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“Our second time with Bruno & L'Excursion Bleue, and absolutely recommended”

L' Excursion Bleue Day Tours
Ranked #3 of 18 things to do in Raiatea
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed February 12, 2014

On our last trip to French Polynesia (Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, Taha'a, Huahine), my wife Nicole fell in love with the Coral Garden on Taha'a - calling it her favorite place to snorkel. On that occasion, we took a group tour with Bruno and L' Excursion Bleue. That tour included visits to a Black Pearl Farm, Coconut and Vanilla Plantation, Motu for lunch, snorkeling and look at captive fish, and then the Coral Garden. We enjoyed it greatly, and, as noted, she recalled the Coral Garden very fondly.

So, for this year's anniversary trip, to Bora Bora, the first itinerary item was to get back to Taha'a. I chartered Tahiti Helicopter for a morning private transfer from the Four Seasons on Bora Bora to Le Taha'a Island Resort & Spa on Taha'a (a 15 min or so flight), with a return transfer late afternoon - and I booked again with our friend Bruno for a private tour (snorkeling only) on Taha'a.

WHAT TO BRING

As noted below, you need only shoes, perhaps gloves for comfort - no fins. Bring mask and snorkel. Towels and sunscreen well advised. And, bring XPF for gratuity and in case you stop for lunch at Motu Tau tau. Camera of course a good idea. We've had great luck with two generations of Olympus underwater (shock, water proof) cameras - easy to use point & shoots. One was dropped to bottom of lagoon on Huahine, 30 ft of water, recover an hour later (after lunch, then search), and worked perfectly with no data loss. Bruno will take photos (he has excellent camera and takes nice snaps) and post on Facebook, and make available to you at no cost - so either way you will have some photos.

WHAT TO EXPECT ON ARRIVAL

Bruno met us on time at the Taha'a Resort dock (where were taken after landing at hotel's helipad). Bruno has the same boat - a twenty foot or so long outrigger with an outboard, and with an awning that runs the length of boat (excellent to prevent sunburn, as with a Biminy top). Bruno can also pick you up just about anywhere on Raiatea and Taha’a, including airport, marinas, pensions, hotels. If flying over from another island, you could be picked up at either airport, or at the helipad at Le Taha'a Island Resort & Spa. You need only ensure you notify the hotel - they can pass the surcharge on to your origin hotel. The boat is not fancy, posh, new outboard - but quite fun and suitable for anything you might do here. Bruno is a very affable and relaxed host and a gentleman - exactly the reason we re-booked.

BEFORE THE TOUR

We sat with a great family at Motu tau tau (immediate adjacent to Coral Garden), and they served us coconut bread, banana dumplings, fish bigne, poisson cru, rice, clams - all traditionally prepared and excellent. And, they sang songs (father and mother, with father playing ukelele), which was excellent and very fun. We'll post video when we get a chance - for now see pics on review our through our TA profile.

THE TOUR

As noted, last time round, we did several activities - I believe the normal day tour. It included Black Pearl Farm, Coconut and Vanilla Plantation, Motu for lunch, snorkeling and look at captive fish, and then the Coral Garden. Each stop before the Coral garden was approx an hour - with some travel between, as some are on Raiatea, some on motu's, some on Taha'a. It's relaxed motoring across lagoon, with nice scenery - both landscape, sea / lagoon, and the small towns. The highlight for us last time was the Coral Garden on Taha'a, and this is what we focused on this time.

TAHA'A CORAL GARDEN

The Coral Garden is immediately adjacent to the Taha'a Resort. It is a small channel between two motu (Motu Tautau where the hotel sits and a small adjacent motu). The channel feeds in from the sea into the lagoon. It is perhaps 100 to 200 ft across, much less at narrowest near sea. The water is extremely calm, warm, with a barely detectable current. You can stand in the channel at any point on sand between the coral. In the distance you can easily see Bora Bora's Mt Otemanu across the sea - an amazing site (one of the great aspects on this locale - I love this view).

While shallow, to navigate either the broad "highway" down the side of the channel that most other tours take with large groups, and especially if you want to navigate down the center, you really should have a guide. The garden is filled with fish - many species, varieties. While you might see a small barracuda or reef shark (rarely), no predators to speak of. Some urchins, much coral - but with a guide quite manageable - he'll make it easy for you.

In the center you drift and stop whenever you'd like. Sometimes you are only a couple inches over the coral as you drift. Amazing. You do not need and should not wear fins. They are unnecessary, would be a tremendous inconvenience (e.g., trying to stand, maneuver), can harm the coral, and the flapping will just scare the fish. We observed a large group going down the "highway" (the broad, not at all as nice passage at edge of channel) all wearing fins, and they made quite a racket. So, get some shoes. We have used Henderson Gold Core low rise tropic weight shoes have been favorite for years and they are pretty much impervious to coral (even the exposed jagged coral along the coast / reef line), urchins, etc. Get a pair of gloves - not always needed, but will make you more comfortable and confident - and would prevent a nasty reaction should you hit fire coral. Drift along, quitely, and be impressed. We ran into some Aussies on Bora Bora who stated better than, ahemm, the GBR - dunno, but sure is nice and our favorite.

