Looking out our apartment window on Tahiti, we have a marvelous view of the smaller, neighboring island of Moorea.
When I first saw Moorea, “Bali Hai,” the song from the musical South Pacific, popped into my head. I imagined the mythical Bali Hai looked like Moorea, though James Michener based Bali Hai on Ambae, another island in the South Pacific.
John and I loaded up the apartment-provided snorkel gear and ferried across to Moorea yesterday. We rented a car and made our first stop a public beach.
Once I stuck my toe in the water, I realized why we had this lovely beach all to ourselves. Too cold to snorkel — at least for a once-every-blue-moon snorkeler like me.
We opted to explore the small island, stunning in its lush greeness.
We stopped for lunch at Mahana’s. The food was good, but the view was great.
Moorea and Tahiti are natural beauties, but man has done little to enhance the Creation here. Once you get past the resorts and stunning views, you’re confronted with poverty, old dirty buildings and terrible infrastructure. It’s not a Gauguin painting.
During our brief time here, I couldn’t help but ask myself: Where does all the money go? French Polynesia is very expensive. The money must get pocketed because it’s not invested in fundamental public services like adequate roads for the amount of traffic, public transport or decent communications services.
Yet, tourists like me keep coming for those moments in which we catch a glimpse of the South Pacific paradise we’ve heard about in song or seen in still or moving pictures.
A Whale of an Addendum
John and I spent this, our last day in Tahiti, in search of whales. Humpbacks come to the predator-free waters off Tahiti this time of year to mate, give birth and raise their young for about three months before heading south again.
We didn’t have to go very far. Just a few hundred yards outside the island’s reef, we spotted a baby humpback whale and its mother.
The baby was very curious about the weird creatures (snorklers) who had come to play. It swam among the snorklers, a gentle giant at about 30-feet in length, until mom rose from the depths to corral her offspring and swim away.
It was a stellar ending to a great trip!