We spent 9 wonderful days in FP – 4 nights each in Moorea and Bora Bora. This report concerns the 4 days in Moorea.
We booked two tours through Alberts Tours – 3 hour jet ski and 3 hour ATV tour of the island. I conversed with Alberts about our options for the tours via email before our departure, but did not book the actual tours until we arrived.
The jet ski tour was first. Originally, we had booked the shorter trip, because I knew that they stayed inside of the reef. However, about an hour later, Alberts contacted us and indicated that others were booking the longer circle island trip and would we be interested in that? Sure, we’ll give it a try! But I forgot to ask about leaving the protection of the reef –oops!
Alberts picked us up from our hotel (Sofitel) promptly at 8:30 a.m. and delivered us to their hut across the street from the Bali Hai. Check-in was quick and efficient. Two other couples joined us – a couple about our age and a younger couple with 2 small children (one was about 5-6 the other was 3 or 4 – discovered later that the Dad fudged on the youngest one’s age to do the tour which has a minimum age of 5).
We walked across the street to the Bali Hai – received a brief lesson on ‘how-tos’ and then these words met my ears: ‘we’ll be going outside the reef for about 2 km.’ OMG what did I do?!
Started the engines and off we went at about 25-30 km/mile. Short time later, we exited the reef and the one most harrowing 20-30 minutes of our lives began. My husband is aggressive in his street driving, while I’m more careful. Fortunately, my husband was driving – otherwise we would still be out there waiting for the waves to settle down! Riding these waves was worse than riding a steer (I’ve done that so I know what I’m talking about). We were on the top of the wave and then suddenly it would fall out below us, dropping us to the bottom, similar to those sudden drops in turbulent air plane rides. I had to grip the ski with my legs in order to stay on the ski and my bum smacked the seat hard on many occasions. Several times the waves came over the top of us while we were at the bottom – threatening to dump us over. I don’t know how he did it, but my husband kept us upright through this and I’ll forever adore him for his bravery! I kept looking for re-entry for the reef and finally – there it was! Later my husband admitted to me that this part scared him – more than facing the NPA in the Philippines! I’m glad he waited until a few days later to tell me that. :0
Once we re-entered the reef – the ride was very pleasant. We zipped through the reef avoiding the ‘hazard’ buoys that marked the path of travel. Those buoys showed us where the reef was. We paused a couple of times to see if the dolphins would join us – no luck so we returned to our rapid pace through the reef. We stopped at a shark and ray feeding location. Upon our arrival, there was a boat of about 20-25 people already in the water feeding the rays and sharks. As soon as we shut off our engines, the rays started swimming up to us. We couldn’t get off the skis without stepping on a ray. I was a little hesitant at first about jumping off into shark infested waters, but then thought ‘hey – there’s 25 or so people in here and no one is being eaten, so what the heck’ – in I went. The water level was just about chest level (I’m 5’6”). I could stand, but could easily revert to swimming if I needed to. We found the sharks and I was not scared at all. They stay about 10 feet away from you on their own. In fact, as you move towards them, they widen their circle away from you – you could not touch them if you wanted to – and I didn’t want to! Several times, the 2 guides had to bring the group back into the shallower area to avoid having the sharks leave the shelf and head down into deeper water. The sharks were as large as 5-6 feet, and they were amazing! Some had previous injuries, some had mottled skin, but they were all gorgeous. They were black tip reef sharks.
The rays were like huge puppy dogs – they would come right up to your chest and hug you. This gave us pause a couple of times, and there were several people commenting on Steve Irwin’s unfortunate accident. The key is to avoid the tail area, which can be difficult at times with all of the rays swimming around.
After about 20-25 minutes, we were back on the skis and zipping through the reef. The younger couple with the kids was experienced jet skiers and several times, cut us off while zipping back and forth. More than once, they sprayed us with water, temporarily blinding us – they were pretty rude and inconsiderate to the other riders, but they and their kids were having fun!
The other couple with us dumped their ski over and couldn’t upright it. The guide wasn’t watching and was pretty far away before he realized what happened. It took him two efforts to get them back on. The rest of the ride was uneventful – but the views of the island and water will remain with me always – it was breathtaking.
We took a break between the tours on our 2nd day – rented a car and did a self-guided tour around the island, up to Belvedere, the ag school (mango ice cream – yum!), and hiked through the jungle through the archaeological area. We rented from Avis at the ferry dock. They picked us up from the Sofetil. Gas for our day trip cost about 2300 xpf, the car cost 8100. Because this day was actually our 25th anniversary – we used the car to eat outside the resort. The locals suggested either Mahogany’s or Le Mayflower. We didn’t’ like the location of either and ate at Kravkas (?) – which had horrible food, but a nice view of the lagoon. It really didn’t’ matter where we ate, I was with my best friend for life, we had a great 25th anniversary day.
The ATV trip on the 3rd day with Carl was very nice – we went back to Belvedere and the ag school (pineapple ice cream today – yum again!). Up to the 360 view mountain. There were only 2 couples in our tour – us and another. It was very nice with the smaller group of people.
Everyday we snorkeled in and around our OWB at the Sofitel – the snorkeling was fantastic. I’ll remember this trip always