Fakarava and Rangiroa

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#1
Florida
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Could you please tell me if it is possible to self tour these islands? What is the public transportation like? And what is there to see?
We have snorkeling excursions booked for the afternoon for both stops, but don't want to miss anything on land.

Thank you!
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#2
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On Fakarava we walked down the main road. There is a small church and two tiny shops. Really nothing to see. You can rent a bike at the wharf and perhaps explore a little more. There were many areas along the road where you can get into the water to snorkel but take water shoes.

On Rangiroa we returned after our cruise for 6 nights. While we rented a car while we were there I could not say there is anything of interest to see. The beauty is in the lagoon.
#3
Florida
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Thank you! Maybe we will rent a bike for our daughter and go for a run together those mornings. I know we will need it, as I keep reading the food is amazing!
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#4
Maryland
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Agree with poster above; not a lot to see near where the ship tenders or docks. In particular, Fakarava is quite small. It's best to reserve something in advance as you've done. These are two places where it's hard to just get off the ship (well, the tender) and arrange for much to do. I think Fakarava offered a town tour at the tender pier, but given that there's little there, I wouldn't think it was worthwhile. My pictures (look for Fakarava and Rangiroa albums) are here: www.pbase.com/roothy123 If you want more info, I probably have some things I can email you to help you explore the places I photographed.
#5
NM Northern Mts
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Rangiroa is an atoll, so there is huge lagoon (I forget but maybe 50 miles across) with no island in the middle (it's long since eroded); the land is a ring-reef, quite narrow, the remnant of the reef that used be around the island as in Tahiti or Bora Bora. The opening in the ring was blasted out to make a channel so ships can enter the lagoon, and you will tender to the reef-land portion. Last time we were there I snorkeled the "aquarium" which is an area of the lagoon near the channel, while DH took a walk for photos. It can be very lovely to walk along the ocean beach and return along the lagoon beach. Thee are a few paved lanes, believe there is a road that runs most of the land ring. Enjoy, m--
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#6
Florida
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Joined Dec 2008
Thank you so much for the information and replies!
Do you know if they open the platform and you can snorkel on your own, or do you have to book an excursion?

Thanks for the link to the pics, Roothy, they were great!
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#8
Florida
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Originally posted by FlightMedic555
Not sure which ship you are on. If you are on the Paul Gauguin you cannot snorkel directly off of the ship.
Yes, PG. On any stop, or just these 2?
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#9
Atlantic City, New Jersey
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At Fakarava get to the Blue Lagoon. As beautiful as anywhere else you will visit in French Polynesia.
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#10
Florida
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Originally posted by twin123185
At Fakarava get to the Blue Lagoon. As beautiful as anywhere else you will visit in French Polynesia.
Thank you!
I hope the Blue Lagoon is where we will snorkel. I am planning on doing the PG Pinnacle Snorkel. Described as:
"Board your Zodiac® (or similar boat) for a 30-minute ride (each way) to the north pass in the lagoon."
Sounds like this is where we need to be?!? I hope. Or do you have another suggestion?
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#11
Atlantic City, New Jersey
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Originally posted by yvonneh
Thank you!

I hope the Blue Lagoon is where we will snorkel. I am planning on doing the PG Pinnacle Snorkel. Described as:

"Board your Zodiac (or similar boat) for a 30-minute ride (each way) to the north pass in the lagoon."

Sounds like this is where we need to be?!? I hope. Or do you have another suggestion?
It is possible. My excursion was titled blue lagoon. You will have to ask PG. the timing seems right but it wasn't a snorkel excursion.
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#12
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The marina platform on the PG does not allow swimming, snorkeling or diving directly from the platform. The platform is most commonly used to get on the zodiacs. They do allow stand up paddleboard and kayaks from the platform at some stops (I think).
#13
San Francisco, Ca
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Originally posted by yvonneh
Thank you!
I hope the Blue Lagoon is where we will snorkel. I am planning on doing the PG Pinnacle Snorkel. Described as:
"Board your Zodiac® (or similar boat) for a 30-minute ride (each way) to the north pass in the lagoon."
Sounds like this is where we need to be?!? I hope. Or do you have another suggestion?
Please be aware that the snorkeling for the North Pass will probably be drift snorkeling, world class, but, unless you are an advanced swimmer or you have fins, you might not feel comfortable doing it.
#14
Toronto, Canada
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The drift snorkel in the north pass is nowhere near the blue lagoon. I heard it was exceptionally fast.
#15
Florida
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Joined Dec 2008
If there are not any excursions offered by PG to the Blue Lagoon, how do you get there? Private operators? Suggestions?

