Day 17

We had a wonderful day in Rangiroa. We tendered to the island at about 10 AM and our first excursion wasn’t until 12:30. We had a lot of time to walk around, explore, discover some beautiful beaches, and check out the local crafts. Rangiroa is one of the largest atolls in the world, an atoll being an island formed by a ring-shaped coral reef encircling a lagoon of water. About 3000 people live here on the two northern islands. Everyone here speaks French, but many also speak English.

Our glass-bottomed boat guide spoke excellent English and explained the many types of fish we were seeing. The large glass panels in the bottom of the ship made for great viewing of the reefs and their inhabitants. We saw parrot fish, butterfly fish, snapper, sturgeon, moray eels, and black and white-tipped sharks. Another crew member dove under the boat and held food to attract fish to the windows. We also got to feed the fish and watch them jump next to us. They were so colorful!

These particular sharks, although quite large, apparently do not bother people and it is safe to swim with them. This was reassuring, since we were going snorkeling here later on.

Our guide also wove a basket out of palm fronds in about 15 minutes. It was pretty and she ended up giving it to me. I felt really special.

All of us were impressed with the variety and number of fish we saw. The many varieties of coral were the most we had ever seen in one location.

Shortly after we returned to the pier, we left for our snorkeling excursion. We returned to the same beautiful area, Motu Nui Nui, a natural, open-water aquarium known for its marine life. After a safety briefing and distribution of masks and snorkels, we jumped into the refreshing, warm water with about 15 other guests. Two guides were in the water at all times, making sure we were not having trouble. Noodles were provided for buoyancy if desired (I took one, Mac did not). The lagoon was very calm, and we got to see many of the same fish, including sharks and eels, at close-up range. The black-tip sharks just swam by at the bottom. Mac counted six in the group that stayed in the area. You have to see it to believe it.

We just floated around with our heads in the water, admiring this section of paradise. Anyone could snorkel here-it was so calm and beautiful. Before we knew it, our hour was up and we returned to the boat, climbed up a ladder, and then returned to the pier. We took the next tender back to the Navigator. For those who are not familiar with tendering, many ports like this one do not have dock space to berth a large cruise ship. The cruise ship anchors a short way from shore, lowers some of its life boats, and shuttles guests back and forth to the port, until about a half hour before the ship is scheduled to depart. The last tender today was at 4:30, but we were back onboard by 3:30 and got to have a late, small lunch. It would not hurt us if we were to miss a meal. We are very well fed.

Mac went up to the bow to watch our departure from the lagoon through a narrow sea passage in the atoll into the ocean.

Dinner is any time between 6:30 and 9:30. We usually go around 7. Tonight, my choice on the menu is prime rib along with many other choices. Later, we were entertained again by international musical theater star, Michael Falzone, and the always great Seven Sea Signature Orchestra. On the closing song, his wife, Janet Cho, came out to play her lively electric violin to his rendition of “Doing It My Way.” It was a rousing close to the night. We will miss them since they are departing tomorrow in Tahiti and three new acts are coming onboard.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac

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