Next stop, Moorea!!!
It's a short 10-15 minute flight over from Papeete, Tahiti. In reality though, you don't need to catch a flight to get to Moorea. Most of the locals take the high-speed ferry (Aremiti 5 or Moorea Express) from Papeete (Tahiti) to Vaiare (Moorea) which takes about 30-45 minutes... but, it only costs approximately $20 roundtrip versus $80 on Air Tahiti. Long story short, we needed to catch Air Tahiti because we're also connecting to Bora Bora.
photo: Satellite image of Moorea, courtesy of Google Maps
photo: Faa'a Airport, Papeete, Tahiti
photo: Air Tahiti - old school runway boarding style. chee hooo!
The quick flight to Moorea passes over Temae Beach. You can see the crystal clear water of the lagoon and the white sand beach that wraps around the point. Temae is also decent surf spot, if it's not blown out.
After landing in Moorea, we had a 20 minute shuttle ride from Temae down to Atiha. On the map, it looks like it's pretty far, but it's only 19 km, or 12 miles on a semi-windy 2-way road. So that drive in itself puts you about 1/3 of the way around Moorea.
photo: our shuttle ride... and driver man.
We brought a whole bunch of goodies down with us to give away to the locals. Our shuttle guy scored some Mauna Loa Mac Nuts and a sweet Hawai'i trucker hat. He seemed to be pretty stoked, so we'll just say he was. Haha!
He dropped us off at Fare Arana, a pension (like a bed & breakfast) in Atiha. We had our own little 2-story cottage which had a living/dining room area, bathroom, full kitchen and a bedroom. Actually, the entire upstairs was the bedroom, which had 3 queen size beds set up. The best part (for me) was the sweet view of Atiha Bay and the 2 reef pass breaks breaks that were going off on all 3 days we were there.
In the picture below, you can get a glimpse of the left reef pass. This wave was like a really big Queen's on the take-off, with a ridiculous looking Backdoor-esque bowl on the inside... could've been like that because of the size though. But, I saw a lot of sets that swung wide and rolled in for 300-350 yards, kinda missing that crazy little bowl section. Best part about this break, ZERO crowd. I spotted 5-10 guys in 3 days surfing out there. But then again, Haapiti is 5 minutes up the coast.
We noticed a lot of "pizza" places on Moorea. I don't know what's up with that, but this particular "pizza" place served all kine stuffs: poisson cru, cheeseburgers, crepes, ice cream... oh, and pizza. And yes, it was crazy expensive... I think it was about $40 for lunch!
photo: Maeva Pizza in Vaiare
We decided that it would probably be best to rent a car while we were on Moorea. Le Truck is supposedly a way to get around, but honestly, we saw Le Truck maybe 3 times our whole trip. After our tasty $40 lunch, we walked next door to pick up our rental car from Avis. At this point, I would like to thank my dad for teaching me how to drive a stick shift/5-speed/manual transmission. Renting an automatic car would've run us $550 for 3 days, but the manual came out to $280. Crazy ah!?
First thing we did was drive around to see what we can do for the rest of the day and whatever else we could find to help us plan our next couple of days.
photo: Moorea, keepin' it green
We drove all the way around to Cook's Bay from Vaiare, which was practically around the whole island in about 45 minutes. We have more pictures of this bay, which is coming up in Day 4's entry.
photo: Cook's Bay
Here's our rental car. I forget the model, but it's a Ford. For my purpose, I'll call it the Ford "Shoehorn-My-Ass-To-Get-In-And-Out". Haha, I kid. The car wasn't that small, but when you drive a truck every day, hopping into one of these little Smart car looking vehicles is quite a change. Oh, and if you're planning to rent a car and try to fit in with the locals, I have news for you. Every rental car has a giant bright orange dot on the front and back bumpers which is basically like a huge billboard that reads, "Hey everyone, I'm a tourist! Don't mind my slow driving because we're taking pictures every 3 seconds. And don't forget, we probably have valuables in here! Mauruuru!" Yeah, it's pretty funny seeing all these cars with giant orange dots on them.
photo: our Ford "Shoehorn-My-Ass-To-Get-In-And-Out"
Here's a shot of the Sofitel hotel next to Temae Beach. Crystal clear water and a white sand beach that stretches around the point.
photo: Sofitel hotel overwater bungalows
I don't know what kind of plant this is, but it reminded me of those ball things you stick in the dryer to make your clothes soft. This must be the Tahitian dryer ball.
photo: interesting "dryer ball" plant.
photo: Temae Beach
photo: another polite dog at the Vaiare ferry dock
So after our first half-day in Moorea, we found a few things to do to keep us busy and also give us a chance to learn about the history of the island. For our Day 4 plans, we decided to go with the 4x4 Safari tour (or "cat-cat" as the locals call it) around the island and more roulette-style eating! Cheee hoooo!!!