Moorea Island Circle Tour E.B. GO Video in Tahiti Seeing Dolphins, Petting & Feeding Stingrays with Sharks Circling, Snorkeling Plus
Hotel Kaveka, Cook’s Bay Pics & Moorea Tourist Info
An interesting activity on the island of Moorea, just off and visible from the main island of Tahiti, is the Moorea Island Circle Tour that involves going completely around the island in a powerboat, stopping to see pods of dolphins and various beautiful parts of the island and, after circumnavigating, petting and feeding scores of stingrays in the shallows as Black Tipped Reef Sharks circle about looking for scraps of food.
Then off to a nearby Motu, coral reef islet, for lunch and a chance to snorkel in the calm lagoon with beautiful coral reefs teeming with colorful marine life. In 2012 our family went to Tahiti, with a four-year old girl and a two-year old boy, and took the Moorea Island Circle Tour as arranged by Frosch Classic Cruise and Travel’s Susan Reder, who I had worked with promoting Tahiti as a destination before departure. They picked us up at the dock of the Hotel Kaveka in the outboard powerboat and then proceeded to pick up others at hotels along the coast.
Hotel Kaveka, Cook’s Bay, Moorea, Tahiti
The Hotel Kaveka is a small family owned hotel with one of the most fantastic dining room views in all of Tahiti. Centrally located to local businesses, another great feature that many other hotels on Moorea lack is a nice coral reef fronting the restaurant for snorkeling that is calm, easily accessible and filled with tons of colorful wildlife and, as I found out, a six plus foot Morey Eel that was extremely keen about protecting his territory. I swam past him and caught the sight of a huge snake like creature going into a rock and I stopped to take some video, but then his head came the other side and showed me his rather large teeth in menacing scowl and I moved on rather quickly.
We stayed in a beach bungalow which has a small private beach with a place to play with the kids in the shallow waters and a quick swim fifty feet out for one of us to snorkel while the other watched the children. This beach also provides for lovely sunsets and a nice view of Cook’s Bay. Having fun with the shallow water with kids took some worry off because the area is small and they can’t really wander off anywhere.
The Kaveka gets tourists from all over the world and is centrally located with small markets, restaurants, car rental agencies and other hotels within close proximity. French culture mixed with the Polynesian lifestyle is certainly an interesting combination, with all the locals generally speaking both languages and passable English. Bikes are available at the hotel but riding on the main road can be rather dicey as there is not much room for error.
Renting a car for couple of days gives one an easy to way explore the island and visit all the hotels and resorts, check out different beaches, drive to Mt. Belvedere for the great view and more. The short hike thru the jungle at Belvedere to a plateau view point with places to sit and have a picnic is worth the extra effort. With a car one can also explore some of the dirt roads of the interior with villages, small agricultural operations, beautiful valleys and lush vegetation that delights the senses. Be careful as getting stuck is possible with a wrong turn or careless maneuver.
All the locals raise some type of food or have chickens running around the houses, we had many wandering on beach at the hotel. Taking the Four Wheel Drive Tour with Albert Tours is well worth the expense. The guides provide a wealth of historical info and, as locals, can provide good touring tips and you get to see all the interior highlights which includes a visit to the Agricultural School with their considerable fields, a herd of rather large pigs and a chance to hike around the colorful and prodigious flower gardens.
The Hotel Kaveka is a good value with a friendly staff and a terrific restaurant with good food all the time. Another feature is that locals from the main island of Tahiti, French and Polynesian, stay at the Kaveka for weekend getaways and this brings in a local flavor the other hotels lack.
Official Tourist Information About Moorea, Tahiti
Moorea, The Magical Island: Believed to have inspired the mythical Bali Hai from James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, Moorea is one of the most scenically striking islands in French Polynesia. Despite her immaculate beauty, she is far from unapproachable. Possessing a relaxed vibe and welcoming spirit, Moorea is just as warm and inviting as the Tahitians lucky enough to call this island home.
The Locale: Located only ten nautical miles from Tahiti, Moorea is easily accessible by ferry from Papeete. This proximity, coupled with the island’s receptive and neighborly nature, makes Moorea a favorite destination for couples, families and even locals. Still, Moorea has managed to maintain its small island feel despite this popularity and the presence of a few internationally branded resorts.
The Allure: The attraction toward Moorea comes as no surprise; the island is a geographical marvel. Eight voluminous mountain peaks rise from its translucent lagoon, creating a distinctive and rugged silhouette visible from the western coast of Tahiti. Splitting the northern shore are two symmetrical bays: Cook’s (Paopao) and Opunohu Bay. The island is roughly shaped like a heart from overhead; and in the theme of love and romance, Moorea is one of the top honeymoon destinations in Tahiti—second only to Bora Bora.
Recreation: This unique landscape gives Moorea a reputation for being one of the best islands for adventure and activity—both on land and on the water. This means that, newlyweds aside, a Moorea vacation is ideal for families, too. Many resorts on the island offer kids programs and amenities, free meals and fun activities suited for children of all ages.
Popular lagoon excursions include snorkeling, paddle boarding, cruising and fishing. During mating season, August to October, we highly recommend a whale watching tour with resident marine biologist Dr. Michael Poole. Another incredible experience is an encounter at the Moorea Dolphin Center, the only natural refuge where you can swim and play with dolphins. For complete exhilaration, try parasailing or skydiving and enjoy unforgettable panoramic views of the island.
On land, you can discover quaint villages and beaches along the waterfront, or abundant pineapple plantations at the interior. It’s very easy to rent a car and drive or even bike around the island in a day. You can also explore the scenic hillsides by Jeep, ATV or on foot. There are a variety of hiking trails suitable for everyone from the casual walker to the high intensity hiker. Regardless of how you prefer to get there, plan to see the view from Belvedere Lookout.
Other activities include golfing at the Moorea Green Pearl Golf Course, the only course in French Polynesia next to the Olivier Bréaud Golf Course in Tahiti; or visiting Moorea’s Tiki Village for a traditional feast and authentic Polynesian dance show.
Accommodation: Moorea resorts offer a diverse selection of overwater bungalows and garden villas. These four- and five-star accommodations include everything from the world-class Hilton, InterContinental, and Sofitel, to the more boutique Moorea Pearl. There are also a few small hotels and private guesthouses known as pensions available throughout the island.
Final Impression: Moorea is the pride and joy of French Polynesia. She may be considered Tahiti’s little sister, but she steals the spotlight every time. The island is a true reflection of the laid-back Tahitian lifestyle and the warm, welcoming character of French Polynesia and its people.