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11 day Tahiti and Tuamotu cruise, need Windstar excursion recommendations


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So, we just booked the October 17, 11 day Tahiti and Tuamotu cruise, hoping it goes!  However, all indications I read assumes that all cruise lines are going to initially require their own excursions to help control Covid risk.  Therefore, I am looking to initially book Windstar excursions for each port.  Three years ago we sailed on Paul Gauguin and their 11 night Society Island and Cook Island itinerary and I booked all private excursions, so this is a real change for us.  But, we just want to cruise at this point.  Masks, OK--  Social Distance, OK --   Windstar excursions--  OK  just get me on the darn ship!

 

Now, we love to snorkel.  So, we will be doing that in Bora Bora and the Tuamotu's for sure.  Probably not on Huahine, we did Marc's tour last time, not impressed. Also, may do the drift snorkel on our beach stop, we did not do that with PG just enjoyed the motu all day.

 

Any and all suggestions welcomed including the specific snorkeling excursions that Windstar offers. I notice at some stops they have more than one snorkel opportunity.

 

And, if anyone else out there is going on this cruise, please join us on the roll call I just started.

 

Thanks,

 

Doug

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We had the pleasure of sailing on Wind Spirit in Tahiti, January 2020 (just under the wire).  My 3rd visit to French Polynesia, but a first for my bride (of 14 years).  While this was our 4th Windstar sailing, it was our first where we actually arrived with nothing planned.  We really were working toward "island bums".

Huahine is one of my favorite "just get to know the locals" places anywhere.  25 years ago I stayed there for a week in a pension and loved it.

 

We selected the most relaxed just "meet some locals" excursion available. The Safari Expedition (a Windstar excursion), which mostly visited small places (including a pearl farm and a small vanilla drying house) traveled with only 8 people per truck.  I felt like it was something simple to share with my wife and she loved it.  Our guide was a middle aged lifelong local, and she was 100% "local girl".  We would have put up with her just driving and talking all day.

This excursion may not be for folks looking to be dazzled each day, but we really enjoyed this day of feeling local. 

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Congrats on getting in right under the wire. Thanks for the input on the Safari Expedition, it sounds like a good choice for a land visit to one of the ports versus all snorkel stops. Plus, we always look for excursions with just a few people per vehicle versus the large bus tour. 

 

Thanks,

 

Doug

 

 

 

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Don't miss the Coral Garden tour from Motu Mahaea. It's a snorkelers paradise in a heavenly location with an almost IMAX like view of the fish. It's only 3 hours so you'll have plenty of time on the motu to relax and enjoy the barbecue. Don't forget at least water shoes and maybe a rash guard. The coral is sharp here and due to the current it's easy to get banged up. We've always brought pants and gloves too, but only ones in group who do, so it's not a necessity.

 

The Blue Lagoon trip in Fakarava is nice, but the best snorkeling in Pafuna is last of the day, and not always time enough to see as much as it deserves.

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1 hour ago, Petoonya said:

Don't miss the Coral Garden tour from Motu Mahaea. It's a snorkelers paradise in a heavenly location with an almost IMAX like view of the fish. It's only 3 hours so you'll have plenty of time on the motu to relax and enjoy the barbecue. Don't forget at least water shoes and maybe a rash guard. The coral is sharp here and due to the current it's easy to get banged up. We've always brought pants and gloves too, but only ones in group who do, so it's not a necessity.

 

The Blue Lagoon trip in Fakarava is nice, but the best snorkeling in Pafuna is last of the day, and not always time enough to see as much as it deserves.

Petoonya, thanks for the input.  We do plan to do the Coral Garden tour from the Motu and already have rash guards and water shoes from our PG cruise.

 

As to Fakarava, Windstar offers a 4 hour snorkeling tour at Blue Lagoon or a 1.5 hour snorkeling tour at Pufuna for about the same price. I am leaning toward doing the Blue Lagoon for the extra time and Windstar calls Pufuna strenuous and Blue Lagoon moderate.  What has been your experience?

