The islands of Raiatea and Taha’a (Ta-ha-ah) share the same outer atoll reef so we could sail between the two islands inside the lagoon. We headed up to Taha’a and took a free mooring at the Hibiscus hotel. More a restuarant/bar than a hotel. We had a nice dinner of mahi-mahi and poisson cru (fish in lime and coconut milk) and setup a tour of a local vanilla farm the next day. This is Teva, the owner of the vanilla farm and tour guide showing us his total involvement with the vanilla bean.
We hiked out from Teva’s house on the water up a trail through the valley to his green houses. On the way we passed these fighting cocks. No really legal in French Polynesia, but Taha’a doesn’t have many gendarmes, aka real police.
The beans are organically grown in a screened in green house. The screens keep the bugs out and the plants in shade. The beans do not take a lot of labor to grow, but the process of hand fertilizing the flowers (they’re orchids) and picking the beans time consuming.
This is the vanilla beans in various levels of dryness. They are taken out for a few hours a day in the sun to dry and then covered and brought back inside to control the drying process speed. This is Teva’s wife, Linda. The smell is wonderful.
We went here so we could try snorkeling the ‘Coral Gardens’. This is a shallow cut that you park the dinghy on the inside of, hike out along a trail on the small island and launch yourself into the shallow cuts current. In the center it is about 3 feet deep with the sides being really shallow.
We don’t usually do this, but as this was a spot where tons of tours go through – we joined in with the crowd and brought old baguettes in a plastic bag with holes in it. It drew a mob of very tame butterfly fish.