Monday, July 4, 2011

Hanging Out in Oponuhu Bay

June 25-July 1

After the Rendezvous was over, the 50 boats that had been anchored off the beach thinned out rapidly. Many boats went back to Tahiti to finish provisioning and checking out. A good number also headed west toward Huahine, the next island downwind. We stayed right where we were and enjoyed ourselves.

One day, we got together with Mike and Sue from Infini and Neil and Ruthie from Rutea and made the hike up to 'The Belvedere' (belvedere is French for scenic overlook). We dinghied deep into Opunohu Bay itself, locked our dinghies to a couple of trees, and hiked up to the Belvedere. This route is on a pretty nice paved road, and only takes about 3 hours round trip. The road goes right past the Agricultural School, which has a little stand out front, and makes a nice potty and ice cream stop. We stopped both ways. They also sell a variety of tropical jams, and also fresh pineapple grown on the island. We bought some of each.

Also, on the way up, the road passes two 'Marae'--old Tahitian stone structures that have been excavated by archaeologists and partially rebuilt.

Once up at the Belvedere, Dave talked with a helpful tour guide, who told us about two short side-hikes... one to the '3 Pine Trees' and one to the '3 Coconut Palms'. Both are on side paths through the forest in either direction. He said the 3 Pine Trees was only 30 minutes, and provided a nice look down into adjacent Cook's Bay. So we went off in that direction. The tour guide was off by a factor of 2--the round trip out to the 3 Pine Trees took us another 2 hours, but it was a very nice walk through the cool forest. We were pretty hot and tired and thirsty by the time we got back to the dinghies.

Another day, we borrowed a 3rd bike from another cruiser and toted all 3 bikes ashore for a nice afternoon of bicycling around. We cycled over to Cooks Bay, stopping along the way at several places, including a 'Gump Scientific Research Station' (google Gump Moorea for more info). We met up with Mike and Sue from Infini, who had moved Infini over into Cooks Bay for a couple of days. We took the coastal road on the way out and the 'Pineapple Road' on the way back. The coastal road was flat but had periodic traffic. The Pineapple Road was much quieter and scenic--off the beaten path--but required a little hill work, which none of us was in shape for. But the coast down the hill at the end was great!

On another day, we dinghied downwind about 2 miles inside the reef for snorkel stops at 'The Stone Tikis' and the 'Ray Feeding Station'. Both were kinda cool. The stone tikis are a bunch of 3-4' high stone statues (traditional carvings) sunk in 8' of sand. Not sure how they got there or why, but probably some tourist-minded person put them there to give us something to go look at!! And the Ray feeding is a shallow sandy area off a resort where people hand-feed the big stingrays. These rays are about 3 feet, wingtip to wingtip, and do have a stinger at the base of their tail. They are so used to being fed that when we arrived in our dinghies, they immediately congregated under our boats. There are boatloads of tourists coming and going all the time. Swarms of people shuffling in the sand among the rays. We took a can of sardines to feed them and they would come and almost crawl up your body trying to get to the food. A little creepy.

I kept looking at the stingers on the rays and thinking about the Crocodile Hunter getting stung in the heart. Methinks he must have been doing more than just observing the rays to get stung like that (or those rays have their stingers in a different location). The only way you could get stung by these would be to actually step on them, at the base of their tail.

Our final adventure, when the wind got really calm, was to go snorkel on the wreck of a German warship in the pass. The wreck is pretty old and broken up. Some structure is visible on the reef itself, in very shallow water that usually has surf breaking on it. But the interesting parts of the wreck--the huge old engine, and the anchor, were out by the green marker in the pass.

We also ran out to the mooring buoys outside the reef, where we'd seen dive boats coming and going. We hooked up on one and snorkeled around to see if it was worth a dive. But it was pretty barren. I would hate to pay $100/dive to see that. Apparently they had a really really bad Crown of Thorns outbreak here in 2008, and then a cyclone (hurricane). The reef is still struggling to recover. There is supposed to be some interesting rose-like coral at 150 feet, but we didn't want to dive that deep.

I could easily have just hung out for a few more days there, but Dave got 'wanderlust' and wanted to go exploring more of Moorea while the wind was down.

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