Tahiti has no shortage of beauty, beaches, or ways to find relaxation, but what surprises many Windstar travelers is the plethora of unique activities to engage in while sailing in the region.
One of Windstar’s most popular shore excursions on the Dreams of Tahiti itinerary involves an incredibly special experience: harvesting your own Tahitian black pearl.
Guests are transported from the yacht on the island of Raiatea to a local boat wharf, where they are taken by skiff to an over-water reef house. Our group was met with cold Hinano (local) beer and fresh slices of coconut, to further herald our arrival to this outpost of stunning, 360 degree beauty. Our guide, Summer Rotu, a San Diego native who manages Anapa Pearl Farm, then gave us a lesson in how pearls are farmed, what goes in to creating such lovely and unique jewelry, and how the cultivation of black pearls is a major part of the economy in French Polynesia.
Summer then outfitted our small group with snorkel equipment, and we were set loose to explore the underground workings of a pearl farm. The reef was alive with incredible fish and coral, and the strings of oysters harvesting the precious pearls hung throughout the shallow-to-deep-ocean around us. Summer then announced the most exciting game of “hide and seek” we’d ever played: she’d hidden four oysters, all which might contain a black pearl, around the reef house. We dove, splashed, and delighted in finding our oysters, eager to see what was inside.
The pearl grafter (who works to inseminate oysters and harvest their pearls) then opened our treasures, and we were all delighted at what we found. Our pearls were beautiful, many quite large and unique in their coloring with the rarest of “bronzes” eliciting many oooh’s and aaah’s.
Following the “unveiling,” we were also shown how the pearl grafter works to carefully extract the pearls and continue the insemination/growth process for future generations.
Following our treasure-filled time at the reef house, we boarded the skiff again, this time taken out towards the reef where we watched black-tipped sharks feeding. The sunset was approaching, so our boat turned back to the shore as we marveled at our spectacular day and the luminescent souvenirs that would remind us of the moment forever.