French Polynesia

heading to Moorea

Tuesday, August 4th 2020

To reach the island of Moorea, I chose to take the ferry. At the Papeete ferry terminal, I buy my ticket for the crossing and put my two big bags in one of the luggage carts. I board the Aremiti 6 for a 40-minute trip. Located 17 kilometers from Tahiti, Moorea is separated from Tahiti by a deep channel that exceeds 1,500 meters in some parts. 

Arrivée à Moorea
Ferry Aremiti

As soon as we’re offshore, I start to feel the swell, the coast of Moorea is getting closer.
I have the amazing feeling of sailing in the wake of Captain Cook… As he must have done two centuries earlier, I contemplate, in this late afternoon, the green peaks, sharp as teeth, biting the sky.

Moorea à vélo
A Moorea

Biking on the coastal road

The loop around the island is equal to 60 km by the coastal road. Almost flat all along, Moorea is really ideal for biking.

My blue bike is in harmony with the turquoise water of the lagoon. I stop here and there to take pictures of the va’a on the edge of the lagoon, the fishing nets drying in the shade of a tree, the rooster and its hens crossing the road.

Vélo Moorea
Poules à Moorea

These small va’a are used to fish in the lagoon. Before the pirogues were cut directly from a trunk. The ancient Polynesians would go to the valleys to find the perfect trunk, they would cut it and carve it on the spot.

Va'a traditionnelle
Va'a traditionnelle

The coconut milk fish

For lunch, I stop at the snack Mahana recommended by Flo (Flo, I present it to you right after) as one of the best in Moorea.
I settle down at a small table, my feet in the sand on the edge of the lagoon. I’m very lucky, it was the last place available because ransom of success this restaurant is always crowded.
I order their famous raw fish with coconut milk: white tuna, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, lemon, ginger. I confirm, it’s the best I’ve ever eaten in Polynesia.

poisson au lait de coco
Les sorbets de Moorea
Deux boules de sorbet

Moorea sorbet

On the way back, during a rain shower, I take a gourmet break at the Sorbets de Moorea
Guava, corossol, pineapple, passion… I want to taste them all tongue-out

At the end of the day, the sun’s rays play behind the clouds and disappear in dotted lines in the bay.

Moorea Panorama

Tour of Moorea by car

I met Flo and her son, Ariitea, in the small guest house where I was staying. Flo is half Tahitian on her mother’s side and half French on her father’s side. Flo grew up near Nice and moved to Tahiti about 15 years ago.
Flo is familiar with Moorea, her favorite weekend destination. Just before the start of the school year, Flo came for a few days. We made friends. She offered to take me by car to go around the island. 

Couronne en feuillage
un temple
Deux boules de sorbet
Temple Moorea

Dumont d’Urville in Voyage pittoresque autour du monde give a description of the temple :
“Papetoai’s chapel is the most splendid of the whole archipelago; it forms an octagonal building of about 60 feet on each side, well re-created on the outside, built of coral blocks of a perfect polish, which play the stone. Beautiful benches and a grandstand in artocarpus wood make up its furniture.”

Temple Ebenezere

the temples

All around Moorea, we come across temples whose blue sky accentuates even more the pure white of their facades.
We stop at the edge of the Papetoi quay to look at the singular architecture of this temple: octagonal. I learn that this octagonal shape symbolizes the eight tentacles of la pieuvre fee de Papotai and also recalls the ancient name of the island, Aimeho i te rava varu (Aimeho aux huit radiations).

The first temple to be built in Polynesia, the Ebenezer Temple was erected by missionaries in 1833 directly on the Uaeva marae with the spring inside.
Papetoai became the starting point of the Protestant missionaries for the evangelization of the other islands.

Temple Ebenezer

Print of Conway Shipley, British navigator, 1840, Temple Ebenezer of Papetoai 

Temple Ebenezere

At the end of the service, braided hats and wreaths of flowers are weared.


The “Magic mountain” 

This short hike of about 1 hour starts just at the entrance of Opunohu Bay. We pass Papetoai then park the car near the Fare Tutava.
The entrance fee of 200 FCP includes parking plus a tasting of jams: papaya, grapefruit, banana and vanilla.

Degustation de confiture

The trail climbs along fruit trees. On the ground we pick huge grapefruits, oranges and also passion fruit.
Once at the top, you can admire the view: lagoon on the Papetoai side and Opunohu Bay on the other side.

Baie de Cook Moorea
Marae Moorea
Le Marae à Moorea

These stone platforms correspond to foundations, it is necessary to imagine courtyards and wooden structures on or around them. 


The Marae Tetiiroa

We take again the road in direction of the site of Marae Tetiiroa

But what is called a marae?
At the entrance of the site, here is what you can read on the explanatory panel :
“In the Polynesian world, everything was permeated with religion: political and social organization, family life, daily activities and major events.
The marae was not only a place of worship where the Polynesians of old invoked their gods and ancestors. It was also a land title, an expression of social rank and a symbol of family organization. The marae had to be built around a stone from an older marae.
At the arrival of the Europeans, there were hundreds of marae in the Society Islands; some were private (ancestral marae of each family, or marae reserved for a corporation), others were of public interest (large religious centers and marae of chiefs).
In this unwritten civilization, the religious treasure of the ancestors was transmitted orally for several centuries by priestly experts endowed with an exceptional memory. Sacred texts, incantatory songs and genealogies were also preserved over the centuries.” 

Like the ancient Tahitians, this young woman strikes the trunk of the map. This percussion sound resounds in the distance.

Les mape
Le belvédere

The Belvédère

At the end of Opunohu Bay, the road goes inland and climbs towards the famous lookout. “A must-see,” Flo tells me. From the belvedere, one can enjoy the extraordinary view of the Opunohu (left) and Cook (right) bays, and Mount Rotui between them.


This beautiful day ends with a Hinano on the beach while watching the sunset.
Hinano is the name of the beer produced by the Brasserie de Tahiti. It is by far the most popular brand in Polynesia.
Hinano is originally the name of the pandanus flower in Tahitian.

Ta’ahiamanu Beach


NANA Moorea

Nana means “Goodbye” in Tahitian.

At dawn, I take the ferry back to Papeete.
Next destination: Raiatea.

Sur le Ferry

To explore the lagoon on a paddle board, click here cool

Follow me on social media, share and write me from time to time, it could be worth more than what you can imagine …
… When you spend hours paddling and you’re on the other side of the world. embarassed

Follow me on social media, share and write me from time to time, it could be worth more than what you can imagine …
… When you spend hours paddling and you’re on the other side of the world. embarassed