Destination: Moorea, French Polynesia
Date: July 2013
Activity: Snorkeling with Sting Rays
Today the weather is cooler than I expected. Being July I always expect hot and humid weather especially on a tropical island. However, it is not hot or humid today. I’m sure it has to do with the fact that we are here during the winter months of Moorea but I’m a little chilled. It isn’t cold, don’t get me wrong, but it is breezy and the sun isn’t as penetrable as I’d like for a day of snorkeling with sting rays.
Yep thats what we did today! We are docked here in a lagoon off the shore of Moorea, called Cooks Bay, and the wind is blowing enough to keep our The Amara shimmying back and forth in the water. Though I know we are anchored down it looks like we are doing about 6 or 7 knots when I look at the water sparkling by the side of our boat.
After a beautiful breakfast by our chef “S” we packed up the kids snorkel equipment and headed off in the dinghy to find some stingrays. Lucky for us Captain “D” knew about a local hot spot and just where we could find some of these “pussycats of the water”, as Bella likes to refer to them.
Right after getting all six kids loaded into the dinghy and pushing away from the Amara I realized I had forgotten to pack any towels. Usually in a warm tropical climate that isn’t a problem because I knew the kids would be fine with a little drip dry but with the wind blowing and the outside temperature being a tad bit cooler than the ocean I knew we were in trouble. Our dinghy had already pushed away and I didn’t ask to go back and that was my first (thankfully the only) big mistake of the day.
On our way to the sting rays we had a group of dolphins following our wake. The kids couldn’t believe we weren’t at Sea World and that they were watching this out in the wild. I could tell each one of them wanted to jump into the water and see if these dolphins were trained like the ones they have watched in shows. It was a short visit however because after about three or four minutes our dolphin friends left us. After about a forty minute dinghy ride with eleven people in our tiny craft we found the spot where the sting rays gather. It was easy to find since many local tour boats had already anchored and were feeding these majestic creatures. Just getting in the water and not landing on one was a careful task. We had to carefully lower ourselves into the swarms of stingrays! My kids were beyond excited.
Quickly we were in the water and the rays were careening up against us . Our shoulders, legs, bums, everywhere we looked we were being swarmed. It was a fantastic way to be greeted. I think they could smell the food that Captain “D” had in his pocket because we soon were the most popular people in the water. Bella was screaming with delight. Leah couldn’t get her mask on quick enough to get her face down to see the rays up close and personal. Clay and Lexi were a little anxious but with a little more coaxing they were in the water and enjoying the marine life with the rest of us.
We saw flute fish, parrot fish, angel fish, some kind of sand fish that would disappear on the ocean floor and then the most exciting find of the day, a black-tipped reef shark! Not just one but about eight or nine were circling around us coming in for a closer peeek only to jet away once we pulled our cameras out. Bailey was quickly on edge. She has never had a desire to swim with sharks though we talk about it every year during Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. Here was her moment to say she had done it, and she was quickly freaked out. Uncle “M” was the best and quickly took her to his side to help her acclimate to the idea of swimming with sharks. It was good to see her anxiety soften as she warmed up to these cold blooded creatures.
Even though we were enjoying this awesome adventure that would have easily cost our family of eight well over a thousand dollars had we hired an excursion company to take us out, we were still a little cold. Our teeth were chattering, and our flesh was covered in goose bumps because of the cool breeze. It was ten thirty in the morning and the sun just wasn’t penetrating to our level of desire. We were a little cold.
After a few pictures with the rays, a couple more atempts to take photos of the sharks we finally decided to load up and face the cold back to the Amara. We all shivered with our teeth chattering as our little dinghy flew throught the water as fast as it could go for the forty minute ride back. We laughed and cried as the water came up to splash us with some of the white tip waves the wind had created. Without the towels my kids were getting ready to mutany and jump back into the water that was warmer than the air on the dinghy.
As we pulled up to the Amara, I couldn’t help but admire the beauty of this beautiful boat set up against the awesome back drop of Moorea. Though I have yet to touch foot on the island I can already tell I’m going to love it here. In our lagoon there is a big gray yacht parked nearby. That boat is about five times the size of the Amara. I can’t help but wonder who owns that beautiful big boat and what their story is. What a mystery sailing life is to me. I’m entrigued by about almost everything I see out here on the ocean. I could definitely see myself doing this full time. Still wondering how I’ll feel in another twelve days!
Safe and Happy Travels!!