 

Thanks,

 

Doug

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Doug,

The Blue Lagoon is a gorgeous spot but not for snorkeling- very shallow. You are there for a long time just snacking, hanging out and gazing at the tiny sharks in the water. We got bored just hanging out and watching the crabs with no opportunity to snorkel- there at least 1.5 hours. Pufuna is deep water snorkeling which is why I think WS rates it as strenuous. Really didn't think it was strenuous- besides the boat is always there with you. The snorkeling is gorgeous and really worth while.

 

Just an aside. There is a famous provider in Fakarava that some will be familiar with- Ato, and if you want his email let me know. I realize that WS will only allow their own tours and vetted tour providers for excursions. Ato is very good, great snorkeling (Blue Lagoon too), with lunch and is an entertaining fellow. If he passes muster with WS he'd be the person to go with. Have suggested that he approach WS, but don't know if he's followed through. Also encouraged a few that we like in BB and Moorea to contact WS. We've done BB, Moorea, Rangiroa, Raiatea Huahine with independents. Happy to share names if it works out that they are WS preferreds. All very small group snorkel trips.

 

I forgot about Rangiroa- as I say have only done with independents but WS tours are sure to be equal. Don't miss the Aquarium- water clarity is exquisite. And the drift snorkel is fun too, even though WS lists it as strenuous. There is always a boat standing by should anyone have a problem. All you do is adjust your mask, jump and hang onto a float behind the person in front of you and watch fish, especially hammerheads. Amazing.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Petoonya said:

Doug,

The Blue Lagoon is a gorgeous spot but not for snorkeling- very shallow. You are there for a long time just snacking, hanging out and gazing at the tiny sharks in the water. We got bored just hanging out and watching the crabs with no opportunity to snorkel- there at least 1.5 hours. Pufuna is deep water snorkeling which is why I think WS rates it as strenuous. Really didn't think it was strenuous- besides the boat is always there with you. The snorkeling is gorgeous and really worth while.

 

Just an aside. There is a famous provider in Fakarava that some will be familiar with- Ato, and if you want his email let me know. I realize that WS will only allow their own tours and vetted tour providers for excursions. Ato is very good, great snorkeling (Blue Lagoon too), with lunch and is an entertaining fellow. If he passes muster with WS he'd be the person to go with. Have suggested that he approach WS, but don't know if he's followed through. Also encouraged a few that we like in BB and Moorea to contact WS. We've done BB, Moorea, Rangiroa, Raiatea Huahine with independents. Happy to share names if it works out that they are WS preferreds. All very small group snorkel trips.

 

I forgot about Rangiroa- as I say have only done with independents but WS tours are sure to be equal. Don't miss the Aquarium- water clarity is exquisite. And the drift snorkel is fun too, even though WS lists it as strenuous. There is always a boat standing by should anyone have a problem. All you do is adjust your mask, jump and hang onto a float behind the person in front of you and watch fish, especially hammerheads. Amazing.

 

 

Great input, we will go with the deep water snorkel unless Ato is available. We can handle strenuous, and we would get bored with the Blue Lagoon also.  I may reach out to Ato, as well, and encourage him to approach Windstar.

 

We loved Pure Snorkeling on Bora Bora  and will look to do a similar excursion with Windstar. 

 

Does Windstar use Patrick on Bora Bora?  If so, we will also do his excursion on our other day there. We previously did a smaller tour, similar to Patrick's, on our previous trip.

 

And, we will do Windstar's Aquarium tour on Rangiroa.  

 

We would love to be able to get off the ship in Raitea and have lunch at the restaurant that the couple that used to be at Vahine private island resort and now have their own restaurant on Raitea.  He is one of the best chefs we have ever experienced.  I know he has a restaurant now on Raitea as I play pickleball with a neighbor that has a second home on Raitea and knows them very well.  However, I know that we probably can't do that unless the protocols change.

