Saturday - December 19


Woke up to rain in the morning. Packed, found some cool mother of pearl shells (to be used as appetizer plates) and headed to the airport around 10 for our 11:20 flight to Fakarava. Tiny little airport, bit of chaos getting bags. Shuttle took us to Havaiki Lodge, a small pension with 15 rooms right on the lagoon. It was their first day open for the (short) winter season. First room’s air conditioning wasn’t working, switched two rooms over. During lunch a woman from Top Dive came to check in with us. Worked with Marvin from Havaiki to set up a trip to the south pass for the following day. Met Ben & Virginie a French couple on their honeymoon, ended up having dinner with them, very fun!

          Sunday - December 20


          Had breakfast at 6:30, then brought out our gear for a 7:45 pickup to the south pass. Small boat with 10 passengers, took us across the lagoon on a 90 minutes ride. Met Nicki, the dive master from Top Dive who took us outside the pass. Did a drift into the pass, saw hundreds and hundreds of reef sharks all over the place, really amazing! Between dives we went back to shore and had a barbecue lunch wth lobster and mahi mahi. Flew the drone a bit, got some great ariel shots. Second dive was just us and a couple from New Caledonia. Current had switched, not as clear, but still lots of sharks, very animated in the strong current. Had a 90 minute boat ride back, then went in to the bar to look at all of the footage from the day. Had dinner with Ben & Virginie again, tasty fish meal. Then off to bed, thankful for the A/C in the room.

                          Monday - December 21


                          After breakfast we were picked up by Top Dive and taken to their dive center about 3 minutes away. Saw Brad & Karen who dove with us for both dives. Dive master was Marcel. Took us over to the north pass, the widest pass in French Polynesia. Current was incoming, fairly strong. Saw lots of sharks at the entrance to the pass. Drifted to Alibaba Canyon in the middle of the pass. Staying down in the canyon the current went over our heads, lots of fish had the same idea and were in the canyon with us. Anchored outside the pass for the surface interval, flew the drone. Second dive was similar to the first, current was a bit stronger. Saw a cave with a bunch of white tip sharks sleeping. Back at Havaiki we had lunch and then took a nap. Made a movie of Fakarava. Found out our flight the next day had been moved 7 hours later, investigated options, there weren’t any. Hung out with Ben & Virginie and the couple from New Caledonia who had come in that afternoon. Had dinner with all of them, then headed to bed.

                                          Tuesday - December 22


                                          Got up early, got all packed up, then relaxed in the room reading.  Drove down to Top Dive to give them a copy of the movie. Had lunch in the beach bar, then went into the water and cooled off for a while with B&V.  At 3:30 we said goodbye to B&V and headed to the airport. Flight was 30 minutes late. By the time we got to Papeete it was 7pm. Had a 5 minute shuttle to the Intercontinental. After spending an hour having dinner, we only spent about 10 minutes in the room before heading back to the main lobby for better wifi before going back to the airport at 9:40. Checked in and got through security very quickly. Hung out in the lounge for an hour before boarding our Air Tahiti Nui flight back to LAX. Went to sleep quickly after takeoff.

                                                        Wednesday - December 23


                                                        Arrived at LAX around 10am, got through immigration and customs quickly (yay for Global Entry!). Switched terminals, got our boarding passes, headed to the lounge. Then boarded our flight to Seattle for the next phase of our trip!