Moorea was visible up ahead when we got up this morning. We were still a bit from the reef, but close enough we could make out detail on the hillsides. It was about the same as Huahine and Bora Bora in terms of clarity - a good amount of clouds but not completely overcast. There are two bays on the north part of the island of similar size, Opunohu Bay (west) and Cook's Bay (east). We anchored in Cook's Bay around 7:30. Ruta and Vahinerii had told us to be ready at 7:30 for our tour, which seemed odd since we were not scheduled to be picked up until close to 8:30, but we and one other couple actually went over on the very first tender, the one that is just for the staff to set up. So we got to the island a little before 8.

The pier was quite a bit different from everywhere else we'd visited. It was under construction, and had a temporary fence all around the construction site, which we had to navigate through. Past all that there was a small permanent shop, plus a number of people setting up temporary spots to sell stuff. We waited with the other couple that had come over on the tender, and found out they were celebrating their 50th anniversary today. We have almost 35 years to figure out where we'll be celebrating our 50th, but one could do a lot worse than Moorea. They were on an ATV tour, but waiting for another couple to show up, so they were going to have to wait for the "official" first tender. A little after 8:00 the permanent structure shop opened, so we looked around a bit. When we came out, the couple celebrating their 50th had gone back to the pier; apparently they were worried about exacerbating a sore back one of them had. We felt bad they were going to miss out, but blowing out your back on your anniversary would be terrible.

Christopher from Franckyfranck Tours showed up just after 8:20, and we got right on the road, headed west towards the Hilton - which looked like a nice spot to stay for future reference - where we picked up a couple and a family of five, all of which spoke French. Our first stop on the tour was at a botanic garden that had a lot of different fruits, plus a vanilla plantation. We got to taste small amounts of soursop, mango, breadfruit, passion fruit, and some others we can't recall. They all tasted pretty good, but the soursop tasted best. We have a small tree at home, but hopefully it will grow fast. We stayed there a bit too long, and we're not sure why.

The next stop warranted a much longer stay. Christopher called it "Magic Mountain" - presumably that is not its official name. It was west of Opunohu Bay, with a great panoramic view to the west and a view of the bay to the East. The mountains were still in the clouds, but the lagoon was sunny so the view was spectacular. The drive up and down were extremely bumpy and steep, and we were all bouncing around in the back of the truck, but the younger kids were making it seem more fun with their reactions.

The next stop was the Belvedere Lookout, probably the most famous spot on Moorea. From there, on a clear day at least, there are great views of both Opunohu Bay and Cook's Bay, as well as Mount Rotui in between them. We had semi-clear weather, okay but not great. It was certainly better than when we couldn't see the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, but as with that, the lack of clarity gives us a good reason to come back. Up at the lookout we saw several people on ATV tours, and it looked like a lot of fun, so we discussed maybe doing that if/when we come back. The ATV's likely could not have gone up to Magic Mountain, and we're not sure we'd feel comfortable even if they could, but everywhere else on the island we went the ATVs would be fine for.

On the way down from the lookout we stopped at an archaeological spot with a large marae where Christopher gave us some background on how the Maohi used to live in Moorea. It was all in line with what we'd heard on the other islands, which made us wonder if people's impression of an island is colored by where it falls chronologically. In other words, a tour that someone would find fascinating if it were their first stop on holiday might be "eh" to someone where it was their last stop. Christopher thankfully was very entertaining, so it didn't matter that the subject matter was not new. After the archaelogical spot we went into a pineapple plantation at the south base of Mount Rotui. Christopher told us that all of the pineapples are planted on slopes so that they never have standing water at their base, even in heavy rains. Apparently if they have standing water they rot quite easily. We don't have that issue in Pahoa because there isn't any dirt, so the water just percolates through the lava rock.

The next stop was at a distillery not too far from the pier. They had a lot of infused drinks/punches. We had three small glasses, one that mango flavored, one that was mostly orange, and one that tasted like pineapple. The people in the group did a bit of shopping, and then we were on our way. We dropped off the French speakers at the Hilton, and then we went back to the pier. It was only about 12:30, so Crystal had time to get the tattoo she wanted. We grabbed a taxi driver, who nicely called ahead to make sure the artist had availability. He did, so we took a short cab ride over to his studio.

Giles Lovisa's studio was a small shack by ocean, behind this house. He moved to Moorea decades ago, and learned from all of the local artists, and has been at it ever since. If we hadn't read up on his studio and all the positive reviews, we would have been dubious. Actually, we were kind of dubious anyway, but when in Rome... Crystal got a small gecko on her left shoulder in a Polynesian design. It took about 1 hour from beginning to end, and was $100, which apparently is a bargain. When Giles was almost wrapped up, another passenger from the ship showed up, so that provided a bit of support, knowing that either a) someone else thought this guy was good or b) Crystal wasn't the only one to make a big mistake. Crystal really liked how it turned out, so it was (a).

Rather than call the same cabbie back, we just walked back to the pier, which was a nice 20 minute walk along the shoreline. Near the pier we ran into Chris and Patricia, who one-upped our day with the mention of their snorkeling with baby whales in the morning. Apparently there were 4 moms and 4 babies, and at one point the situation was calm enough that the operator (Dr. Poole) felt it was safe for everyone to hop into the water and snorkel with them. While our tour was very interesting, it was a long way from snorkeling with whales. Maybe next time.

We got back onto the ship around 3, which was too late for lunch at La Verandah, so we instead got "snacks" at Le Grille. To our surprise, "snacks" is basically anything you want off of the room service menu. This seemed much more than snacks to us, but we suppose it is less than an enormous buffet. After lunch we went to La Palette to look at pictures and catch up on the trip log. Crystal then came down to take a nap, and Justin got invited to sit with Chris and Patricia (the other Chris and Patricia, the ones from the Great Lakes) and their friends. It turns out a couple of them were attorneys, but thankfully that subject wasn't discussed much, instead it was mostly about diving and Hawaii.

There was a farewell pool party that started around 5, just as we were pulling away from Moorea to head into Papeete (a short 3 hour ride). There was a raffle for an oceanic chart of our voyage, which we did not win, and also some prizes for the 3 folks who had traveled to the most countries. We did not win that either, but since there were some travel agents on the ship, that wasn't much of a surprise. Crystal's 37 countries was a far cry from the 107, 111, and 183 that won. We were dubious of the 183, as that's almost every country in the world. We surmise that someone counted various islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific as countries, even if they aren't (e.g., Guam, Tahiti, Virgin Islands, etc.).

It was quite windy on deck, so the area cleared out really quickly after Santa Rosa finished their set. We maneuvered into the area right by the pool bar, which was sheltered from the breeze, and struck up a conversation with Mark and Yvonne. Justin and Mark talked for awhile about English football, and Mark's team, Sheffield United. When it got to be 6pm and the dress code went into effect, we went back to the room to get cleaned up. By dinner time, we were already at the dock in Papeete, and so the ship was completely still for the first time in forever. But it still seemed like we were moving, even though we weren't. After dinner we went to the Piano Bar, then went upstairs to finish packing our checked luggage. For whatever reason, the checked luggage needed to be outside our room by 11:30, wo we just took care of that before going to the bar. Up at La Palette, we hung out for a long time, probably a bit too long. We lost track of the time, and when we looked at our watches it was past midnight. Somewhere along the line we stopped in at the Grand Salon to watch a Polynesian song and dance show, as we took the video above. Hmmm. Thankfully Marius and Mimife were outside at La Palette while we were drinking inside, so we weren't the last ones at the bar, keeping the crew up late.