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moorea, tahiti, moorea, tahiti ~ back & forth

Posted by on June 9, 2015

June 1 – July 2, 2014

Ha’apiti, Moorea ~ crystal clear water & gorgeous mountain peaks

Even though s/v Liward was anchored in Baie d’Opunohu on Moorea’s north side, Steve and Lili rented a car and drove down to see us in Ha’apiti for the day. There were warm hugs all around when we picked them up at the stone wharf and dinghied them out to the boat. It was so good to see old friends from the previous season in French Polynesia. The last time we’d seen Steve and Lili was nearly a year earlier in the Tuamotus. They brought lunch for everyone (ham, tomato and emmental cheese with mustard on a baguette), and while Lili and I visited on the boat, Wil and Steve went to catch a few waves. By the end of the day, they had convinced us to move around to Baie d’Opunohu, so we could have a music jam session and meet another kid boat who also had musicians onboard. The following day, we did just that.

navigating the busy waters near Marina Taina

After 2 days in Ha’apiti, and 3 days in Opunohu, we were off to Tahiti to finalize our entry papers (a whole other story in itself!) and to do some re-provisioning. s/v Liward would be moving on toward Huahine and Raiatea, so just after a few days of catching up, it was already time to bid farewell. However, we had no definite plans, and Liward would eventually be returning to Tahiti, so it was quite possible we would bump into them again.

big boats Med moored at Marina Taina

When we arrived in the anchorage near Marina Taina, we were reminded of how little we like to anchor there. A swelly, deep anchorage where boats are anchored on top of each other. When the wind is up, boats drag. Also, regardless of wind speed, anchors frequently get tripped when another boat hauls its anchor to leave. On a day with absolutely no wind, s/v Outsider’s anchor was tripped while they were ashore for the day. They were anchored near us, and we noticed that their boat (a catamaran comparable in size to ourselves) was slowly drifting backwards. With Wil on our boat handling a line, and I in the dinghy pushing their boat, we managed to side-tie Outsider to our boat until Ian and Wendy returned. Justine had tried to raise them on the VHF, but with no luck. There are many moorings in the area, but they are not rated high enough for our tonnage.

Regardless of the craziness of the anchorage, we were quite excited about shopping at Carrefour again. Beautiful fresh produce, so many cheeses, baguettes, and chocolates! We started hearing cruisers on the SSB referring to the anchorage as Carrefour Bay . . . a very appropriate name we thought!

local boats at their moorings near Punaauia, Tahiti

About our entry papers. When we checked in with our agent,Tehani at Tahiti Crew, we discovered that our arrival papers from Tubuai had been lost. Both the agent and the gendarme in Tubuai had no record of our clearance into the country. Also, I had neglected to make copies before mailing our paper to Tahiti, so we had no papers onboard either. I always make copies of forms that need to be mailed, and this time I forgot! Fortunately, we had the stamp in our passport for proof. Although, we were wishing that there wasn’t a stamp, and we could just start the clearance from scratch for the date we arrived in Tahiti. Until officials could sort out how to handle our situation, we were not permitted to leave the Tahiti/Moorea area. Twist our arms!

surf at Passe de Taapuna ~ a smaller training wave for Teahupo’o

We spent some days re-provisioning and getting parts for the boat. Wil traveled into Pape’ete three times on his own, either by catching a ride with someone or by taking the bus. The kids and I had no desire to go into Pape’ete, so we worked on completing the school year (something we did the previous year in the very same anchorage!), and we gathered provisions more locally. Once we had everything we needed, as well as a round of duty-free fuel, it was time to get away from all the hustle and bustle.

Moorea ~ as seen from the Tahiti side of Chenal de Moorea



another beautiful image of Moorea’s peaks

A return visit to Ha’apiti was first on the agenda. We hung there for one week . . . swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and surfing. Only once did we go ashore for a baguette. Life was grand!


paddling out to surf Passe Matauvau ~ Ha’apiti



stronger winds didn’t stop our fun!


late for school because he was out with the dolphins

hurrying back for school!


kite board & windsurfer paradise ~ we just watch in amazement







such incredibly clear water ~ this is actually too deep to stand!











