While relaxing at the pool in Tahiti, we enjoyed views of Moorea across the lagoon. It was a mysterious-looking island with clouds dancing around its eight jagged peaks during the day and dramatic sunsets at night. We could not wait to visit this magical island on our last stop in French Polynesia.
Our arrival was scheduled for early in the morning and a few brave passengers joined us to see our entry into Opunohu Bay. The entries into the lagoons always look so narrow and we are glad to have an experienced Captain on board. We do not go into the bay too far when we drop anchor. Overlooking our anchorage was the very distinctive Mount Rotui, known as the magical mountain, which, at just under 3000 feet high, can be seen for miles.
We hopped onto our tender after breakfast and landed in the town of Papetori. In the 1800’s missionaries arrived and they established their headquarters here and built an Octagonal church for the London Missionary Society in 1811. It is the oldest standing building in the south pacific and is built on top of an old Marae. You can see this building as you enter the lagoon as well. The waterfront has been built up to provide a safe landing spot, but there is no village here. Anyone arriving at the island in Papetori will need to be picked up by a waiting bus or jeep.
For this island, we decided to try something different and we signed up for a 4X4 driving photography tour to several lookout points on the island. We were joined by 2 other photographers, and we all hopped into our jeep to head up the steep drive. We drove up a private winding road through lush tropical greenery where we stopped for a quick look at the bay where we were anchored. It is such a quiet and peaceful place that I can see why it is a favorite island for many.
Back on the very narrow one-lane road and we drive to a spot where the road ends and the stairs begin. Luckily, the walk to the lookout was short. From the Belvedere Lookout point, we could see Opunohu Bay and the endless horizon of the Pacific Ocean. There is a nearly identical bay on the other side called Cook’s Bay, but we could not see it from here.
There are 16,000 residents on the island. Moorea Means yellow lizard in Tahitian, and it might have been the name of a ruling family or an image a priest saw while visiting the island. The population declined a bit during the 1800’s due to disease and weaponry brought in by the Europeans. The island of Moorea was used to create the fictional “Bali Hai” that was in James Michener’s book, Tales of the South Pacific, and it definitely has a Jurassic Park feeling about it. Many consider Moorea to be the most beautiful of all the islands due to its unusual mountain peaks.
For many years, Copra (coconut meat) and vanilla were the largest crops on Moorea but now they are the pineapple growing center of French Polynesia. We stopped at a pineapple farm to take some pictures and learned that pineapple farms are grown on public lands to preserve the area. It is quite lush and it was interesting to see pineapples in various stages of growth.
We made one more stop at a garden place where we hoped to get a snack, but they were closed. We walked around a bit, saw a few lazy cats and chattering birds, snapped a few photos, and returned to the wharf.
And now for some geeky facts from our 2-month long trip.
We flew 17,433 miles
Drove over land 3,648 miles
Sailed over water 1,471 miles
For a grand total of 22,552 miles. Wow!
Next, we are off to Newfoundland, Canada.