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    Island Life  --  Oceania Travel

    Where to Eat on the Island of Mo’orea

    French Polynesia, South Pacific

    Location: Mo'orea, French Polynesia

    What a blessing it has been to spend two entire months on the glorious island of Mo’orea in the South Pacific. Mo’orea, French Polynesia, has turned out to be a perfect fit for what we look for in long-term travel destinations; laid back but with enough activity and lots of delicious food. So I hope you saw last week’s blog post Seven Things to do on Mo’orea French Polynesia – and today we present Where to Eat on the Island of Mo’orea.

    The Flavors of French Polynesia

    A few weeks ago I introduced you to The Flavors of French Polynesia in a blog post as I began to learn and explore this culture and it’s food. Now, two months into our visit we have visited many of the local comfort food spots as well as some finer dining restaurants. For the most part we cooked our own food in our Airbnb, but we ate out about once a week – or sometimes more, as we researched and enjoyed the delicious foods of Mo’orea.

    Mo’orea

    For the purposes of this post I have broken our favorites of where to eat on the island of Mo’orea into two categories; Snack/Roulette/Take Away and Sit Down Table Service. Some of these restaurants straddle these categories and I have mentioned it when they do. There is some incredible food here, the majority focused around seafood. But you can also get a good burger, steak, pizza and pasta as well as Chinese and Japanese. Alas we have not seen a Mexican restaurant.

    Tips and Tricks on Where to Eat on the Island of Mo’orea

    Many places are only open a few days a week. Most places close after lunch and re-open for dinner. Surprising to us, a lot of restaurants and Snacks closed the entire month of February. Apparently this is vacation month. Do not assume hours on Google, Facebook or even websites are correct. Call to be certain. Most places don’t even have web presence, if they do I have provided a link below or at least a Trip Advisor link. As of this writing, masks are still required indoors and most staff will be masked although it is loosely enforced. Many of the finer dining places will require reservation.

    So here is our list of our favorites, from snacks to French Cuisine. Where to eat on the island of Mo’orea.

    Snack, Roulette and Take Away

    Snack Rotui – we visited Snack Rotui located in Pao Pao originally when we did our food tour with Street Foods of Tahiti. We went back again for lunch. This is the oldest restaurant on the island with outdoor seating but mostly it’s a take-away place. Serving a variety of Asian, French and Polynesian foods.

    Snack Rotui
    Snack Rotui

    Kaylakea Moz – one of the best meals we had on the island, this tiny little Roulette (food truck) puts out some incredible, high-quality food. We ate here twice and the tuna was spectacular. Located in Maharepa.

    Kaylakea Moz
    Kaylakea Moz

    Dimanche Matin – this name means Sunday morning, and indeed this take-away is only open on Sunday morning. It was only about 25 yards down the street from our bungalow, so we picked up a couple things on a couple of Sundays’. The pork (roti and sausage) were excellent as was the Bouchon au Poulet – Chinese dumplings. Located in Teavaro.

    Dimanche Matin
    Dimanche Matin

    Chez Ke’iki – this is one of those places that straddle the categories…is it a food truck? Yes. Is it a sit-down restaurant? Yes. Whatever it is it is delicious, one of the best on the island. During our first few weeks here it was closed, due to the rain. So call before going, but definitely go. Duck, pork, fish, curry it’s all delicious in a beautiful setting. Located in Maharepa.

    Chez Ke’iki
    Chez Ke’iki

    Magic Mountain Juice – this tiny Snack is at the base of Magic Mountain, a hike we did twice. The nice lady here charges $2 to park and then you can hike up the mountain. On the way back she serves you a free selection of stunning fruit. Both times we also each ordered a fruit smoothie. So delicious after a hot and muggy hike…or anytime. Located in Papeto’ai.

    Roulette 64 – this little food truck seems to only be open a few days a week, located at the beach we go to close to our Bungalow called Te’mae. They have a darling little set up with burgers, sandwiches, grilled fish and lots of poke bowl options, which is what I enjoyed. Very reasonably priced.

    Roulette 64
    Roulette 64

    Allo Pizza – we’ve seen at least five pizza places on the island, but this one is ALWAYS busy so we thought we should check it out. There are some tables, but it is more of Snack than a sit down restaurant and is also great for take-away. Friendly service. We had a honey, goat cheese and bacon pizza that we loved, as well as a tuna and pineapple pizza. The mixed green salad and two beers each rounded out our lunch, which was big enough to cover dinner too for a total of $70. Located in Cooks Bay.

    Allo Pizza
    Allo Pizza

    Sit Down Table Service Restaurants

    Mo’orea Beach Cafe – one of the more expensive restaurants on the island, but the food was phenomenal. I can say it was one of the best pieces of fish I have ever eaten. Order the Dover Sole. The service was also great and the view can’t be beat. Located in Maharepa.

    Mo’orea Beach Cafe

    Snack Mahana – even though this place is called a “snack” it really is a restaurant. It’s all about the seafood here, and we LOVED our food. So glad we went out of our way to this place that is all the way around the other side of the island from where we are staying. My assumption is it started as a “snack” but now has lovely beach side tables with a view. Mahi Mahi and Tuna Tartare were incredible as was watching the black tipped sharks swimming. Located in Tiahura.

    Snack Mahana
    Snack Mahana

    Le Lezard Jaune – This highly rated French restaurant is one of those that closes for a month in the winter so the proprietors can take a vacation. So we had to wait until late February to squeeze in a visit. You definitely need a reservation here, and it is so worth it. We had a spectacular meal here. I had Mahi Mahi, my husband had lamb. We shared their version of Poisson Cru which was fantastic and we shared a coconut cake for dessert. Dinner and drinks was about $120. Don’t miss it. Located in Tiahura.

    Le Lezard Jaune
    Le Lezard Jaune

    Maheata – this place has tiny little rooms and feels almost like a hostel. But they also have a rustic but lovely restaurant with a waterside view. You can choose to sit on the beach with your toes in the sand or on the covered open air dining room. Lobster was great and affordable. French fries were maybe the best I’ve had ANYWHERE! Located in Pihaena.

