Day 1,890 of Traveling the World | Moorea, Tahiti, French Polynesia | April 6, 2023

Did you know….the number of annual visitors to French Polynesia in a year is equal to the number of weekly visitors to Hawaii?? That is amazing! Yet, we bumped into several people who think nothing of flying from the West Coast to Tahiti, just an 8-hour flight. One was a man from Colorado, who is bringing his two teenage daughters here several times, each time for just a few days, to get scuba-certified. Others fly here just to take a cruise around Polynesia, and then fly back to the US.

The overwater bungalows were “invented” in Moorea in 1967. A failed vanilla plantation was developed into a resort called Bali Hai Boys, and they built the overwater bungalows for guests, a concept that has since been used around the world. Another fact, interestingly, is that there is no Tahitian word for “please,” since people here share willingly with no need to ask!

We spent a week in Moorea, and Mike went diving twice with the same company (Nemo’z Diving). They picked him up at the door of our hotel, and he saw loads of huge turtles, a few moray eels, a few sharks, and a few trigger fish. In one of our posts about Bali, Mike said the only time he had ever wished he had something in his hand to defend himself while diving was when he encountered a Titan Triggerfish off the coast there. He had never heard of them and was swimming along minding his own business when a colorful, two-foot long fish started to come at him, trying to bite him with its huge, weird-looking teeth. Not having anything to push it back, he put his fins between them and swam quickly away. Mike, not knowing that the triggerfish has a defined territory, swam back into it and (unhappily) repeated the encounter. When he got to the surface, he asked his dive guide, who was laughing uproariously, “What the hell is that fish’s problem?!” Mike later found out what it was and that they are known for biting divers’ hands or portions of their ears off when they wander into its territory.

When Mike stepped on the dive boat here, he saw the poster (in the photo below) about triggerfish, prominently mounted on the boat. The dive guide briefed all the divers about them and talked about how the triggerfish protects its brood of eggs on the seabed by chasing off any intruders, but was calm and nonaggressive if it wasn’t protecting eggs. The guide told the group that if a triggerfish got aggressive, just put your fins between you and it and swim quickly away. In the meantime, the guide would intercept the fish and try to intimidate it with noise and movement. That sounded fine to Mike, as in the only encounter he had with a triggerfish, the intimidation went in the other direction. A couple of triggerfish were spotted during the dive, but they ignored the divers. Apparently they were bachelors.

Unfortunately for Jan, she is a “Mosquito Magnet,” and if both of us were sitting out on the deck eating, all the mosquitoes would bite her and totally ignore Mike (unlike trigger fish). She has 27 bites on one leg, 19 on the other, and several on her arms. About half of them developed into welts the size of a quarter! All of these bites came after using an ointment that was 80 percent Deet. And the clusters in the bend of the knee are especially annoying, as each step squeezes them! Consequently, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and even walking outside, were out of the question. When not in the car circling the island, she pretty much quarantined inside with some well-appreciated air conditioning. Even so, some mosquitoes got into the room at night – once again, they favored Jan and ignored Mike! It is a gorgeous island, but most every accommodation is along the beach, where there is also a lot of vegetation. Resorts do spray to achieve some mosquito abatement, but we read that mosquitoes can “sense” their desired flesh for biting from about 150 feet away, so – they clearly had the upper hand!

You truly never know when the photo you take is going to be something special. As we swiped through out photos, it was – okay, yeah, fine – and we came to this one and said – Wow! What a gorgeous photo. None of them are carefully planned, of course – it is just point, shoot, and then, later, see what we got. This one came out beautifully, in great proportion.
This is the first photo we took on the island, from a viewing lookout above the Sofitel Hotel. Every time we drove by this lookout, entire buses were stopped for everyone to get a photo. There must be millions taken of this view!
Also taken from the lookout, with a view of the island of Tahiti.
A typical scene around Moorea – boats, boats, and boats.
A view of the volcanic mountains that make up the island’s center.
Water, water, everywhere….
Can you see their long fishing poles?
Only in French Polynesia have we seen the water take on bands of turquoise far out, where a reef emerges from the ocean.
It is almost impossible not to take a photo when you see multi-colored water.
A view of Mt. Rotui, taken from Mike’s dive boat in Opunohu Bay.
Mike loves triggerfish when they are lonely.
Another photo taken from the dive boat – notice how green the mountains are from all the rain, and a daily humidity of 70-80 percent.
There’s a boat way out yonder!
It’s crazy to be able to get shots like this on an island!
🎶 Summertime, and the livin’ is easy 🎶 This is our “lazy” photo – motionless boats, a droopy palm, and a beautiful reflection of clouds in the water.
It is the rainy season here, through the end of April. There were always dark clouds swirling around the mountains. The “worst” rain we encountered was for 3 minutes one afternoon as we were driving around. That was it!
We love that there are all sorts of “lines” in the water where reefs begin and end.
The Abandoned Bulldozer of Moorea – it is just sitting in a field along the road. We are wondering how long it has been there, to get so completely encompassed by vines?
Another view of the mountains in clouds.
Believe it or not, THIS is Moorea’s hospital.
This is the island of Tahiti, 10 miles away (40 minutes by ferry) from Moorea. The clouds are gathering, but as we said – all bark, no bite.
Notice how clear the water is.
Tahiti with cloud cover, again. Notice the beach bungalows and the crystal-clear water in front of them.
View from the Beldevere Lookout, halfway up one of the mountains.
Another view, where you can see the ocean on either side of the middle mountain.
The Hilton Moorea pool area.
Also at the Hilton Moorea, we watched four jet skis pull up onto the docking pad.
A small tree-covered “motu” (island) out in the ocean.
This statue was about 10 feet tall.
Boats, boats, boats….
A coconut palm orchard, along the beach.
There were lots of small bays like this on the 37-mile ring road around Moorea.
Did we ever mention that what you see all over Moorea are boats, boats, boats?

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