When our friends Agnes and Mark heard that we were going to visit Moorea, they surprised us with a gift of an ATV excursion into the interior of the island.
Over-water bungalows and snorkeling are what usually get all the attention when people think of French Polynesia, so we were thrilled to get such a thoughtful gift that would allow us to see a less visited part of the island. So, after two days of snorkeling and drinking a delicious local drink called Tahiti drink, we woke up on that third morning ready to explore.
Our day of four-wheeling started early, and there was a small group of us that met up that morning at ATV Moorea Tours with our guide, William.
He got everyone situated, went over the safety orientation, handed out helmets, and got everyone feeling comfortable with the quads that we were going to drive that day. When everyone was ready, we followed the main road before veering off onto the trail that ventured forth into the heart of the island.
The group spent half the day driving through the island’s interior.
We followed trails through the rainforest like you see in movies and drove through small streams like you see in the commercials. There were times when the trails opened up to give us wide panoramic views of Mount Tohivea and times when we were surrounded by thick jungle, but it was all beautiful.
William was a wealth of knowledge.
He showed us the flowers that grow naturally in the area, took us to freshwater streams that flowed through the island, and explained how the island itself was formed by volcanic activity so many years ago. William actually made Geology interesting, that’s how good he was. He explained how you can judge the age of an island by how much of the surrounding reef has dropped away. Moorea is a newer island which made it great for snorkeling because there’s lots of reef for fish and coral to thrive. We also discovered that a “newer island” is a relative term because Moorea was formed around 2 million years ago.
After that short but interesting lesson, William took us to a historical spot called a Marae where it is believed that sacrifices used to take place.
There were pathways that had been constructed leading to a central point where the weather worn rocks had obviously been placed with great care. Beautiful trees surrounded the area and roosters roamed free giving the whole experience a very wild and free feeling.
Further down the trail we came to a section of road with a with an amazing view.
It was a spot where a mountain separated Ōpūnohu Bay to the left and Cook’s Bay to the right, giving us a dramatic backdrop for taking pictures. Everyone in the group took turns snapping a few shots and goofing off before the last part of the tour.
For the grand finale, William had a spot picked out to take our breath away.
We drove higher and higher on a very narrow trail that almost seemed too small for the four wheelers until we got to a lookout point overlooking the entirety of Ōpūnohu Bay. The blue waters stretched before us and at that moment it was hard to imagine anywhere that could be more beautiful. The entire tour had been amazing, but this was the moment that made everyone fall in love with Mo’orea.