March/April 2017: Hawaii and Tahiti

On March 14 I began this trip in Honolulu, Hawaii. I stayed 10 days in Waikiki before joining the friends from Southern California who arrived for the flight on to Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia.

I flew from Oakland on Alaska Airlines. Very relaxing flight. I saw 3 movies. One was "The Accountant" which I really liked. Our plane arrived early and I took the hotel shuttle to my condo (time share?) at the Waikiki Banyan.

Preview of the Wind Spirit yacht we'll be boarding on March 25, 2017. We will spend a week island hopping in French Polynesia.


I'm on the 30th floor. This is my view looking towards the beaches of Waikiki.

This is my kitchen where I set up my "office" on the table. I'm able to fix a breakfast and check my e-mail before I face the day!

On my first full day, I took the DaBus on a 60 minute ride to the transit center where I bought a discounted senior bus pass. It's plastic with my photo on it. Now I don't have to stuff $2.50 into the fare box to ride a bus.

On my way to the Ala Moana Shopping Center, the bus stopped in front of this stylishly designed Walgren's drug store.

This is at Ala Moana Shopping Center. I loved these windows at the Chanel store. These displays look like real computer server racks with blinking lights and network cables. I want one of these for my house! I went into Chanel and said I saw a problem with one of their "servers". They laughed!

Exterior walkways at Ala Moana

High end department stores are around this courtyard on the NW end: Bloomingdales, Nieman Marcus and Nordstroms.

Want to buy a hat? I liked this old Nash Metropolitan subcompact.

On another outing I passed through Chinatown and saw a sign that said "Best BiBimBap in Hawaii". I couldn't resist and went back and see if the claim were true. It was very good.

The waitress was irritated at me because I wouldn't stir this all up. I like to let it continue to sizzle and cook in the stone bowl. BiBimBap means "mixed rice".

Brother Terry told Palm Springs friend Mark (red shirt) that I was in Honolulu. He emailed me that his was on his way to Honolulu and asked me to join him for dinner at a favorite restaurant of his.

We ate at Paesano Ristorante Italiano in the Manoa Marketplace.

A couple of days later Mark asked me to come over for breakfast on his last day in Hawaii. He was staying at the Marriott which is across the street from where I was staying.

Richard and David (back right) flew into Honolulu on Monday. On Tuesday, I was invited to join them and their Honolulu friends Donna and Thomas for lunch at Gyu-Kaku, a Japenese BBQ. It is close to the Ala Moana Shopping Center and very near to where Donna and Thomas live in a high-rise. We ordered various raw food items and then barbequed them on that round grill in the middle of the table. Richard and David will be on the cruise with the rest of us.

Friend Mike (from San Diego) returned to live in Honolulu on the day after I arrived.

Mike in Waikiki. Almost daily, he meeets a group of friends at Queen Surf.

Vince is one of the guys who enjoys these lazy afternoons. He's always writing on a clipboard and I accuse him of studying the racing forms. Actually he's doing crossword and other puzzles from the newspapers.

More of the afternoon group. Some live here permanently; others only for the winter. On this day Mike was interviewed and accepted a job to work as a librarian at a nearby medical facility.

I had the pleasure of getting together with dear Hawaii friends: Doug, Bev and Sharlene. The first time was for lunch at the Hau Tree Lanai Restaurant in the New Otani Hotel. This meal was at the Phuket Thai Restaurant near Ward Center. The food was soooo good. I enjoyed our time together.
I have laundered and pack and ready for my morning departure to the airport to start next phase of this adventure.

March 25, 2017: Tahiti

Randy, Bob, Ruben flew into Honolulu from Los Angeles on Saturday. Richard, David and I met them. We had several hours to kill so we roamed the airport and drank some Starbuck Frapachinos.

The Hawaiian Airlines flight to Papeete was 5 1/2 hours on an Airbus A330. I watched another 2-7/8 movies which I've forgotten already. However, I do want to know who murdered the nanny!?!?!

