Friday, 4 April 2014

Fakarava, Taha'a and Mo'orea

Fakarava is another atoll where we spent a lovely day at the beach. Fakarava is classified as an UNESCO biosphere reserve. My Rare One went snorkeling and saw a shark. Luckily, it was not in the mood for trouble.


The island of Taha'a is called "the vanilla island" and produces 80% of French Polynesia's vanilla crop. So of course we visited a vanilla farm to learn how it is grown. The woman in the red tank top is the very entrepreneurial farmer who gave us a funny and informative tour. Those are vanilla beans on the drying rack. Growing vanilla is incredibly labour intensive. The vanilla flowers must all be fertilized by hand with a Q-tip in the early morning hours. While drying, the vanilla beans require repeated individual massaging by hand to release the full flavour within.


The final island we visited was Mo'orea, possibly the most spectacularly beautiful of all. It is also more urban than the others and in that regard is similar to Tahiti which is only a few miles away. Look at that gorgeous water and reef!


Another harbour and valley on the island of Mo'orea:


You can see Mo'orea's typical volcanic mountains in this photo taken from a catamaran as we sailed out to a reef to snorkel.


French Polynesia is an ideal place for a quiet vacation of sun, sand, snorkeling, swimming and relaxing. I suspect Hawai'i was very much like this in the 1950s before it became more touristy and commercialized.

[Photos by Debra She Who Seeks, 2014]

36 comments:

Hindustanka said...

"SPA procedures" for vanilla are unbelievable! I do love this flavour a lot but never knew it takes somuch effort to get that flavor out of the plant! The riff looks amazing!
I am sure you've had great vacations!

Pickleope Von Pickleope said...

Why do I feel relaxed? I didn't go. But I was transported. I knew vanilla came from vanilla beans, but I've never seen a full vanilla bean. Before I read, I thought it was sardines.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i would have had to stock up on a lifetime of vanilla beans. no wonder they are so expensive! what a gorgeous place!

Snap said...

WOW! What a vacation ... warmth, sun ... vanilla beans! Beautiful.

mxtodis123 said...

Now that is paradise. How beautiful!
Mary

Laurie M said...

what a trip, I know you are both seasoned travelers, was this your favorite place to visit?I have heard others say it was theirs, the vanilla pods are so big!!! What amazing landscape,

Jeanne said...

I had read once that real vanilla/vanilla beans was labor intensive. But the flavor is wonderful!
Once again, great photos - especially the fourth one. Sounds like y'all had a relaxing, refreshing time. Thanks for sharing!

Elsie Amata said...

I'm amazed by these photos, Debra. They look like postcards - and I want to visit! I had no idea vanilla was that much work. Why is it so cheap? Oh, and snorkeling…I can't do it for some reason. I'll have to try it again and see if I've gotten more coordinated with age. haha

Elsie
AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

DEZMOND said...

loved the vanilla facts!

Linda Wildenstein said...

Wow, this is just amazingly tranquil. Happy Vacay to you.

Willow said...

This is indeed paradise ~ well minus meeting a shark while snorkeling . Gorgeous.

lgsquirrel said...

It looks great. Glad you enjoyed it and you shared it with us. Unfortunately, it is so far away from me geographically and also financially. Maybe one day.

Fundy Blue said...

Hi Debra! What beautiful photos of French Polynesia! A trip to Mo'orea and Bora Bora is so high on my list! I thought you might be on a trip, and what a trip! I'm happy for you and your Rare One! "Find the Canadian" was so funny! LOL! Have a good one!

Missy George said...

Beautiful country..Paradise..Glad you got to make the trip..I love beautiful scenery and that's it for sure..Have a fun weekend..

Leeanna said...

I'm sorry. There was more Hawaiian nose humming on my part, yes, yes there was.

That water made me wish I was back at Makaha beach in Oahu. We lived in a tiny housing area across the highway from the beach. There used to be a pineapple field on the other side of the neighborhood that we would walk through to go to school. Also, we never wore shoes to school. That's how laid back it was then. Yes Hawaii was a wonderful place in the 50's. No drug crime, and there were still houses on Honolulu beach area. Mostly rich people though. *sigh*

Anne O'Leary said...

I think we're all surprised as how much work it is to grow vanilla. The need to hand pollinate is interesting and makes me wonder how the species has survived without a natural pollinator. Lovely pictures!

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Spectacular! Did I use this word in yesterday's post? If I didn't, I should have. Because this area of the world is simply spectacular. What an amazing trip. The photos speak for themselves. And I had no idea so much work was required for vanilla. That is fascinating.

Diane Cayton-Hakey said...

This is gorgeous! I have to be honest though... when I look at some of these photos I nearly expect to see dinosaurs. Was 'Jurrasic Park' movie filmed there??

Adam said...

didn't know that about vanilla

Magic Love Crow said...

This is truly beautiful and stunning! I can't believe what they do with the vanilla! That is very labour intensive!

Jim said...

What a spectacular place to visit, Debra! And thanks so much for the 'vanilla growing' lesson, very interesting.

JACKIESUE said...

my daddy was stationed at Hickam AFB, we were there from 51-54. It really was paradise..i would take my parakeet Pete and my bike and would sneak off base and go to the beach..after about a doz times of the AP's trying to find me they told my mom it was just a waste of their time that where ever I was, I was safe and protected...and I was...can you imagine a 8 year old riding around there today and being that safe?
these pictures are incredible..wish I was there.

Vanessa Morgan said...

All those places are breathtaking.

Ms Misantropia said...

Such wonderful pictures - and huge vanilla beans!

heartinhand said...

I need the number to your travel agent...

Riot Kitty said...

Who knew vanilla was so high maintenance? Makes you wonder why "vanilla sex" is called what it is ;)

miss b said...

I now understand why vanilla pods are so expensive. Such a lengthy process. Your photos are stunning!

Dawna said...

Lovely pictures!, such a stunning place.. glad you both had a great time!!

LL Cool Joe said...

Please tell me that isn't someone taking a photo with an ipad in the first shot! Ha, no I have done that once myself but I did feel like a real twat, and it was only because my camera died on me whilst I was away.

I didn't know that about vanilla either, but then there's a lot I don't know.

Great photos!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I had no idea about vanilla. That's really interesting. These pictures are much more than gorgeous.

xoRobyn

The Happy Whisk said...

What's that green thing the one lady is holding in front of her face?

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Hi Happy Whisk -- It's an iPad. She's using it as a camera. I was surprised how many tourists I saw using their iPads in this way. It would never occur to me to do it.

Hi LL Cool Joe -- You nailed it! It seems such a cumbersome way to take photos, doesn't it?

Joy Christi said...

Gorgeous photos! And very interesting. I hope you don't mind I shared this post with my social media channels. Interesting about vanilla, now it seems we take it for granted, what using it as a synonym for "plain." I've done it myself, now I have guilt.

CraveCute said...

Marvelous photos and very interesting information about the vanilla beans. I had no idea that they were hand pollinated.

Cheryl said...

Your photos are amazing. I have never given any thought to where vanilla comes from. That was really interesting. It all looks so lovely.

Frostbite and Sunburn said...

I am so late in catching up on your blog Debra, but my god, what a wonderful series of photos - it looks incredible and is probably not somewhere I had seriously considered visiting much before. I am re-considering!

Looks like you had an amazing experience.