Bruno will let you feed fish - they're quite habituated, and will gather quickly as soon as it appears. Very fun to have them pouring in a trying to grab a morsel of bread, banana. If you do private, you can really take your time and take an hour or more. Either way, a blast, and our favorite spot to snorkel.

Afterwards, Bruno returned us Le Taha'a Island Resort & Spa dock, and they took us by electric cart back to the helipad for our return flight to Four Seasons Bora Bora.

THE PRACTICALITIES

Bruno is always easy and laid back - so setting up was no trouble. We contacted the helicopter company and Bruno at same time. For Bruno, we set date, and then paid 1/2 in advance via PayPal - very easy. I paid remainder and gratuity on the day of the tour. The pricing was 56000 XPF for private tour (just my wife Nicole and I) - from 830a to 430p. So well priced.

THE VERDICT

Our second time with Bruno, so clearly, we enjoy our time with him :) Absolutely recommended.

2  Thank Dave_from_MN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"vanilla farm"
in 49 reviews
"drift snorkel"
in 21 reviews
"pearl farm"
in 55 reviews
"coral gardens"
in 28 reviews
"cruise ship"
in 20 reviews
"french polynesia"
in 21 reviews
"sharks and rays"
in 11 reviews
"fish"
in 34 reviews
"inexperienced snorkelers"
in 4 reviews
"first stop"
in 9 reviews
"local lunch"
in 3 reviews
"rice"
in 7 reviews
"delicious lunch"
in 5 reviews
"local home"
in 2 reviews
"beyond belief"
in 2 reviews
"an excursion"
in 5 reviews
"rough water"
in 2 reviews
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116 - 120 of 311 reviews

Reviewed February 8, 2014

My wife and I and another couple had booked a French Polynesian cruise and were looking for some new and adventuresome experiences that did not include taking a shore excursion with the cruise line. I saw this tor on Trip Advisor and sent an email to Bruno to see about booking him for the day. He was fully booked and said he would see if he could find another boat and send me an email if he found one.
I was pleasantly surprised when about 2 weeks before we departed on our trip I received an email from Bruno confirming us on the date I had requested. The excursion was just as we had hoped after reading other reviews here. We snorkeled, visited both a pearl farm and a vanilla farm. Had lunch on a private motu and more than got our money's worth. I would strongly recommend this trip to anyone wanting to experience as much as possible in a reasonably short period of time.

2  Thank JR0327
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 16, 2014

What a great day we had with this excursion. Arranged online, disembarked Ocean Princess met Bruno at dock up the quay. We swam with the rays,visited a pearl farm and vanilla farm with which Bruno explained how they are harvested. Next a delicious motu lunch and then drift snorkeling. There were 2 paths/guides to follow. I took the easier path and found it very easy. Wish I took the underwater camera..some were able to do the run twice. Just hope the coral is there if I ever return,with the tourists bouncing off the formations to avoid collision.
Our trip had 3 hyper excited kids that screamed way too much too long and parents that obviously were deaf to it. Shame. Would do it again in a heartbeat.

1  Thank DianaFortMyers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 30, 2013

Bruno was excellent. He was very laid back and he nevered rushed the day. From the Vanila Plantations (not a gift shop) to a Pearl Farm to swimming with Sharks and rays . But that's not all. We had great lunch on a motu overlooking the Coral Gardens. This tour was well worth it. It started at around 8am and ended around 4:30 or so. We circled the island of Tahaa making the various stops along the way. The highlight of the day was the drift snorkel through the Coral Gardens. No one got hurt as we all listened to Bruno. While we ate lunch overlooking the Coral Gardens I observed that all the other tour groups did the end of the Gardens and did not start at the beginning where it was most spectacular. Bruno walked us up to the start of the Gardens and we slowly drifted behind him as he led up through. We were not rushed and it took us about an hour to drift through. It was soo beautiful Everybody listened to Bruno and nobody got hurt. We would do the day all over if we went back. Thank you Bruno

3  Thank trderdave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 1, 2013

Amazing all-day, all inclusive tour that was a fabulous experience. Visited a black pearl farm and a vanilla farm, with opportunities to purchase at both, but not pressure sales at all. Amazing snorkeling, then a picnic lunch served on a small motu with relaxing seating areas/small open-air huts with beds. Guides were friendly, informative and helpful with suggestions. We decided not to do the drift snorkeling after seeing those before us come out pretty scraped up, but no one who went with our group was injured at all. Everything was well-run and organized - highly recommend this activity.

2  Thank Margaret C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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