We landed at 9PM or so. It took a long time to get our baggage although bags quickly started appearing on the carousel. Immigration was quick as well as customs. We were able to get money from an ATM, walked to the start of the line for a taxi which took us to our hotel (Sarah Nui). By the time we got to our rooms is was after 11:30 PM.

Up early the next day for our 8:30 AM ferry ride to Moorea (50 minutes). We have rented a "villa" here and our host Clement met us to collect our luggage and haul it for us. Bob and Ruben immediately walked over to the Avis office to pick up our Dacia Lodgy (???) van.

Next stop was the big Champion Supermarket (the only one open on Sunday) to get food stuff for breakfast. Lots of bread choices.

The Moorea Beach Cafe is immediately adjacent to our place. This is where we ate the first night here. They had a prix fixee choice ($44) as well a pizzas ($24). I had a vegetarian pizza which was very, very good and huge.

Moorea Beach Cafe

Moorea Beach Cafe

Tom, Ruben, Bob, Dave, Richard and Randy: Pizzas at the Moorea Beach Cafe .

Ruben's Margarita Pizza.

Frency Polynesia is a territory (department) of France. Instead of the Euro, the Tahitians use the French Pacific Franc (XPF) as their currency. One XPF is approximately 100 to 1 US dollar. If find an item in a shop for 8,500 XPF, they may offer to sell it for $85. You'd be better off paying in XFP because you can buy 8,500 XPF for about $78.

The lawn at our place (back to the ocean).

Dining room on the deck

One bedroom

Randy on the deck.

This gecko almost got squished in the jam of the car door. Another jumped out of the cargo door when we opened it. Hmmmm?

Dave, Randy, Tom at the Moorea look-out point. Papeete in the distance.

Coconut crab. These largest of the arthropods live on land and have dug burrows all periphery of the lawn. They can climb the cocount trees and they eat fruit and other stuff like that.

The following a photos that Ruben took from our place as the sun was setting.


This pier belongs to the house next door.

Tom, Dave, Ricahrd, Randy and Bob. Our second meal was on the deck: Pasta with sauce and garlic bread

Ruben, Dave, Richard, Randy and Bob.

Dave and Ruben: We have gone shopping almost every day. On each shopping list is water and bread. These loaves of French bread (large baguettes) are so good. The day before we took the empty 5 liter bottles to a machine outside of the super market and filled them up ($0.55 each).

Randy is standing next to a banana tree which was next to the road by our villa. When we drive around there are little fruit stands selling fresh fruit. The bananas we see are a lot smaller that what we are used to but they have a nice flavor.

Dave is showing you the van we've rented. It is called a Dacia Lodgy. I has luggage space for 4 very small bags (like ladies hand bags). Dave is tall and only fits in the front seat.

This is where we can wash clothes. The wastewater goes out the window through a hose. We've been using the rack to dry the loads.

We have been doing wash in this small washing machine and hanging on the rack. It dries slowly in the house. I put some on the line outside and it was dry when I went to check a couple of hours later.

March 30-31, 2017: Finishing our stay on Moorea

Ruben negotiating for some black pearls ... a specialty of Tahiti. It takes at least 2 years to grown them.

More bananas

Mountains that are circled by the perimeter road on Moorea.

Randy and Tom waiting for the dolphin tour.

Bungalows of the Hilton Hotel. Randy and Bob have booked an over-the-water bungalow for their last night in Tahiti.

Dave, Richard and Bob on the dolphin tour boat

The cruise ship called the Paul Gaugin is anchored near the Wind Spirit which we will be boarding a a couple of days.

Moorea mountains.

This is the Wind Spirit near the end of the cruise that precedes us.

Wind Spirit

Wind Spirit

Bob, Randy and Ruben on the dolphin tour

Dr. Poole, a research scientist who lives on Moorea, led the dolphin tour.

