Wednesday - December 9


Limo picked us up at 4:30pm for our 6:45 flight down to LA. Checked in at SFO, hung out in the AMEX Centurion lounge. Had a one hour flight down to LAX (uck!), reclaimed our bags, changed terminals, checked in with Air Tahiti Nui. Made our way (slowly) through the mess that is the international terminal at LAX. Once inside, something in the air made Rick’s nose all itchy and runny… the whole terminal smelled like a giant Glade air freshener. We had a bit of sushi and some cocktails, then headed to the gate for our flight on an A340 to Papeete. Had plenty of room to spread out in business, slept most of the 8 and a half hour flight.

          Thursday - December 10


          Hung out in the airport on Tahiti for about 3 hours, then boarded an ATR-72. Made two stops, then landed in Tikehau, a small motu island in the Tuamotu Islands. The population of the island is about 500 and there is one resort on the island. We took a small boat to the Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort and were greeted on the dock. Walked out to our room, an overwater bungalow facing the direction of sunset. Had a snack in the restaurant, then headed back to the room where Rick waded in the water and Randy flew the drone around a bit. At dusk we went down for a cocktail overlooking the water, then had dinner in the main open air dining room.

                          Friday - December 11


                          Woke up early as soon as the sun came up. Had breakfast, then took our dive gear down to the dock. A boat from Tikehau Plongée arrived to pick us up, then took us to the main village dock to pick up two more divers and Françoise, “the boss”. Headed out to the pass, which is the main break in the motu where the water rushes in and out with the tides. Did our first dive at Old Shark. Had a very nice dive with lots of schools of fish. During our surface interval Randy flew the drone and got some great shots of the breaking surf. Second dive was on the other side of the pass, another great dive. After a 30 minute ride we were back at the hotel. Had lunch in the restaurant, met a Swiss couple that we’d dive with later in the trip, then took a nap. Lounged in the room, fell asleep on our deck watching a rain storm move in, the had sunset and dinner up by the pool. Off to bed by 9.

                                        Saturday - December 12


                                        Up early again (we’re on tropical vacation time), breakfast at 7, then out to go diving at 8, today we were the only divers! Took some ariel video of the boat leaving. First stop was an abandoned black pearl farm where we dove at a manta cleaning station. Had two mantas that hung around for a solid half an hour, much fun! Then we boated over to the pass and did another dive with giant schools of fish all around. Back at the hotel we had lunch, napped, then hung out in the main pool for a while, very relaxing. Had cocktails at sunset, then dinner in the main dining room. Early bedtime once again.

                                                        Sunday - December 13


                                                        Another early breakfast, we’ve been the first ones each day, pushing the 7:30 breakfast start back to 7am. Gave Jaime a video from the air and sea that we made for them. Headed to the main dock, showed Françoise and the other dive masters their video. Had a full boat of 10 divers this morning. Headed to the manta cleaning station, unfortunately the visibility was very low and the one manta took off as soon as our large group dropped into the water. Stopped after half a dive and headed out to the pass. Finished our first tank with a nice easy dive on the reef. Flew the drone during our surface interval, then did another dive at the pass. Back at the hotel we had lunch with the Swiss couple, Mark and Suzy. They were lots of fun to talk to and had been to French Polynesia a number of times. Who knows, we may see them in SF or Lake Legano some day! :-) Took a nap, then had dinner in the restaurant. Afterwards we went back to our room, watched the sharks for a bit, then set up two lounge chairs to watch a meteor shower. Saw about 20 shooting stars over the course of 2 hours! Then off to bed.