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Whale watching in French Polynesia


beachmimi
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We are booked on the Paul Gauguin for September 25, 2021. This is our second cruise with them. We were on the final one in March 2020 which was sent back to Papeete for half of the cruise. We loved going to Moorea by ferry during those days in Papeete. We were fortunate that we booked a pre-cruise package to Bora Bora. I'm so sorry for those who missed that port! 

We booked this one in September/October to see whales. Which island should we go to for our pre-cruise package? Bora Bora or Moorea? Or is there a better spot to go to for whale watching? Please give me any insight you have! Thank you! We stayed at the InterContinental Le Moana and loved it. Right now we are  thinking of going there again.

Also, any thoughts on if I should I book the package through my local cruise agent or through the cruise line? Last time I contacted the cruise line and ended up with an agent in Miami who I mistakenly thought had been on the cruise and would be very familiar with FP. But, figured out months later that he's never been. He just books a lot of packages for the cruise line. 

Thank you for your suggestions!

 

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Thank you Petoonya! We will have two days in Bora Bora on the cruise so I might want to book a swimming with whales  trip there too. I've been thinking of asking TBK what his reasoning is for his "no brainer" reply. 

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, beachmimi said:

Thank you Petoonya! We will have two days in Bora Bora on the cruise so I might want to book a swimming with whales  trip there too. I've been thinking of asking TBK what his reasoning is for his "no brainer" reply. 

 

Interestingly this question came up 2 weeks ago on my livestream show. My guest was someone who was very close to French Polynesian tourism. Without disclosing my source I'll simply say there were very few who were any closer to the tourism industry in FP.

 

The question was asked about best place for whale watching/swimming. The answer was Moorea. Only other place that rivals Moorea may be on Rurutu further south in Austral island group.

 

What Tahiti Tourisme states: "Swimming with humpback whales in Moorea, Tahiti and Bora Bora is very common. Moorea is a particularly popular place to have small group tours for ocean adventures to see marine wildlife."

 

I'm sure Bora Bora is nice as well ... I think Moorea is #1 on the list because the whales love to come in to Cook's Bay and the quantity of whales. I'll ask someone on the ship who would also know, I'll post the answer later. 

 

My suggestion would be to try both Moorea and Bora Bora and then return to us and give us your take 😉

Edited by Tahitianbigkahuna
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I did ask someone who would know on-board the ship  .... a one word quick response, "Moorea".

 

So  ... I've given you 3 perspectives  ... mine, someone from the ship and someone high up the FP tourism food chain  ... we all agree, Moorea.

 

But I would still suggest you do both and then report back to us on your take 😉

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3 minutes ago, Tahitianbigkahuna said:

 

Your on the fringe of the season ... won't know until your there.

Ok...thank you for your response.  I kind of figured that.  

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@canadianbearI did the snorkel November 2019 with Tohora Bora Bora. We saw not only the usual fare, but manta rays, eagle rays, and yes, whales. It is unusual to see them that late, though they weren't close enough to swim with. Have also done the Dr. Poole whale watching in Moorea in Sept. He's the UC Berkeley educated whale researcher and we were able to swim with them. His trips are actually "drier" and more scientific than other whale trips we've been on.

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Posted (edited)

One other that people forget about is the island of Tahiti. Tahiti Lagoon Paradise, simply one of the best tours I've taken in my life. Prices are high but you can usually negotiate especially now with the especially with this long season of no tourism

https://www.whale-dolphin-turtle.com/

Booked as a tour for 2 but he'll take 4. This being the reason the cost is high. We've seen whales, shipwrecks, sea turtles and more. It's about 8 miles south of Papeete, the perfect day if you are an avid snorkeler and looking for something to do before or after your cruise. No pickup. Either need a rental car or a taxi.

Take a look at the reviews on TA.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g309679-d10118825-Reviews-Tahiti_Lagoon_Paradise-Tahiti_Society_Islands.html

Edited by Petoonya
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@Petoonya

thank you for all the info.  I will take note and check them out. 
 

I have tried to read a lot of posts and see your recommendations often-thank you for sharing.

 

Our cruise isn’t until late September 2022 (50 days returning to San Diego).  Will be our first time to the South Pacific and the itinerary seems to have a lot of unique stops.  Trying to figure out which ones have the best snorkel private excursions. I know we certainly won’t snorkel in all ports-too old for that, lol! 

