Ia Ora Dive Center is located at the Sofitel Ia Ora Moorea Beach Resort. Since they don't do transfers, this dive center is mainly for guests at the Sofitel. We did our first real dive since becoming certified here. We told the dive leader this, and he was very helpful and courteous, ensuring that we remembered how to use the equipment, hand signals, etc. before getting in the water. The boat took us out from the resort south in the lagoon then out through Vaiare Pass past the lagoon and dropped anchor. Before getting in the water, we could see reef sharks circling near the boat. We got into the water and descended down to about 60 feet and began our dive. Down here we saw lemon sharks, angelfish, wrasse, and many other tropical fish that I couldn't identify. Towards the end, I was running low on air, so the dive leader let me breathe off his tank so I wouldn't have to go up early. Just before we ascended, he pointed towards the sea floor and moved a rock and out popped a moray eel. Then back up to the surface. We had booked a one-tank dive so we headed back to shore then. Overall, a great first real dive experience. I would definitely recommend Ia Ora Dive Center to anyone staying at the Sofitel. They also offer initiation dives in the lagoon for people who are not certified, as well as dive classes to get certified. Also, it's worth noting that it's only a couple dollars more to use their equipment - much less than the cost of shipping your own personal equipment down, so I would recommend just using their dive equipment. We did use our own snorkel, mask, and dive boots though. I don't have an underwater camera, so the pictures I've attached are from the dive boat before we got in the water.
This tour allowed us to walk on the bottom of the lagoon and view fish and coral right up close. As we descended down a ladder from the boat, a helmet was placed on our shoulders. It provided oxygen and a 180o view. The water was crystal clear. A certified diving instructor was with us the entire time. The water was about nine feet deep but we felt no discomfort from the pressure. Our whole adventure was vidioed and available for purchase. We enjoyed it immensely as you could never see all of these fish while snorkeling.
This is a Motu specially built up for snorkeling. Its has changing rooms, drinks and shower on the island. In the water the paths are laid out with rope guides to help prevent you drifting out with the current.
This was easily the most enjoyable day spent on Moorea. Our tour guide was Ziggy,a native with dreadlocks and the ability to speak fluently in at least five different languages (we heard English, Tahitian, French, Japanese and Spanish on our trip). Another crewman, Henry, recorded our experience on DVD which was then available to purchase at the end of the trip. Our excursion included a tour around Cook's Bay and Oponohu Bay.
Our first stop was in an area of ocean about ten to twenty feet deep. Ziggy tied a rope to an anchor, and then everyone got off the boat and held onto the rope as the rest of the crew fed the black tipped reef sharks swimming in the area. Amazing!
Next we stopped in a shallow area to feed sting rays. Ziggy lets tourists feed the rays, or he holds fish in front of you to encourage the sting ray to swim up on you. The rays are very friendly and extremely soft. They are quite docile creatures. In light of the unfortunate death of Steve Irwin shortly before our trip, some people were quite afraid to get in the water, but we had no injuries or problems of any kind.
Our last stop was a Motu for a picnic lunch, coconut demonstration and snorkeling. Ziggy demonstrated how to make fresh Poison Cru, a traditional Tahitian meal, and they cooked chicken on a grill. There was a fresh lettuce based salad with tuna in it, and lots of fresh pineapple. We had Hinano Tahiti beer, rum punch, fruit punch and bottled water to drink. The Poison Cru was the BEST I sampled anywhere on the island.
Ziggy taught us how to pick a good coconut, peel the outside off and crack it open. We were then given some time to snorkel the area. There were a lot of fish and coral in the area which made the snorkeling superb. Masks and snorkels were provided by Albert's, but they were not in very good condition.
Ziggy and his group dropped off guests at their hotel's docks. All in all it was a fantastic trip, definitely educational, and VERY fun. I highly recommend it.
The big resorts have free use of their non-powered water equipment, so you can spend all day with a canoe or outrigger just paddling around the lagoon.
It's protected by the outer reef which runs around the island, inside the reef is a shallow lagoon, plenty of coral and fish and tiny mutus, uninhabited islands. You can take some food & drinks with you and simply paddle to your own deserted little island for a picnic.
Mark and I looked at the activity list in our hotel and the circle island tour sounded great... and it was! We were picked up at the pier at our hotel and joined a few other people on a small boat that toured us around the whole island and then took us to a little island motu that wasn't too crowded.
Here, we could go swimming and snorkeling in the clear, blue water... and there were manta rays that our guide brought up for us to pet (see picture).
The trip also included a lunch that was very tasty! The guide showed us how to make poisson cru and it was so fresh and yummy! I had no idea how the acid in lime juice could cook the fish! There was a variety of other foods that were all good and there was plenty of it!
Then we had awhile to just swim and lounge and relax on the island and in the water! I definitely recommend a circle island tour on Moorea!
