sold old. We sat on the dock hoping for a cancellatiop (the boats hold 10 people) and got lucky. Two people did not show up and, although there were several people waiting for a cancellation the Oceania crew member in charge, said we were first so we were on.

That is the “good” news. The “bad” news is that the tour, which we found out later cost $129 per person, was really not very good. Yes we saw some beautiful fish, including lots of sharks, but the coral was dying from global warming, even though our President says there is no such thing.

On balance, however, it was good that we went on this tour. If we had not, then BGM would have been convinced she really had missed something special. I have learned that it is, generally, but not always, better to do something she really wants to do even if I am certain it will be a clinker. In this instance, I was not certain, but I was not surprised.

HOT TIP: If not interested in buying pearls or at least interested in learning about them, and if not into water sports, this is a good day to just hire a taxi to go around the island for a couple of hours, see the nice scenery, and then catch up on “whatever”.

Valentine’s Day dinner was just the two of us (remember the joke where the punchline is “wear anything you like, it’s just the two of us”) at the Polo Grill. When diners order Maine Lobster at this restaurant they make a big production presenting the lobster under a silver bowl with two waiters make a big to do of the dish. I sent up one of BGM’s popcorn bags, and they served it to her with the same flourish as if she had ordered the lobster. I probably have a better chance being King of England that seeing my Wife order a lobster.

Because of the beauty of this Island, and our overall experience including the nice black pearls, we give our total experience at this port an A (but unless we want to buy more pearls, there is no need to go back)

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