Moorea is probably my favorite place on earth. But be careful walking at night on the road at night. There are a lot of dogs. Not wild dogs. Peoples' dogs. If you walk in front of their house, the dogs will come rushing out and sometimes are aggressive. We had to abandon a few late night jaunts. Shining a flash light at them seemed to help but it can be very surprising to be walking through paradise and then suddenly big barking dogs are jumping on you. Since it's pitch black, you can't even see them coming.
Although I think the dogs were better than some of the drivers. Whoa! Stay way over on the shoulder even if you're kind of walking in weeds. The drivers can easily round a corner at like 70 mph.
In general, it's safe to walk in Moorea at night. Especially on the beach or through the jungle. But if you're walking around the road, as many do to go to a restaurant, it's just good to know about the dogs and bring a flash light.
…sometime fall from the trees :-) So be careful, especially if you stay in a « Fare » in the middle of a coconut palm tree grove ! The coconut on the pix fell quite close to our bungalow. We were enjoying the evening on our terrace when we heard it…After much efforts, my husband finally opened it, and we had a delicious snack the next day :-)
I think this is worth posting if you are considering a stay on Moorea.
We stayed at the Linareva Hotel on Moorea for a week at the end of July (2006). This was our fifth trip to Moorea over the last sixteen years and we've always enjoyed eating at the "Boat" restaurant at this property. Now that Club Med no longer has their Moorea resort, we decided to try the lodging at the Linareva as they have very nicely decorated bungalows at reasonable rates.
We found the place generally okay with the exception of the absolutely awful beds (block of foam rubber in a slip cover), too many roaches, and some "tired" areas needing repair (wood rot around shower, etc.). But all in all, not awful for the money spent.
The newsworthy aspect of our stay was the fact that two nights before we left, someone entered our locked studio bungalow while we slept and took all of our cash from my wife's purse - approx. $1,300.00 US. We woke to find the door wide open, one suitcase open, and one camera outside that they originally must have thought was a wallet.
The owner said that since they did not break the door to gain entry his insurance wouldn't cover our loss! He was very sorry and even gave us a nice gift upon departing, which we appreciated. Personally, I wish he would have reimbursed us our $1,300.00 and kept the $40.00 gift, but it was a nice gesture just the same.
In hindsight we should have carried less cash, locked it up in the safe, etc. Still, the fact someone has a key (or some means) and is brave enough to enter while you are sleeping is shocking. I shudder to think what may have happened if we would have woke while he/they were in there literally five feet from us.
In short: Eat at the restaurant (it's one of the best on the island) but do not stay there unless you have an armed guard.
As with anywhere in the tropics, heavy rain can strike suddenly and with very little warning. Keep this in mind as you prepare your visit to Moorea. Since all of the attractions and activities involve being in the outdoors, a storm lasting several hours can put a dent in your carefully-planned schedule. Try to leave some time for this. I was in Moorea in December, during the austral summer, and lost quite a bit of time on one day waiting for a storm to pass. If you have clothes drying on a line, don't forget about them!
Be careful you don't upset any of the women in French Polynesia, otherwise you'll be made to perform the equivalent of Polynesian Hari Kari by castrating yourself with a fiery stick...
No, only kidding, this guy is performing a fire dance at the Tiki Village, but it kind of reminds me of a scene in an old English comedy "Blackadder", where one of the main characters got shot in the groin - and taking it rather well remarked:
"That will be something to tell the grandchildren about"
to which the response was given of:
"Alas I fear for you that Grandchildren may now be somewhat out of the question".
Never mind, perhaps you had to watch it...
If you go swimming with Turtles, you will probably think they are very friendly as they come right up to you and will almost swim into you.
However they do have pretty strong beaks, and they like to try and bite bits off you as this picture shows!
When we were leaving the Lagoonarium where we saw these Turtles, we spoke to one of the keepers and asked if the Sharks bit people, and he dodged the question a bit, but when I mentioned the Turtles his response was:
"Paaaah - Turtle?!"
He then showed us his legs and arms that were covered in scar tissue all in the shape of turtle bite marks. His attitude was that this was nothing to even be concerned about.
You may choose to disagree!
The good news is that the Turtles aren't that quick, so you can either move out the way or just turn them around a bit (do this gently please...).
Petty theft is an ever present danger in French Polynesia. I am not aware of any violence associated with it, but don't leave anything unattended ever.
If something isn't bolted down, it will walk away. This includes items left in locked cars, bags, valuables on beaches and the like.
Part of the problem probably stems from the French closing their Nuclear testing station in French Polynesia, and with it no longer spending as much money in the region, so people look for an easy option to maintain their standard of living, but the problem seems to be rife.
If you're not big into budgeting keep in mind that you may spend more than you thought you would on this island. Moorea is VERY expensive! Drinks at the bar at most hotels are $12US. We went to the local grocery stores and bought some wine, rum and mix. It'll be a huge savings if you plan on having a couple drinks each day.
Meanwhile, many banks also do not provide currency change over the counter because there exist automatic machines to do the deed.
However, note that about US$5 gets zapped for each transaction. That's very high commission if you do not change a lot of dollars.
Many of us tried to withdraw money from the ATMs in Tahiti and Moorea and failed, although there exist the PLUS (for VISA) and CIRRUS (for MASTERCARD) logos.
A French lady with several cards informed us that finally, her FRENCH card worked. An Australian guy said that if your card has got both the CASH ADVANCE (credit card) and ATM-LINK (debit card) features, it would fail. If it is purely an ATM-LINK card, it would be fine. If it is purely a CASH ADVANCE card, it would be fine too.
I don’t know. All the above are my failed experiences and heresays. I cannot vouch for them as I did not experiment all over the islands with my different cards.
What I can say is BRING US DOLLARS, just to be safe or TRY TO CHANGE POLYNESIAN FRANCS before you enter the country, especially since most flights arrive in Tahiti in the wee hours of the morning. For example, LAX airport changes Polynesian Francs.
The bank at the airport DOES NOT DO cash advance over the counter either. My friend went to three or four banks in the centre of Tahiti before successfully getting cash advance over the counter! It was a conspiracy, he claimed.
The bank at Hauru Point in Moorea does not provide cash advance over the counter either. The staff was there mainly to look surly, tap something on the computer and pretend to use the telephone. She claimed the one at Cook's Bay does.
There have been reports of alot of theft from cars, so if you have rented one and are going to explore different parts of the island, be sure not to leave anything at all in your car that looks like it may be valuable. Even if it does not seem that anyone is around, be sure to close yur windows and lock the doors when you go away from the car. This seems like common sense but there are robberies on a frequent basis.
I know it sunds silly, but the falling coconuts can be dangerous. I don't really know how you can protect yourself from falling coconuts as surely you are not going to wear a helmut to the beach. However, if you are going to lay on the beach, you might want to choose a spot which is not directly under the coconuts and especially if it is on a windy day!
Beware of falling coconuts!!
Here's William, climbing up the tree to shake one down for us!
Beware of falling coconuts :-) That's about the most dangerous thing that can happen to you. There isn't much crime or dangerous animals on the islands, so you are quite safe.