Moorea French Polynesia - First Impressions And The Resort

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Diane Macdonald @dmcameraJuly 2019 · 10 min read

Our Stay At The Manava Beach Resort And Spa

The island of Moorea ( Mo'orea) at first sighting was not at all what I had anticipated. Mountains loomed out of the mist like giant jagged peaks from a scene in a science fiction movie, creating a landscape that was both menacing and at the same time hauntingly beautiful, as our ferry approached the terminal port of Vaiare. Had it been sunny at the time of our arrival,the effect on my senses would have been quite entirely different, I'm sure.

Taken from the ferry to Moorea from Papeete, Tahiti

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The 10 mile ferry ride from Papeete in Tahiti (the island known as the Queen of the Pacific took just around half an hour to reach its smaller sister island of Moorea - sometimes known as The Pineapple Island because of its many pineapple plantations and sometimes The Magic Island, perhaps because of the many folk tales surrounding it, or perhaps because of the magic spell it seems to cast on all who visit her shores.)

Mountains of Moorea shrouded in mist

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Where were the dreamy lagoons with palm trees swaying in the breeze that I had dreamed of? They were there alright, as I found out later – just waiting for that “ahah” moment of discovery that confirmed to my senses that I was indeed in a tropical paradise – perhaps even on Bali Hai?

So, before I plunge headlong into the details of our stay at The Manava Beach Resort And Spa on Moorea, perhaps a short geography lesson would be in order.

Where then is Moorea? This little heart shaped island (less than 52 square miles of it) along with the islands of Tahiti, Mehetia and Tetiaroa, is in the South Pacific about 2,500 miles north east of Aukland New Zealand, and about 2,600 miles south of Hawaii, in the Windward Islands, which is in the easterly part of the Society Islands, which in turn are all part of the archipelago of French Polynesia. Got it? ( The westerly part of the Society Islands is called the Leeward Islands, of which the main islands are Bora Bora, Huahine, Tahaa and Raiatea, but I'll cover that in another post.) All of French Polynesia is spread out in an area of 1,359 square miles, and consists of 118 islands and atolls, but there are hundreds of tiny motus (islets) too.

Location of French Polynesia is the South Pacific

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Confused? So was I at first! The entire archipelago is called French Polynesia or La Polynésie française and is actually an overseas country of France, so its citizens are also citizens of France, and carry EU passports. Now that was something new that I learned. French Polynesia consists of 118 main islands and atolls, and hundreds of tiny islets or motus.

The reception area of the resort

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Moorea then, is where we spent the first four days in French Polynesia. As we were still trying to recover form jet lag, we spent much of the day we arrived just enjoying the beautiful Manava Beach Resort and Spa. Contrary to the normal weather patterns for June, the skies opened and sent buckets of water pouring down on us at unexpected moments! This was French Polynesia's winter and the rainy summer season was supposed to have passed in April! We didn't mind. The rain added to the mysterious atmosphere of the island. Without the rain, I would not have been able to capture this rainbow which welcomed us as we were making our way to our over the water bungalow on the first day! Besides, the resort made sure we were ready for such unexpected weather events!

A rainbow over the lagoon the day we arrive

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An umbrella on hand by the door of our bungalow in case we needed it

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Perhaps you can see why the rain didn't dampen our spirits on that first day. Our overwater bungalow was the perfect place to enjoy a private uninterrupted view of the lagoon. And when we tired of that, we could just look down to watch the fish, a wayward snorkeler or two, and on one occasion a shark, which passed beneath the glass panel on the floor.

View of the lagoon from our bungalow deck

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A snorkeler passes under our bungalow

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An outrigger canoe from the boardwalk of the bungalows

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The air of the room was infused with the scent of a myriad flowers, those from our welcome garlands and those placed on the bed and in other strategic points throughout the bungalow. There was no doubt that we were in some kind of tropical paradise!

Our home for four nights - showing the glass panel under the coffee table

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Our home for four nights

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An arrangement of flowers on the bed

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From the boardwalk leading from our bungalow to where the restaurants, pool and beach were located, we could look down into the crystal clear waters to see all kinds of fish swimming by as if on cue.

Colorful fish and coral in the shallow part of the lagoon

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We were also able to snorkel right off the deck of our bungalow! Now, I am not a strong swimmer, but do fine in a swimming pool when I know I can make for the side at any time! However, I get rather uncomfortable when I am out of my depth in the ocean! Although this was a quiet lagoon, and not very deep right by the bungalow, there was a considerable drop from the reef just a few feet away, so I decided to wear a reef vest, which gave me more confidence. Next time I snorkel though, I'm going to invest in a full face mask, as everyone I met who was using one one was very happy with it.

Jim preparing to snorkel from our deck

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Jim underwater snorkeling

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This is me - complete with reef vest

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Dinner did not disappoint us here or at any of the other resorts where we stayed. After all, this is FRENCH Polynesia, so the menus everywhere were filled with gourmet French cuisine, as well as with with local dishes of chicken, or fish freshly caught daily in the lagoon. Beef and lamb are imported from New Zealand. There was something for everyone at the main Restaurant Mahana’i and also at the Autera’a Bar/restaurant where we ate most nights because we enjoyed the more relaxed atmosphere there.