We are hoping it is the drift snorkel, it sounds fun. I hope they let my daughter do it too. She is 10...but on a swim team. She is a very strong swimmer.
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#16
Atlantic City, New Jersey
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Originally posted by yvonneh
If there are not any excursions offered by PG to the Blue Lagoon, how do you get there? Private operators? Suggestions?



We are hoping it is the drift snorkel, it sounds fun. I hope they let my daughter do it too. She is 10...but on a swim team. She is a very strong swimmer.

Rangiroa or Fakarava?

There was a ships tour last time in Fakarava. I don't remember Rangiroa but most sailings aren't there long enough to go there. Private excursions easily found.
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#17
Florida
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Originally posted by twin123185
Rangiroa or Fakarava?

There was a ships tour last time in Fakarava. I don't remember Rangiroa but most sailings aren't there long enough to go there. Private excursions easily found.
I think the fast drift snorkel is in Rangiroa?
Fakarava looks like it's excellent for diving, but I read some mixed reviews for snorkeling.
I signed up for snorkeling excursions through PG for both stops.
What Blue Lagoon should I try to get to between the two?
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#18
Maryland
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Joined Mar 2004
I may be repeating something I already stated and/or giving info that won't help anyone on PG, but: Our cruise line (Oceania) was in Fakarava a full day but didn't offer any excursions. There were a limited number of private ones you could book. For those, google, search more in this section of threads, check Trip Advisor or ask about shared excursions on your Roll Call. I would not wait until a month or two pre-cruise, especially for Fakarava. Things fill up fast,, especially if you're on a big ship like we were (1200 passengers). Then again, I spent a nice half day just walking around, and going into the lagoon for a short while to cool off, and it was a nice, easy day.

We were also in Rangiroa a full day (maybe 8 or 9 to 6). Oceania offered some ship excursions, but most or all booked up by the time we got on the ship. We had arranged a snorkel trip with The Six Passengers, and they took us to 3 places including what it called "The Aquarium." It is FULL of fish everywhere, is easy snorkeling and is a very popular (for good reason) place, though quite crowded with boats and people! The other two places were less easy, but not what I think would require any particular skill or stamina (not fast). Six Passengers normally only does diving excursions, but someone on our ship arranged the snorkel trip about 2 or 3 months pre-cruise and posted the trip on our Roll Call. The only thing I didn't like about them was that you get off and onto a zodiac with a rope around it but no ladder, so it was a little difficult or us older people (55-60s) to get in the zodiac after the 3 snorkel stops. The driver of the boat helped by pulling the person over the edge of the boat but that meant it was not as ideal as being on a boat with a ladder. While we were alone in most ports in the South Pacific, in Rangiroa there was another cruise ship there (one of the Holland ships, anchored out on the other side of the pass) so perhaps private excursions were more hard to find than normal. For us, on what looked to be the better dock for tendering (restaurant, etc.) I think there were a few people on the dock offering boat tours to the Aquarium, but not a lot. I would book something in advance, especially if you're looking for longer trips that include lunch on or in front of the water.

I think (but don't remember for sure) that Rangiroa's lagoon is where most people want to be. I think one of the better known operators is Patrick, but we weren't able to book with him.
#19
Atlantic City, New Jersey
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Originally posted by yvonneh
I think the fast drift snorkel is in Rangiroa?

Fakarava looks like it's excellent for diving, but I read some mixed reviews for snorkeling.

I signed up for snorkeling excursions through PG for both stops.

What Blue Lagoon should I try to get to between the two?

Fakarava
It's fairly close to the ship unlike Rangiroa which you don't have time to see unless the ship is there for 8 plus hours. Most times PG is only at Rangiroa for 5 hours.
If PG no longer offers a blue lagoon tour
Check out Fakarava tours or the tour guide Emdee used whose name I can't remember. Hers was full day, mine was half.
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#20
Maryland
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Here are some things I copied in early January from other Cruise Critic posts about Rangiroa. They're obviously someone else's experiences, not mine, but overall they seem to jive well with what I experienced on Rangiroa:

