Day #64 - Sharks, Stingrays and Sushi

An alternative name for this post could have been "Ferries, Friends and Fire" as you'll see!
The day started at 6am. Yes you read that right! Such ugly start times are reserved for travelling days, but here we were getting up at the crack of dawn - albeit a beautiful sunny morning with blue skies and the sea all calm and inviting. 
The reason for this early start was we wanted to get breakfast in before our taxi at 7.30 which was going to take us to the island's ferry terminal. Yes, today we were going to leave the main island of Tahiti and head across to its little neighbour, Mo'orea to west.
This island is only 51 sq. miles in size and has approximately 17,500 inhabitants at the last census.and the reason for leaving? We had a day's adventure booked with an island boat tour, beach BBQ lunch and swimming in the sea with stingrays and sharks!
Our taxi ride to the ferry was on time and we were met by a lovely driver (Moana) who it turned out had a lot in common with James. They both are twins, they both lived in/near Carcassonne, France, same age, both blue babies and both second twin to arrive!
The ferry terminal turned out to be one of the more attractive, if thoroughly practical, buildings in town since it had some cool Tahitian lines and details in its construction. There was also some military ship docked to the side of the ferry that gave us something to look at while we waited.
We boarded our ferry on time and began the short crossing (about 40 mins) to the island.
On deck during the crossing we of course grabbed a few pictures and selfies. The approach to the island of Mo'orea was particularly stunning given that it is an impressive island with lush vegetation covering the steep cliffs and mountainsides that rise out of the water so dramatically.
On arrival, we were efficiently transferred onto coaches that then took us to the landing area and dock for our boat for the day. We were greeted by some lovely singing while we checked in and this was a taste of things to come - as did the beautiful landscape surrounding us. This island definitely scores more highly on the attractiveness scale than its bigger sister. 
Our boat was a typical "bench boat" seen the world over for tourist trips. We had to keep bags off of the floor due to the possibility of waves washing over the floor on this open sided craft. Our crew and captain were really engaging and we had a really friendly and witty tour guide, CeCe I think, who explained some of the sights as we headed out around the island.
Needless to say, but I will anyway, the sights were breathtaking. This is truly the definition of a tropical island. The colour of water was unbelievable - so clear and so inviting! You could look down and see patches of coral and the occasional fish that wasn't scared off by the boat's passage. The landforms in front of us were stunning. The jagged profiles invited you to see familiar shapes and patterns (pareidolia).
One particularly famous mountain features on the 50f coin of French Polynesia.
After about an hour, we dropped anchor and the first highlight of the excursion began - swimming with the aquatic wildlife! The stingrays knew the drill and were already showing an interest in the boat as passengers climbed down into the crystal waters - they knew food was on offer. Not us I hasten to add, but morsels of rice that the crew had brought with them and used to hand feed the fish and encourage them to interact with us. I can confirm that stingrays do live up to their reputation as friendly, curious creatures that were quite willing to be stroked and hand fed. 
The reed sharks on the other hand, circled our party at a distance and didn't engage as much apart from occasionally swiftly swimming through the party. 
The water itself was a beautifully cool temperature and the sand bar we were anchored on meant the water was shallow enough to walk on the white sandy bottom. No need for swimming!
I did get in the water as well, it's just initially stayed on the boat to photograph James at play!
After and hour or so, it was time to head off to our lunch spot. Again, as we travelled we saw some beautiful coastline and many glorious beaches. The boat had to follow a strict channel that had been marked out through the coral reef in order to protect the reef and to ensure we didn't run aground!
Our private cove for lunch was about as perfect spot as you could imagine. White sand, clear waters, stunning views. It was amazing.  
Our lunch was to be BBQ beef, fish and raw fish along with salad. Before we are however, we were given a cooking lesson - but without any cooking! We were shown how to prepare fresh tuna for it to be served raw. With the help of a "willing" volunteer, the chopped tuna was first washed in salt water and then drained. Next, lemon and lime juice was added and mixed which causes the tuna to actually cook slightly. Then the addition of coconut milk, chopped cucumber and tomatoes finished off the dish, after several good mixes. 
I had had this dish before so knew it was tasty (but wouldn't be my first choice of ways to prepare fish) and James too gave it a try and likewise, cooked meats remained at the top of his list! 
There was a good supply of rum punch to accompany the food and I have to say, eating my lunch at such a magical location will remain with me for a long time.
After lunch it was time for the entertainment. The musicians that greeted us at reception were in fact our crew that had come with us, so they once again took up their instruments and sang a selection of Tahitian songs. On our boat were some dancers staying in Tahiti for a dance competition happening at our hotel tomorrow. So they also joined in and gave us a lovely display of Polynesian dance. Of course, dancing is infectious and our guide knew this and recruited some more "willing" volunteers to learn some of the key dance moves required.
Audience participation isn't a favourite of either of us when we are in the audience so we were quite relieved when neither of us were chosen to join in!
We were also treated to a lesson on how to tie a Pareu (or more commonly known, the Pareo) for both men and women - think sarong. I couldn't possibly begin to explain how to do that here and I didn't video the demonstration. However a quick search on YouTube found a recording of our host. Once again, we were happy to watch and not participate!
Our last piece of entertainment was a fire dancer. A rather fierce gentleman with his fire stick began his routine twirling and throwing it skillfully around his body, much to the delight and thrills of the audience. Obviously audience participation isn't a feature of fire dancing for obvious reasons and so we felt quite safe having avoided humiliating ourselves. Or so we thought!
It turns out you can drag innocent people up to initiate them in the dangerous art of fire dance!

WARNING: Viewer discretion advised. The following video contains scenes of a disturbing nature as a middle-aged, slightly overweight and very untanned white man, pickled in mosquito bites, wrestles not only with fire, but his dignity as well! You have been warned
The least said about that the better! 
On our trip we met a love group of people who were on a stopover. In particular we had an enjoyable time with Anna, Wendy and Peter from the US. We shared some great travel stories and also, as people like us of a certain age do, put the world to rights! All three shared a love of travel and it was great to trade tips and stories.
The day had certainly been memorable and the time came all too soon to head back. 
The high speed ferry back proved to be much more of a bumpy ride than it did in the morning. We were sat upfront (inside) and as the craft rose up and rode over the oncoming wave, we felt the whole motion before we then dropped back down. While exhilarating for the first few times, after a while it did make you feel a little queasy and it was definitely a strategy to keep your eyes focused on the horizon! 
Back at our hotel we were treated to one final amazing sunset and a view of Mo'orea that now holds some amazing memories for us. We leave here tomorrow but we will return next week for one night before we continue our journey southwards. 


  1. Oh my God, Spencer. That was SO brave of you. Thank goodness you didn't burn yourself with the fire 🔥 😳

    1. I didn't have much choice! 😂 I was tasting paraffin for the rest of the day however!


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