23 June 2009 | Moorea
We have found tropical paradise here in Moorea - this is the favorite place that we have visited so far. We loved the Tuamotos, but this is different again. The dramatic sweeping vistas plus amazing protected lagoons.
The boat is anchored in Opunohu Bay, just inside the reef looking up at the most jaw dropping views of the ragged top of the extinct volcano that forms the bay. We are sitting in 20 feet of such clear water that we can watch the fish swimming around our anchor and they look as close as if we were in the water with them. The temperature is perfect, there is wind during the day and evening, and it quiets down at night. The last couple of nights were just cool enough to snuggle under a sheet (it is winter here after all). There is a beach and huge park next to us and unlimited places to snorkel.
This week-end was the rendez-vous party for the Puddle Jump group, the boats that crossed this season from North and Central America. What started out as a quiet anchorage with a handful of boats was transformed into a floating city as 60 boats arrived for the festivities. It has been wonderful seeing old faces and familiar boats, and there are tons of kids here for the Timothy and Finn to play with. The rendez- vous included an exciting day of traditional sports organized by the Tahiti Tourism bureau. Timothy and I paddled like crazy in an outrigger canoe race - they are really fast, much harder than it looks, and our team was completely humbled by a very fit Tahitian girl. There were competitions in coconut husking and rock lifting and of course lots of more Polynesian music and dancing. Today there were plenty of sore shoulders, aching lower backs, and fair share of hung over cruisers. With the event done, boats are thinning out and we are starting to get our peaceful anchorage back.
Today we had an amazing experience swimming with the rays at the end of the island. There is a beautiful sandy area inside the reef where the sting rays congregate. Dozens of huge rays were swimming in about 6' of water and they would glide right up like puppies hoping for a treat. They are huge and scary but gentle, with skin the consistency of shitake mushrooms (if you can picture mushrooms the size of couch cushions). Mary was a favorite and there were rays lovin' all over her. There were also several black tipped reef sharks circling looking for a hand out. There are so many dive tours to the area that they are completely used to people and gather hoping to be fed.
Tomorrow we are moving on as we have only two weeks left on our visa here in French Polynesia. The next stop is Huahine, and we are looking forward to seeing what is describe as one of the most unspoiled islands here, with a pace of life that has not changed much for centuries.
Check out the new pictures for our passage and the islands we have visited so far. We finally had a good enough internet connection to post some photos.