    Mahaeta
    Mahaeta

    Fare La Canadidenne – well I’ve been off burgers BUT we kept hearing this place had great burgers so….and yes they do. Fun little place, very popular, not open every day so be sure to check. We ate lunch there and didn’t need any dinner! Between Teavaro and Maharepa in the tiny neighborhood of Tiaia.

    Fare La Canadidenne
    Fare La Canadidenne

    Restaurant Golden Lake Chinese – if it weren’t for all the people who told us we should eat here, we would have driven right by this nondescript building. My husband isn’t a huge fan of Chinese food, but this was certainly one of the best Chinese meals we have had. And huge. We had the signature dish of Roasted Pork with Coconut Milk and two vegetable sides and this fed us for two dinners. Our only complaint was they needed more staff. Located between Teavaro and Temae near the airport.

    Restaurant Golden Lake
    Restaurant Golden Lake

    Coco Beach – if for no other reason make the time to spend half a day at Coco Beach just for the “castaway” feel of it. This unique restaurant on teeny little island surrounded by a gorgeous turquoise lagoon is right out of Swiss Family Robinson. You must CALL for a reservation. They will pick you up in an open air boat and take you to the island. Your table is yours for the entire day. We started with a tropical drink, then went snorkeling, then back to the restaurant for a delicious lunch. It was a fun day. They could have used a few more servers but we had fun. Parking at the boat dock located in Papeto’ai.

    Coco Beach
    Coco Beach

    Where to Eat on the Island of Mo’orea

    We have enjoyed every aspect of our time here, including the wonderful food and restaurants. Everything is fresh and delicious and I should also point out that EVERYONE is helpful and accommodating. Nothing to complain about as we wrap up our two month visit. We highly recommend this destination and welcome your comments and questions.

    Mo’orea

    Thank you for following along…we are headed back to the USA for six weeks before launching another two plus month adventure. No doubt it too will be delicious as we jump around the Caribbean, Northern Africa and the Mediterranean.

    Meanwhile, no travel Friday blog for a couple of weeks, but soon I’ll share our upcoming itinerary we have (almost) nailed down for the rest of 2022. Wait for it!

    We would love it if you pinned or shared our post Where to Eat on the Island of Mo’orea. Thank you. Ma’uru’uru.

    See last week’s post Seven Things to do on Mo’orea French Polynesia.

    See this week’s top performing pin Nine Things to do in Tuscan Arizona

    Island Life  --  Oceania Travel

    Seven Things To Do On Mo’orea, French Polynesia

    South Pacific Paradise

    Now enjoying our sixth week in French Polynesia, we are smitten with the island of Mo’orea. Just a 30 minute ferry crossing from Tahiti and the country’s main city of Papeete, Mo’orea is convenient and has everything we look for in a relaxing destination. We like it way more than Bora Bora and hope to come here again. Here are our favorite seven things to do on Mo’orea French Polynesia.

    The ferry terminal on Mo’orea

    Why Mo’orea?

    We originally chose Mo’orea because we found a wonderful Airbnb. Arriving with high hopes it would be as good as the reviews and photos – we were not been disappointed. It’s very comfortable, affordable, waterfront, and a great location. Another bonus is our host Maea is one of the best hosts we have ever had in our 102 Airbnb’s around the world – yes I said 102!! Perhaps it’s time to update this post Our Favorite Airbnb’s Around the World.

    Our host Maea teaching us how to open coconuts
    Our beach side Bungalow

    Mo’orea might not get the same marketing push that Bora Bora gets, but we think we like it better…at least for us. We enjoy a quiet place with a less touristy vibe. Mo’orea has that, especially during the shoulder season. Authentic ambiance is another thing we look for, and Mo’orea has that too. Our experience here has been incredible.

    The beach we stayed on from the air

    Seven Things To Do On Mo’orea, French Polynesia

    Unless you are staying only for a couple days in a resort (we recommend longer) you need to have a car on Mo’orea. Public transportation is non-existent. There are a few taxis and of course tours, but having your own wheels will make all of the suggestions below accessible. It’s worth the expense.

    So here are our seven things to do on Mo’orea, French Polynesia. In no particular order;

    1. Snorkel

    Snorkleing at Temae Beach
    Snorkleing from the kayak

    There are many snorkel options on the island. Mo’orea is surrounded by a reef that creates a shallow and beautiful lagoon nearly the entire circumference of the island. You can take a snorkel tour in a kayak, small boat, large group tour with lunch or an outrigger. Or you can bring or buy your own snorkel and fins (what we did) and snorkel from any public beach on the island. You will see remarkably beautiful coral of all shapes, sizes and colors. Of course you will see a fascinating collection of sea life including rays, black tip sharks and a rainbow of tropical fish. Want to see more of our favorite Snorkeling Around the World? Click Here.

    2. Coco Beach

    Coco Beach
    Coco Beach

    Coco Beach is a fun day trip, even though we had better snorkeling elsewhere. You need to call ahead for a reservation. A small boat will meet you at the parking area and ferry you over to the tiny island. Then you will be shown to your outdoor table, which is yours for the day. Have a tropical drink, then enjoy the beautiful warm water before feasting on delicious lunch. Last boat back is at 3:30pm. It makes for a wonderful day. Total for our day was $116.

    3. Tahiti Street Food Tour

    Poison Cru
    With our guide Haimata

    One of the first things we did our first week on the island was to take a tour with Tahiti Food Tours. It’s always a good way to learn about local cuisine. Our tour included stops at 7 local “snacks” (Tahitian Fast Food or Street Food) as well as a distillery. This tour was delicious and opened our eyes to some of the local specialties. Our local guide was knowledgeable, enthusiastic and funny. Cost per person $120USD

    4. Food and CookLab Cooking School

    Wrapping the Po’e in banana leaves
    Making the Manioc Chips

    Another thing we do in many of our travel destinations is take a cooking class. Thanks to our guide on the food tour (above) we learned about the Food and CookLab, a sustainable and organic cooking school on the island. We took their Polynesian Foods cooking class where we learned to make poisson cru, manioc chips, po’e – a plantain pudding cooked in banana leaf (also a sweet potato version), breadfruit and hibiscus leaf wrapped coconut bread. Cost per person $75USD lunch included.

