February 5, 2017
This place is quite unique. It is a string of coral encircling a turquoise and jade lagoon. It is quite different from Nuku Hiva which is volcanic. Here the beaches are white coral beaches. This is known as one of the worlds greatest dive destinations. It is the biggest atoll of French Polynesia and the second biggest one in the world. It could contain the entire island of Tahiti in its center. It is a real natural aquarium with so many fish species. I still have a cough so we decided to wait until tomorrow to do any snorkeling.
Here is the view when we arrived into the harbor. It is also a tender port. On the dock we were greated by dancers.
We went to Gauguin Pearl farm, the biggest one here. It employs 50 local workers and has a strong impact on the economy. There is a school dedicated to the pearl farming techniques and also a research center located here. Black pearls – the marine cultured pearls produced from the black lip pearl oyster shell – Pinctada margaritifera – are abundant here. These pearls have a wide range of natural colors from white to dark to gray and are the only cultured pearls in the world with so many different natural colors.
It was fascinating to hear the history and the process of cultivating the pearls. We saw how long it takes for the oysters to mature. It takes almost 4 years to even be able to use them for cultivation and then about 2 years to get a pearl. And not all of the pearls are even useable. They can seed the same oyster 3 times but after the first time the quality is not the same.
Rangiroa produces 6 million pearls a year. Of 100 seeded oysters, the yield is 40 usable pearls. They do 400 seedings a day. The whole process was really fascinating – I have heard about it but it was nice to see it first hand.
And here are the purchases:
After the pearl farm we walked to one of the coral beaches and enjoyed finding some beautiful shells and coral to bring home. We also saw some of the crew who were so thankful to be on land!
After a great morning, we returned to the ship for the super bowl party. No commercials are shown here but the game is on the 3 big screens in the theater. One side of the entrance is decorated with New England colors and the other side with Atlanta colors. We apparently will see Lady Gaga and the halftime show.
The betting pool boards are also up in the front between the screens. Almost 200 spots were sold so we will see if we win anything. They have popcorn, hot dogs, hamburgers, guacamole, salsa and chips and much more. A large variety of drinks accompanies the football food. As you can tell, I am writing this while watching the game. It is almost the end of the first quarter.
So, in the middle of paradise, we are watching football! We leave here about 4 PM today on our way to Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia, where we will have a snorkeling excursion. Looking forward to that and to trying out my new GoPro camera underwater.