Circumnavigation and Exploration of the Most Beautiful Tropical Island in the World – Moorea!
- Moderate outrigger paddling on a crystalline lagoon
- Snorkeling on a coral reef and hiking in lush tropical valleys
- Field lectures and discussions of natural and cultural heritage of the islands
- Hiking and exploring valleys and archaeological sites
- Lots of interaction with local inhabitants
- Great expedition for families
- 7 nights hotel; 8 days of great adventure
The Polynesian are well known as the greatest sea voyagers in history. They carried out these voyages on outrigger canoes perfectly designed to carry people efficiently over long distances. Today the Tahitians are the world champions of outrigger paddling. With this unique expedition we invite you to experience a part of Polynesian culture that has crossed from ancient times to the present.
Moorea lies just across the Sea of the Moon from Tahiti and experienced tropical island travelers will tell you that it is the most beautiful island in the region, and possibly the world. It is a high oceanic island with an encircling barrier reef that is home to an amazing array of tropical fish and coral formations. It's deeply eroded valleys are rimmed by magnificent peaks and cliffs, and the coral reef creates a wonderful calm lagoon, perfect for paddling and exploring. The people here have yet to be overwhelmed by the tourist hoards as on some of the other islands and there are still places on Moorea that are relatively unexplored. This trip is set up to take advantage of these facts and get to know an island that in some ways is still as stunning and welcoming as when Captain Cook first visited it in 1777.
We will time our days so that we can take in the amazing coastal scenery at a comfortable pace, paddling through crystalline lagoon waters, into magnificent bays, and taking time to get out of our boats with mask and snorkel, and explore the coral reef up close. Along the way we will see why the legends of Moorea liken it to an octopus, as the brilliant greens of the mountain slopes shift colors with the angle of the sun and cover of clouds. We will also lead some hikes through the tropical forest of the island’s interior, and over ridges connecting dramatic valleys. On these trails we will see the traces of ancient Polynesian villages – their houses, agricultural fields, and worship sites – and will hear the amazing story of the formation of the island and its coral reef, from underwater volcano to the island you see today, teeming with marine and terrestrial life. Along the way we will explore the human story of the Polynesian people who first settled these islands and thrived in this earthly paradise.
Our outriggers (in Tahitian called va’a) are state of the art racing canoes that we have outfitted for expeditions. Each one carries a maximum of 5 guests and 1 guide who sits in the stern seat and steers the canoe. They are very comfortable, stable, and easy to paddle.
Our accommodations will be in a variety of hotels and pensions, in order to meet local people on their own terms and get a sense of what modern Polynesia is all about. Upgrades or a customized accommodation plan is available upon request.
Meals included in these tours are specified at the end of each itinerary day as "B," "L," or "D" (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner).
This is a travel day. There are flights every day from Los Angeles to Tahiti. Some arrive in the evening, too late to get to Moorea, and some arrive very early morning. Because of this we don’t offer a fixed hotel or transport on this “day” but we will work with you to arrange and book any accommodations and transport that you need in order to get you to Moorea by the morning of Day 2.
This will be an easy day of getting organized and used to paddling the outriggers. First of all we will visit the UC Berkeley Research Station and the Atitia cultural center to talk about outrigger canoes in Polynesian history and culture. Then after an introduction to paddling safety we will paddle around Cooks Bay and stop back for lunch at our hotel. Then in the afternoon we will paddle out onto the lagoon and for some snorkeling. We ill end this afternoon at a beautiful beach for a swim and cold drinks. BLD
This morning we will explore Opunohu Bay, one of the most spectacular bays in the world and then head west again through the lagoon. Soon we will get to the NW corner of Moorea where there are three reef islands, or motu. We will stop in an area where stingrays congregate and see these beautiful animals swim below our boats.
Then we will head to a motu for lunch and an afternoon of snorkelling and exploration. BLD
This day we will leave our canoes and head by van up into Opunohu Valley. The main focus of this day will be to explore this valley, talk plants and volcanic landscape, and see some of the fantastic archaeological sites. We will hike through the valley in the cool morning hours and then head back to our hotel for lunch and a free afternoon. Tonight you will be on your own to try out one of the local restaurants. BL
This day we will be paddling down the west coast of Moorea. Along the way we will see some spectacular views of the peaks in the interior. The lagoon in this stretch is very wide and often the surf pounding on the reef can be huge. We will stop along the way to have lunch and snorkel and to look for dolphins. BLD
This day we will paddle around the south end of the island and up to beautiful Motu Ahi adjacent to the village of Afareaitu. We will stop along the way to see a wonderful coastal marae (temple site), and take out for lunch. In Afareaitu we will visit Motu Ahi for some snorkelling and reef exploration. BLD
This day will be a day of options away from the canoes. You will have a choice of going on a guided hike, going fishing, going snorkeling, lying on the beach, or a combination of all of the above. BLD
This will be the last day on the water and the most challenging day of paddling. We will finish our circumnavigation by paddling out of the pass at Vaiare and into the open ocean. Here we will feel the power of the swells and use our acquired skills to pilot our canoes until we reach the tranquil lagoon back on the north side of the island. From here it is just a short paddle to our hotel. BLD
This will be a free day for relaxation, shopping, or exploring. You guides will help with all arrangements. At noon today we will enjoy our final meal together, a Tahitian feast complete with breadfruit, taro, fish, and local fruit. In the afternoon we will et you to the ferry for Tahiti and your evening departure. BL