We reached Rangiroa early in the morning. It’s our first visit to a low-lying coral atoll, and this one is the largest in French Polynesia. The captain lined our ship up for an entrance into the lagoon through Tiputa Pass, which is known for its bow-riding dolphins. We waited on deck hoping they would come, and before long we saw them swim towards us: five bottlenose dolphins, including a young one. Usually, they will stay with a ship through the pass, but today this group stayed on our bow well into the lagoon. We think they must have enjoyed the ride in front of our X-bow.

Even inside the lagoon, conditions were too rough for our planned excursion ashore, so we stayed on board to enjoy the view and to share two presentations. Jennifer Kingsley gave us an in-depth history of Makatea, the phosphate island we visited yesterday, and Susan Seubert shared her journey on the road to becoming a National Geographic photographer.

By afternoon, conditions had settled enough for us to visit Rangiroa’s well-known snorkelling spot, the Aquarium. It consists of shallow coral beds near the pass, with plenty of food to attract thousands of fish. Without going far, swimmers are surrounded by reef fish of all sizes, and even the odd reef shark.

Our trip out of the pass was very fast as we rode an outgoing tide. The dolphins visited us again while the sun went down above the coconut palms.

Then we turned the vessel to provide some protection from the wind and good conditions for a barbecue on deck. We’re fortunate to bring this ship into tropical waters for her first time, and we take advantage of the warmth and the outer decks every chance we get.

Cheers, everyone!