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!).
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!
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.
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...
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.
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!
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.
The picture shows us in some sort of floating mechanical machine. It's not a boat, but it seats two people and has a motor and is really very easy to manoever. You have a place to put your towels, drinks, books, whatever, and have plenty of room to stretch out your legs. We had such a great time riding around the shallow water on it, and we took it out near the coral reef and did some great snorkeling from there. We stayed at the Sofitel Ia Ora and the hotel had them for rent, and I am sure many of the other major hotels have them as well. It's just something different to do than lying on the beach.
We found snorkeling here to be great. The water is warm and calm, and the coral and the fish life was incredible. We rented snorkel equipment right at the hotel which was very convenient. I would not recommend snorkeling too close to the reef however, as the currets there can be a bit strong.
This may sound a bit crazy, but it is a popular excursion. You are taken to a place where the sharks are known to be and then the boat crew lets out a rope which is then secured quite well. You have to jump out of the boat holding on the the rope (because the current is very strong) and edge your way along the rope to allow for others on the trip. It was quite amazing, though I have to admit I was also quite scared, especially when a shark was within about 2 feet away from my face and looking right at me. I did some underwater screaming and I thnk I scared it away. Nonetheless, I had a grat time, and once was enough for me!
This was one of the neatest things I have ever done! We did this on a full day excursion actually, which included a boat ride, swimming with the sharks, the manta rays, swimming at a motu, and a BBQ lunch on a motu (a motu is like a tiny island). For the swimming with the rays, you are taken to a point where the water is very very shallow (you are in water only waist high) and I would say there were about 50 rays around us. They really are swimming all over the place and in fact they will swim right up on top of you if you let them!!! I was not that daring. This is an experience I certainly won't forget and I can highly recommend it.
A Motu is like a tiny offshore island, and there are several around Moorea. Though small and there is not much to see on the Motu itself, it really makes for great swimming as the water is incredibly clear, warm, and beautiful, and there are no currents.
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!!!
We did alot of snorkeling in Moorea and really enjoyed it. It is easy to rent snorkel gear and there are many different areas for snorkeling. The fish life is incredible as is the coral. We were even lucky enough to see a couple of barracuda, though it was also a bit frightening. You'll want to be careful, of, course, not to snorkel near the reef where the currents are stronger and you'll want to be sure not to try to get cut by the coral, as it is a living organism and a cut can become infected if not treated properly.
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).