Moorea is twice as old as Tahiti and was once home to a 3300m high volcano. It is 17km from Tahiti to Moorea or 8 min by plane. Its several mountains are up to 1207m high and the island road is 60km in length. Take a bike and see thatched roof fares with bamboo walls, little shacks and lovely villas with stone walls. Moorea’s clear lagoon is perfect to see the underwater world, swimming, kayaking, kiteboarding and scuba-diving. Even budget-travelers can find reasonably priced accommodation here.
I come to Moorea with Air Tahiti. It is my first stop out of three. I bought a Bora-Bora Airpass for 33200 CFP valid for 5 Islands. Due to my schedule and budget I go to three islands only. Tahiti-Moorea-Huahine-BoraBora-Tahiti. That is enough in 11 nights. Everything else is mad, I guess. I am a traveller and no tourist. If you stay a bit longer don’t miss out on Maupiti. It is a little Bora-Bora with a huge lagoon and almost no tourism. The residents of Maupiti voted recently against the settling of a first luxury hotel.
My 24 hour journey from Vancouver ended in Moorea after three flights in a row. One week ago I have been snowboarding in Whistler, now I am on Moorea. What a contrast. It feels very good to be here. Its not too hot and the humidity alright. Albert tours picks me up from the airport and drives me along the whole northcoast. Some other guests are with me in the van, arguing in Spanish. They will be soon dropped off at the Sheraton and in four days I should see them again, way more relaxed. The road to Hauru Point is very nice. The lagoon is to the right and mountains covered in lush rainforest to the left.
The van is winding along Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay and finally we arrive at Camping Nelson. Here I opt for Fare Toro (Hut) which is around 20m from the sea. The price is 4300 for one or 5500 CFP for two. This is pretty good value, sunset views and a nice beach included. The lagoon is practically at my doorstep and I go snorkelling straight away. This is the first time I can use my snorkel-equipment now in eleven months. The campground has 2-bed dormitories, rooms and 4 Fares, one right at the beach.
I snorkel between the ex Club-Med, which has been closed in 2000, and two offshore motus (small islands). First fish that comes in sight are five large stingrays right below me. The view is around 20m and the water amazingly clear. Make sure to take your Flippers here as there is current. In the channel between the motus I could see the diving school’s stingray-feeding and I think snorkelling is best here as there are lots of fish.
A supermarket is located next to the campground. After my snorkel-trip I walked along the beach and waded through the shallows until I could see kiteboarders. They are starting next to the Hotel Les Tipaniers (this looks excellent and has a prime location). The wind blew with about 20 knots sideshore from the East. There was no wind the next days. If you go upwind the good looking reefbreak in the Toa-tao pass is accessible.
After a bit of relaxation and more snorkelling I decide to rent a bike as I want to see a bit of the island. First I go to Hotel Hibiscus as it is close by but they want my credit-card as a deposit and charge 1900 CFP per day, which is way too much anyway. The lady behind the desk was quite arrogant. I go a bot further and where all the shops are I find a bike rental at the petrol station at Hauru Pt. The bikes look good and are reasonably priced. 700 CFP for 4 hours, 1000 for 8 hours and no deposit here.
The viewpoint (Belvedere in French) is what I like to visit today. It is 280m high and overlooks Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay. This is the same road I came from the airport. After riding a short while I stop to take a picture and where I am standing a totally tattooed guy opens his front door, talking to me. We are having a small chat and he is just receiving his first customers for today. I take a picture of him and continue to Papetoai. Here the road bends and goes along Opunohu Bay. I pass the Hotel Les Tipaniers Iti and some small houses before reaching the turn-off to the lookout. Until here I rode 45 minutes. The next five kilometres are uphill through the Opunohu Valley. It is very green, many paddocks and the 1200m high Mt. Tohiea right in front of me is partly covered in clouds. I see many tropical plants and flowers in the rainforest. The paved road is partly very steep and several times I have to push my bike. After one hour I reach the viewpoint. It was worth the effort. I am soaked in sweat and enjoy the view. Don’t forget mosquito repellent if you should plan to cycle or walk in the jungle. I did.
At the viewpoint there are some rich tourists from the Sheraton, hung with gold all over. One elderly lady asks her friend while overlooking the bays: ” How can all these islanders be happy here. There is not much to do and it all looks the same.” When I hear this I turn to her, saying: ”Happiness comes from within. It doesn’t mater where you are!” She looks at me and turns her head away, embarrassed.
On my way back I ride the bike a bit farther east to the Sheraton and
back. The whole trip is around 30km and takes me 4 hours. You can do tour
around the island (60km) in one day. Everything is flat and easy to do
by bike. This is what I did on Huahine and Bora-Bora and I can recommend
it. You are getting in touch with locals easily.