Friday 17th June 2016
The clue should have been in the guide book title – hike to mountain view point. We are not overly keen walkers especially when the word mountain is in the sentence, so I’m not sure how we found ourselves pounding, in temperatures approaching 30C, the path 5 km up the road to the Moorea Belvedere, with its ‘spectacular views of rare natural beauty’. The road took us initially through gently sloping farm land, cows grazed, meadows lined the route, all was well. Gradually the road got steeper and was bordered with tall firs, fast running streams snaked to and fro, pineapple groves dropped down into the valleys. The final two km rose more sharply zigzagging upwards through jungle. We passed flowers of bright yellow, red and orange, shrubs with leaves the same size as us and others bright green one side, purple the other, large Banyan trees, stately Acacia and 30m high clumps of bamboo. At each bend and between each tree was the ever present dominance of the craggy slabs of rock that form the peaks here. Unfortunately our enjoyment of our surroundings gradually decreased in proportion to the steepness of the road, by the time we arrived puffing and soaked in sweat at the viewing point our ability to appreciate its splendour was seriously reduced.Still we are appreciating the mountains from sea level, the peaks fill our sky line and we have a couple of sleek Superyachts in the foreground to enhance the view. On Wednesday morning we went right into the bay, it is one mile long and quite narrow, the sides are steep and the water is deep, dark and still, the mountains reflect in its surface. Around the edge the undergrowth hangs low over the water, lightoccasionally finds a gap and highlights points of grass, green leaves and yellow sand, we creep slowly along the coast enjoying the cool, slightly spooky ambiance.
We had taken the dingy to the black sand beach at its head to a shrimp farm to buy the large fresh prawns for supper. The plan was to BBQ them but as seems to happen everywhere in the world the very mention of a BBQ immediately produces rain and we ended up eating below, fried in butter, lemon and garlic they were still delicious.
Taking the dingy out along the reef is more hazardous, coral heads lurk just below the surface ready to catch your propeller the moment you lose concentration. Markers have been laid to guide the numerous rental jet skis and tour boats that zoom back and forth to snorkelling areas. But finding your way in and out of the channels is a case of painstakingly winding through the maze of bommies. It took us a good half hour to find a route into the Hilton for lunch, it would have been quicker to walk, aching feet and all!