Whenever you take part in activities or experiences that involve the outdoors or wildlife, you need to take into consideration that things don't always go to plan. Being in the outdoors the weather can turn unpredictable and as a result it could be unsafe to do certain things and wildlife are, well, wild! Wildlife can choose to co-operate and make an appearance for a day you'll never forget or they may just want to have a lazy day and go off and do their own thing in peace.
There were a couple of days during this trip that showed weather to be unfavourable for water activities due to strong winds which of course meant we were unable to go out and search for whales as water conditions were too choppy and dangerous. On these days we had the whole day to ourselves to do as we wish. Some people in the group were disappointed but as for me, I found it the perfect excuse to see what the island had to offer by land!
On one of the days I decided to hire a bike for a few hours and went for the most beautiful ride along the coast of Moorea. I honestly felt like I was in a wonderful dream as I passed hundreds of palm trees and gorgeous greenery, I heard the birds chirping their songs, I found cute little chill out areas with hammocks attached to trees, the water was a stunning blue, I passed luxurious resorts (including the overwater bungalow ones!), I stopped along the way to say hello to the locals and grabbed myself some of their freshest fruit on offer at the stalls on the side of the road and I passed by many dogs who were either wandering around or lazing in the shade. I even saw an enormous cruise ship which was about to dock on the island! The weather was starting to turn so I made my way back to Hotel Hibiscus, I was in no hurry of course, being island time and all! Once I made it back I returned the bike, had a quick shower and got all cosy in my bed drifting off to the pitter patter of the rain.
On the other day, I booked myself a spot on a tour with FranckyFranck Moorea Tours where I got to see the island in all different perspectives from down low to up high! I was conveniently picked up from Hotel Hibiscus and joined a small group of others inside the 4WD and we were off on our way!
We started off by visiting a vanilla plantation located in the Tropical Garden above Opunohu Bay where we got to see how the vanilla beans are grown and learnt about their background and how they are used in Moorea. There is also a little shop at this plantation where we had the opportunity to taste samples of the most delicious home made jams using the fruits grown in Moorea. You can also buy drinks, marmalades and other home made goodies here.
We continued our way upwards Magic Mountain. At this point the clouds started looming and rain was spitting, the track leading up the mountain was muddy and rocky and i'll admit I felt quite nervous looking out my window and seeing the vertical drop below but I had full faith in the driver and was able to relax and enjoy the view of the ocean! Unfortunately once we reached the top lookout it was coming over quite dark and you could see the rain threatening to flood down any second. I managed a quick look of the ocean, lagoon and the island below and wasn't able to take any photos as the clouds swallowed everything in it's path and bam! The rain came teeming down! We quickly made our way to the warmth and shelter of the vehicle and continued on our way to the next location.
Next stop was The Belvedere, also known as Moorea's best viewpoint however, you need good, clear weather to fully enjoy it's beauty. Even though the particular day we went was overcast conditions, the view was just as beautiful and well worth the visit regardless.
We then made our way back down the mountain and it was heart stopping! This mountain is steep and with the recent rain, going down was very nerve racking but we made it to the bottom safely and continued driving to the pineapple plantation. It was this day that I discovered how pineapples were actually grown (did anybody else think they grew on trees?)
Pineapples in fact are grown out of the ground. To grow a pineapple, you cut off the crown (green, leafy top of the pineapple) and plant it and water thoroughly. Depending on growing conditions and the health of the pineapple you originally cut from, you may expect a flower to bloom within months or sometimes years. This flower is actually the start of your new pineapple and once fully developed you have yourself a whole new pineapple! This plantation had hundreds of them growing in all different stages and it was a really interesting part of the tour for me.
The final leg of the tour was at a distillery called Manutea where we got the chance to sample some of their liquors. I don't mind alcohol, I enjoy spirits like vodka, whiskey and bourbon and decided to give some of the local stuff a go. I took a shot of liquor and instantly gagged, I didn't find it pleasant at all and didn't hesitate washing away the taste with some juice they provide afterwards. You also have the opportunity to buy alcohol from this place as well as souvenirs.
Operates: Monday - Saturday
Duration: Half Day (roughly 3.5 hours)
Price: Adult - USD 50 per person
Children under 2 - Free
Children under 12 - Half Price