Monthly Archives: October 2021

Translucent Kayak and Foiling

Lagoon Explorer offered lagoon tours around Opunohu Bay in transparent kayaks.  The website and the idea sounded super cool.  Get a tour and explanation of cool sights seen through your see-through kayak.  We thought we would get explanations of sea life around the bay and or a chatter about Mo’orea.

Unfortunately, that is not what we got.  We were in deed situated in tub-shaped transparent kayaks.  But our tour guide never explained anything.  Little disappointing as we could have seen and done everything in our dinghy for free.  But we made the best of it.

Troy took one for the team and manned his own kayak.  Kimberly and I were in one and Cole and Cameron were in another.  We started out against the current and wind which made it challenging for Kimberly and I to keep up. 

On the way back we switched it up.  Cole went with Kimberly and Cameron came with me.  A lot easier and to be honest more fun :).

But we made it to the first stop – sting ray city. Our guide encouraged the rays to hang out by feeding them. Although he swears, he didn’t feed them.

Foiling For the First time

Our friends Ryan and Nicole on Kiapa Nui are huge kite boarders.  They recently acquired a new foil board and were trying it out while anchored near Sugar Shac.  They were kind enough to teach the boys how to foil!  You can check out Kiapa Nui’s YouTube channel “Adventures of Two Afloat.”

Cole was the first one to try it out.  He is a surfer and had a little advantage on balance.  But we had no idea he would pop up and immediately foil on his first try!  He was spectacular!

Cameron missed the training session, but received a quick overview from Cole.  He struggled a little more than Cole, but still managed to get up and foil after a few tries.  He had great air and speed and did an amazing job.  Check him out holding on with one hand!

In our next blog we visit Coco Beach on a remote Motu called Tiahura.  In our last blog we visited Te Mana O’ Te Moana a sea turtle sanctuary – check it out.

Events from this blog post occurred during the first week of August, 2021.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.

Te Mana O’ Te Moana: Turtle Sanctuary

We visit French Polynesia’s turtle Sanctuary, Te Mana O’ Te Moana located on the grounds of the Intercontinental Hotel on Mo’orea.  The actual hotel is closed due to covid, but the sanctuary is open on Wednesdays from 10:00am-12:00n.  So, we made a reservation and headed to shore.

I won’t bore you with the details, but we were scolded for being dropped off directly at Te Mana O’ Te Moana which was forbidden.  Better to ask for forgiveness I said 🙂

Te Mana O’ Te Moana

The clinic was created in 2004 with financial help from the local government.  They have helped over 500 turtles since their opening.  Their main goal is to shelter, heal, and release all possible turtles into the wild.

Currently, 25 turtles reside at the clinic.  They have 6 infants, 14 juveniles, 1 one blind turtle, 1 turtle who swims in circles, and 3 that can’t dive.  The clinic shelters and treats found sick, wounded, mutilated, or seized turtles.  They see four species: green, hawksbill, loggerhead, and olive ridley.  The turtles in house are only green and hawksbill right now.

Sea turtles are weighed, measured, and their shells scrubbed once a week. Growth process, and behavior will determine the date of the release.  Resident sea turtles are fed daily with squid, capelans, herrings and sardines.  Turtles that are recovering are fed less frequently and during irregular times with the hopes of teaching them to fend for themselves in the future.

About Te Mana O’ Te Moana

Te Mana O’ Te Moana is perfectly located in an area with strong natural current that allows for the continuous renewal of fresh water.  The clinic waters are 50 meters long, 8 meters wide, and 2 meters deep.  They have 7 enclosures:  one for intensive care and one for juveniles. The rest of the enclosures are for medical care.

Green turtles are the only major nesting species in French Polynesia.  They are named for the green color of the fat that is under its shell.  Green turtles are known for their meat and are still poached in the Pacific Islands.  The average weight is 150kg and average size is 120cm.

The clinic also has a few Hawksbill turtles.  They are named for its narrow head and hawk-like beak.  Their average weight is 60kg and average size is 80cm.  They are known as the prettiest of sea turtles because of their unique designs on their skin and shells.

Residents at the Clinic

One very large hawksbill turtle has a problem with swimming in circles – always clockwise.  Evidently he is “capable” of swimming in a straight line, but he choses to swim in circles which prohibits him from being released into the wild.  There is also a blind female turtle and 3 turtles who are unable to dive.   The clinic puts t-shirts on the turtles who can’t dive because their shells are not meant to be exposed by the sun for extended periods of time.