Eventually, we moved back around to Baie d’Opunohu, except this time anchoring on the west side of the bay opening. We wanted to have a shorter dinghy ride for a return visit to see and swim with Moorea’s infamous sharks and sting rays. The year before, we had done the sharks and stings rays with s/v SueƱo and s/y Duende. It was strange to think we were back, but on our own this time. We were very reminiscent about our first visit.

eager sting rays waiting for their treat


eager black tips also waiting


these sting rays are not shy


almost like trained dogs






ready to grab a morsel

black tip sharks pick up any leftovers










so graceful


shy, but always lurking


butterfly fish coming for a snack ~ check out who’s lurking in the background















butterfly fish diving


butterfly fish, goat fish, & needlefish










have food and they will come












having a run with a sting ray?


keep a flat palm, so fingers don’t go in too


preferring a safer position when the number of sharks increase










very pale water is extremely shallow


marks the narrow channel between large areas of coral reef and shallows








looking east toward our anchorage near Papetoai at Baie d’Opunohu





anchorage at the head of Baie d’Opunohu


panoramic of the head of Baie d’Opunohu


Baie d’Opunohu


Baie d’Opunohu









Next on our To Do List was to find a Polynesian dance performance. The year before, we had missed all of the Heiva festivities because we had chosen to stay longer in the Tuamotus. It was hard to believe we had spent 3 months in French Polynesia and had not seen a single Tahitian-style dance! This time would be different. We located an affordable dance performance at the Club Bali Hai in Baie de Cook, just one bay to the east of Baie d’Opunohu. For most of a week prior to the performance, we were anchored just outside the eastern side Baie de Cook near the village of Maharepa.

The village of Maharepa turned into a convenient and good place for us to be. There is a decent sized supermarket, as well as a pharmacy. I needed to find more thyroid medicine for myself and was able to see a local doctor (upstairs from the pharmacy) who filled a prescription for me. The doctor visit was $35, and a 3-month thyroid prescription was $56. One doesn’t find those prices in the States!

During our time at Maharepa, we received word that my 73-year old dad had been in a terrible bicycle accident. In an attempt to avoid a collision with a car, he went through a wooden fence, fell down an 8-foot embankment, and landed on rock boulders below. In addition to being knocked unconscious, he suffered a severe puncture wound to the thigh, a broken wrist, and multiple areas of cuts and scrapes (some of which needed stitches). We were thankful we had an internet connection, and I was able to Skype with my mom and dad throughout the ordeal. We were also extremely thankful that he was still alive, or that his injuries weren’t a lot worse.

pineapple fields in Baie de Cook


Baie de Cook near Club Bali Hai

On the afternoon prior to the performance at Club Bali Hai, we moved the boat further into Baie de Cook in order to be next to the club. The Tahitian dancing was amazing, and I can’t believe we didn’t get any pictures! It was a rainy evening, so it was a challenge to keep ourselves dry while getting to shore. We had decided to keep things simple and didn’t bring a camera. Due to the rain, the performance was moved into the resort lobby. We were mesmerized by the drum beat and incredible speed at which the dancers are capable of moving. At the end of the performance, the dancers began pulling up people from the audience. A male dancer pulled Justine up to dance and showed her how to move. A female dancer attempted to get Colin up, but when he wouldn’t go, Wil ended up being the next victim. Justine shocked us with her ability to move her hips along with the other dancers. I couldn’t believe that was my daughter up there! Wil, on the other hand, after a pretty good attempt, wasn’t quite as graceful. Again, I was surprised because I’ve always known Wil to be a good dancer.

Once we checked off seeing a Polynesia dance performance from our list, it was time to finally complete our clearance papers. Again, we made the 15-mile journey back to Tahiti to meet with the agent. There had been no success in locating our original papers, so they finally decided it was okay for us to fill out and backdate new arrival forms. We had suggested that in the beginning!

We had our papers in hand, and we were officially legal. We were free to explore islands away from Moorea and Tahiti. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves on an overnight passage to Huahine.

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