Moorea - French Polynesia. If paradise exists, it must be here.
Moorea Travel Blog› entry 5 of 8 › view all entries
This must be the shortest flight in the world. Between take off and landing at Moorea takes just 7 minutes. There's no room for an in fligth attendant since we flew with a twin otter who operates 40 times daily between Tahiti and Moorea or vice-versa.
Our first impression with Moorea was expensive, no... very expensive. On arrival we were looking for transportation to our resort. We were told there's no other way then riding a taxi which will costs us 38 USD. Most people who travelled here had used a travel agency and showed their 5 dollar transport voucher. I wanted to call to the Intercontinental Beachcomber asking them how to get there. They simply replied to take a taxi. The company who brought travellers to their accomodation did'nt want to sell us a 5 USD transport voucher as this was not allowed according to Moorea regulations. We ended up taking a 38 USD taxi after we paid 15 USD for a telephone card to be able to call the IC Beachcomber to request a pick up transfer of which they refused. Nobody wanted to call them for us. First impressions are always the most important. That is what I have learned when I had to study about commercialism and Marketing. Well, that does make sence because after that incident, you look things through black glasses first. Bottom line: We booked the Intercontinental Beachcomber over the internet directly to the resort and paid 1200 USD for 4 nights in an overwater bungalow without breakfast. For such accomodation, the least I would expect is to have a pick up transfer, wether or not to be paid. No resort rep.'s or anybody to give decent information was at the airport. Still in the airport, we felt for several reasons that we did'nt made the right decision by choosing the Beachcomber.
Our overwater bungalow was located above 2 to 3 meters depth of clear water. That did'nt suits our convenience for swimming. The decoration and furnishing however is super deluxe and not a bad word about that. The room is very spacious with a separate bedroom nicely decorated with local woods and fabrics. The bathroom is just fabulous. A large bathtub with floor to ceiling mirror over its full length + double sinks nicely build in marble tables. A separate shower and separate toilet behind a lockable door completes the bathroom. The living room was equiped with a nice sofa + relax chair, a coffee table and big desk. There's a minibar and tv of which you can turn 180° for your convenience to watch either from the bed or living room. The verandah over the water was the place of which we spent most after the bedroom. We had breakfast on the verandah each day.
The Moorea Beachcomber is a nice plush resort for those who has money to spent. There are weekly dinner shows at 78$ per person which we did'nt attempted. Instead we had dinner outside each night. Not that it makes you save a lot of money but we wanted to try it out. We had heard good things abot Les Tipaniers, so we took their complimentary pick up to have dinner there. Vricine had a coconut cocktail, I had 1/2 liter wine.We took green salad and Poisson Cru a la Tahitienne for appetizer and both had Mahi Mahi, fish with any choice of French fries, rice or bread. For the two of us we paid 65 USD which was great in comparison to the IC Beachcomber. The food was very delicious and served on clean cotton decked tables. One less note is that we had to wait quite a while to be served but we knew that our watches were switched to island time. We had a great dinner and wanna return immediately next time.
The IC Beachcomber is settled in a well maintained garden with the OWB's (Overwater Bungalows) built on man made motus. Vricine went in the water and came out less then 30 seconds later with a serious cut in her foot. Don't go swimming without reef shoes or at least some protective footwear. The bottom has coral everywhere.
Today we were up to some nautical fun and action. Therefor we decided to go for the Aquablue dive in the morning. To describe this funny thing best, you must use your imagination when explorers used to dive with metal helmets, lead attached to their bodies to keep underwater. This excursion does actually the same. You walk down a ladder from the boat while a heavy helmet is lifted over you head just before you go underneath the surface. When the funny yellow helmet is lowered over you head, a pipeline provides oxygen and you're ready to walk the bottom of the sea, 5 meters under the surface between corals, surrounded by permanent residents. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience not too be missed and offers super photo oppertunities ( see Moorea photo gallery ).
This afternoon, we want to continue our nautical day with fun right on the surface. An about two hours trip with a Catajet, drive it by your own, without license on the Moorea lagoon makes another great trip. These fun little machines with 25CV outboards, where you will sit side by side with your partner is easily to ride after a short introduction. You just follow the guide's Catajet who knows the nice places. First we speed-up to Opunohu Bay, made famous by Captain Cook himself who came here long before I did. Opunohu Bay is a real spectacular place. No wonder it was used as a location for the movie "The Bounty". Next, we made a snorkeling stop to discover the lagoon's marvels: colored fishes and swimming with the stingrays. We even fed sharks in shallow waters. This trip got a 10/10 rating and I want to do it over again and again. After we returned with the Catajet, I was a bit tired because of handling the Catajet over the waves. Ready for a beer, we sat down in the restaurant were the Catajet Company is based at. The Hibiscus hotel offered us a free large beer coz we were so enthousiastic about this trip. I told the owners that I would spread the word on board the Tahitian Princess later. They gave me a handfull of brochures and told us that our next ride would be free if we could bring some more people from the ship.
