I decided do a blog post about each island that I visited in the French Polynesia since each island was so different. Moorea has a sort of special situation to most of the islands. While Moorea is not particularly large and the tourism is way down (a bit shocking on the west side where most hotels, resorts, and store are abandoned and I was eerily alone for many hours), it is only 10 miles away from Tahiti so it has become a desirable suburb to the main island.
This is the Opunohu Bay.
This is looking back to the island from a Motu I kayaked to one of the days. In my mind, the kayaking was going to be a snap since it would all be done inside of the coral ring. I did plenty of lake canoeing in my early days, so what's the difference, right? Oh man, it was much further then it looked, plus there are massive drops in the water where it got very deep. All of that is fine because I have quite a bit of upper body strength. However, the kicker is that I was given a 2 person plastic kayak so it was very back heavy and I became convinced at one point that I was slowly sinking from taking on too much water. Add the motor boats that would speed past and knock me around and it got a bit hairy when I was somewhere in the middle of the lagoon.
This is what much of the West corner of the island looks like now. After the old Club Med scandal happened, a lot of business's went under. I actually stayed in one of the 2 bungalows have been restored by some of the family that owns the Club Med land. It was an interesting experience because most of the family lives on the property with at least a dozen dogs. The bungalow was really nice and it's the best corner of the island, but sadly there is still a lot of work to be done, a lot of the property is still blocked off and many of the buildings will have to be torn down. But it is hopeful to see people reclaim it. Most of the time, the land isn't cleared or the parts that people want are auctioned and carried away (the bungalows are sold as homes) and the rest is left to rot in the tropical humidity.
This is the view from my bungalow. For me it was everything that I wanted because I was on a research trip, but I would think that someone of their dream vacation would be very disappointed since you are really staying in an abandoned resort.
One of things I never got over was the quality of light right before sunset and sunrise. Someone later said that it was the humidity. It was one of the reminders that I was halfway around the world and below the equator.
This was from the far side of another Motu. Notice how dark the rock is. Lava rock.
Soooo much greenery. People were consistently grooming their lawns, gathering and burning the fallen brush and palm leaves after storms and cutting back the what is essentially a jungle (though not native to the islands).
A public beach on the West side Moorea. This kid and the 2 dogs were the only ones on the whole beach.
It doesn't take long for things to deteriorate in a tropical climate.