previous | Tahiti Part 1 | Bora Bora | Tahiti Part 2 | Moorea | Raiatea | Sea Days 1&2 | Samoa | Sea Day 3 | Fiji | Sea Day 4 | New Caledonia | Sea Days 5&6 | Sydney | next



December 10 - 11, 2023

Raiatea - Day 1

With jetlag still working in my favor, I was wide awake by 6:30 AM. Our ship arrived at the French Polynesian island of Raiatea (pronounced Ray ah tay ah) at 7 AM. The port where our ship docked is just across the street from the main town of Uturoa. This made exploring the town very convenient. The only problem was that we arrived on a Sunday. Being a religious culture, many of the businesses are closed on Sunday. The good news was that our ship would do an overnight in Raiatea and was not scheduled to depart the island until 6 PM the next day.

Traci and I made our way off the ship after breakfast. Like Moorea, Raiatea is a lush green mountainous island. It was a hot and humid day that vacillated between sun and clouds. I could see clouds behind the mountains so I knew to expect rain at some point. For now, our plan was to explore the area on foot. There was the normal tourist shops set up at the pier. These shops are actually housed in buildings instead of tent pavilions. Just across the street is the town where locals shop and do business. It is a small town of no more than 4 blocks across and maybe 3 streets deep. The interesting thing is that in that small area, there are three different grocery stores. They were open even though it was Sunday.

Traci and I walked beyond the town and into some residential neighborhoods. It was a quiet morning. We did not see many cars or people. We saw quite a few stray dogs and chickens. This was the norm for the islands we visited on this trip. The highlight of our walk was walking past a church where I heard beautiful singing in Tahitian. In fact, the little bit of the service that I heard as we lingered outside was in Tahitian. We eventually made our way back to town. A few souvenir shops were now open. I bought a hand-made Raiatea refrigerator magnet. Shortly after, the clouds finally made it over the mountains and produced some rain that did not last very long. While we were taking shelter from the rain, we discovered free Wi-Fi. It was slow but we were not in a hurry so we endured. We happened to notice Joe and Tracy from Texas were also hanging out there so we had a good conversation with them while waiting for internet pages to load over the slow Wi-Fi. We had been blessed to meet some really nice people on this trip.

Strolling in Raiatea






On our way back to the ship for lunch, Traci and I stopped to browse some of the shops at the pier. It was here where we met some other passengers with whom we would share some good times during the rest of this trip. We met Sam and Annette who we found out live close to us in Virginia. We started chatting and continued to chat as they joined us for lunch on the ship at The Local. They were traveling with another couple who we would meet later.

After lunch, Traci and I got back off the ship so that Traci could continue her search that began at the market in Tahiti for a red and white tropical dress. Now that church services were over, a few more vendors in town opened their shops. We had a look through a two-story building in town that had vendor stalls that catered to tourists but we found the prices rather expensive.

The shops in town began closing around 5 PM. Traci and I spent the rest of the evening participating in activities onboard the ship. I had fun participating in a "Name the Landmark" trivia game. Traci and I went to a very crowded Henry's Pub to listen to a reggae band. We ended up sitting at a table with some Aussies with whom we had a good conversation. In fact, we formed a team with them to compete in the 7 PM trivia contest. We were joined by a family from North Carolina with whom we would enjoy a lot of fun times together on this cruise. Our team did well. It helps to have a diverse team when playing these trivia games. The Aussies could answer questions that stumped us Americans and vice-versa. The family from North Carolina consisted of a mother, father, and 17 year-old daughter. The age range also worked in our favor.

Traci and I finished off the evening by having dinner at the Taste dining room. We were back in our cabin by 8:45 PM.

Raiatea - Day 2

We were purposely up early the next morning so that we could have breakfast at The Local and then meet at 8:30 AM for our East Coast Raiatea shore excursion on a surprisingly windy morning. This 4-hour motorcoach tour started with a quick ride though Uturoa where we had already strolled the previous day. Our guide pointed out city hall, the medical center, and other important buildings.