Autera’a Bar/restaurant

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Colorful LED light on our table one night at Autera’a Bar/restaurant - a switch underneath allowed us to change the color

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Mai Tai Polynesia cocktail

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And the breakfast buffet at the Restaurant Mahana’i was the best we experienced on the trip, although the others were excellent too. Moorea benefited from its proximity to the island of Tahiti, so it's understandable that the menu would be more varied. I just couldn't get enough of the fresh tropical fruits, yogurts, coconut , fresh juices and the French croissants and pastry! There was something for all tastes though – cold cuts and cheese, bacon, sausage, potatoes and a station where omelets and crepes were made. I tried something every day, but I always had a plate of fresh fruit and a croissant or two!

View from a window seat at the Restaurant Mahana’i

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Passion fruit, mixed tropical fruit with yogurt, coconut and a French croissant

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The filling for an omelet

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Finishing touches to the omelet

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Apart from a walk into the village, and taking an exciting excursion which I will write about next week, we spent our days relaxing at the resort - either just hanging out on our bungalow deck to watch a sunrise or sunset, snorkeling, enjoying the infinity pool or kayaking in the lagoon.

Sunrise over the lagoon from our bungalow

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The infinity pool and spa

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I have the infinity pool all to myself - I'm wearing a surfer's rash guard shirt to save having to apply so much sunscreen

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Kayaks on the beach

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Looking back on the resort and swimming pool from the kayak

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Jim in the front of the kayak looking back to shore

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View of The Manava Beach Resort and Spa from between two over water bungalows

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View of The Manava Beach Resort And Spa from the lagoon

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And every evening after we returned from dinner, we would be greeted by the wonderful scent of the TiareTahiti, also known as the Tahitian gardenia , the national flower of Tahiti. Two buds were left in our room every night by the resort staff. You may be familiar with a poem by Rupert Brooke entitled Tiare Tahiti. You can read it here: https://poets.org/poem/tiare-tahiti

A pair of Tiare Tahiti flower buds

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Words cannot adequately describe our time spent at the Manava Beach Resort And Spa, but I hope that these few memories and photographs will encourage you to check for my weekly posts about our experiences there. My next post will be about a thrilling adventure we embarked on. Don't forget to check back next week and to come with me on a thrilling adventure!

The beach bungalows seen from the boardwalk at The Manava Beach Resort and Spa

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Resort staff groom the sand early every morning

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Resort staff also make sure that the coconut trees do not pose a danger by keeping them well trimmed

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A photo opportunity spot which we could not ignore

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If you enjoyed this post, please check my intro post about our trip, French Polynesia - A State Of Mind https://steemit.com/travelfeed/@dmcamera/french-polynesia-a-state-of-mind and watch for a post next week about an exciting adventure we had on Moorea!


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Comments

This place looks wonderful thank you for describing it so detailed, like these kind of review and description


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Thanks for dropping by. I appreciate your kind comments.


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We only ever stayed in Papeete ourselves on our last stopover there we did plan next time to stay for loners and have a few days on Moorea or one of the other Islands but then things changed and we never made it back, seeing the amazing beauty and tranquility in this post makes me wish we had made it but t least I get to experience it from his fantastic post

Thanks for this great post and being an active member of @steemusa !tip


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Thanks for kind comments and for the tip. Yes, a trip to Moorea is well worth it, but it sounds like you stayed in a nice resort at Papeete. We stayed downtoen there, just to experience a bit of the life there.


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We stayed in one of the hotels semi resort ish but not to fancy but was good for us


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You may have been a bit closer to the airport then? I think Intercontinental has a resort in that area.


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I think it was a Hyatt or Hilton but not totally sure that had a deal with air Tahiti at that stage for free stopovers of two nights I think


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OOH! Now that's a deal! Did they pay for the resort too, or just the fact that the flight didn't cost you any more?


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It was not so much a resort just an OK hotel with a nice grounds and pool
They paid for three nights I think we used one going to NZ and 2 on the return generally


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Ah well, still a change from the every day though!


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Ohh yes we loved it there for just a day or two it was all we needed and we loved our time there ;)


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Wow!

That's and awesome place to visit. It almost look like some sort of forbidden place. It has to be kind of expensive.... 😅

But it has to worth every penny.

Greetings from Mexico.


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Yes, it was expensive, but we sacrificed other things for it. We have old cars that are paid for, and the house could do with some work. But making memories is important to us at this stage in our lives. Material things don’t matter as much as they used to. We had a few shares we cashed in for it, so it was not too painful!


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What a delightful place to find peace and quiet, enjoy nature. Never having traveled to islands on that side of the world, this looks very interesting, well maintained, spectacularly beautiful Diane.


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Thanks, Joan! My feet have not touched the ground yet!


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wow this is really beautiful place. interesting post sir. thanks for share with us...


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You are welcome and thanks. By the way, I’m not a sir. Lol!


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Beautiful place and great pictures.


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I’m impress. It’s really beautiful place. Thank you for share with us...
😊


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Nice photos! I'd love to be able to get to some of those islands, some day. Landscape aside, the clouds always seem to creat fascinating formations.


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I can so recommend it! The entire trip was amazing, and I have blog posts for months to come from it!


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Your photos and description makes me feel like I’m there! This is such a beautiful place! I look forward to visiting an island one day. Those trees, the rainbow and that beautiful water...wow! Such a nice detailed post, thanks for sharing your visit!


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