    Learning three ways to use tuna

    I enjoyed the class so much I signed up for a second class, presented by a local chef on the island. In this second class we took beautiful local tuna and oyster muscles and created multiple dishes including gravlax, rillettes and fume (smoked fish). $125 USD lunch included as well as doggy bags of delicious fish to take home.

    5. Tiki Village

    Tiki Village performance
    The feast at Tiki Village

    If you have been to a luau in Hawaii, Tiki Village is the Polynesian version. The entertainment is different than Hawaii, as of course it focuses on the Tahitian dress, music and lore. The food is cooked in a pit including a whole pig but includes breadfruit, po’e (see above), poisson cru and local fish. The meal also included some international dishes from the French influence including pate, salads and dessert. The sunset view was amazing. Cost $110USD

    6. Hiking

    The Airport Hike
    On top of Magic Mountain

    Airport/Golf Course Hike – Starting from Temae beach you can hike the flat sandy road along the tiny Mo’orea Airport and the Mo’orea Golf Course and back. Round trip about three miles. Easy.

    Three Coconuts – Starting at the Belvedere Lookout this ascent is gradual except for the final mile. But the beautiful view is definitely worth it. Wear proper shoes. Total round trip 3.5 miles. Difficult.

    Three Coconuts Hike
    The Top at Three Coconuts

    Magic Mountain – most of the tours drive up to the view point on Magic Mountain but if you want a good work out then you can walk up. It’s steep but the road is in fairly good condition and the view is spectacular. Park at the fruit stand at the bottom for $2. When you come back have a fruit smoothie. Very nice lady here. Total round trip less than 2 miles but 700+ feet vertical. Moderate.

    Waterfall Hike – there wasn’t much water in the waterfall when we visited, but it was a good sweaty work out nonetheless. This was the most junglesque hike we did, beautiful deep jungle as we trekked a sometimes rough trail to the waterfall. To find this hike go just past the hospital in Afareietu and turn into a small road and park near the Veterans Memorial. Walk up the dirt road and keep left, it becomes the trail. 3 miles round trip and moderate.

    The view from Post Office hike
    Waterfall

    Post Office – from the right side as you face the tiny yellow post office building at the Temae beach turnoff, there is a hidden trail that takes you up to the radio towers and then scoots up to a peak. This trail is very steep. Bring lots of water. The view is amazing. You can go back down the way you came or continue on the trail through a thickly forested area where the trail is sometimes difficult to find. Watch for flags tied to trees to keep to the trail. Total distance 2 miles if you head back down the way you came up; 4.5 miles if you complete the loop. Very difficult.

    Pineapple Fields – From Pao Pao follow the “Route de Ananas” road inland until it becomes dirt. Park and walk staying to the right to the beautiful pineapple fields. Pineapple is a local cash crop Mo’orea is known for. The tiny and sweet little golden fruits are delicious. On this hike you can see the beautiful plants both in flower and in fruit. You can make this hike short (about 1 mile) or longer (above 3 miles). Easy.

    7. Drive Around the Island

    It’s 30 miles or 48 km around the island on the “main” road. This is bigger than the island of Praslin we stayed on in the Seychelle Islands and smaller than our favorite Hawaiian island of Maui. It definitely makes my list now of my favorite islands around the world.

    There are a few side roads, like the one to the Belvedere and to the Pineapple Fields. But mostly it’s the main road. Locals drive pretty fast and crazy and there are bicycles, pedestrians and lots of dogs. But a tour around the island is a must with stops along the way.

    This map shows the island and the main road. Starting at the ferry terminal in Vaiare follow the road counter clockwise. Teavara is the village our bungalow is. Continue up the hill to a spectacular viewpoint called Toatea, down the hill to the entrance to one of our favorite beaches Temae (also the location of the Airport Hike above). Continue around through the main town of Maharepa (don’t blink you’ll miss it) and to the first bay called Cook’s Bay. The village of PaoPao has some tiny eateries and a fabulous view of Rotui Mountain. Beautiful spot here includes a historic church. Pao Pao is also where you turn to the Pineapple Route. Continue on you’ll come to another gorgeous beach called Ta’ahiamanu – my favorite beach on the island. Plenty of parking and a great snorkel spot.

    Ta’ahiamanu Beach
    Toatea Viewpoint

    Next you’ll arrive at the head of Opunohu Bay. This is where you turn to the Belvedere lookout and hikes as well as Magic Mountain. As you round the Westside of the island it is quieter and more rural. There is a beautiful public beach here at Hauru and this is also the location of Coco Beach (above). Continue further to the location of Tiki Village (above) and a couple more beautiful historic churches at Haapiti.

    At Afareaitu is the start of the waterfall hike (above) and is also home to the island’s administrative center and hospital. Finish your circle tour back at Vaiare. Along the way there are plenty of local “snack” shops, food trucks and restaurants as well as a hand full of souvenir shops and pearl shops and locals selling goods and fruit along the roadside. It’s a beautiful drive and a beautiful island. Take your time and enjoy.

    Several historic churches around the island
    Shopping options abound

    Fresh Food Glorious Food

    There are some surprisingly good places to eat on this tiny island, and I am putting together a separate blog post about that for next week. So you’re gonna want to check back about that. Meanwhile, check out our latest Tasty Tuesday video on our YouTube channel. Your introduction to Poisson Cru the national dish of Polynesia – we try to eat it everyday. It’s amazing, healthy and very local.

    Beautiful Mo’orea

    Thanks for following along on our Seven Things to do on Mo’orea, French Polynesia tour. Please come back next week for more about Mo’orea.

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    See last week’s blog post Bora Bora on a Budget.

