“Happy talk, keep talkin’ happy talk,
Talk about things you’d like to do.
You got to have a dream,
If you don’t have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?”
The ancient explorers knew a thing or two when it came to finding great places to pull down their sails, drop anchor and stay for a few months.
Our sail into Moorea in the early morning sun had a real wow factor as the volcanic peaks were high and jagged and the coral reefs around the island provided clear turquoise lagoons. This heart shaped island has been described as a ‘picture in a frame’ because of the reefs that encircle it. This is not an island with large docks and harbours and we dropped anchor some way out. The air was like silk…soft and gentle as it touched your skin…and the day promised spectacular things.
After quite a long tender ride to the shore we went on a circular journey of the island and deep inland to capture the unique beauty of this jewel in the Polynesian Sea. There are no towns here, merely small villages, and a population of just 12,000. Our mini-coach driver kept up an amusing banter for hours, frequently stopped, leaned out of the window and picked flowers and branches off trees to provide us with nature’s remedies for every conceivable kind of ailment. I could see many of them working but had to laugh at the island’s cure for constipation….eat three mosquitoes!! There were certainly plenty of them and I have the souvenirs to prove it.
We were shown the most enormous land crabs and warned not to put our hands anywhere near the ground as these things were known to bite fingers off. The islanders capture them and feed them nothing but coconut for three days in a purifying process before cooking them. Although there is not much work on the island, the villagers live simple lives and food is plentiful. The sea is rich with fish and the coconuts, breadfruit, bananas, pineapples and mangoes are in plentiful supply. In fact the landscape is full of plantations, and not only do they export the fruit, but extract its juice and make liqueurs.
Once again the clouds hovered across the mountains at times but the valleys and beaches were sun-filled all day. The beaches and lagoons were certainly eye-catching and one or two 5 star hotels have appeared on the island, with bungalows on stilts built into the lagoons, each with its own steps into the water providing snorkelling and swimming literally on the doorstep. This is the cheap season because of the heat and the fact that it can rain a lot, so the hotels have offers at about US $400 per night. In the high season, when it is cooler and permanently dry, the costs can rise to US $6,000 per night…but coffee is included!
All the mountains have names and some have significant meaning for the islanders, for example the Rotui Mountain (which divides Opunohu Bay, where we are anchored, and Cook’s Bay) is regarded as sacred. For me, the one which was the most fascinating was Bali Ha’i as it alternated between showing itself in full sun, then appearing to wrap itself in cloud before finally shedding misty wreaths to allow access by the sun once more. I am sitting looking at it as I write this wondering if the clouds will lift once more as we say goodbye and sail away.
“Bali Ha’i may call you,
Any night, any day,
In your heart, you’ll hear it call you:
“Come away…Come away.”
Bali Ha’i will whisper
On the wind of the sea:
“Here am I, your special island!
Come to me, come to me!”
Your own special hopes,
Your own special dreams,
Bloom on the hillside
And shine in the streams.
If you try, you’ll find me
Where the sky meets the sea.
“Here am I your special island
Come to me, Come to me.”
Moorea is, as the tourist guides describe it, a magical island full of myths and legends. I could happily go on another exploration tomorrow, perhaps on one of the quad bikes which are rented to tourists, or on an exciting ascent of the mountains in one of the 4X4s. But there are other places left to visit and after crossing the International Date Line we are heading for Fiji.