Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Moorea with Visitors

Mark and I – and probably most cruisers – prefer Moorea to Tahiti, so we tried to leave the “big island” as soon as possible, once our guests Griet and Wim arrived from Belgium. The wind predictions were favorable (about 15 knots from the east), but, as usual, none of that materialized. Instead of the funky west winds from last time, we didn’t have enough wind to keep the sails full this time, so we had to motor sail most of the 25 miles to the Opunohu Bay area in Moorea. All of our eyes were focused on the horizon is search of whales, but none were to be spotted.

As we were driving in between the channel markers of Opunohu Bay, we counted seven masts in our (small) anchorage of choice, so we steered towards the alternative and bigger anchoring area near the beach. I saw something in the water approaching us: “Whale!” Fifty feet forward of our bow, a big humpback whale surfaced, followed by her calf. They were leaving the channel, into the ocean. Dumbfounded and thrilled – a combination between awe (wow, amazing!) and ouch (wow, don’t hit us!) – we grabbed our cameras, but the pair dove down and didn’t pop up again until they reached safer waters, out of camera reach.

The following days, Irie sat in the clear waters of the two reef anchorages and the darker, brackish water of Opunohu Bay. We took our visitors up to Magical Mountain for the amazing view over the surrounding reefs, buzzed amongst a pod of dolphins with our dinghy, hiked through the forests and into the hills to reach a couple of viewpoints, and swam with reef sharks and stingrays. While we took care of some boat errands and daily life chores, Griet and Wim donned their snorkel gear and explored the underwater world. Our last day in Moorea was filled with boat preparations (cleaning of the hull, hauling Mark up the mast, securing a whole bunch of things, separating the outboard from the dinghy, etc…) for the overnight trip to Huahine, our next destination.

Whale "footprint", where she dove down

New Zealand "green lip" mussels with Griet and Wim

These $900 a night bungalows have the same view as Irie! :-)

Dolphins in the bay, let's go play!

Irie's anchorage NE of Opunohu Bay, as seen from Magical Mountain

Reef view from Magical Mountain

Marae along the way to the Belvedere

Big trees and big people

Mount Rotui and Cook's Bay seen from the Belvedere viewpoint

Mount Rotui and Opunohu Bay seen from the Belvedere

Posing with my cousin Griet and her husband Wim in front of Moorea's most famous mountain

Interesting looking tree along the hike back down to the valley

Some new scenery on the downward part of our hike

And, we had a few more challenging and adventurous sections as well

View of the valley on the way down

Pineapple plantation

Majestic Mount Rotui

Sunset in the mouth of Opunohu Bay

Kite surfer near the "ray feeding" area


Griet's first snorkel with sharks - a bit intimidating!

But not for long... Well done!

The stingrays have been fed here for over 20 years and are very docile and "sweet"

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