Ia Ora na!
So if you’ve been following our Instagram, you know that we have made it to our very first destination, Mo’orea!
Mo’orea is a BEAUTIFUL French Polynesian island only a ferry ride away from Tahiti, covered in lush mountainous rainforests and beaches (think Jurassic Park and/or Moana). For the most part, the island has been left untouched by the tourism industry – there are a couple of resorts, but they are primarily centered on one part of the island. The majority of the island; however, is comprised of local housing, restaurants void of any noticeable signage, and beautiful waterfront and mountain views.
Patrick and I are staying in a beautiful beach bungalow in the Te Ora Ha Ecolodge. The ecolodge is comprised of four beach bungalows, each with their own little slice of the beach and complimentary kayaks and paddle boards to take out whenever we please. We have had the opportunity to kayak, paddle board, and snorkel right out of our backyard – as I’m writing this, in fact, Patrick is out snorkeling with his ginormous diving camera practicing his free diving skills.
Our charming bungalow is equipped with it’s own kitchen, where we have cooked a few of our own meals after grueling trips to the local grocery store in which all produce is labeled in French. Patrick and I have come to the realization that when we travel, we forget all of our basic abilities to survive, especially when it comes to grocery shopping. It took us an HOUR to come up with three meals – pasta, bread and butter (yes, we taught this was a good idea for lunch), and cheese omelets. After spending $107, we realized that we had purchased three “meals” that were in no way going to satisfy us through the primarily shutdown Sunday on the island.
That was not the only food mishap we’ve had in our short time here! We’ve been getting fresh fruit just about every day from the local fruit stands on the island, most of which have an array of pineapples, coconuts, olives, bananas, and vanilla. On this particular day, we picked up a pineapple, coconut, and a small bushel of bananas. We placed all of the fruit into a little bowl on our dining table as we had been doing. Through out the day, we ate the majority of the fruit, only leaving a couple bananas by nighttime. After eating a leisurely dinner on our front porch, we come in to find FIVE geckos in the fruit bowl! At this time, I shoo away the geckos to find a banana missing a good chunk of it’s peel and fruit – turns out the geckos had also been having a little family dinner. But that’s not the best part – Patrick then confesses to eating a banana that looked just like the one we had found devoured by the geckos!
So far, we’ve been able to explore most of the island – keep in mind that there is only one 60 km road that circles all of Mo’orea.
We have hiked up twice now to the Belvedere Lookout, which allows for a serene view of the surrounding mountains and ocean. About 90-99% of people choose to drive up to the lookout given that the hike itself doesn’t offer much of a view. We; however, were stuck with only one option – to hike up the mildly grueling mountain. Patrick has had a litttttle bit of difficulties with driving stick shift since we’ve been here, stalling out approximately thirty times, so the thought of driving up the mountain seemed like a feat that he could not conquer at the time.
Today; however, after watching Youtube videos and reading articles on tips for stick shift, we ventured back up to the lookout for an attempted sunrise photo shoot. Not only did we miss the sunrise, but we also found out that the sun rises behind a mountain from the lookout, so there isn’t even a sunrise to be seen – something that everybody else on the island seemed to already be completely aware of.
Luckily, not all was lost! We were able to go on a 6km hike from the lookout up to a higher and more panoramic view of the island. Because we were there at 6:30am, we were the first to hike that day, so we made sure to do our our civic (and involuntary) duty of clearing the spider webs along the path with our faces.
Just down the road from our Airbnb, is a beautiful hike to the Afareaitu Waterfalls. Our Airbnb host specifically said not to go there because the trail is completely overgrown with dense jungle vegetation, but we couldn’t turn down a hike to a waterfall so close to us! After reading countless Trip Advisor reviews on how to find the path (there are no signs/markings), we went out on a quest! Surprisingly, we found the head of the path with no troubles, but following that we had no idea what to do. We came across a goat farm with an extremely helpful local who told us exactly how to get to the waterfall. Once again, we were the only people on the path and at the final destination, a beautiful ~100ft waterfall with a small plunge pool at its base. The waterfall was a little bit more like a trickle, as we are here during the dry season, but nevertheless, it was beautiful!
We’ve gone on four dives off the surrounding reefs of Mo’orea, and the best way to describe the dives is SHARKS GALORE! We’ve seen about 30 black tip sharks, a couple big momma jomma lemon sharks, a few turtles, and some enormous moray eels. The dives here have been pretty incredible, but we have heard amazing things about the dives to come on our next stop, Rangiroa!
Till next time, Manuia!
p.s. For more awesome photos, check out Patrick’s website here: http://www.saltyshutterphotography.com/french-polynesia/