There are two common ways to see Moorea, the first is by land, the second is by sea. Since we were here for multiple nights, Sarah and I decided to try both. Early in the morning we were picked up on the dock of our hotel for a wonderful little trip around the island. Sarah and I had the opportunity to see the entire island on a parasailing boat, which was also loaded with other passengers from nearby Club Med. There were some beautiful picture opportunities on this boat, including seeing some overwater bungalows, like the ones we were staying in, the private motus (small islands) and of course plenty of sea life. We also went and picnicked at a private motu. The snorkelling was wonderful here, although it was not quite as vivid as in Bora Bora.
I tried snorkling for the first time and I loved it!!! You only have to wade out into the crystal clear water and glide slowely around to see the most gorgeous coloured fish. We went snorkling every day.
This is also at the Lagoonarium (I explain more about it in one of my General tips).
Another one of the things you can do there is swim with Sharks. There were around six or seven sharks kept in the water pens with the turtles and other fish at the Lagoonarium. These pens are deep enough that you can wade out and start swimming and be quite a long way off the bottom.
The sharks are much harder to find than the turtles as they will swim away as you get near them. I have a little underwater film camera with a fixed 35mm lens (i.e. no zoom), and it was quite a struggle to get some shots like this one as I normally only got to see a back end, and it was swimming much faster than I could!
The Lagoonarium is well worth a visit (I explain more about it in one of my General tips).
One of the things you can do there is swim with Turtles. There were around five turtles kept in the water pens at the Lagoonarium. These pens are deep enough that you can wade out and start swimming and be quite a long way off the bottom.
The turtles are easy to find, as they often find you (see my warning about them biting!). The idea being that you keep away from the mouth end - I think that they think that they can eat you. Watching them swim gracefully through the water is a fantastic experience. I have a little underwater film camera with a fixed 35mm lens (i.e. no zoom), and it allowed me to get some shots like this without too much effort (framing can be tricky mind, and obviously I didn't actually take THIS picture personally!).
Apparently this waterfall is quite good in the rainy season.
We drove the car up as far as we could, and then had to hike over rocks etc for around 20 mins to get to the cascade.
Cascade is a rather debatable word for it in the middle of August. Checkout the flow in the photo! What flow I hear you ask? Exactly. I hope this doesn't sound too disrespectful, but if I had urinated against the rock, there would have been a better flow...
The hike through the forest to get there was pretty pleasant mind...
These outrigger canoes are great fun to paddle about in. If you have ever been in a single scull (to the uninitiated, it is a very thin 'rowing' boat for just one person), this will feel very stable. On the other hand, if you haven't, you will have a good chance of turning one of these over! If you can't swim, definitely think twice about taking one of these out on the water!!! We were staying at the Hotel Hibiscus, and you could borrow these boats for free, so we borrowed this and headed over to the nearest Motu (a small uninhabited island).
Coming back, we hit a strong sidewind, and it made paddling in the direction I wanted to go very difficult as the outrigger was effectively braking the boat making it want to go in the same direction as the wind was. The only way I could get the boat back was to row it backwards (as a traditional row boat - but without any gate to hold the oar in place)
as I could get the oar almost horizontal this way and get more turning force in the water. It's worth being aware of anyway - I did get some very strange looks from the Polynesians as we came back in, as they all row them forwards (as I am doing in the picture!)!
If you don't have experience, make sure you don't take any cameras that would be 'allergic' to water in the boat with you, or anything that might sink should it suddenly find itself in the water! Don't try and swap positions in the canoe once you set out unless you exercise extreme caution, unless of course you don't mind a dip! You are very unlikely to roll it over the side of the rigger, but the other side has nothing to brace the boat.
On Thursday and Sunday you can do a dolphin and whale watching expediton with Doctor Michael Poole. During a three to four hour tour you will go through the lagoon and outside the reef to search for, observe and learn about the dolphins and whales that inhabit the local waters.
The excursion costs about 6700 CFP (56 EUR).
Almost all of the major hotels provide catamaran excursions like the one shown in the picture, and again, this is such a great way to enjoy Moorea. Alot of our time on moorea was spent doing sifferent water activities such as this, because the incredible beauty of the sea plus the fact that the water is so warm simply draws you to the sea constantly. You should be able to find out at your hotel what catamaran trips are available, because there are day trips, sunset sails, etc. Lots of fun!!!
A nice way to spend an afternoon is by renting a kayak or a boat like the one in the picture. It is very relaxig and once you get a little bit away from the shore, it affords you wonderful views of the mountainous scenery as well as of the coral reefs and fish below the water. The boat shown in the picture was a bit hard to manoever at first (I guess because I simply did not know how to do it correctly) because I seemed to going around in circles...but then again, that wasn't so bad after all, the water was nice and the views were stunning. I would recommend renting some kind of boat such as this to spend a few hours enjoying the ocean.