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    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.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

    Although I make a big effort to expand my reading horizons by reading all different genre’s, Science Fiction would normally be pretty low on my list of favorites. Except for this book…it’s outstanding. Don’t fear the SciFi – you’re gonna love this one. Here is my book review The Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.

    Weir wrote The Martian (If you didn’t read it you may have seen the movie that starred Matt Damon) . And Project Hail Mary reads like a screenplay. It has garnered some criticism for that, but for me, the visual text made the book alive and I felt right there in the thick of this interstellar space ship and save the planet story thanks to Weir’s imagination.

    Throughout the book Weir hops back and forth between life on board the Hail Mary interstellar space ship, and back on earth prior to the launch of the ship. Earth is nearing the end of it’s existence, due to the sun slowly dimming. Of course without the sun there will be no food and life on earth will perish.

    Through a set of unusual circumstances, a middle school science teacher named Ryland Grace finds himself (against his will) one of three astronauts charged to travel through space and save the world.

    Are you rolling your eyes about this? Please don’t. It’s an epic, emotional, often laugh out loud, descriptive, story with endearing characters I fell in love with. Tasked with saving the world is a big undertaking and Weir creates a story of discovery and “speculative” science full of redemption and humor. And it doesn’t end how you might expect.

    By the way, apparently Ryan Gosling has already been tapped for the protagonist in the movie. I envision Sandra Bullock as Eva Stratt.

    Project Hail Mary was a fun, easy read with interesting science fiction to boot. One of my favorite reads over the past few months. Give it a try. Thanks for reading my book review Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.

    *****Five Stars for Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

    My current read Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

    Read last week’s book review The Plot by Jean Hanff Korellitz

    We love it when you pin and share our book reviews. Thank you!

    Did you see our post about 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

    Thanks for reading Bora Bora on a Budget. We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.

    See our blog about The Flavors of French Polynesia

    See this week’s top performing pin Mo’orea Musings Week One

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

    Oh boy this was a good one. Like last week’s review about Hell of a Book, this week we look at another book about a book, but this time the suspense is gonna kill you. Here is my book review The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

    Jacob Bonner was a promising young author when he published his first book…but since then nothing. His agent has booted him and he is demoralized, teaching and trying to maintain some kind of self-respect.

    As a teacher in an annual symposium for up and coming writers, Jacob meets arrogant Evan Parker. Parker immediately tells Bonner he doesn’t need his help writing his book. He is only in the program to find an agent. Bonner dismisses the pompous would be author, until he hears the plot.

    It’s a doozy and Bonner knows this self-important young man will go on to make millions…all while Bonner continues to flail away trying to write his next novel.

    But Parker never writes the book…why not? When Bonner learns Parker has died tragically, Bonner steals the plot and writes the novel of all novels, becoming a best selling author, rich and famous.

    Until Bonner receives an email with one sentence “You are a thief”. And that’s all it takes for Bonner’s world to begin to unravel.

    This book has so many twists and turns you will stay up all night turning page after page. A bombshell twist will make you go “Wait. What?” as you try to figure out The Plot and who is out to get who? If you loved Gone Girl, The Plot is right up your alley.

    Thank you for reading my Book Review The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

    *****Five stars for The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

    My current read Hail Mary by Andy Weir

    Read last week’s Book Review Hell of a Book – A Novel by Jason Mott

    We love it when you pin and share our book reviews. Thank you.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Hell of a Book – A Novel by Jason Mott

    In it’s core this book is about being Black in America. The remarkable story is told through the eyes of a small child named Soot, an award winning author whose name we never learn and an imaginary child called The Kid. This is the story of being Black in America. Here is my book review Hell of a Book – A Novel by Jason Mott.

    Beautifully written to capture the reader from the very first page. We follow what appears to be two different story lines about two different people; a small child much loved and protected by his parents and an author on a book tour of his popular new novel.

    Both characters are black. Both are American. Where is this story going. Is it about a book? Or is it about a child?

    Mott builds the plot as these two stories converge and the reader tries to keep them separate but finds it impossible to. We never completely know if they are separate stories or one? What we do know is this book eloquently and in a very unique way is a story about family, love and success. But then we see it’s also about the reckoning in America with Black Lives Matter, police shootings and tragedy.

    Someone will die. Who?

    Thank you for reading my Book Review Hell of a Book – A Novel by Jason Mott

    ****Four Stars for Hell of a Book – A Novel by Jason Mott

    My current read The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

    Read last week’s Book Review Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi

    We love it when you pin and share our book reviews. Thank you.

    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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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi

    This book is more than 25 years old…but I had never read it. I’m so glad I now have, it’s a very special story about a special girl. Here is my book review Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi.

    Trudi Montag is a dwarf, or in her native country of Germany a zwerg. Trudi grows up in a small German town, where most people accept her differences. But as Trudi matures life’s hard lessons bring Trudi into womanhood strong and special.

    Trudi’s mother dies when Trudi is just four. Although at the time, Trudi doesn’t understand the loss, she will learn in the years ahead about the mental illness that plagued her mother. Despite the loss Trudi is raised by her father and the village women who take her under their wing.

    But Germany in the 1940’s rears it’s ugly head and Trudi will need to learn to live through the atrocities of World War II, the loss of nearly everyone she loves, and the death of her innocence. Despite her own physical differences, Trudi learns to be greater in her mind. She is intelligent and creative and she will risk her own safety to save Jews in peril during the Nazi era.

    Trudi learns to use her ears to know everything going on in the village, and with this information she becomes an unlikely leader during a time where she can’t help question her country, her people and humanity.

    I’m sorry I waited so long to read this book. I enjoyed this character and this book very much. Thank you for reading my book review Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi.

    *****Five Stars for Stones From the River

    My current read is Hell of a Book by Jason Mott

    My Book Review The Promise by Damon Galgut is trending well on Pinterest this week See it here.

    Read last week’s book review Malibu Rising here.

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