Compared with the Marquesas, and even sleepy Ra’iatea, Mo’orea feels positively metropolitan. Our first attempt to go to the beach took us through a hotel compound of bungalows and paved paths, a restaurant by the water, a place to rent kayaks, a dive center, etc. Dani (who has certainly been spoiled by his first taste of a Pacific Island beach in the Marquesas) had an almost violent reaction to the level of development. You may judge for yourselves, however, just how bad it was (that’s the four of us in the center):
Maybe 20 people on the beach, 5 in the water, and another 10 sitting at the restaurant or wandering around – not exactly Wingaersheek on a July weekend…
There was, however, quite a lot of activity in the water. The wind was high and there were some astonishingly acrobatic kite-surfers flying around the lagoon and leaping over the dock, which was amazing. Dani, Matiu, and Abraham took a couple of kayaks and set off down the lagoon.
They were headed downwind and it occurred to me that they might have some difficulty returning. Indeed, in almost no time we lost sight of them. So Seven jumped into a kayak and set off in pursuit. About an hour later they reappeared, trudging through the lagoon, dragging their kayaks behind them.
This question of access to the beaches is interesting. We have been told twice by locals that you can just go into the big hotels and go to their beaches, but the larger hotels are obviously trying to stop people from doing this because they’re gated. We made an experiment along these lines the other day and were instantly stopped by the guard who asked Seven where he was going. I then got out on my side of the car (I don’t think the guard could see me; I was in the back seat on the opposite side) and spoke to him in French:
Was there a beach?
It was not public; there was a public beach down the road.
Was there a restaurant at the hotel?
Then we would go to the other beach and come back to the restaurant later.
It’s funny about these encounters, I never know exactly how much they are genuinely charged and how much I am bringing to them in the way of expectation. But I certainly did get an adrenalin surge, or, to put it another way, it didn’t feel very friendly. From there we made our way to the public beach which was full of picnicking Tahitians (a little bit more of the Wingaersheek feel). That has its own challenge in a way. As Abraham noted, our local cred is better when we have Seven with us. (Matiu, who is the brownest of our children, is rapidly darkening in this sun and will pass for local pretty soon).
Finally, a nice shot of fish from off the dock somewhere…