We enjoyed the juveniles or teens who have an orange color.  I just love how they rest their front flippers on their back.

Did you know during the first months of life, turtles are very aggressive and can seriously bite each other. The clinic has to separate the most assertive ones.

And of course the infants:

Mating and Building Nests

Males court females by gently biting the back of her neck.  If the female does not flee, the male firmly attaches himself to the back of the female’s shell by gripping her top shell with claws on his front flippers, often inflicting visible scratches on the female.

Females may mate with several males just prior to the nesting season.  Research has found that females can store the sperm of a variety of males and fertilize the eggs later in the mating season.

Females return to the same beach where they were born.  She hauls herself onto the beach where she digs a hole 12′ deep using her anterior flippers.  Then she lays between 15-200 eggs (depending on the species).  The momma then refills the nest with sand and returns to the ocean – never seeing or meeting her young ones.  Females typically dig their nests at night and it takes them several hours.

Each female turtle will nest up to 5 times during season.  She will take 10-15 days off in between each nest.  Only 1 out of 100 baby turtles will survive to adulthood.

First years of Life:

After 2-months of incubation, the baby sea turtle hatchlings break open their shells. Dig out of the nest (which can take several days), burst out of nest as a group.  The gender of the turtle is dependent on the temperature of the sand. Males prefer colder sand and are found near the bottom of the nest where as females prefer warmer sand and are found near the top.

The baby turtles proceed quickly to the ocean and swim several miles, for several days.  They will spend their first years of their lives in thick seaweed mats floating in the middle of the ocean.  This was previously known as the “lost years.”  Here they will have shelter and food until they are stronger.

After a few years, juvenile sea turtles swim to feeding areas where they will stay until adulthood.  Sexual maturity happens late in sea turtle’s life, between 20-40 years.

Of course, they have to survive the long transit from the nest to the sea.  Avoiding rats, crabs, and birds that like to eat them. Once at sea, they have to avoid the eels, larger fish and more birds.  This on top of fending for themselves, finding food, and swimming are all hard on a young turtle.

Te Mana O’ Te Moana checks and monitors nesting sites.  They make every effort possible to help the turtle population. If you would like to donate, please do so at  Te Mana O’ Te Moana.

In our next blog we visit a transparent kayak tour and the boys learn how to foil.  Did you forget to read our last blog where we did a death march through Opunohu Valley

Events from this blog post occurred during the first week of August, 2021.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.

Mo’orea Opunohu Valley Hike

It was time to get up and get moving.  We decide to hike through Opunohu Valley to see the pineapple plantations and amazing views.  Matt researches our trail and we decide to do a 5.1 mile hike.  We were not 100% certain where we could safely leave the dinghy, so we leave it at a place we know is secure.  We start walking along the 2 lane road.  About 1 mile into our walk, I ask Matt how far to the start of our hike.  He says, “uh, it is another 1.5 miles to the entrance.”  Ok, so 2.5 miles to get to the 5.1 mile hike and then 2.5 miles back?  Oh dear….

The view at the start of the hiking trails is gorgeous.  

Opunohu Valley

Opunohu Valley

There are dozens of trails through the Opunohu Valley. Our trail follows the black line (top photo) and then catches the red line on the way back.  At least that is the “plan.”

Opunohu Valley Trails

Opunohu Valley Trails

If you look really hard you can see the face at the top of the mountain.  Focus on the hole at the top

The trails were marked, but they were rather confusing.  Can you make out the trail this is pointing to?  Keep in mind that there are dozens of trails and this does not indicate which one is to the right.  Our trail takes us across a few rivers.  You can usually cross over rocks, but the boys decided to cross over a fallen tree.

There were several very old and very large banyan trees.  We found one tree with the strangest looping branch.

Pineapple Fields Forever…

We passed through several fields of pineapples. 

Pineapple Fields

Pineapple Fields

It was super fun to see the different stages of pineapple growth

This picture just spoke to us – take me, shoot me, capture me, remember me.

A photo at the start and end of our hike. Not much worse off.

Proof of our crazy death march:

In our next blog we visit a sea turtle sanctuary, Te Mana O’ Te Moana.  Did you forget to read our last blog where we visited a black sand beach at Point Venus

Events from this blog post occurred during the first week of August, 2021.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.