One of the highlights of our trip to French Polynesia had to be the Tiki Village Polynesian Show. Truly a unique experience to be entertained for over 3 hours by Tahitian dance, dinner, and art exhibits. The Moorea Explorer bus will pick you up from your hotel and transport you to the Village itself, were you will have time to roam around briefly in the village while the cast prepares itself.
The cast has traditional costumes of Tahitian dress and they perform firedancing, "hula" type dancing, as well as a coconut display!
One of the things which we really enjoyed in the evening were the beautifl sunsets. Our particular hotel had a great bar overlooking the sea, and it was a great place to sit in the early evening when the sun was going down and to converse wth fellow travellers. I think that a trip to Moorea should include some simple relaxation and tranquil moments enjoying the whole atmosphere. Most of the major hotels are right along the water, so sitting down to enjoy the sunset should be quite easy to do. This particular photo is at the bar of the Sofitel Ia Ora Hotel.
Going around the island, don't forget to stop in Temae at the Toatea view point, it's right above Hotel Sofitel Ia Ora on the only slope on the road. From here you'll have a breathtaking view of island of Tahiti, and the beautiful blue lagoon.
You can rent scooters at the ferry dock, but be sure to either make a reservation, or get there early. It is best to get one scooter per person, if you can, because riding double is a little uncomfortable. It is only 40 miles around the dramatic and lush island on a well paved road along the shore.
The reefs on Moorea are some of the most beautiful in the islands. They are not over-used, like those in Bora Bora. There are reef and lemon sharks, tons of coral, rays, eels... it's sooooo beautiful. We used TopDive as our company. They were nice folks.
Meeting local people is always a great experience, as it can give you insight to alot of things that a guide book cannot. In Moorea, however, if you stay in your resort and eat in only places where tourists are eating, you'll have a hard time coming into contact with the locals. We did meet alot of nice travellers, some who really liked being photographed as you can see in the picture.....
There is no main village in Moorea, only a few tourist centers like Papetoai and Haapiti where the majority of hotels and guest houses are concentrated.
Two more places where most of the churches, schools, supermarkets, small stores, banks and restaurants are located are the villages of Maharepa and Pao Pao (Cook's Bay).
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.
During our 4x4 safari tour, our guide stopped at a narrow river. There are several narrow rivers on the island. This is water coming from the waterfalls in the interior and heading for the sea. In some of these rivers you can find the blue-eyed river eel. They are quite harmless, and big too.
Enlarge the pic to see its wonderful blue eyes.
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.
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.
Moorea is the most popular island of the French Polynesia if you do not count Tahiti (where international tourists have to fly in and out from). It is just 30 to 40 minutes by ferry from Tahiti. There are crystal-clear shallow lagoons, dramatic mountains that pierce into the sky, beautiful walks through the exuberant vegetation, simple, rustic Polynesian charm and houses once out of the touristy zones.
If you rent a car, you can drive away from the tourist sectors and enjoy tranquility at once. Or head out of the bays with a motu-stop and some snorkelling. Motus are sandy islands around the reef surrounding the lagoons. Otherwise, relax and share the beautiful clear lagoons, coral reefs and enchantingly colourful fishes with the rest of the tourists. As French Polynesia is superbly expensive, mass tourism is not so common here.
Most accommodations are found on the eastern side of COOK'S BAY and HAURU POINT.
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.
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.
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