Whole embarkation process is extremely quick and painless. In my research, the most popular things to do on Rangiroa include the following:
- Visit the famous Blue Lagoon or Pink Sand Beach. The key issues with these are the considerable distance and cost. I understand it's about a 90min boat trip to either across what can be very choppy water making for a punishing ride. They also both require pre-arrangement (they were not offered by the ship). Maybe outside of the rainy season these are good options but I wouldn't consider booking either when the weather is unpredictable.
- Snorkel or Scuba “The Aquarium". There is a Motu inside the lagoon at Tiputa Pass very close to the tender dock that offers fantastic snorkeling and diving. The currents of the channel ensures this area always has lots of nutrients and thus plentiful fish and even on a stormy day like we had, the water is very clear. I did a morning snorkel tour offered by Princess and it was well worth it. They provide the boat, gear and a guide in the water with a large flotation cushion you can hang onto if you get tired. The water depth varies from shallow near the Motu to deeper but I would guess is was around 8-12' deep in most places. Fish were plentiful and I saw morrey eels and black tip sharks. After snorkeling the boat went into the channel briefly to see if we could spot some Dolphins and sure enough a couple lept clear of the water for us to see. I highly recommend this excursion if you're into snorkeling.
- Pearl Farm. See my notes earlier in this report about Pearls. Gauguin’s Pearls is one of the main Pearl farms on the island and they offer a free shuttle ride from the tender pier to their facility where you get a nice overview of the Pearl farming process and a chance to browse their store. There is no pressure to buy and the bus ride to/from and education is no charge. The day we were there they seemed to offer several departure times about 2hrs apart. We got the 10:30AM departure right after my snorkeling excursion. We spent about an hour there, and then asked the driver to drop us at the public beach on the way back to the tender pier which saved us some walking.
- Public Beach. The public beach is just past the resort and Top Dive Shop on the island and offers a quiet, peaceful beach. There are a couple of rustic picnic shelters and benches there if you need to escape the sun or rain. It's about a 30min (1.5mile) walk along the road from the Tender pier. As mentioned above, if you take the Pearl farm bus you can ask the driver to drop you at the public beach on the way back. Which is what we did. After a bit of time at the beach, we then walked down the beach past Top Dive to the Kia Ora Resort where we had a drink and enjoyed their great over water bar (with a glass floor).
- Refreshments. As mentioned above, you can get refreshments from the bar at the Kia Ora resort which is a short 20min walk from the Tender pier. Their over water bar is fantastic with great views of the lagoon. Alternatively, you can go to Josephine's bar which is a 5min walk from the Tender Pier and overlooks the Tiputa Pass where you may see some Dolphins jumping in the choppy waters of the channel.
- Dolphin watching. There is a great vantage point near the open ocean entrance to the channel where you can probably see some Dolphins playing in the choppy waters there. It's like a public park area with places to sit but no shade. It's just a few minutes past Josephine’s which is also a good spot to watch for Dolphins.
The ship sold lots of 1 hour snorkeling trips for $149. We found the same trip at the pier for $30, but you had to be patient and wait till some guy in a boat, pulls up to the dock. You check with him to see if he his offering a snorkeling trip. You can find these trips after 11am, but you do have to be patient. There is no ticket counter waiting to sell you a trip. All the snorkeling trips go to the "Aquarium Garden" which is a 10 minute boat ride to a reef that is 20 to 30 feet deep. The Dive trips went here also, as do the Glass Bottom boat rides offered by cruise ships. There were 2 Dive Companies near the pier. You need to contact them ahead of time, they were booked, at least in the morning. The Aquarium Garden was just amazing, thousands of fish. Some people saw sharks and Sting Rays, I saw a huge eel. You get a 40 minute snorkel and then the boats go back to the pier. We got to the pier at 9:15am and couldn't find anything to do. The nearby resort hotel would not allow cruise passengers to enter their property, there was a guard. We found no bike or car rentals. There was 1 or 2 taxis, but they were busy. Some people took the cab to the nearby Village, there was nothing there, so they came right back. We did find some half way decent snorkeling within walking distance from the pier, either way. It was very shallow and rocky, so forget fins and just walk in with good hard bottom water shoes. There was good variety of fish, but the coral had a lot if sand on it, but it was free and fairly easy to do.
-----------------------------------
I would add that on the day we were there, Gauguin's Pearl Farm was NOT offering rides to anyone other than those who had signed up for a ship's excursion there. I had even emailed them a couple weeks pre-cruise to ask if they would have buses, and they said no. Of course, two different ships were in town that day, using two different tender piers, so your situation may be different.