I wanted a chance to hike while in Moorea, so we booked a tour with Mer & Montagne Excursions; it was through our travel agent, so I don't have all the details. We were picked up at our hotel (Sofitel) and dropped off along the road to Belvedere a kilometer or so from the main road. We hiked for a while along a dirt road then headed up on a trail. I was surprised that the trail was pretty well maintained and blazed in places - being a rainforest, I expected more bushwhacking. After a few kilometers and quite a bit of elevation gain, we stopped at Col des Trois Cocotiers, an overlook west of Belvedere that is only accessible by foot. There were fantastic views of Mount Rotui, Mount Tohivea, Mount Mouaroa, the Caldeira Valley, and Cook's and Opunohu Bays. We continued on for our next stop at Belvedere and had lunch and enjoyed the view over the valley, the bays, and the mountains. The next stop was Sommet des Trois Pinus, another great lookout northeast of Belvedere. Then we hiked down through the pineapple plantation and back to our starting point where our ride brought us back to the hotel. This is a strenuous hike with significant elevation gain - especially challenging in the heat and humidity. But if you're up for it, the hike and views are absolutely amazing. We did this excursion on a Sunday - we were told it was a good choice, because it's one of the few things available to do on Sundays.
We rented a car specifically to go in search of waterfalls and other exciting sights. It took a while to see this waterfall because the road isnt exatcly a paved road. Also you have to leave the car and hike the rest of the way.
We got a 4wheel drive because we knew the road would be difficult to drive without it. We even paid extra for the 4x4 and it turns out that when we finally need the 4x4 it didnt work. We almost got stuck a few times and decided to just go back. we had to go in reverse for a ways before we could turn the car around.
We saw the waterfalls from afar. I wished we could have gotten closer but unfortuneatly we couldnt make it.
This was a dinner buffet and Tahitian Show at the Moorea Pearl Resort. The buffet consisted of tons of sea food, pork, and chicken. There was different types of salad and fruit. Then at 8pm the show started.
It is much cheaper than the Tiki Village show and maybe not as nice put we chose to do this show enstead.
They danced the typical Tahitian dances and tried to get people up to dance too. They didnt have elaborate costumes or the fired dancers but it was a nice show anyways.
My husband and I have been to many luau type dances and we didnt want to pay so much money for the Tiki Tahitian Village so this was fine for us.
Check out the video I posted if you want to see more.
A bit further down the road, you’ll see another carpark along the Marae of Titiroa.
Not really much to see, apart from a wall of stones. But if you get deeper down into the woods, you'll come across another part of the restored stone temple, in a better state of preservation.
Towering banyans and mape chesnut trees add to the quiet of this sacred grounds…
A little stream flows nearby, and a small sign indicates the beginning of a trail that goes up to the Belvédère or to the "Trois Cocotier".
Little buddies like the one on my 4th picture seem to play hide and seek in the stones of the marae. They furetively disappear underneath them when they hear your footsteps :-)
Various spots on Moorea are appropriate for snorkeling.
Those places are usually indicated on the various maps of the island you will receive everywhere.
Apart from Opunohu Bay and the Lagoonarium, we mainly remained around Hotel Hibiscus. Some of the rocks there homed pretty little and colorful fishes :-)
We had some trouble finding the way to get there, but finally we took the road that turns right to the school when you drive the island clockwise, just after the Lagoonarium sign.
The path gets very bumpy quite soon. Besides, we couldn't find a real parking place. Be careful when you park, do NOT park on meadows that are private properties...we were told that some of the owners get mad when they see unauthorized vehicles parked on their property.
The path to the waterfall ain't as easy as I first thought. Totally unmarked and unmaintained, it is rocky and the soil can be really slippery when wet. Although quite steep at some places, the walk through the woods is really pleasant and when you finally reach the waterfall, the landscape is well rewarding.
How refreshing to dip one's feet in the cold water !!
We read that there are two different waterfalls in Afareaitu, but I'd be totally unable to say which one we went to ! There was really no indication and we directed ourselves to the sound of water.
Another favourite moment in my travel life….
The visit starts at the little « fare », Terani Curios, standing on the roadside next to the sign indicating « Lagoonarium ». Once you paid the relatively small entrance fee, you will have to wait for the motor boat that will bring you to the motu (little islet). The outrigger canoe generally arrives 5 to 10 minutes later. While waiting, you can start to take your shoes off, you’ll be in the water to the knees to reach the pirogue :-)
The motu has nicely been accommodated with benches and various « fare » under the shade of the trees. Water shoes hang from a plank…just pick up you size ! And then, ready to discover the lagoon! Stingrays immediately come to you and beg for some strokes. The person in charge soon gets into the water with you to feed them… Now, that’s why they were so friendly ! :-) They start to brush against your legs to be petted…their skin is so soft, it’s a very strange sensation to pet a fish :-) Multicolour fishes and small sharks (whitetip and blacktip reef sharks) soon join them to get their part of the food… Even the birds start to dive in flight, and give us a very pleasant show to watch !