    Island Life  --  Oceania Travel

    Bora Bora on a Budget

    How to Visit This Beautiful Island Without Breaking the Bank

    Location: Bora Bora, French Polynesia

    Air Tahiti is budget friendly
    Air Tahiti is the island to island option

    Our two month visit to French Polynesia is now into it’s fifth week, and we recently hopped over to Bora Bora for five days. Despite how much we are loving living on the island of Mo’orea, we felt we needed to see what the fuss is all about on Bora Bora. But we travel on a pretty strict budget, so we approached this excursion in a thrifty way. Here are our Bora Bora on a Budget recommendations.

    The island and motus
    Bora Bora

    Why We Travel Budget Friendly

    Because we have designed a life for ourselves that includes long-term travel, staying on budget is critical. The only way we can sustain long term travel on our retired income is to travel inexpensively. Although it looks attractive to spend a night in a $1200 over the water bungalow, we know through experience and research, we can spend twenty nights in our Airbnb on Mo’orea for the same price.

    Blue Bora Bora Budget friendly beach
    Bora Bora

    To some people, a once in a life time visit to an over the water bungalow might be a dream come true, but I would like to convince more people to recognize how traveling in a budget friendly way will give you deep, authentic and meaningful travel experiences. I am living proof of that.

    So, if your goal is that Instagram selfie on an over priced over the water bungalow, then this blog is not for you. Otherwise, please read on…

    When to Travel

    We always try to travel to popular destinations in the low or shoulder season. Our two months in French Polynesia is the low season, also called the rainy season. Although it poured rain for the first four days we were here in mid-January, the weather has been great ever since.

    Bora Bora off season is budget friendly
    Great weather

    This is also one of the reasons we love Hawaii in September and October; no crowds, great rates and good weather. Off peak travel is the way to go when you are on a budget.

    Where to Stay

    We researched, for purposes of this blog, costs at a few of the over the water bungalows on Bora Bora. They range from $800 to more than $2000 a night, depending on the resort, the season and the location.

    Bora Bora has a nice selection of Airbnbs under $200, and if you stay long term you can even find some closer to $100.

    Budget friendly hotels
    Hotel Royal Bora Bora

    We spent four nights at the Royal Bora Bora, a really nice and comfortable hotel in the Matira Beach area on the south part of the main island. We paid $180 per night (off peak) for this property that included a fantastic private beach, pool and breakfast included. Our room was big and clean and comfortable with a nice lanai that overlooked a garden. And the staff was fantastic. We highly recommend this property, which was also within walking distance to a grocery store and four restaurants.

    Breakfast included helps with budget
    Omelet for breakfast at Royal Bora Bora

    Things to Do

    On Land

    Touring the island by land requires a vehicle of some kind. Here are some options for your consideration as you think about Bora Bora on a Budget;

    Guided Private Tour 4WD Land Tour $650

    Guided Group Tour 4WD Half Day $75

    ATV Private Tour $1100

    Avis Rental Car – many options starting at about $120 per day

    Scooter Rental available from many locations including Avis about $40 per day

    Bike our choice. For $17 per person we rented bikes from our hotel and spent half a day riding.

    Budget friendly cycling
    Cycling on Bora Bora

    On Sea

    Getting wet is one of the top things visitors to Bora Bora like to do. Here are some options so you can compare costs;

    Whale Watching (seasonal)$200

    Full Day Snorkle with Lunch $140

    Rent Your Own Boat – multiple options of boats and prices starting at $180 for half day

    Sunset Sail $300

    Snorkle at Public Beach with your own gearour choice. We brought our snorkel set with us that we purchased on Mo’orea for $60 and we have already gotten our money’s worth.

    Self serve snorkeling is budget friendly
    Snorkling at the public beach

    And Way Up High

    Birdseye view of Mo'orea
    Our view from Air Tahiti as we left Mo’orea

    If you want to see it from above…well if you flew here on Air Tahiti, which you probably did, you have already had the best point of view. But for your consideration, here are a few more;

    Parasailing starting at $250 per couple

    Helicopter Tour $200 per person

    Hike to the top of the mountainour choice. There are several hikes on the island, and depending where you are staying many are accessible from resorts and hotels. We enjoyed our hike and it was free!

    Hiking is free and good for you
    On the mountain top

    Things to Eat

    To save money, Airbnb is a great option for the ability to cook your own meals. There are only a handful of grocery stores on the island, the biggest on is a Super U in Vaitape. Other ways to eat on a budget include;

    Hotel with Breakfast included – our choice. The Hotel Royal Bora Bora offered an incredible full breakfast every morning included in our room. It kept us full throughout the day and then we went out to dinner in the evening.

    Take Out food from Grocery and Gas Station

    “Snack” which is French Polynesia Fast Food

    One splurge meal not budget friendly
    We had one delicious dinner out
    And a couple less expensive options.

    Bora Bora on a Budget

    Before visiting the beautiful Polynesian islands take some time to consider what is the most important for you, and create a budget to make it happen. Whatever your budget is, Bora Bora is available to you, with a little pre-planning and prioritizing. Bora Bora on a Budget – enjoy the beautiful South Pacific.

    Sealife spotting can be free
    Stingray

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    See our blog about The Flavors of French Polynesia

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    Island Life  --  Oceania Travel

    The Flavors of French Polynesia

    Island Life on Mo’orea

    Location: Mo'orea Tahiti French Polynesia

    We are loving our long visit to the gorgeous island of Mo’orea in French Polynesia where we are living for two months. As usual we are eating our way through this tropical culture and enjoying every morsel. It’s an eclectic collection of cultures and ingredients, so today we will attempt to pull together our impressions of The Flavors of French Polynesia, and specifically of Mo’orea.

    Poisson Cru is the national dish

    History

    The people known as Polynesians migrated to the Society Islands as long ago as 500 BC from as far away as Malaysia. These same people, who are known to be exceptional navigators, populated the south Pacific islands from Hawaii to Samoa and also New Zealand.

    On these voyages the Polynesians had bananas and coconut, as well as taro, yams, plantain, breadfruit and sugarcane. It is thought they also brought pigs, dogs and chickens. They carried with them what would become the flavors of French Polynesia.

    Polynesian Navigators (Wikipedia)

    The Portuguese explorer Magellan sailed through this area in 1521 and the Dutch in the early 1700’s. But the first European to land on Tahiti was a British Explorer named Samuel Wallis who arrived in 1767 and claimed the island for Great Britain, despite the fact that there was already a monarchy ruling Tahiti.