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, canadianbear said:

@Petoonya

thank you for all the info.  I will take note and check them out. 
 

I have tried to read a lot of posts and see your recommendations often-thank you for sharing.

 

Our cruise isn’t until late September 2022 (50 days returning to San Diego).  Will be our first time to the South Pacific and the itinerary seems to have a lot of unique stops.  Trying to figure out which ones have the best snorkel private excursions. I know we certainly won’t snorkel in all ports-too old for that, lol! 

I love H2O Bora Bora! Fabulous, and they will do private or 2-6. Look at their reviews on Tripadvisor. This is the best snorkeling I've ever done in all Tahiti. They will custom design your tour to your desires.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g669130-d11669146-Reviews-H2O_Bora_Bora_Snorkeling_Tours-Vaitape_Bora_Bora_Society_Islands.html#REVIEWS

Second best private tour I've done in Moorea was with Mermaid Private Tours.

2-4 passengers. Again will design to what you wish. The reviews on TA are superb.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g1453843-d13201665-Reviews-Mermaid_Private_Boat_Tours-Ha_apiti_Moorea_Society_Islands.html

Edited by Petoonya
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1 minute ago, Petoonya said:

I love H2O Bora Bora! Fabulous, and they will do private or 2-6. Look at their reviews on Tripadvisor.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g669130-d11669146-Reviews-H2O_Bora_Bora_Snorkeling_Tours-Vaitape_Bora_Bora_Society_Islands.html#REVIEWS

Will do.  Some rave about “Patrick’s tour” in Bora Bora.  Any thoughts?  

I have attached our ports.  Feel free if you have any suggestions on which ones are best to snorkel.  We have our own gear (I use a prescription mask).  
 

Thank you again for being so helpful.  

 

E4E0C9DF-D960-4E26-AB9C-7580A4F8E61A.jpeg

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Posted (edited)

Patrick's tour is also terrific and gives you the real feeling of the islands. Moahi Nui. Probably should not miss this one but it is not private. 8-16 people. fabulous luncheon and entertainment. True Polynesian feel. Look at reviews.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g311415-d1191067-Reviews-Maohi_Nui-Bora_Bora_Society_Islands.html

What an absolutely incredible itinerary you have! How many days is this???

Edited by Petoonya
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Raiatea- Bruno's L'' Excursion Bleue is very good. I'm not wild about the vanilla and pearl farms. But you'll circle Tahaa and see tons of rays and sharks, and go to the Coral Gardens (a must!) great lunch.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g309691-d2181691-Reviews-L_Excursion_Bleue_Day_Tours-Raiatea_Society_Islands.html

I know Tahitian Big Kahuna has done it several times.

 

A smaller tour that I've not done is Arii Moana 2-8 and know a few people who've done it who rave. Gets high marks on TA

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g309691-d9869732-Reviews-Arii_Moana_Tours-Raiatea_Society_Islands.html

 

Rangiroa- want to try drift snorkeling? Then use The Six Passengers. Primarily a dive outfit but do snorkel trips too that include the Aquarium (do not miss!) Just as it says 6 passengers but they'll go out with 4. If you want to forget drift snorkeling, your ship will have an Aquarium tour. Or you can ask The Six Passengers to do that alone and keep it just the two of you. Very reasonable.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g1154800-d1973599-Reviews-The_Six_Passengers-Avatoru_Rangiroa_Tuamotu_Archipelago.html

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Petoonya said:

Patrick's tour is also terrific and gives you the real feeling of the islands. Moahi Nui. Probably should not miss this one but it is not private. 8-16 people. fabulous luncheon and entertainment. True Polynesian feel. Look at reviews.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g311415-d1191067-Reviews-Maohi_Nui-Bora_Bora_Society_Islands.html

What an absolutely incredible itinerary you have! How many days is this???


Originally we were on the February 2022 cruise & booked with roll call with Patrick’s tour.  When we cancelled it and moved to September I did email him to ask about our current cruise.  No, it’s not private but I have read excellent reviews.  
 

