Travelling further up the road from the Opunohu Valley maraes, we reached the magnificent views to the north and west at Belvedere Lookout. This is the view to the north.
… and this the view to the west.
Google maps location (ie showing where the images were taken from).
Travelling down from the lookout, we reached this vista as we started to encounter a settled area near Cook’s Bay.
Coming out at Cook’s Bay, we continued on the coast road round the island and stopped for lunch near the western most point. Somewhat further on, we encountered the marae above, Marae Nuurua, restored in 1991. As with the maraes in the Opunohu Valley, restoring a marae is one thing, keeping it from being overwhelmed with vegetation may be another.
We kept on driving counter-clockwise around the island towards our appointment with the ferry. For a while there were many people out on the roads watching a bushfire in the hills and a helicopter dropping buckets of water on it. This must have been an unusual sight for a damp tropical island. It seemed that both Australia and global warming had come to Moorea. I think some of the “clouds” at the centre left were that smoke.
From the same spot, turning round in the opposite direction, we see Motu Ahi. Perhaps you need to click for a larger image to see, but there are huts on a spit at the other side of the island (just poking out at the left). Here is the Lagoonarium de Moorea, which you can go out to on a small boat and snorkel with rays, turtles and nurse sharks – or else just hang out on the beach.
Here is a view as the sun goes down and we head back to Tahiti on the ferry.
Next morning we flew out back to Auckland and Sydney. We had to get up an extra two hours early at 4am lest we were imprisoned in a traffic jam, even though the distance to the airport was only six or seven kilometres.
Should you visit Tahiti, don’t be too sanguine about immediately encountering a tropical paradise. Tahiti itself often seemed more French than Tahitian, though that was no probably in part a tourist illusion since Polynesians are 80% of the population. We were there only for a couple of days in transit. If I were to return, I think I would probably allow two or three days on Tahiti, one full day or more on each of Moorea, Raiatea, Huahine and Pura Pura, plus additional days for travel between the islands.
When leaving Auckland, I had to get up even earlier, around 1:30am to catch a 5:30am flight. I was visiting relatives in Auckland and didn’t take any photographs, so this is the last entry for the trip. However, I still have a day in the Falklands to post that I missed and then all the posts for Patagonia, Antarctica and the Falklands to revise, for they were posted on the fly from a laptop and there are also many unprocessed images….