Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Moorea, French Polynesia

After stoppping over in Papeete, Tahiti, we took a ferry to Moorea, an island that gives me a small town feel all over. We got there on a Sunday and stayed for 3 days. Of course, most stores and restaurants were closed on the days that we were there.
We had rented a car for a day to circle the island (51 square miles). We went to a plantation at the agriculture school (Lycee Agricole). They give you a map and a pamphlet indicating the different plants and trees that you might encounter along the way. The map shows markers indicating locations of the trees/plants and the pamphlet lists the descriptions of the different flora and fauna in the plantation. You can find various tropical fruits like pineapples, papayas, mangoes, avocadoes, grapefruits, citrus, and flowers like hibiscus, bananatree flowers, tiares, etc. We got confused with the map and pamphlet since some of the markers were missing and some were randomly marked like marker 34 sits between 32 and 33. Go figure.
Anyway, it reminds me a lot of my grandpa's country place on a smaller scale especially with the free roaming roosters, chicks and hens. But, I think that's not the reason that we stopped at the plantation as it wasn't originally in my plan. We actually met a very nice guy, Richard, who took us up the trail above Belvedere Lookout, explaining to us the different plants along the way like the banyan trees, ferns and young ginger. It was worth the 10 minutes hike up the trail as the view was stunning.

                                Mt. Mouarua or "shark tooth" from Belvedere lookout
                                     Opunohu bay, Mt. Rotui, Cook's Bay
  
                                        Banyan trees on the trail above Belvedere Lookout

Next, came the idyllic Cook's Bay. It was delightful to be there at noon as the sun is at it highest point, thus rendering the water many different shades of blue. Loved the sand on the white beach as it was supersoft and clean.

                            
Idyllic Cook's Bay


Cook's Bay 
 Having seen Cook's Bay, we decided to have a picnic at a scenic spot along the coastal way. We dropped in at a local supermarket for ham and cheese sandwiches, fruit juices and snack. Costs us about $15 usd. We also bought a papaya, pineapple and coconut from a road side stall for 500 francs (about $6 usd). Cheapest lunch we had for the whole trip. Drove for another 10 minutes and we came upon the mesmerizing Toatea Viewpoint. Couldn't get enough of the turquoise water with the view of Temae Beach in the forefront and Tahiti island in the background. Perfect spot for a picnic with the best view ever.

                                                    Shades of blue, Toatea viewpoint

Sofitel resort from Toatea viewpoint

Tahiti island viewed from Toatea Viewpoint
 After lunch, we popped in at the Tiki Village hoping to do some look around. Unfortunately, they were closed for the day. A lady there told us to come back later in the evening for their dinner and show but we were just not up to it. We decided to drive further to see if we can find a spot for fishing since we had brought along our own fishing rods. We saw some locals swimming in the water where there were lots of small fishes. My kids tried for 30 minutes but no luck. Heading on to Le Petit Village, a small shopping center with internet cafe and gas station, we stopped by a boutique looking to buy powder blush (I forgot to bring mine on the trip) but instead, bought a pack of  fresh Tahitian vanilla beans. I have no idea how long the vanilla beans had been there but it smelled good. The gas station is the last stop for us to fill up the tank before returning the rental car at the resort.
We had stayed at a premium beach bungalow at the Intercontinental Moorea. Having a patio to hang out, take a nap, enjoy the sunsets and look at the stars in the sky plus your own beach access to the water make for a wonderful stay. Nice beach with calm water makes it a great playground for the kids. They were in the water every day to swim, kayak, snorkel, looking for fishes with their underwater camera and just being silly kids. My son didn't think that any place could beat this resort as we were leaving. But, Bora Bora proved him wrong. That's another post.  Enjoy Moorea's sunsets.

                                                  Beach in front of our bungalow                  

                                                               
Bird enjoying the sunset

 Sunset view from bungalow



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