For our cruise in late September 2022 we leave from Vancouver so it’s 50 days.  Don’t tell my husband-he didn’t ask how long I just promoted it was from our home port 😱😂

Edited by canadianbear
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@Petoonya

 

I'll check out others you’ve suggested.  We’ve done drift snorkeling in Bonaire and snorkelled in really rough water with whale sharks so not sure I want to be challenged too much if the drift snorkel is hard work any more!  You are a wealth of info ❤️

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@canadianbear

With your experience drift snorkeling I think you'd LOVE it! You're holding on to a float that drifts ahead of you behind the lead person. There's a boat monitoring people's progression. They monitor everyone's abilities and strength when you go to the Aquarium. The water moves at the strength of the tide- last time we did it we covered a mile in less then 10 minutes. It's exhilarating. We saw hammerheads. Sometimes nothing, sometimes tons of fish. Almost always dolphins watching. If you don't do anything else you must do the Aquarium- amazing for avid snorkelers like yourselves.

 

Lastly, if there is any chance you might be in for jetskiing, oh my goodness you have to do Raiatea Jet, Raiatea. Incredible. The dolphins were practically jumping over the jetski. We did it just the two of us, and got to go to Coral Gardens this way. (Whatever you do don't miss the Coral Gardens!)

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g1073441-d9811626-Reviews-Raiatea_Jet-Uturoa_Raiatea_Society_Islands.html

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Om Bora Bora Patrick’s tour is the dreamy excursion people 'dream' about. Very Polynesian, BBQ lunch, entertainment ... there are better vendors for just snorkeling but Patrick brings the Polynesian experience people on their 'trip of a lifetime' imagine what Bora Bora is like.

 

I would agree with Petoona regarding Raiatea- Bruno's L'' Excursion Bleue  ... Bruno can be a bit 'dry' but you will experience one of the very best places for snorkeling in all of French Polynesia  ... the famous drift snorkel. Here is a short video we made ... enjoy

 

https://vimeo.com/311007932

 

On Rangiroa if you don't want to be in deep water for the drift through the pass I'd recommend the 'Aquarium'. The Paul Gauguin sits in the background. I'm the one in the water with the camera 😉

 

20.jpg

Edited by Tahitianbigkahuna
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@Petoonya

I will have to email Bruno’s L’Excursion Bleu as on the cruise we switched from a roll call member had arranged it. I’m not thrilled about vanilla & Pearl farm either.

 

  I may email Arii Moana Tours first as I like smaller groups.  Thanks again for your suggestions.  
 

I will email The Six Passengers too but I’m sure dives are their preference unless they have a few boats.   
 

i didn’t realize they offer holding onto a float when drift snorkeling-interesting!  Never done jet skiing in our lives!  

 

@Tahitianbigkahuna

 

Thank you for chiming in.  Video is neat to watch-thanks!  I have heard the “aquarium” is a must.  

 

 

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@canadianbear

The Six Passengers does snorkel trips- it is a regular thing for them. Been out twice with them and very safety minded. Yes, about the floats on a lifeline. Someone on the boat tosses them in the water at intervals and tells you when to jump. 6 Passengers was best for me but there is also Y Aka Plongee also quite good, and both also take you to the Aquarium. Unfortunately Y Aka Plongee wants 6 people to make a reservation where 6 Passengers is happy with 4. Max is 6. You might be able to negotiate with 6 Passengers for a private tour at the right price. It was only $65pp. The big thing to know is that the drift snorkeling and timing of your tour all depends on the tides which can at times be treacherous- they would not let you go out if so.

 

I was on an Oceania cruise ship in Rangiroa once where we had to depart 2 hours earlier than planned or the boat would risk damage.

 

The Raiatea Jet guy is very patient and will give you assistance. It's a lot of fun. And I'm too old for it too but do it anyway 😁

 

One thing about Bruno's L' Excursion Bleue is that you can't escape from the vanilla and pearl farms- he told me the only way is to get everyone in the boat to agree which most people do not. We lucked out last time in that dh and I were the only ones in the boat whereas he can take up to 12. I know you prefer private as do I. Arii Moana is smaller and you may negotiate for the boat for just you for the right price. And no farms. Coral Gardens- yes..

 

Raiatea is one of my favorite islands because the draw is Tahaa which is right next door. The snorkel trips encircle Tahaa and usually go to the Coral Gardens (which you can't miss- the IMAX of snorkeling.)

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