 

Possibly do a river excursion on Raitea?

 

We are not looking for Pearl stops or Vanilla as we have already experienced that with Marc for Pearls on his tour on Huahine,  and we did a private excursion to Tahaa when we were on Vahine to go to the vanilla plantation.

 

Thanks again for your advice, all is welcome!

 

Doug

 

 

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Have had 3 Tahiti cruises planned since COVID hit- playing it safe and not planning again until 8/2022 and again 4/2023. We are Tahiti-ophiles 🙂 Almost all of these recommendations are only if WS allows private tour companies when you cruise.

 

We've also done Pure Snorkeling BB. H2O BB is smaller even better, but who knows if the small operators will survive. Patrick's is good and it seems everyone loves it. We thought it was a little hokey. Tohora Bora Bora we love- again some deep water snorkeling. We saw whales, manta, eagle rays, and the usual.

 

I know two people who did the WS river excursion in Raiatea- it would still interest me but these people said "meh". If you were going to do jetskiing anywhere it's Raiatea (dolphins nearly jumping over us). Jet Raiatea.

 

Knew we'd intensely dislike the pearl and vanilla trips like you, and we did, When doing Tahaa from Raiatea. Again one private operator in Huahine is Tahiti Voile- all day small sailing boat with entertaining couple and snorkeling. Doubt they are big enough to get WS attention. I've heard good things about both the WS snorkel and picnic on Huahine,  but doesn't interest us as better snorkeling in BB and there's already a picnic lunch on Motu Mahaea.  We like a car to explore and the beach package at Hotel Le Mahana.

 

Another independent tour in Moorea is Mermaid Moorea, $$$$ but small, 4 passengers. Wonderful. Dr. Pooles whale watch is worthwhile if WS is offering.  Moorea Moana does shark and whale tours and it's fantastic.

 

There you go. We've not done many WS tours, but it might be worth your while to keep these others as a backup. Hope the little guys survive 😞

 

 

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OK, I may have to look at Jet skiing in Raitea.  Last trip we took a full jet ski tour around Moorea and while we liked it, the young guy guide went full out almost the entire trip.   It was too much, we were with 3 other couples,younger, that seemed to enjoy the speed. We would have enjoyed a more leisurely

trip with some speed but not for the entire time. 

 

And, I know Patrick's tour sounds somewhat hokey, but if offered I think we would take it for a change of pace.  Windstar is offering a tour for 6 hours that sounds similar to Patrick's.

 

We did enjoy a private tour of a Vanilla plantation with the owner that Vahine arranged. But, once is enough.  And, once was definitely enough for the Pearl visit, where we saw everything and then the entire boat waited on a couple for a good 20 to 30 minutes while they bought pearls. Eating in to our time to do other parts of the tour.

 

Dr. Poole is a great suggestion, not sure Windstar offers him.

 

And, if things open up and Windstar relaxes its protocols, we will definitely be booking independent.

 

Doug

 

 

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We may have had the same outfit jetskiing in Moorea!

It's very sad that these independents may just not survive without PG and WS onboard.

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46 minutes ago, doug52 said:

Dr. Poole is a great suggestion, not sure Windstar offers him.

 

 

Dr. Poole was offered as an excursion on both of my cancelled cruises, September 2020 (Whale Watching) and May 2021 (Dolphin Eco Excursion), so it's likely he's under contract with Windstar.

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2 hours ago, Zukini said:

 

Dr. Poole was offered as an excursion on both of my cancelled cruises, September 2020 (Whale Watching) and May 2021 (Dolphin Eco Excursion), so it's likely he's under contract with Windstar.

Yes, I just checked and Dr Poole is offered on our stop in Moorea.   Since we have already  done a jet ski tour there and a fantastic atv tour of the island, this may be our best alternative for Moorea. 

 

Thanks,

 

Doug

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