Tonight, we decided to have dinner outside again. We choosed for Alfredo's. Wrong bet. Over 100 dollars for 2 normal dinners on plastic chairs. Later we were told that Alfredo's has the dirtiest kitchen on the island. We could'nt see that to confirm, but the toilets were very dirty indeed. However, we saw a funny incident there. Just next to our table sat a guy drinking a glass of wiine. His table was located halfway under the edge of a roof while all of a sudden a 5-inch lizard fell off. Believe it or not, right into his glass of wine. I still see the man's eyes and speechless face. apart from that, what could happen anywhere, I admit, we noticed a few cockroaches.
Today I took 4x4 inland tour with Alber Tours. I had read good comments on this company so I choosed them. I had been calling their office 1 day ahead to book the trip and was told that the price was 3500 CFP (about 35 USD). Other participants (2 couples and another single lady) paid exactly the same although they had used different ways to book it. One went directly to their office, another booked through the resort. When the trip was finished, Tom our driver-guide wanted to charge us 4000 CFP per person. Of course I refused to pay this since it was not the agreement. I tried to explain him that we all booked the trip for 3500 CFP. He did'nt gave up untill I told him to call his head office and ask. It is not because of the 5 dollars difference but just the principle. The Moorea tour wasn't my cup of tea anyway. They stop at Tom's nephew which is a classy black pearl store. I can strongly advice to rent a moped, which is a lot more fun and you'll pay 4500 CFP for 8 hours. The 4x4 brings you to Belvedere viewpoint but is also easily accesible by moped since the road is paved untill the lookout. Bring heaps of strong mosquito repellent if you wanna do the 4x4. You can discover Tahitian gardenia, many varieties of hibiscus, paper flower, red ginger, flamingo flower, red torch ginger, golden trumpet, orchid and so on... Also the coconut groves are numerous. Inland, you will see pineapple plantations, grapefruit vanilla, taro and tiare plantations
As I had been reading good comments of Maco's Motu picnic tour as well, I decided to go today with him for a lagoon trip. Yes, indeed we had lots of fun. Maco and his wife, together with their dog are the hosts for a fun-filled day. Maco himself is a large well built guy who makes you start laughing upon first sight.
First stop on our boat tour is something really adventurous. Maco tighted a rope between corals where snorkelers could hold themselves due to high current. After Maco had thrown some fishmeat overboard, about half a dozen Black Tip sharks showed up. People enjoyed feeding them just a few footsteps away. It sounds a bit scary but Black Tip sharks are quiet safe, although not 100% ( see Bora Bora section ).
Next stop brought us to something more people-friendly activity. In an area were the water was shallow and the bottom soft-sanded, Maco dropped his anchor, inviting everyone to go in the water. For some reason stingrays were attracted by the human appearance and they seemed to like it being petted. It is really amazing how these creatures like to play with humans. Everyone, young and old had a great time in the warm crystal clear lagoon.
The picnic on the motu itself included a very nice barbeque with free Hinanos (local beer) - Viva Maco !!
Today is our last day at the Intercontinental Beachcomber resort. Looking back to our 4 days we had spent here, I can't resist sharing some incidents we had occured in the resort. During our stay, we had something missing in our bungalow. Our most valuable items were inside the electronic in-room safe but we had a 128-MB memory card being lost. Not a big deal because it was still empty but just the idea that someone might have been taken it out made us feel weird. Another incident happened upon checking out. We had several items billed on our account which we had never spent. I.e. a complete diner for two + drinks while we did'nt went to dining room at all. A 5 minute internet access was charged us 20 USD. That too was a mistake admitted the receptionist. 10-minutes were just 5 USD. Although they corrected everything without too many questions, I found it inconvenient to report it while people were listening behind us. An American woman who I had met during our stay had similar account complaints. Overall, the hotel staff had been very kind and helpfull where we needed them with one exception however. The bald male concierge who was working during the day-time was the contrary to the other friendly staff and personel. Whatever we asked for, he refused our request at all times with bad manners. We asked for a shuttle transfer from the resort to the airport. His answer was again: "impossible". We asked the same request to another front-desk staff and had our transfer voucher within 2 minutes.
Apart from this minor incident, we had a wonderful time at the Beachcomber and can highly recommend it for honeymooners or romantic people. Plenty of watersport activities are on site and the popular Dolphin Quest is right here. I went to visit the Sofitel, the Sheraton and the Pearl Beach resort, where the overwater bungalows at the Sofitel looks even fancier to these at the Beachcomber, I did'nt regret our stay at the Beachcomber. A very nice place if you ready to pay $$$.