Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sharks, Rays, and Reefs, oh my!

After watching Ali and Roberto's date to a heart shaped island last summer where they swam with Rays, I have made it my life mission that I will cuddle up with those majestic creatures. This was probably one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life. The rays are so beautiful. So curious and graceful. Not the type that killed Steve Irwin, btw. Apparently those rays aren't the ones that are safe to swim with.
Rays off the side of the boat. I'm told rays are flat sharks.

"My mom is gonna freak out when she see this!"
Locals thought it was hilarious I could not tan. Serge was so awesome the picture goes up anyways. 
While visiting the rays, a shiver of black tip reef sharks gave us a visit. Sharks seem more afraid of people than we are of them. Our guide, Serge, was absolutely amazing, a local fisherman/marine biologist who works to preserve the reef and maintain the marine sanctuary that provided us with amazing snorkeling. The reef is so pristine, it is like you are swimming in an aquarium! In addition to the ray experience, he also taught us a lot about the reef and everything living in it. He runs his operation through Hotel Hibiscus, only does small groups (ours was private because we went early in the AM before anyone else has signed up), and is very reasonably priced. Just in case you ever find yourself in Moorea looking for a ray guy.

Clockwise from top right: tuna tartar, tuna sashimi, poission cru, and Moorea salad
Hotel Hibiscus ended up being a surprise gem. I enjoyed the food, and they had a lot to offer people with a variety of tastes. I pretty much ate fish the whole time, and my favorite was a appetizer that had the local speciality "Poisson Cru", tuna tartar, tuna sashimi, and Moorea Salad (fruit, shrimp, coconut milk).  The bar manager Hoania was super hospitable and fun. We ended up going to the beach with his wife Eve and daughter and inviting them back to the villa for Jacuzzi, dinner and drinks. They were so much fun! It is amazing the people you meet on vacation, and I hope they can come visit one day! The hotel restaurant also does wood-oven pizza, which we had on the beach for lunch one day.

Moorea is a such an amazing place. The snorkeling off the motu (little island) was amazing; we saw more rays, tons of super friendly and colorful fish, and even an eel. The fish came right up to your mask and were vibrant and plentiful. I can't imagine a more perfect island to vacation on.

Only one more post about Moorea. Then we can move on to less exotic things, like 60 day bachelorette shape-up and the bucket list!

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