Free Day in Moorea
23 July 2008 | Moorea
Well as luck would have it there are a collection of weather features surrounding the area forming some odd and interesting wind patterns. Of course the outcome is that the wind is coming from where we are going. A northwest wind! Come on. Oh well, tomorrow the wind is supposed to strengthen and move southwest, which would be just about perfect.
This gave us the chance to do some of the things we had not had a chance to do our last visit to Moorea. Top on our list was exploring the lagoon to the west and visiting the string ray city.
We dropped the dinghy and followed the markers over to the village just west of the mouth of Oponohu Bay. We motored around the little harbor and waved at the kids playing by the waterfront. The channel this far was pretty deep. Moving on, the markers take you through some very skinny stuff. No problem for a carefully piloted dinghy but I would stay close to the marks (not too close though as most of them are set into a coral head) and try it first with good light. Just past the Intercontenental Hotel (on the left) we came across the sting ray city (on the right toward the reef). You can usually spot the sting ray area due to the fact that there are many boats in the neighborhood supporting various groups of snorkelers.
The sting rays here have certainly been well trained by fleets of tourists with hand fulls of bait on offer. We avoid feeding the wildlife so it was funny to watch the droves of rays converge on our boat and then after a few minutes leave in disgust when no free food appeared. There are always a few rays in the area food or no. We anchored the dink in about 6-8 feet of water with a beautiful sand bottom. There are some pretty coral heads to snorkel on closer to the reef and the sand drops off to about 30 feet on the island side. In the deeper water we saw several black tip reef sharks, no doubt hanging about for scraps as well.
We continued around toward the motus off of the northwest end of the island. This is a spectacular area and we found a lone catamaran anchored in an incredibly idyllic spot, very protected inside the motus. There is a pass over this way and I assume he came through there as the dingy route inside the reef from Oponohu would be nearly impossible for a large boat of any draft.
The motus form a little lagoon which seems to be a popular tourist spot for the local hotels. It was very picturesque with impressive and vibrant coral heads cropping up from the 15 foot bottom. After touring the motus we headed around to the west side of the island. The dinghy channel seems to wind up in this area, just as well because we were getting to the end of our daylight. This far side of the island seemed much less touristy with more local people playing at the beach and boaters out enjoying the sun or returning from fishing.
On the way back we stopped at the Intercontinental for lunch. Another outrageously gorgeous hotel in paradise, and the food was not bad either (not always the case). We have never had anyone say a thing to us for tying up (out of the way of course) at a hotel's dock.
We made an early night of it back at the big boat. The weather still looked good for a long (80 mile) day sail to Huahine tomorrow so we stowed the dinghy and went to bed with everything ready to go.