Tag Archives | Tahiti

Astonishing Night Photography from Tahiti (the Brilliant Milky Way)

The Milkyway like I've Never Seen It Before

Look at the Milky Way!  I have never seen this Milk Way like this before.  This photo was taken on the island of Moorea in French Polynesians.  Far out into the Pacific Ocean with little air and light pollution, the stars are amazing.  The Milky Way was astonishing, but when I photographed it on a long exposure, it showed up in brilliant hues of blue and purple.  I always thought that due to our atmosphere, the stars could only be photography in color from outer space.  Apparently not.  I took this photo on a bridge that had a small light and provided just enough light to illuminate the palm tree, which I think gives the sky some perspective and color contrast.  (Click the photo to see a larger image.)

Overwater Huts

French Polynesia is famous for its overwater bungalows.  I love the way this bungalow glowed at night, lighting up the water below.  Note the stars and skyline.  (Click on the photo to see it closer.)

Lagoon and the Stars

The lagoon near our room.

Lagoon

Another perspective on the lagoon at night.  The water was incredibly still.

Looking up the Milkyway

Lisa and I taking in the Milky Way.

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Vanilla is the New Chocolate (A Lesson from Tahiti)

Let’s be honest, vanilla get’s a bad rap.  When something is plain, we scorn it with the phrase, “That’s so vanilla!”  Or, if you choose vanilla ice cream in mixed company, they inquisition, “Don’t you want something more exciting??”  Alas, vanilla has always been held back by its seemingly wild counterpart: chocolate.  This shall be no longer.

Vanilla Bean

On our second day in Tahiti, Lisa and I toured a farm that grows vanilla.  Previously unknown to me, Tahiti is one of the largest exporters of vanilla.  And, many argue, Tahitian Vanilla is the best.

Vanilla is a bean that grows on a variety of orchids—an exotic, beautiful plant, and highly prized plant.  Tahitian vanilla was the crossed with another variety of orchid, making it even more exclusive.  The vanilla plant takes 2-3 years to mature.  Pollination then must be done by hand.  The plant then grows for 9 months, at which point the vanilla bean can be harvested.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, it’s been harvested, we can go crazy with vanilla—but no!  You’ve still got another 2 months for the vanilla to dry.  The drying process is not so easy either—the water content needs to be exactly 4% to get it right.  Finally, after years of patience and months of diligent labor, you’ve got vanilla.

Frozen Yogurt Run

Unfortunately, I don’t know much about the cocoa harvesting and the chocolate process.  But, I would venture to guess it is not nearly as labor intensive as vanilla.  Vanilla, I might add, is so exotic that most of what vanilla we consume at home is artificial.

Vanilla fans unite!  Next time you get to choose a flavor, go wild with the most exotic of options: vanilla.  Vanilla is the new chocolate.

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Leaping into Shark Infested Waters

Post Shark Dive off Moorea

Our boat slowed to an idle speed.  We mere meters outside the reef surrounding Moorea, one of French Polynesia’s most famous islands and a short hop from Tahiti.  The boat driver hooked us onto a mooring buoy and we readied our scuba diving equipment.  Airflow, check.  Mask defogged, check.  Fins on, check.  I followed Lisa as we waddled to the edge of the boat with heavy dive gear and awkward fins.

“Oh my!” Lisa exclaimed.  She froze on the edge.  Half-a-dozen sharks now surrounded our boat.  Their dorsal fins pierced the surface of the water—the kind of horrific image you never want to see.  Nonetheless, these sharks were why we came to this spot.

“You go first,” Lisa told me.  We both stood on the edge, with shark-infested waters below.  Nearly simultaneously, we leapt.  With a giant step, we plunged into the water.

Lisa Diving

Descending quickly to the bottom, our shark friends displayed mere curiousity, not aggression.  And, at the bottom, they grew in number.  Throughout our 45-minute dive they paralleled our swim, sometimes crisscrossing our path, occasionally coming within what seemed like arms length.

These blacktip reef sharks numbered, at times, a dozen.  Yet, the real treat, for what this spot is known, was the more elusive lemon shark.  On three occasions, this large shark—longer than eight feet and thick—lumbered through our path.  These giants were a sight to behold—and respect.

Below the water, we felt no fear with the sharks.  As one lemon shark passed, its symbiotic sucker fish (the ones swim under the shark and clean its gills) parted company and swam toward me, presumably looking for a new partner.  I poked it and it made a hasty flight—straight toward Lisa.  She screamed through her regulator as the fish narrowly avoided a collision.

Even among the sharks, the most frightening of creatures can be the least dangerous.

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We Are Off to Tahiti!

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We are at the airport and off to Tahiti and Bora Bora in the French Polynesian Islands! I was able to keep the destination secret all the way until the airport. Even in the photo above, Lisa still doesn’t know… She had to walk all the way to the gate looking at the ground and I had her pose by the Air Tahiti sign before she could turn around and look.

When Lisa and I started thinking about this, Tahiti was our top dream destination. I subsequently convinced her that it wasn’t going to happen because flights were unavailable. So, it was a great surprise!!

We are so excited for our time there and will try to update the blog. I told Lisa that she had to get her SCUBA diving license before we left, and for good reason! Tahiti has some of the worlds best diving. I have no doubt Tahiti will give us some great adventures!!

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