Tails of the South Pacific: Part 1
By: Rick Crawford
“The South Pacific…The Isles of Enchantment.” At least that’s what the poster said that I found while browsing in a store as a college freshmen. I was looking for posters to cover my walls when I found a vintage travel poster of the South Pacific, and that poster has hung on my wall for sixteen years, which can be seen below:
There was something so romantic about this image and I always dreamed of going to French Polynesia. I became obsessed with just the idea of of the South Pacific…slack key guitar, beautiful women, exotic beaches, surfing, fishing…an unspoiled paradise. I read several books, both fiction and nonfiction, but my favorite is “Blue Latitudes” by Tony Horwitz which retraces Captain Cook’s voyage through the South Pacific. In his book, Horwitz recounts Cook’s first look at what would be named Cook’s Bay, and the imagery from Cook’s journal never escaped my mind. How breathtakingly beautiful it must have been to “discover” an island as heavenly as Moorea.
Anyways, sixteen years after discovering this vintage travel poster, my wife, Jodie, and I were headed to the South Pacific to find the “isles of enchantment” and they did not disappoint. I was also able to get in a few days of fishing in Rangiroa, but first, we had a brief stopover in Tahiti before spending several days in Moorea. Here are some photos from the isles of enchangment:
I wish we could have spent more time on Tahiti, but can say it is a beautiful island, and would like to explore the rest of the the island if I ever have the opportunity to return. The capital, Papeete, is crowded but has an amazing market and really cool food truck scene.
November 20, 2016
Enjoying an indigenous beverage on the 8 hour flight from L.A. to Papeete, Tahiti, and I will say that Hinano Tahiti beer was quite good! We arrived at midnight and were greeted by ukelele players at the airport. On the way to our hotel, our cab driver said “Hinano” means beautiful woman or pineapple. I think this place “gets me!”
November 21, 2016
We only spent one night in Tahiti and the next morning, before we headed to Moorea, we stopped by the public Papeete Market, also known as Le Marche. The market lots of exotic fruits and flowers, local art and souvenir shops and was a unique experience. Later that morning we took a 40 minute ferry to the island of Moorea, where we would spend the next few days.
Moorea is truly an unspoiled paradise. There are no high-rises, lots of agriculture and Moorea seems to have done a nice job of maintaining its authenticity while having plenty of tourist attractions. It was amazing seeing Cook’s Bay after having read about it “Blue Latitudes” and it seems relatively untouched, which was oh so nice.
I don’t think words or pictures can adequately describe Moorea. A true paradise. I should note that we avoided major resorts as they were very pricey, and opted instead to stay at local bed and breakfast’s and I highly recommend going this route. In Moorea, we stayed at the wonderful Taoahere Beach House. The hosts, bungalow, food and views were all excellent!
I recommend Taohere if you prefer a laid back and authentic French Polynesian experience. They provided great restaurant recommendations to local spots and our bungalow had its own kitchen, so we cooked our own breakfast and enjoyed the view every morning.
November 22, 2016
Taoahere Beach House provides kayaks and we took full advantage and paddled inside the reef right in front of the Taoahere and it was gorgeous! Moorea almost looks fake it’s so beautiful, and we savored every minute.
November 23, 2016
We rented scooters and went cruising around the entire island. We stopped at some other public beaches, shops and consistently encountered views like the one pictured above. The isles of enchantment indeed!
November 24, 2016
We drove our scooters and went hiking around Belvedere Lookout, which had the most incredible views of Opunohu Bay and Cook’s Bay! We also visited ancient Polynesian archaeology sites, which were very interesting. As we sat there admiring the view we counted our blessings and couldn’t imagine a better way to start Thanksgiving Day. How fortunate we were to live a dream!
Well, to wrap up Tails of the South Pacific: Part 1…Moorea was absolutely incredible! The food was excellent pretty much everywhere we went. My favorite meal was the poisson cru from Taoahere Beach House, which is a local favorite and consists of raw tuna, cucumber, tomato, red onion and coconut milk served with a side of rice. Also, the scenery was seriously the most beautiful I have ever seen and looked “as advertised.” Moorea was remarkable and the people are all fluent in Polynesian, French and English, which makes communicating easy. Moorea…paradise found!
Stay tuned for Tails of the South Pacific: Part 2 where we head over to Rangiroa, find another island utopia and fly fish for exotic species and large bonefish!