Many dolphins were seen

Many of these animals have been identified (and named) by the shark bite marks on their dorsal fins.

A view of our "villa" from the tour boat.

Bob and Dr. Michael Poole on dolphin tour

Hamburgers at the Canadiene Restaurant. The owner is from Montreal. And yes, there was poutine on the menu!

Tom and Bob in the Pineapple plantation and processing plant in Moorea.

Another coconut crab. Clement said these crabs taste like coconut because that's what they eat. Clement manages the villa we were staying at. He hauled our luggage from the ferry and checked us in.

Coconut crab holes in our lawn ... like gopher holes.

Feeding the fish and sting rays at the lagoonarium tour.


March 31, 2017: Back to Papeete to board the cruise yacht

Public market in Papeete. While we waited to board, Ruben and Randy checked out the nearby market hall.

April 2, 2017: Sailing French Polynesia

The ferry terminal was adjacent to the Wind Spirit. We boarded at 1PM.
Refilling jugs to quench our thirst for water.

Dinner at Rudy's Restaurant in Moorea. Richard, Bob, Dave, Tom, Rudy, Randy and Ruben.

The first morning on the Wind Spirit was very wet. We were back in Moorea as that was the first stop of the ship. Very heavy rain at times.

We took the ship's tender to the dock. It was sheltered from the rain and we could look at the crafts and art and jewelry for sale there.

Pavlo (Voyage Director) and Randy.

Tom (background, Richard and Randy on the tender's return to the ship.

Tom on the tender

Drink of the day: The Blue Lagoon!

Randy in the Veranda dining room.

Round hot tub above the swimming pool. You can swim a lap with one stroke.

Rain, Rain!

Sail Away ... the sails were unfurled as some very dramatic music - "1492" by Van Gelis (Ed: Check spelling!) (CD available in the gift shop.)

Sail Away

Randy, Bob and Tom sitting on the deck the first evening on the ship. Soon we were rained out.

We took Zodiac motor rafts to this private little island called Motu Mahaea. We swam, sunned and ate! A motu is a island that appears on the reef. Sand accumulates allowing a growing place for coconuts that wash up on the beach.

Two motu's in the distance.

We took yellow Zodiacs to the motu.

The Dock at the motu.

Don't walk under the coconut palms.

Randy on the lounge chairs.

Come and sit down.

Tom kept in the shade.

Fish viewing.

Feeding bread rolls to the fish.

Upper viewing deck "aft" on the ship. The angle of the sail can be changed by moving the boom on this curved rail.

Sail Away: the sails were revealed soon after this picture was taken.

Another motu

Moving towards the dock at the Uturoa village on Raiatea Island.

Local story teller Heimau talked about the folklore of this beautiful island. His father was the last indigenous chief of the town.

Heimau's great-granddaughter and granddaughter danced for us.

Heimaus granddaughter and great-granddaughter

Tom getting ready to eat AGAIN.

Our group getting ready to eat.

Nari, Tom, Mike, Steven and Tom.

Waterfalls appeared after the fierce rain storm.

April 4, 2017: Tahiti Excursions

This is what the staterooms look like.

The look of Tahiti

Visit to a vanilla farm

The vanilla orchid is planted near the base of these small trees. The vine grows up the trunk.

Vanilla pods

Drying in the sun

Pods are sorted and graded.

Ruben and Randy were shark hunting.

The black-tipped reef shark

Robert and Robert (from the ship) on the shark excursion.

Feeding the sea gulls

Preparing a "seed" for the oysters

Some tissue is implanted with the seed pearl.

Inserting the seed implant before the oyster is returned to the farm in the water.

Randy and Bob looking at the pearl jewelry.

Randy in the pearl farm store.

Bob, astride the jet-ski

Ruben and Randy ready to jet-ski

Bob and Randy on jet-ski's. Tom on dry land, in the village shopping.

Ruben in the reef water.

Lagoon within the reef.