From there, we were driven along the island's ring road passing various communities. Everything looked so rural in this tropical setting. We made a stop at the pearl farm. Raiatea is know for its cultivation of black pearls. An employee of the farm explained the process of cultivating black pearls from oysters. This process can take several months.

Pearl Farm Visit




Our tour continued into the mountains where we stopped at a picture-perfect overlook called Belvédère de Fa'aroa. Raiatea is not an island where you will find a lot of resorts or large hotels. You would be hard-pressed to even find a large beach. You would need to take a boat the island of Taha'a or one of the motus that surround Raiatea if you want to indulge in water recreation.

Belvédère de Fa'aroa




Raiatea is known as the sacred island. It is at the center of the numerous places to where the early Polynesians traveled by boat (Hawaii, Easter Island, New Zealand, etc..). The major attractions of Raiatea are its maraes. A marae is a sacred site where ancient Polynesian ceremonies and rituals took place - including human sacrafice. We visited Taputapuātea marae. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It looks like a large rectangle of black cobblestone. Our guide gave great commentary such as who was allowed to visit the marae, how they should be dressed, etc... There used to be more of these maraes on this island and other Polynesian islands but European missionaries built churches over them when converting the islanders to christianity.

Learning About the Sacred Maraes of Raiatea






I enjoyed the excursion. It had the potential to be boring but our guide made the difference. Her passion for her Polynesion culture and her anecdotes kept my attention.

Sampling Tropical Fruit During Our Shore Excursion




After the tour, Traci and I boarded the ship so that we could have lunch in the Windows dining room. It was rare that we missed meal on this cruise. The 8 pounds I gained and the 13 pounds Traci gained were proof of this. We had another look around Uturoa afterwards. The town was much more busy then the day before. We saw many more locals - including school children. Now that more stores were open, Traci continued her search for the perfect red and white tropical dress but no luck on that front.

Shops in town were decorated for Christmas.

When we finally returned to our cabin, I saw that the ship was running a laundry special. They would wash all the garments you could stuff in the paper bag they provided for $29. The bag was about the size of pillowcase. We managed to fill it with 30 items (shirts, underwear, and socks). During the rest of the cruise, Traci would also wash a few of her other items in our sink and hang them to dry across the chairs on our balcony via a portable clothes line she brought with us. As for the rest of our day on the ship, Traci went to a button decorating activity but did not stay when she found out it was a childrens' activity.

The entertainment for the evening was violinist Ian Cooper. Traci had no interest in a violin concert but I did. Therefore, we decided we would do our own thing that evening and meet up later. I ate dinner alone so that I could get to the performance on time. Traci was not yet hungry. I dined at the complimentary Asian restaurant called Silk. I enjoyed my meal but did not care for the dessert offerings.

The violin performance was fun. The violinist performed several genres such as pop, classical, bluegrass, etc... He even played an electric cello he designed to be played as a violin.

I joined Traci at the Yes/No Contest in the Spinnaker Lounge after the violin concert. It was an interesting game. The contestant was not allowed to answer the host's questions using any form of 'yes' or 'no' for two minutes. This was harder than it sounds. Less than a handful of contestants made it through the entire two minutes of questioning. Traci almost made it but the host tripped her up on one of the questions to which Traci instinctively replied "No". Continue...

Traci participating in the Yes/No Contest.

Magnet Purchased At This Destination: (click to enlarge)

Entire fridge magnet collection...


UNESCO Site Visited At This Destination:

All UNESCO Sites We've Visited...


previous | Tahiti Part 1 | Bora Bora | Tahiti Part 2 | Moorea | Raiatea | Sea Days 1&2 | Samoa | Sea Day 3 | Fiji | Sea Day 4 | New Caledonia | Sea Days 5&6 | Sydney | next


Other Cruises We've Done


[Back to the Main Page]