    Shortly after Louis-Antoine de Bougainville arrived and claimed it for France. Tahiti became a French Protectorate in 1840 and in 1880 a French Colony when King Pomare V of Tahiti accepted annexation.

    Today it is known as a collectivity of France, comprising over 100 islands in the South Pacific. It holds more autonomy than most French possessions and has a President and Assembly.

    French Influence

    Our food exploration on the island of Mo’orea turns up a lot of French influence in the cuisine. Despite the fact less than 9% of the population claims to be French, it is a big influence in the cuisine. In the grocery stores available for purchase are beautiful terrines, foie gras and cheeses as well as bread. Lots of French bread.

    Foie Gras (Canva)

    There are several French Restaurants on the island. We enjoyed a fabulous meal at the Mo’orea Beach Cafe and hope to visit another French Restaurant on the island in the weeks ahead.

    We have visited many nations with a history of French occupation. The cuisine in many of these still reflects the French influence. Everything from Bahn Mi in Vietnam to the Burkina Faso street food of omelet in a baguette.

    Chinese Influence

    In the 1860’s the French brought Chinese laborers to the Pacific islands to work in the sugar cane fields. With them of course came their cuisine and food influences. Today the population is made up of about 10% ethnic Chinese.

    One food we had was a strange but delicious combination of French and Chinese when we were served Chop Suey noodles inside a French Baguette.

    Chop Suey Sandwich

    Bao Buns, dumplings and many fried Chinese Foods are popular, especially on Sunday mornings which is always family day.

    This week is also the start of the Lunar New Year and there are some local celebrations. In honor we did a favorite Chinese dish at our Airbnb with local Tahitian Shrimp and shared it on our YouTube channel. Check it out here Kung Pao Shrimp,

    I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

    Coconuts are a staple here on the island and islanders use every part, both historically and today. The amazing coconut has water, milk, meat as well as strong fiber for cloth and rope. Coconut sugar, coconut flour, coconut oil (known as Copra Oil) all are part of the culture. And the shell becomes a cup or a bowl. It’s a multipurpose and delicious food.

    Coconut

    Beyond coconut the island weather creates a thriving environment for tropical fruits of many kinds. We have talked in past blog posts about the abundance of mango and banana around the world, and here on Mo’orea is no different. Also available and commercially produced are the sweetest little pineapples. Everywhere you look there are papaya, passion fruit, limes, breadfruit and plantain. Sometimes we can find starfruit, avocado, custard apple and guava.

    Fresh Fruit

    This abundance of fruit makes it’s way into many local restaurants as well as into our morning breakfast bowl with yogurt.

    Agriculture

    The island of Mo’orea has both an Agriculture High School and College. Though pineapple is grown commercially it is not exported. Sugar cane is no longer a cash crop, but due to the resurgence of Rum it is being reinstated. Mo’orea has some commercial production of vanilla.

    Rum Tasting
    Tahitian Vanilla

    Today Tahiti exports coconut oil and pearls, with pearls making up the largest export by far and is second in economic impact to the nation to tourism.

    Teach a Man to Fish…

    Given it’s an island, fish is of course a staple protein. We have been astonished by the inexpensive and delicious red and white ahi. Ahi is served everywhere and is usually the fish enjoyed in the national dish of Tahiti called Poisson Cru. We have eaten Poisson Cru several times now, and have made it ourselves too. Mixing the island favorites of fish, lime and coconut milk with some veg it’s absolutely delicious and served everywhere.

    Fresh Ahi

    Originally however, Poisson Cru was made with reef fish. Reef fish is still a staple and local fisherman, in small skiff or kayaks fish the reefs every morning for Dorado, Parrot Fish and other small fish that live in the coral. We purchased some small fish right in our front yard and enjoyed cooking them.

    Today’s catch
    Fresh Dorado with herbs

    Sport fishing is also popular here for Big Eye, Wahoo, Marlin and more.

    Mo’orea is home to a shrimp farm, producing some of the best shrimp I have ever eaten. I was surprised to find warm water shrimp this tasty. We used the local shrimp for our Kung Pao Shrimp recipe (see above).

    Comfort Foods and Carbs

    I try to stay away from bread and sweets most of the time, but both are very popular in the daily diet of locals. One such food is Firi Firi, a local donut. Firi Firi is available in road side stands around the island, usually on Sunday morning when families gather. Personally I thought the coconut sugar fried dough was too greasy.

    Firi Firi

    Something I did really like was a coconut bread we had from the Chinese take out. It was wonderful and is a very popular local treat. On Sundays the Chinese take out is very busy as locals gather their favorites from bao buns to deep fried pork and sweets for family time.

    Coconut Bread

    Speaking of bread, the French Polynesia government subsidizes baguettes. Which means they are incredibly cheap and abundantly available six days a week, hot from the oven at a cost of 57 cents (USD). We were told this is to make sure everyone can at least afford bread. And boy do the locals eat up those cheap baguettes.

    Baguette

    At the Polynesian Tiki Village Show we attended, our dinner included the local comfort food of Pua’a, a suckling pig cooked underground. Nearly identical to way it’s done in Hawaii. Also in the same pit was cooked breadfruit, coconut bread and plantains.

    Oven for the Pua’a
    Pua’a

    Street Food Tour

    One of the first things we did during our first week in Mo’orea was spend a day with Tahiti Food Tours on a Mo’orea Tama’a Street Food Tour. I love doing these kinds of exploratory tours, to really kick start some knowledge about local cuisine. Our guide Heimata was fabulous and we tasted many different local street foods and the wide variety of different types of outdoor places locals go (see more below about that). Heimata, born on Mo’orea, was the perfect guide to show us the ropes. Some of my favorite things were the local mango sprinkled with plum powder, grilled beef heart, Chinese dumpling, Poisson Cru and homemade ice cream. Our tour also included a stop at the local rum distillery and juice factory.

