Moorea – the heart shaped island

Bali Hai on Moorea from the sea

From the sea Moorea is striking – far more so than her more famous sister Bora Bora.  Great jagged peaks reach up into the sky, their slopes covered with lush foliage.   A well maintained road circles the island making it pretty hard to get lost and offering the chance to dine out at local restaurants to get a real flavour of the island. 

The lagoons teem with life and the waters are crystal clear making snorkelling and diving fairly easy, even for a novice.  Our motu and snorkelling trip took us out to a shallow area in the lagoon where we met the local stingrays – and oh my goodness were they keen to meet us!  They obviously recognised the fact that “treats” were going to be distributed and behaved like naughty puppies, surrounding the boat and almost jumping up in their eagerness for the fishy snacks.  It is quite disconcerting to begin with but after a while you do get used to the silky feel of them as they gracefully slide over and around.  There were a few panicky moments when my leg touched someone else’s and we both let out shrieks of alarm enough to frighten away the banshees – but apparently not the stingrays.  It was an amazing experience. 

Playing with the rays on a deserted motu in Moorea

And then came the sharks – yes I swam with sharks and now I can cross that off the list as well.  I think they were called black tipped reef sharks and you know how water magnifies. Well  – they looked big to me.  We then headed out to a deserted motu where we were greeted by a ferocious looking, tattooed local Tahitian.  Actually up close he was not that ferocious – he only had one tooth and he looked after us with freshly chopped coconut and pineapple and made sure we had plenty of loungers under the shade of the palm trees.  What a great day.

In fact we enjoyed our visit to Moorea so much that after the ship docked in Papeete we took the express ferry back to Moorea to spend a couple of nights in an overwater bungalow.

Our overwater bungalow at the Hilton Moorea

  Now this is indeed pure indulgence.  Our overwater bungalow at the Hilton Moorea has everything our hearts could desire; a large verandah with private diving deck with shower, huge sliding doors next to a king side bed and a bathroom fit for a king. 

Eating out in Moorea is easy as most of the restaurants will send a driver to do a pick up from your hotel and this is a great way to go local.  Rudy’s was our stop last night.  This cute little restaurant featured only a few tables and offered an excellent spread of local seafood specialities.  We were persuaded to try the parrot fish – although my husband did say he felt a bit guilty eating such a beautiful fish and that it was like eating a cocker spaniel!  It was tasty but I think my prawn curry was better – you somehow don’t get that emotionally attached to a prawn.

This island has a wonderful atmosphere of peace, tranquility and harmony amongst its people.  It is easy to see why so many people come to Tahiti and stay and the mixture of different races and nationalities is obvious in the resident families.  French customs prevail and it is gratifying to see teenage boys greeting older male and female family members with the traditional kiss on each cheek.  Coming from North America where rap music and tough attitudes rule it’s good to see the gentler side here in paradise.

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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