French Polynesia Day 3 – Swim with Sharks and Stingrays; Best Meal

Day 3 on the French Polynesian island of Moorea started with picking up a rental car from Avis. From there, the plan was to explore the island. Our first stop was the Toatea Lookout.

…and some stops along the way whenever we saw nice sights.

We then ended up at the Tropical Garden which is known for its Vanilla farm.

We were able to buy some fresh vanilla bean, but I was disappointed that there were no tours or even basic info about vanilla farming in the islands; and the cafe on the premises did not have anything with vanilla on the menu that was made on site. I would skip this stop unless you want to buy fresh vanilla bean. Our next stop was the Belvedere Lookout.

After the lookout, we made a stop for lunch at Snack Mahana. You should note that they only take local cash. The setting is on the water and the food was delicious. I had the mahi and my wife had the garlic shrimp (but not as good as the version of this dish in Hawaii). The place is very casual and laid back, with a local feel.

After lunch, it was time for one of the activities I was MOST looking forward to – swimming with sharks, stingrays and humpback whales. The group I booked with was called Moorea Moana Tours. They pick you up from the Hauru Public Park next to the Hotel Hibiscus. A couple of thigs to note:

  • pick up is on the public beach next to the hotel although their directions will tell you to go to the hotel, it was a bit confusing
  • you should park on the street in front of the park and not in the lot as the lot may close by the time the boat returns
  • there is a bathroom at the park to change, but if you don’t want to use the public bathroom, you should just wear your swim wear to the park
  • we added the option to have a photo/videographer come with us; its worth it as she will be able to take pics of you underwater

After the boat picked us up, they took us to a spot to swim with sharks and stingrays. You can even touch the rays. It was unbelieveable.

After that, they tried to find some humpback whales for us. We spent a while trying to find some and we did see a few pop their heads out, but none that we could swim with. This was very disappointing. We also saw some dolphins. As the water was getting rough, we decided to head back to the lagoon where they took us to see some shark being fed by one of the docks.

After that we did a little more snorkeling, saw some sea turtles, and then headed back to the hotel to rest for dinner.

Dinner was at Rudy’s and was the best meal of the trip. The food was French with local touches. Here was the menu:

We started with the escargot, tuna carpaccio, and puff pastry with seafood.

For my main I had the parrot fish stuffed with crab and tarragon/balsamic vinegar sauce.

…and maybe the best thing of the night, the SPECTACULAR profiteroles and lava cake. The profiteroles were especially good and everyone could not stop talking about them.

Overall, the food, service, and atmosphere of Rudy’s was outstanding. I highly recommend this place. Next up Day 4 and off to Bora Bora…

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