Give Me More Mo’orea

With Kyle and Alyssa onboard, we made the 3 hour passage from Papeete Marina, to Oponohu Bay on Mo’orea. The seas were rollie and not what we were hoping for our new crew’s first passage. Despite taking bonine, they were looking a little green and queasy by the time we dropped anchor. It passed soon enough though and amazement of how clear the water is in the anchorage took over everyone’s attention.

Kyle wasted no time getting the SUP in the water and he paddled around, trying out our new kayaking seat and paddle that he brought for us in his luggage. He did a little refresher dive off the back of the boat in preparation for doing a real dive tomorrow. He and Brent brought up some nice conch shells to show us from below the boat – but they put them back because we weren’t prepared to kill anything, or make conch soup.

We found an easy place on the shoreline to tie the dingy up. On shore, we walked along the road – which is quite busy at times. Most residents seem to have motor scooters – many of which are in need of new mufflers. The morning rush hour traffic noise is a definite buzz-kill on this otherwise quiet island. They drive these at top speed and it’s a wonder that many tourists aren’t flattened by them, since there are no bike lanes, or real shoulders on the road near Oponohu. We found a cool bar/restaurant/pension/car and scooter rental place all wrapped into one property, called Fare Maheata. It had the most awesome location, complete with tables and chairs in the water. We inquired about renting a car, but there were none to be had and our timing was bad for getting drinks, because they were closed until dinner. Next, we attempted to walk into the Hilton, which is a fancy bungalows-over-the-water place for $1,100/night to see if we could get a drink and check out the hotel. The guard wouldn’t let us past the parking lot. That’s okay…we know what that view looks like on the water😁.

We walked back toward the dinghy, and found the cutest little pink trailer serving homemade sorbet and macaroons! It was called La Macaroulotte, which translates to the macaroon. The sorbets had such incredibly vibrant flavors of local fruits and the macaroons were amazing! The trailer was in a private yard belonging to it’s owners and the whole setting was very adorable and cozy.

Our dive to Anemone Reef the next day was very nice. We went just outside the reef from our anchorage. We saw lots of turtles, our first anemones and clown fish of French Polynesia, a very large Titan Triggerfish, a few black tip reef sharks and a couple of different kinds of eels. It was a very casual dive with no current. It was perfect for Kyle to brush up on his skills. We did a 2nd dive to Eden Reef the next day, which was very similar to Anemone Reef and was in the same general area. This was also a very relaxed dive and had no current.

We had a bit of kismet when we were able to meet up with a crew member candidate from California and his family. Nik was supposed to be onboard from San Diego to Nuku Hiva, but due to being an ER doctor, the added case load of the pandemic required him to stay and work. He and his wife Misty and two sons Aiden and Logan just happened to be in Mo’orea when we were. They drove their dinghy over to meet us at the boat. We enjoyed visiting with them, went ashore for hamburgers on the beach and macaroons and sorbet afterwards. They were full of recommendations and suggestions for things to do and see in Mo’orea and other places in French Polynesia. It’s always nice to have some tips from people who have already been someplace you are visiting and they can help make your experience better. Even tips on navigating narrow channels, or shallow spots were very welcome. Nik would like to be a crew member for our Fiji to New Zealand passage, so hopefully that will work out.

We moved the boat over to Viare, in an anchorage that was not really an anchorage. We found out later that we really weren’t supposed to anchor there, but there were 2 other boats there already and we hadn’t heard about any new restrictions. In any event, Nik and Misty told us about this location that was near the Sofitel resort and had THE BEST snorkeling between the hotel and the barrier reef! We saw all kinds of reef fish and healthy coral. It was really nice and fairly shallow. We loved this recommendation and were so grateful they told us about it. It’s not in any guide books that we read.

We enjoyed happy hours with our crew every evening on board. Kyle was our mixologist, and he liked to put together a charcuterie board for appetizers. We played some fun games and just enjoyed being together in such a beautiful place. We could tell Kyle and Alyssa really needed a break and this kind of trip seemed to be a real vacation for them.

Kyle and Alyssa’s last day sadly arrived. We motored back to Tahiti to the Papeete Marina in order to get them picked up and taken to the airport to go home. There was a little drama not getting a slip in the marina for a few hours, causing us to wait in the Airport anchorage, but we finally got an email saying they had a place for us. This was a relief because we really had no way to get Kyle and Alyssa to the airport without having access to the shore. Just because there is an anchorage off the airport, doesn’t mean there is a way to get TO the airport from the anchorage. We ended up getting a great slip on the nicest dock in the Papeete marina and got them picked up by their Airbnb host, who would be taking to the airport at 5 AM. Saying goodbye to Kyle and Alyssa was a little traumatic for us. It’s only been 4 months since Steel Away left San Diego, but a world of experiences have flooded us with a lot of emotions since then and it’s been hard not to be able to share everything in real time with our family.

We quickly got over our melancholy because new guests arrived to kindly distract us.  When Dave and Lynn got to Tahiti, we repeated many of the same sights that we had enjoyed with Kyle and Alyssa and proceeded to go back to Mo’orea with them. It’s a funny thing about cruising; you can go to the same places multiple times, but if the weather is different, it can seem like a new place. That’s how we felt when we returned to Viare. We had a lot more rain and a high swell event occurred while we were there, causing us to have to quickly move to Oponohu. Big waves were cresting the barrier reef, causing a river of current to jostle us around. Once we left Viare pass, the water was flat and calm all the way to Oponohu. We had a totally different experience than our first visit, but at least we got to show Dave and Lynn the awesome snorkeling spot before we had to move.

We went on a 4×4 safari all around the island. This was a great thing to do, because it gave us access to seeing things we otherwise couldn’t see just walking around. The Rotui juice factory and distillery was a great place to tour. We went to a vanilla plantation and botanical garden, a pineapple plantation, a belvedere lookout and another lookout called Magic Mountain that had spectacular views.

The four of us rented motor scooters to see more of Mo’orea, since we still couldn’t find a car to rent. We got rained on quite a bit and stopped for ice cream at one point, just to get out of the driving rain, but it was still a fun day. It was a Sunday, so many things were closed, but we managed to find enough things open to make it a full day. One of the best things about rainy days are rainbows. We saw a couple of awesome rainbows that day.

From Mo’orea, we headed off to Huahine for more fun with Dave and Lynn. Read our next post for our adventures in Huahine.


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