FrenchPoly_20140524_0917_10_1000“Doesn’t their throat hurt after a while… with all that crowing?”, Sandy asked.  It’s 5:30am Sunday morning (5/25/14) and Sandy and I are sitting out on the porch of our bungalow listening to the multitudes of roosters crowing off in the distance.  We’ve been here almost a day now and it did seem like the roosters were crowing all yesterday until nightfall and they’re certainly getting an early start on it today.

We now have a solid nights sleep behind us having fallen asleep around 8pm after a long travel day (almost exactly 24 hours from the time we left our house until we reached our bungalow).  We spent most of yesterday trying not fall asleep so we could adjust to the change more easily (French Poly is 6 hours Our gourmet sandwiches along with my coconut water - complete with coconut!earlier than at home).  Maitai Lapita doesn’t really have room service, but they were super nice and when we told them we were way too tired to enjoy eating at the restaurant, the chef made up a couple platters of gourmet sandwiches (basically ham and cheese on foccacia – but gourmet!) for us to take back to our room.  We ate and passed out at 8pm last night sleeping soundly, only occasionally being awakened by the sound of rain pounding down on the bungalow in the middle of the night.

Maitai Lapita is a small resort with about three dozen rooms some of which are garden view and others, like ours, are situated around a small lagoon in the center of the resort.  The rooms are spacious and modern although it feels like some of the seats, like our deck chairs, have an emphasis on style over comfort.  The breezes are wonderful right now as I sit out on the covered porch listening to the palm trees rustle in the wind (and the roosters crow of course).  Sadly, the bungalow doesn’t have screens, and we’re a little too nervous to just open it up because there are a few mosquitoes around (although not the swarms I read about in some reviews).  So we’ve got the doors and windows closed and the ac on inside.

FrenchPoly_20140524_1625_03_1000The lagoon is beautiful, the still water reflecting the images of other bungalows, the mountains in the distance, and the blue sky and fluffy white clouds.  It is filled with tropical waterlilies, they’re purplish flowers opening up during today to add an additional splash of color to the landscape.  Hundreds of small black fish, ranging from an inch or so to perhaps 8 inches, swim about beneath the water lilies poking at the underside presumably on a search for food.  Small ripples from these fish are the only disturbance to the mirror like surface of the water.  At one FrenchPoly_20140524_1627_07_700point, just after Sandy and I had first arrived, we saw something else in the water.  A speckled body, about the girth of a full grown koi, was sliding silently beneath the lily pads only occasionally visible to us in the small breaks between each plant.  At first we thought it was a fish, but as I watched through a 6 inch opening between lilies, the body seemed too long.  I expected to see a tail after 12 or 18 inches, but instead it kept going… 12 inches… then 24… then…. maybe it was 3 feet long in the end, although it was a little hard to tell.  I later learned there are eels in the lagoon and my guess is we had just met one.

Sandy inching her way into the cold pool.  Beach shade tree in background.After settling into our room, we headed down to the beach.  To get there you had to cut through the open air restaurant to the far side where a small pool, surrounded by 14 loungers, was situated just beside the beach.  A wide low tree bearing many clusters of small fruit provided a nice shady spot on the beach but we opted for one of the loungers around the pool.  After taking a quick dip in to wash off a days worth of travel grime we put some sunscreen on and laid down to relax.  There were three large shade umbrellas around the pool which were all being used when we arrived, but it wasn’t long before a family abandoned there’s and we moved in to take their place.  We didn’t really want to get burned on our first day of vacation.

Picasso TriggerfishI had a mask and snorkel and had borrowed some fins from the front desk.  It was time to get into the ocean!  One of the women guests at the pool kept cautioning her son to be careful of the hot sand on the beach.  Moorish Idol and Surge DemoiselleI winced when I first stepped out, prepared for the scalding sensation of hot sand burning at the bottom of my feet.  But I immediately relaxed when the pleasantly warm soft sand worked it’s way between my toes and I walked the short distance down to the waters edge.

Ornate Butterflyfish alongside some sort of surgeonfishSmall pieces of bleached white dead coral rolled about in the light surf as I shuffled my feet into the water.  It was not cold at all, the swimming pool we’d just been in was much colder than the Surge Demoiselleocean.  However because of all the sand about I didn’t have a lot of hope of seeing many fish.  On either side of me there were rock jetties that stretched out 50 feet into the water and I thought those would be my best bet for sealife.  But I was very wrong, there were many small piles of stone and some corals scattered about, attracting a wide variety of colorful fish with different patterns and shapes that what I had seen before in my Caribbean trips.  I swam about for an hour in water that ranged from 4 to 10 feet deep, swimming down to look under ledges or in holes and trying to sneak up on shy fish to see if I can get a better look or maybe a picture.

Village of FareAfter snorkeling, Sandy and I decided to take a walk down the beach to the village.  The village was only a five minute walk.  We took in the sights of local life as we strolled.  A house where the family was outside barbecuing something that smelled delicious, children playing in the sand and the ocean, sunbathers enjoying a warm spot on the beach.  We finally made it to the village where we spoke to a woman at the local dive shop about arranging a trip after we’ve slept off our jetlag.

We had passed a small ocean front restaurant on the way and decided to go back there afterwards for lunch.  So many choices....Sandy asked our hostess what sort of wine they had and she immediately made a sour face and said they only had the house wine and it wasn’t very good.

So we had a couple of beers and I had a hamburger and Sandy had coconut mahi mahi while we leafed through a travel brochure looking at some of the activities around the island.  The one that really caught our attention was a private jetski tour around the island with stops at various locations to snorkel, see sharks, hear a little history of the island, and a catered lunch with lobster, champagne, and wine.  All for a mere 80,000xpf.  At first I thought that was a typo… but it was accurate and figured out to around $1000.

A weary traveller finally succumbs to sleepWe spent the rest of the afternoon lazing about at the pool.  The days travels had worn us down so we ordered our sandwiches to take back to the room and finally let sleep claim victory around 8pm.

3 Comments to “Huahine”

  1. By Tim, May 28, 2014 @ 2:08 am

    At first I thought you’d seen the infamous Humuhumunukunukuapua`a of Hawaiian fame, but on second glance it seems to be Rhinecanthus aculeatus rather than Rhinecanthus rectangulus.
    Nice pics for a quick snorkel trip.

    • By Tim, May 28, 2014 @ 2:10 am

      And Callie immediately recognized the “Gill” fish (Moorish Idols) from “Finding Nemo.” Cute.

  2. By Bruce, June 3, 2014 @ 9:16 pm

    No no… according to the fish book, Moorish Idol is one of a kind. No close relatives. At least none they were able to photograph. I got a new underwater pocket camera. Not as good as the dive camera and can’t go as deep… but I don’t have to wrestle with a huge case each time I go out which is nice from a convenience point of view.

    Sandy’s got 3 more dives under her belt (I have 4)… those stories are written but internet is slow so I don’t know when I’ll get them up.

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