Turtles are enclosed in their own pen, except for one that sadly swims along the railing, obviously hoping to find a way out… In fact all those animals have to remain in the enclosed lagoon. But even if it keeps them prisoners in a way, proximity with them is a great and very instructive experience …
Hold yourself to one of the ropes stretched throughout the lagoon, even if you are able to touch the bottom almost everywhere. It allows a better observation of the fishes, especially when the currents are stronger. Other ropes are stretched outside the enclosed part of the lagoon and allow you to admire corals.
Best time to enjoy the Lagoonarium is in the morning, when the currents are weaker, especially if you plan to see the corals.
This view point overlooks the Sofitel's overwater bungalows with, in the distance, the shape of Tahiti, the coral reef and the ocean.
A parking space has been made to allow visitors to comfortably enjoy this scenic view, so typical to French Polynesia…
When you arrive, stop at the little shopping stall at the entrance and ask for a map. Although the place is undergoing some reorganisation and the map doesn't faithfully indicate the right number for the right plant or tree, you can refer to the picture to identify the majority of them. The visit is free and very pleasant ! We enjoyed every minute of the one-hour walk between pineapple plants, tropical fruits and flowers... We had a wonderful time ! Huge pineapple fields strechting on gentle slopes with Mount Rotui as a background. Really fantastic ! Probably the part I preferred, along with the advocado trees, and the numerous varieties of exotic flowers.
When your walk is over, try one of the fresh pineapple juices or a gardenia-flavoured ice cream. They also have various tasty home-made jams...gardenia flavour is a must :-) All the products are made from the plants grown in the school gardens.
Opunohu Bay is the largest stretch of water on the island, dominated by Mount Tohiea, the highest peak of Moorea.
And this is the very place that saw the "Endeavour" of James Cook arrive for the first time in Moorea...
We stopped at a large beach somewhere along this bay and enjoyed for a few moments the view on a mount nearby. Peaceful waters somewhat livened up by playful local kids :-)
When you drive down the road from the Belvedere, you will see a big information sign to your right. The remains of an ancient archery platform lie a bit below, on a soil carpeted with hibiscus flowers freshly fallen from the trees.
Archery was a sacred sport practised by Polynesian royalty in pre-Christian days.
The picture I took of the information sign will give you a better idea of what the place used to look like.
At Opunohu Bay, a sinuous road leads you inside the island and winds up to the Belvedere Lookout.
As soon as you arrive, hens and roosters (them again!) give you a clamorous welcome...they must be proud to show you one of the most stunning landscapes ever ! :-)
The view embraces both Opunohu and Cook's Bay, which are separated from each other by imposing Mount Rotui, right in the middle. From up there, you can admire the fertile Opunohu Valley, with its miles of spiky green pineapple plants that decorate the mountain slopes.
Behind you, stand a huge rocky cirque lined with the highest summits of the island.
Near the parking place, there is a trail going down into the woods and reaching, I guess, the marae of Titiaroa.
Cook's Bay is definitely one of the most beautiful places I've seen.
Those magestic mountains towering above the bay are simply fantastic... A magical place surrounded by the green slopes of Mount Tearai, Mouaputa, Tohiea and Rotui.
Capitain James Cook is said to have come alongside this bay in the first place, that’s why it was named after him…but in fact his very first mooring was Opunohu Bay, right behind !
The sunsets are just out of this world. Unbelievable. Each evening the colours are different, from orange to purple to red to yellow...just stunning.
Make sure you find a spot facing west, get a glass of wine, your camera and just sit and enjoy it.
Do not miss one single sunset, I promise you it's worth it!
If you are looking for a Polynesian cultural show and dinner then check out this village. The place is set up like a pre-European Tahitian village. There is a tour of the village in French or English. As you walk around there are Tahitians making necklaces, playing music, weaving bags, making carvings, a tattoo artist etc...
They also have a hangi which is an "earth oven". The food is placed underground, wrapped up and placed over hot rocks. It takes hours for the food to cook this way. The dinner was nothing to talk about but they had this one fried coconut dish that was really tastey.
The show at Tiki Village was excellent but a bit too long. It is performed by an accomplished dance troupe.
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