    Mango with Plum Powder
    Chinese Dumplings

    Local Cooking Class

    Heimata also turned us on to the Food and Cook Lab, an organic and locally sourced cooking experience here on Mo’orea. We spent a day with Audrey and Stevenson as well as two American women and a man from France at their beautiful and sustainable kitchens. The class we took was all about using locally sourced foods to make some of the traditional Tahitian dishes. We went out into the garden and dug up manioc root and made manioc chips. They were so delicious. We cooked breadfruit over an open flame and then made amazing Poisson Cru. They taught us to make coconut bread, steamed inside hibiscus leaves. And we also made pumpkin and plantain po’a, which was baked inside banana leaf and is like a pudding. What an amazing experience we had. I liked it so much I have registered for another class coming up to learn about fish!

    Wrapping the Po’e
    Manioc Chips

    These experiences above also opened our eyes to some of the different kinds of food and dining establishments available on the island. We learned about several different categories of dining;

    Snack Shops

    Called Snacks locally, these are usually take out areas of restaurants, or very small roadside restaurants. On our food tour we visited a couple. My favorite was Snack Rotui right on the water at the head of Cooks Bay (often called First Bay). Snack Rotui is one of the oldest businesses on the island. The food is prepared across the street in a small kitchen and brought over to the road side “snack” by bicycle. Serving a variety of local specialties from quenelles to egg rolls and fish to chicken. Inexpensive and super yummy. We plan to return.

    Snack Rotui

    On another day we visited another Snack that sold mostly juice, smoothies and homemade jams. I bought some pineapple mint jam which I used on chicken and it was delicious.

    Smothies at a Snack

    Food Trucks

    Known as Roulotte, a French word that describes its mobility, Roulotte’s are everywhere. Not necessarily always “trucks” like we see in the USA, more often trailers. Some of the trailers are set up more permanent with attached covered seating, while others come and go. We noticed Roulottes selling noodles, crepes, whole chicken, pork, steak frits, grilled fish, tacos, and even churros. Our favorite is Kaylakea Moz Food right next door to the Mahana Resort. At Moz we had one grilled tuna and one tuna tartar and both were outstanding. So far the best meal we have enjoyed at this darling little Roulotte and much less expensive than a traditional restaurant.

    Kaylakea Moz Food Truck
    Grilled Tuna
    Tuna Tartar

    Fruit Lady

    For lack of a better name we call these small ma and pa roadside tables the Fruit Lady. Usually set up in front of someone’s home, these are likely unlicensed operators selling locally sourced fruit and veg and sometimes Firi Firi. We are trying to buy all our fruit and veg from these vendors and support local as much as we can.

    Fruits and Veg
    at the fruit lady stand

    Some of the vendors are at the same spot everyday, while others come and go, particularly the fish vendors who sell out of the back of their car when they have a catch. We have also seen vendors selling Mape, which is a local chestnut and very popular. At one fruit lady stand they also sell lovely leis and flower head pieces.

    Traditional Restaurants

    Of course there are traditional restaurants too, but they seem less frequent. All the resorts have traditional restaurants and there are several beach side ones as well. Because many business close between mid January and mid February, we are holding out to visit a few on our list. We did have an exceptional (but also expensive) French lunch at Mo’orea Beach Cafe on one of our first days. I had one of the best pieces of fish I have every had (Dover sole) cooked to perfection. The service and view was exceptional too.

    Mo’orea Beach Cafe

    The Flavors of French Polynesia

    We have been on the island of Mo’orea now for three weeks and we have five weeks to go. So we still have lots of time to explore more of the flavors of French Polynesia. Next week we are flying over to Bora Bora for several days. I don’t expect the food to be different, but since we will be staying in a hotel and not in an Airbnb we will be eating out more. So I’ll be in search of the flavors of French Polynesia.

    No blog next Friday but I’ll tell you all about Bora Bora the following week.

    Thank you for joining me today to learn about the flavors of French Polynesia. We love it when you pin and share our blog. Thank you. Mauruuru!

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    Island Life  --  Oceania Travel

    Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week Two

    I was trying to write a blog about the local food for this week, but oh my goodness there is so much excellent food and I am still experimenting and eating my way through! So, instead I will wait and have a foodie post next week. I should be ready by then so be sure not to miss it – the flavors of French Polynesia are wonderful. Meanwhile, this week, we have been happily exploring and settling into our long stay on this remarkable island. And so I give you Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week Two.

    Sunrise

    Weather

    Beach time

    Week two provided us exactly the weather we had expected when planning this trip. No more monsoons! Just showers now and then with lots and lots of sunshine in between. We are very happy about all of that. We know we will have more rain, but Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week Two has provided us many opportunities to be active and explore in the warm (and humid) temperatures. We are now into a regular running and hiking schedule. No golf though, as we left our clubs at home this time.

    Food and Culture

    Tahitian Art

    Week Two we discovered so much about the local food and culture and this is why it needs its own entire blog post. The local influence of French and Chinese to the Polynesian foods has created a wonderful and delicious as well as eclectic cuisine. I’ll tell you more next week. Meanwhile, the local people are incredibly friendly and helpful. On more than one occasion we have had locals drop what they were doing to help us find our way or interpret for us. They are kind and sweet and make us feel very welcome.

    Polynesia show

    Life is pretty simple on Mo’orea. People live in simple homes and live simple lives. I’m sure on Tahiti it’s a bit more citified…but here it’s very laid back and slow.

    Beautiful tropical fruit

    The culture of these islands is influenced by many factors. The Polynesian people, known as great navigators, migrated to these islands from all over Southeast Asia starting in 500BC. They managed to govern themselves fine, but the French arrived in the 1600’s and took over. C’est le vie. Today French is the official language but English is spoken by many and the native language of Tahitian is spoken by many. There are still about 2 million people who claim Polynesian ethnicity.

    This week we took a food tour, a cooking class, ate in a couple of restaurants and went to a Polynesian cultural show and dinner. All of these experiences will get pulled into next week’s post.

