Monday, September 15, 2014

Moorea: Hike from Cook’s Bay to Vaiare

From the moment Mark and I arrived in Moorea two weeks ago, it has been raining every day; the peaks of the island shrouded in clouds. Sometimes, it drizzles and gushes all day, sometimes there are breaks between the showers. Our dirty laundry was piling up for weeks, before one morning started out blue instead of grey. I seized the moment and washed everything by hand, hung the clothes on the lifelines and… the sun almost finished the job, before I had to rush out and save our garments from more wetness! At least, we didn’t have to feel guilty staying onboard for days on end and the weather was perfect to do computer work.

Another morning, we only noticed grey and white clouds, instead of a dooming black sky. We packed our backpack, donned our newish Teva sandals, jumped in the dinghy and went ashore. On the Moorea map in Lonely Planet’s “Pacific Islands”, I had seen a dotted line, a trail, running from the small village of Pao Pao on the north side of the island and where we were anchored, to Vaiare on the east side, where the ferries dunk passengers and tourists multiple times a day. Our goal was, first, to find this trail and second, to follow it to the other side, over one of the misty mountains.

It took a little while and some asking around, before we set off on the right foot. We made our way over rocks and dirt, through jungle, past gardens and between trees. After about half an hour, I had a massive blister on one of my feet, resulting in changing out the sandal for a flip flop (I was “prepared”, this had happened before) and Mark uttering words like “I am never going on a hike with you again when you wear these shoes!” (He would end up with two blisters by the time the day was over!) So, with one sandal and one flip flop on my feet, the hard part of our hike started: we were to climb the steep, muddy path (did I say it had been raining for over a week?) all the way to the top of this mountain, which size we were unaware of. But, we persisted. Luckily, there were some roots and rocks to keep us from sliding backwards. The higher we progressed, the wetter the ground became, and once we reached the top, the drizzle began. The viewpoint offered us a lot of greyness, what could have been greatness. On a clear day, the surroundings must look spectacular!
Then, the refreshing mist turned into steady rain. Do we wait it out under the small umbrella or do we continue? Wasting time to wait out rainstorms has never been part of our un-Zen-like characters. Realizing that the path would soon turn into a river and that the downhill part might be more challenging than the way up, we decided to continue. Once we came to terms with the fact that we (and our gear) would be soaking wet anyway, we found walking sticks, followed the slippery trail down the mountain, and quite enjoyed the foggy looking scenery and lush valley. When we entered well-tended gardens with plants and fruit trees, we knew the town of Vaiare would not be far.

This village on the east side of Moorea is nothing much: a ferry dock, a small marina and a few stores. At a grocery store, we asked to use an outside spigot to clean off our muddy legs and footwear. By then, the rain was coming down by the buckets, so we waited a little while and had our lunch in the covered ferry terminal. Not really what we had in mind – instead of exploring this new area a bit, we headed straight home - but, the weather is the weather, and at least we were clean and fed before we hitched two rides back to Cook’s Bay and Irie. Proud of ourselves for finally getting off the boat and having some exercise, we resumed our usual schedules, taking pictures of the beautiful surroundings of the bay, each time the sun dared to peak out.

Rocky hills surrounding Cook's Bay

Grocery store in Pao Pao at the head of Cook's Bay

Hiking in the valley towards Vaiare

Dooming clouds and rain storms - it looks pretty nasty "out there"!

One of Moorea's shrouded peaks

Irie in Cook's Bay

Cook's Bay - brown after all the rain

Pao Pao's waterfront with outrigger canoes stored on shore


Lisa Dorenfest said...

Gorgeous photos! Glad that you decided to brave the buckets of rain. I hope that good weather is coming your way. We really loved hiking 'round Moorea. Your photos and stories are making me miss it!

Unknown said...

Moorea sounds like Hawai'i !
Maybe Kaua'i or Lana'i !!
What did you think of Tahiti , Papeete ? Aloha from CT and Block Island !
Where next ?

Liesbet said...

Hi Murray,

Although I have never been to Hawaii, many cruisers (and a Hawaiian friend of ours) have made that same statement. The high islands of French Polynesia look very similar than Hawaii and the Polynesian people have a close connection to (and like to visit) the Hawaiian islands as well. Culturally, they have the same origin I believe.

Tahiti is pretty once you leave the capital and explore the interior. Pape'ete is a good place for us to go shopping and run errands, but other than the seaside park, it is not very nice. The city is busy and congested; not a place we prefer to hang out. We only go when we "have to". I think the other Society islands have more charm than Tahiti; most cruisers don't like the main island very much.

Mark and I will be spending the coming months in the Society Islands, exploring the different islands until April 2015 (after cyclone season). Then, new plans will follow... We have learned - the hard way - not to plan too long ahead.

All the best and enjoy CT - hopefully it is not getting too cold yet. :-)