Randy and leader on the ATV ride.

Ruben, Randy and Bob on ATV excursion.

Bob, Randy and Ruben standing by some rocks.

Please clear the streets, sidewalks and roadways.

We took a taxi to Bloody Mary's Bar on Bora Bora

The bar at Bloody Mary's

Randy using free WiFi. He called his mother on this PC using Google Voice/Phone.

Randy and Tom drinking spicy virgin Marys.

Ruben, Randy, Tom, Richard and Dave in front of Bloody Marys.

Dave and Richard on the dock at Bora Bora ... getting ready to return to the ship.

Ruben in Tahiti

April 6, 2017: Grand Windstar Picnic


Ruben, Randy and Tom: a catamaran took us from our ship to a motu for the last BBQ of the trip. It was wonderful.

The catamaran sailed around our ship so we could see it with the sails open. On a visit to the bridge I questioned whether the sails were just for show but he said they can help us go forward.  You can see the sails aren’t really attached to the massive masts … but I guess it’s enough.  The sails roll up on the diagonal supports.

Lei greeting.  Natasha is on the left and works at the reception desk.  She knew every passengers name even though she hadn’t seen us.  I don’t know how she did it.

Poor "Babe" is ready for the feast to begin.  It’s at moments like this I’m glad I’m a vegetarian!

We met Steve and Mike from Detroit.  They are waiting with Tom to eat once again at the motu (little island) barbecue.

Ruben, Randy and Bob at the barbeque ... just before the downpour!

The crew really hard to set up for this (and take it down afterwards). I think there are storage facilities on this motu for the tables and benches. There is a generator for lights.

Food. Finally!

Tahitian dancers, drums and music.

Getting ready to climb the coconut tree (slippery from the rain) bare handed.

Teaching the passengers how to dance.

Tahitian fire dance.

Here is a little YouTube video of the fire dance.

April 6, 2017: Huahine - last island, last excursion

P.S. ... here are pictures at our last stop ... the small island of Huahine. I walked around the little town and saw the vegetables for sale and the super market and of course the Internet Cafe (about $6.00 for all day). Dave made friends with Marilyn Monroe and Barbara Stanwick (Marilyn and Barbara from So Cal) and they were doing the Internet also. Randy, Bob and Ruben went on an excursion and that's where these photos came from.

Bananas, plantains, papaya, pineapple

Ginger and a pretty fruit that is like Lichee except the smooth pit does not like to separate from the sweet white flesh!

Street in Huahine

Surprisingly large super market in Huahine. I got a new "Hawaiian" shirt for the farewell dinner.

This shop sells all kinds of liquors (sp?) ... infused with different flavors. Ruben got mango/passion fruit and Dave got coffee/chocolate/hazelnut!

This is a spiritual place called a Marae. Some of them were used for human sacrafices (the last one was around 1780.)

Spiritual house now used as a museum.

Museum objects.

Fish hooks at the museum

Museum interior

Ruben, Randy and Bob at the Marae Manunu

Hermit crab (4-5 inches across)

Burial structure behind someones house. Bodies have to be buried in cement vaults these days.

These stone structures trap fish when the tide rises and falls.

Cracking a Tahitian peanut

Blue Eyed Eels in fresh water.

They are fed every day and have learned how to raise up and take food from the ledge.

The Tahitians like the eels because they help keep the water cleaner by eating stuff that other animals won’t eat.

Stages/sizes of seed pearls. The process of culturing pears is very complicated. At this farm, seeds of progressively larger sizes are put in the same oyster. The pearl that is removed is sold, but has less value than the larger pearls.

By the way, pearl shops in Tahiti are as common as ABC Stores in Hawaii.

Picnic lunch: Chicken, rice pilaf, fish ceviche, salad. Hinano is beer brewed in Tahiti. I was told it is like Heinekens.

The wall of the Marae back from the water's edge.

This is a rock feature of Huahine ... looks like a carved face.