    Geography

    Geography

    Mo’orea is an ancient volcanic island, about ten miles from its larger sister of Tahiti. This beautiful and lush island is very reminiscent of the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Kauai is estimated to be about 5 million years old while Mo’orea is closer to 2 million years old. The green mountains rise dramatically out of the incredible turquoise water with spires and peaks and craggy rocks jutting here and there. This makes for difficult but beautiful hiking options.

    Lagoon kayaking

    The coral reef that surrounds the island was described by Darwin as like a picture frame and helped him solidify his theory about atolls. The coral was originally part of the island’s lava flow. Over the millennia it pushed it way out to ring the island and the coral thrived in the environment. It makes a beautiful lagoon around the island and provides safe snorkeling, paddling and swimming opportunities as well as a wonderful home for sea life.

    Pacific Rim

    On top of Magic Mountain

    Although Mo’orea is not an active volcano, the recent volcanic explosion and ensuing tsunami in Tonga (1200 miles west) reminds us how our planet is in constant evolution. Following the tsunami we went in search of information regarding the local tsunami procedures and warning systems here on Mo’orea and learned where we are to go in such an emergency. We feel prepared.

    Negatives

    There are however a few negatives, but they are hardly enough to mention. But here they are anyway;

    Dogs – like many places we have traveled around the world there are ALOT of feral dogs and clearly there is no spay-neuter program in place. It’s sad to see the condition of many of these animals.

    Speed – people drive REALLY fast on the two lane road that rings the island and often pass. Yikes. However, over the past couple of years a bike lane has been added on both sides of the ring road all the way around the island. This gives me a safe running lane, although staying alert with the speeding cars is important. Many people use bikes to get around an Motos too, but the bike lane is a nice addition for all of us.

    Mosquitos – not the worst place I have been for bug bites (Seychelles Islands wins that award) but the mosquitos have been pretty annoying. Hopefully now that the sun is back, the mosquitoes will go!

    Mo’orea Musings – French Polynesia Week Two

    High above the lagoon

    We are relaxed and enjoying our new little island life. I promise next week we will have lot of foodie information to share! So I hope you will check back! Merci!

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    Oceania Travel

    The Great Barrier Reef Australia

    Just Keep Swimming

    Location: The Great Barrier Reef Australia

    “Hey, Mr. Grumpy Gills… When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming.” – Dory the Fish from Disney’s Finding Nemo

    The Great Barriee Reef

    Nemo

    Finding Nemo is one of my favorite Disney/Pixar movies, and this past week I have had endless Finding Nemo moments and quotes running through my head.  Being

    in Australia and finally snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, my thoughts have wandered to the

    The Great Barriee Reef

    Reef and fish

    adventures of that movie and I have smiled to myself underwater and thought “Just keep swimming.”

    Although going out on a snorkel trip on The Great Barrier Reef took us way over our Grand Adventure daily budget (actually everything in Australia is

    The Great Barrier Reef

    Birdseye view

    taking us over budget), we could not come here to beautiful Cairns and not see the reef.  It’s another one of those “I don’t have a bucket list” bucket list items.  I love snorkeling and I wanted to have that once in a lifetime opportunity.

    The weather on the day we went wasn’t great – grey and overcast and we even saw some rain.  I am in constant worry about my motion sickness

    The Great Barriee Reef

    Colorful

    problem, so I stood outside and watched the horizon the entire hour and half boat trip out to the reef, even when the rain started to come down.  Hey I was gonna get wet anyway right?  Luckily, thanks to massive amounts of drugs, my sea sickness problem did not materialize while on the boat.  That was a good sign!

    “You got a problem, buddy? Huh? Huh? Do ya, do ya, do ya?” Dory

    We booked our reef tour with Reef Magic out of

    The Great Barrier Reef

    Marine World of Reef Magic

    Cairns which took us to the outer reef and a pontoon platform stationed there called Marine World.  We disembarked the boat to the pontoon and here we were outfitted with our snorkels, fins, masks and Lycra “stinger” suits to protect us from

    Great Barriee Reef

    Jellyfish

    jellyfish.

    “I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy.” Dory

    Reef Magic offers many options from the pontoon, all at an additional charge including snorkel safari, snuba, scuba, glass bottom boat, semi-submersible boat and helicopter rides.  But since

    Great Barriee Reef

    That’s us!

    we had already exceeded our budget (for two of us we paid $426 Australian about $330 US), we were just interested in snorkeling.  We were dressed and ready to go pretty quickly and one of the first people in the water.

    Great Barrier Reef

    Us with Wally

    We immediately encountered “Wally”, one of the biggest fish on the reef.  Luckily Reef Magic’s professional photographer was on hand as we entered the water and she got some amazing shots of us with Wally.  All the photos in this blog are from Reef Magic’s professional photographer.  Since we don’t have an underwater camera we have never gotten underwater photos on any of our snorkel trips on the Grand Adventure.  So, despite the fact my husband almost wet his pants when I told him the price, we bit the bullet and bought the photos for an additional $75 (about

    Great Barrier Reef

    Hey Wally

    $60 US).

    “Ahh you guys made me ink.” Pearl

    Wally is a resident fish of this part of the reef.  He is an amazing species called Maori Wrasse.  This fish is a female for the first eight years of its life.  And then poof.  It’s a male.  I know – what the heck?  Isn’t that nuts?  Some times I think Mother Nature is menopausal!

    Great Barrier Reef

    Coral

    After our encounter with Wally we began to explore the reef.  Marine World has a cordoned off section of the reef for its guests to enjoy.  Within this area there was a huge variety of corals; big, small, blue, green, orange, white.  Some are soft and rounded, others spikey and dangerous looking.  In all the

    Great Barriee Reef

    Coral

    snorkeling I have done, I had never seen coral that waved in the current like it did here.  It’s a beautiful thing to watch.  Most of the coral we see in our lives is dead.  And while its pretty even when it is dead and dry, the beauty of live coral is spectacular.  Yes this is an incredible living

    Great Barriee Reef

    Coral

    creature and we surely must protect it.

