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 !
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 :-)
The Belvedere Lookout
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.
The archery platform
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.
Marae of Titiroa
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 :-)
The Lycee agricole
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.
Toatea view point
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…
The waterfall of Afareaitu
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.
Snorkeling... of course !
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 :-)
The protestant church Ebenezer is octagonal and was the first church on the island, built in 1827. It's the only church where you will find some old graves.
Eglise de la Saint Famille
This beautiful Catholic Church is located on the mountain side near Haapiti. It's one of the biggest on the island.
A cute white church
We passed several churches on Moorea, but this one made me stop to take a picture.
I really liked the contrast between its dazzling white façade, the blue of the sky and the green of the garden.
Pay attention as you walk along the roads
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