We woke to a sunny morning in Opunohu bay in Moorea. Patti and Gerard got up and took some pictures of the scenery. I took a wide panorama of the island from Tahina using a fisheye lens and then stitched it together. You can click on the image to the right to see it full-sized.
Below is a photo album from the last few days. Pictures of Patti and Gerard having a good time and some of the beautiful scenery. Make sure to read below for all the details:
After taking pictures, Gerard and Patti got in the dinghy with me and we motored to the nearby Hilton resort. We wanted to find out about getting an island tour arranged. The resort is one of these traditional Polynesian hotels with bungalows on stilts out over the water, a white sand beach, tons of water sport options (diving, sailing, jet skis, etc.), and a nice restaurant near the beach. We found the activity concierge and she recommended we take the ATV tour of the interior of Moorea. Part of the prize Tahina won from the race a week ago was one free ATV. We also got a 15% discount on more of them. So, we went back to Tahina and called them on the cell phone to make a reservation. The earliest we could arrange was Wednesday morning.
Karen’s cold really had her down today. She stayed in bed all day and read a book.
Next we did some snorkeling around Tahina. Patti, who was initially very nervous about the water, is now a snorkeling maniac! She swam across the channel and saw a spotted Eagle Ray. She also found a very unique sea cucumber we had never seen before. While diving the deeper water (about 30-40 feet), I spotted a clown fish in a sea anemone. Lara and Jason managed to grab some pictures of it.
We headed back to the boat and discussed our plans. We decided to move Tahina in the afternoon to a spot closer to an island on the northwest of Moorea that is famous for having stingrays you can swim with and touch. So, after lunch, we started moving Tahina west through the channels. We were going through some narrow and shallower channels trying to get to an anchorage where we had seen another cat earlier. But, when we got there it was too narrow and area for our comfort, so we went back out the channel, out the pass, and moved into the next pass to take the channel to the stingray island directly. There was a really shallow area at one point, but we stayed deep enough not to touch bottom and finally got to the small area we could see in Google Earth that might be an anchorage. There was a catamaran already there, so we pulled up next to him. The water was super clear, so we could even see our anchor set as we deployed our chain rode. Amazing!
It was late afternoon, but we decided to see if we could find the stingray. There were actually two island motus nearby. We asked a local on a boat that passed and they said go between the two islands. We dodged coral heads with the dinghy and found some mooring balls in shallow water. Although we saw one stingray, we didn’t find any others. But, we saw some nice fish and coral as we snorkeled around. We tried motoring to another side of the island and found a super shallow sandy area – ideal for stingrays. We saw a couple out there, but nothing close to us. We decided maybe it was too late in the day.
Back at the boat, Gerard played some guitar music with Jason’s guitar. Gerard is an excellent guitarist. We grilled up some spearfish steaks we had been saving since we caught it in Tikehau. It was delicious! After dinner, Jason had spotted someone diving using a powerful underwater light in the shallows nearby. He guessed they must be lobstering and asked to borrow the speargun and dinghy. Patti, Gerard, and Lara went with him. Karen and I decided to retire for the night. They ended up not finding any lobster – only a bunch of sea cucumbers. Maybe the diver was a sea cucumber farmer!
On Tuesday we woke up to dead calm waters. The water was as clear as glass. We could see even the smallest fish under the boat. We speculated whether we could find a store ashore and get some fresh bread. After looking in Google Earth, we thought we could dinghy ashore and walk around an old resort to get to a small set of shops we could see. A tourist map said ATM and shopping was available. So, Patti, Gerard and I took the dinghy and managed to walk to the shops. We had to crawl through a whole in a barbed wire fence to get to the road, but it wasn’t too challenging. We found a grocery store and lots of tourist shops. We got the bread and made it back a few minutes later.
After telling the others about our exploration, everyone wanted to go ashore. Karen was feeling better at last, and wanted to go shopping. So, we all went back over and hit the stores. Patti bought a pareo (a colorful wrap-around cloth which makes a kind of dress). I really liked the one she bought because it was a map of the society islands. She also got a pair of pearl earrings which Karen helped her select.
We went back to the boat and had lunch. Then we got our snorkel gear together and took Coconut over to the islands again. We were headed by the beached and boats full of tourists. Some of us were admiring a boat full of topless girls nearby while we tried to decide where the stingrays were located. We went to the most crowded area and Gerard went to ask the tourist guides in French where to go. While he was there, we saw three stingray swim around the feet of the tourists. We found them! So, we all clambered ashore and got to get up close to a few. We spent a while snorkeling the area and taking pictures of the fish and corals.
We headed back to Tahina around 3 PM and prepped for departure. A fierce wind had been building and we had 25 knots blowing from the east. But, we had no problem weighing anchor and motoring back out the channel. The visibility was good, and we confidently made our way out the pass. The waves weren’t too bad and we motored back to Opunohu bay.