    “Righteous! Righteous! ” Crush

    So I loved the corals and kept going back for more of that but of course there were the fish. Many, many fish.  I don’t know all their names, but they really are beautiful to watch.  Some of the fish are very solitary, just going along and doing their

    Great Barrier Reef

    Fish!

    business, feeding and swimming and doing what fish do.  Other fish keep in groups, large schools that move together almost as one, weaving above and around the coral mountains.  There are some fish that are so tiny you don’t even see them until you are swimming right through them, while others

    Great Barrier Reef

    Giant Clam

    are so big that they freak you out a bit.  Many fish are shy and you need to look inside the coral to find them.  There are also beautiful giant clams, sea slugs, squid, eels and rays.  And no we did not see any sharks.

    Great Barrier Reef

    Ray

    From this moment on, you shall now be known as Sharkbait.” Gill

    We swam to the outer edge of the roped off area and we were alone in this section just as a beautiful turtle swam by on the surface.  We

    Great Barrier Reef

    Turtle

    almost missed him because we were looking down and he was swimming right next to us on the surface.  But then he dived and we watched him swim to the bottom looking for a snack.  I believe this was a loggerhead turtle.  We had seen this kind in Sri Lanka. Beautiful brown bodies and not too large.  We watched him swim away beyond the area we were confined to and into the great wide ocean.

    “Saw the whole thing, dude. First you were all like “whoa”, and we were like “whoa”, and you were like “whoa…” Crush

    After about an hour we went back to the pontoon to have a rest.  Reef Magic served a buffet lunch

    Great Barrier Reef

    Pontoon

    that included salads and fruit, bread, chicken, sushi, lasagna, curry and roast beef.  But I only ate a little cause I continued to worry about my motion sickness.  Arne ate my share.  It all looked good.  Great Barrier ReefCoffee, tea and water was also available and a bar on the boat was open when we weren’t underway.  Clearly they have had motion sensitive passengers before and they were well stocked with ginger beer (like ginger ale, non-alcoholic). My beverage of choice.

    “I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine.” Bruce the Great White Shark

    The Great Barriee Reef

    Fish in all sizes

    We headed back out to snorkel more after lunch.  The water seemed a bit calmer but it was also more cloudy so not as easy to see – but that was okay.  We tried to swim to all the areas and to the far-reaching parts of the swimming area.  We noticed most snorkelers stayed very close to the boat.  Understandably if you are an inexperienced snorkeler or not comfortable in the water.  Reef Magic had life jackets as well as float noodles and other devices for anyone looking for a little more reassurance.

    Great Barrier Reef

    Some are shy

    We snorkeled for about 30 minutes and then decided to call it a day.  We went back on the pontoon and stretched out on a lounge chair for the next hour and a half.  Surprisingly, despite the overcast sky, it was warm and we both got a bit of a sunburn.

    Great Barrier Reef

    My Fab Fifties Life!

    Finally it was time to turn in our gear and make our way off the pontoon and back to the vessel for the hour and half ride back.  Once again I stood and watched the horizon the entire way, including during a deluge about half way home.

    But I did it.  I did not get sick.  I snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef.  I can check that off the “I don’t have a bucket list”

    Great Barrier Reef

    Dory

    bucket list.  And remembered to just keep swimming.

    “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.” Dory

    Thanks goes to the wonderful photography of Reef Magic!

    Read more of our Australia adventure here

     

     

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    Oceania Travel

    Time to Tiki Tour the Wop-Wop

    Chapter Six -New Zealand Impressions

    Location: New Zealand

    We have been in New Zealand 12 days already. Several words come to mind to describe this country in my early impressions;

    CHEERFUL – the people here! Wow!  They are all so happy and nice. Something in the water?  Or maybe they realize how good they’ve got it in this beautiful country.

    PATRIOTIC – everyone we talk to loves their

    Vineyards

    country and wants to tell you all the things you shouldn’t miss while you are here. They actually seem to like tourists.

    COURTEOUS – the roads in New Zealand aren’t freeways. And they do drive fast and on the left. But everyone is so courteous. They don’t use their horn, they allow others to pass when it’s safe. Also everywhere there are these one lane bridges. Everyone waits their turn. And it works. It just

    Blues and greens

    works.

    FUNNY – New Zealanders love to give things nicknames and it’s fun to listen to them talk.  Of course they call themselves Kiwis; their flip flops are jandles; sunglasses are sunnies; breakfast is brekkie.  Clothes are togs, the corner market is the dairy, caravan is a camper and wop-wop is out in the boonies. Ta means thanks, stoked is excited and choka means overflowing.  And the one I like the best is “tiki-tour”  that’s what we are on – a tour without any real destination.

    Interesting finds while tramping

    OUTDOORSY – Trekking (or tramping as it is also called) is a national pastime and everyone young and old is out tramping about on the trails everywhere we go. Being on the water is also a national pastime (this is an island after all) and people are on the beach, in the water and on the

    The trails

    water in kayaks, paddle boards, dinghies, sailboats, ski boats, water taxis, cruisers, yachts, ferries and cruise ships. Boats are everywhere.

    CLEAN – the water is the clearest and cleanest I have seen anywhere in the entire world. There is not a speck of litter ANYWHERE! The beaches are pristine as are the woods and trails and roads. And everywhere there are clean and efficient FREE public FLUSH toilets WITH TOILET PAPER!!!!

    Bathrooms

    GORGEOUS – we have spent most of our time so far enjoying the stunning scenery of the South Island and have been blessed with sunshine the past seven days. As we begin to journey farther south tomorrow I’m anticipating cooler and wetter weather. But even with the rain comes more waterfalls and beautiful rivers.

    COLOR – the multiple hues of green are amazing.

    Beautiful

    Who knew there could be so many shades of green. And the turquoise of the water is such a surprise.

    EXPENSIVE – alas it’s not perfect. New Zealand is expensive. Gas is around $5.50 US per gallon. Groceries are very expensive, but not as expensive as eating out. Our Airbnb’s have been reasonable, but tomorrow we pick up our camper van. It will average about $100 a day (plus gas – yikes!).

    So starting tomorrow we are off in our caravan, wearing our sunnies and jandles, headed to the wop-wop on our tiki-tour.  And we’re stoked!