Moorea is a simply stunning French Polynesian island… it’s literally the stuff movies are made of (wait, I think a few movies were filmed there actually). In fact some say it’s the most beautiful island you’ve never heard of.
We took the red-eye from LAX on a 9 hour flight. I’d heard since you do fly over the equator, the flight is more bumpy as humidity is highest causing more turbulent weather possibilities. So be sure to prepare for that if you’re a nervous nelly flyer like I am. That said, it was a smooth flight into Papeete the capital of French Polynesia, and we took a ferry 10 miles to the island of Moorea.
Upon arrival, we realized we had arrived in paradise. The cool breeze and turquoise water surrounded by gorgeous green cliffs, felt as though we had stepped into a movie. Moorea has eight mountain peaks rising from the turquoise lagoon, and the striking scenery inspired the mythical Bali Hai in the movie The South Pacific.
When we walked into the Manarva Resort and Spa and were shown to our overwater bungalow, we could not get our bathing suits on fast enough.
We dove off our private deck to swim and snorkel with the most beautiful marine life, and practically spent the whole week in the water.
The island is a popular honeymoon destination, and was full of adorable newly-weds de-stressing from their wedding, and I’d be lying if I didn’t catch the beautiful brides once in a while gazing longingly at our boys.
We spent a day swimming and snorkeling with sharks and sting rays (totally normal to put your seven year old in water with sharks right?!?). I was the most apprehensive in the family, and after Hot Hubby and both boys jumped into the shark infested water without any hesitation, I didn’t want to miss out on this bucket list experience, and I slowly lowered myself into the water. The black tip reef sharks and stingrays started circling us immediately. It was amazing but also slightly unsettling. We were able to touch and pet the stingrays, and even hold out fish parts to hand feed them. They’re very comfortable with people and often bumped us, and no matter how many times it happened, I still jolted every time I felt something slimy on my legs. At one point I was swimming with my face in the water holding Julian’s hand, and about seven reef sharks swam towards us and just sort of parted and swam around us…. I was hyperventilating and happy they didn’t decide to nibble on Julian.
I’d strongly recommend a lagoon tour and snorkeling with sharks and stingrays while visiting Moorea. It’s safe, fun, and one of the most heart-thumping experiences ever. (If that’s your cup of tea).
In the spirit of full disclosure, French Polynesia is not a budget destination. Accommodations are expensive, grocery stores are overpriced and have limited options, restaurants are outrageously expensive (think $20 for a kids meal of grilled cheese and a glass of milk), beer and wine are insanely expensive ($15 for a small glass of house beer) and public transportation is practically non-existent. We would fill up with the buffet breakfast that was included in our accommodation, and try and last the day on the banana and granola that we were able to sneak from breakfast. Hot Hubby is able to not let that bother him or intrude on his vacation, and I’m trying to do that more, I’m just super value conscious, and had a hard time relaxing and not looking at the $15 beers and $20 milkshakes at dinner!
Have you swam with sharks? Would you do it with your children?