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Snorkeling With Sharks and Stingrays in Moorea
Stunning views, swimming with sting-rays, snorkeling with #sharks, lagoon tours, breaking coconuts... this was an #aspirational, epic, once-in-a-lifetime family holiday in #FrenchPolynesia's clear blue waters.
Swimming and snorkeling with sharks and stingrays was never on my bucket list experiences. But, this excursion was so popular in the French Polynesia’s clear blue waters, we decided to do it twice since we were visiting two different islands. We had an epic adventure snorkeling with the sharks and stingrays in Bora Bora.
We had an epic adventure snorkeling with the sharks and stingrays in Bora Bora
See how our excursion in Moorea compared to that adventure.
There are several tour operators on the island that offer this snorkeling tour. We went with Albert’s Moana Lagoon Tours based on reviews and the price. They picked us up at our hotel in a mini bus with about 30 other people in it already. This was already a major difference compared to our group of 10 in Bora Bora. To no surprise, more than three quarters of the people were honeymooners. There were actually three other kids on the tour.
We boarded our boat behind the dock of the Club Bali Hai Resort. It provided a scenic background of Moorea’s peaks. Our tour guide, Siki, met us and gave us a little orientation in several languages which was quite impressive. He was funny, entertaining and informative and the dreadlocks and jelly shoes definitely added to his unique character.
Moorea is known for its valleys, canyons and peaks.
Moorea is known for its valleys, canyons and peaks
As our boat stopped in the middle of Cook’s Bay, Siki gave us a different perspective on these peaks including one that looked like a woman and someone playing the piano. We drove around the island the previous day so it was great to see Moorea from the water.
More peaks were pointed out and we passed by some of the resorts with the overwater bungalows including the Hilton Moorea where we stayed. I love how verdant Moorea looks but also enjoyed the many shades of blue in the water. This was a relaxing cruise and a great prelude to the adventure ahead.
The Snokerling Adventure
We stopped few miles off the coast of the Intercontinental Resort for our snorkeling spot. I was a bit surprised at how shallow it was. The water was about 5 feet (1.5 m) deep. It was crystal clear, warm and with barely any currents – my ideal snorkeling conditions.
Many black tip reef sharks and stingrays started circling our boat even before we stopped. It was amazing but also a bit unnerving.
It was amazing but also a bit unnerving
There were a whole lot more here than Bora Bora. Having experienced something similar a few days before, I felt better not being the one freaking out like some of the newlywed brides around me.
Many of us scrambled into bathing suits and swim trunks to make the most of our time in the water. The stingrays instantly came up to Siki and his assistants like old friends. I suppose if they’re here everyday they’ve formed some sort of familiarity between them. It helped that they were carrying food too.
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We had plenty of opportunities to touch and pet the stingrays. They also had some fish and fish parts you could feed the stingrays. My husband did it but the kids and I decided to opt out. It was a bit alarming to see so many of them swimming underneath and all around us.
I’ve always been paranoid with those barbs stinging us and this group still had them. The rays are supposed to be docile creatures as long as you don’t step on their tails or swim directly over them. This was pretty hard to do since they were everywhere. Luckily, everyone on our boat came out unscathed. I’d be curious to know their accident rate here. It was something I probably should have asked before getting into the water.
The sharks for the most part left us, alone which was a relief. We were instructed not to get too close or touch them. Though, I would have gladly snorkeled with the sharks all that time than have to worry with stepping on the rays and getting stung.
It got a little crowded since there was another tour company there. But, it was easy to wander off to other areas with less stingrays but more sharks.
We stayed in this area for almost an hour which was plenty of time to get up close and personal with the stingrays. They’re so used to people that they brushed against us quite often. No matter how many times it happened, I still jumped every time I felt something slimy on my legs. Here’s my husband getting really close to one of them.
This was a little video we put together of our adventure.
The Island Feast
Our next stop was at an uninhabited Motu or island for lunch. We found kite surfers and jet skiers along the way. This looked so much fun. The boat docked on the island with a covered pavilion and several picnic tables and a nice stretch of beach. My kids were so excited to see so many chickens roaming around here. Contrary to what my son thought, they weren’t part of our lunch. Our lunch was already marinated and was being grilled which actually did include chicken, rice, fruits and fish.
While the assistants grilled, Siki showed us how to make a French Polynesia staple called E’ia Ota or Poisson Cru with the help of one of the visitors. This was ahi tuna mixed with limejuice, vegetables and coconut milk. My kids were right there front and center and hopefully learned something. It was a hearty lunch and rum and beer were widely available.
We were free to swim or snorkel after lunch. Siki also showed us the biggest eel we’ve ever seen. I’m not sure how he spotted this one but he managed to take it out of his hiding place and showed it to all of us.
I think opening coconuts is part of many French Polynesia tour demonstrations. We were once again treated to how to open a coconut with a stick, shred its meat and drink its milk. It was amusing to watch a few of the men accept the challenge attempt to open the coconut with a stick.
It was amusing to watch a few of the men accept the challenge attempt to open the coconut with a stick
There was also a brief demonstration on how to tie a pareo or sarong. I love how they incorporated cultural lessons into this tour. The boat dropped off passengers to their respective hotels which gave us an opportunity to check out the properties.
We highly recommend doing a lagoon tour and snorkeling with sharks and stingrays while visiting Moorea. They ran a very smooth operation. Even though, we did a similar excursion in Bora Bora, this was a much different experience. There were some things we liked on one-tour vs. the other like the small group and lunch in Bora Bora but the close encounter with so many more sharks and stingrays in Moorea. It was money well spent on a remarkable and memorable experience. We’ll be talking about this for years!
Tips for Snorkeling With Sharks Excursion
Book your tour early. The operators usually give a small discount if combined with other tours or booked online. You also don’t want to be shut out from dates and times you want. We emailed firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries and reservations.
Albert’s coach buses for the Moorea Lagoon tour do pick-ups at hotels. We were then taken to their ticketing office across from Bali Hai to pay. They accept cash and credit cards. Be sure to use cards with no transaction fees.
This tour is great for those coming for a day during a cruise or a day trip from Tahiti. They do pick-ups at the port.
Bring your own snorkeling gear and mask especially for the kids. The boat had some snorkeling equipment but they’ve likely been used and abused with the daily tours and will be hard to find kids’ sizes. We’ve always brought ours for sanitation purposes. We didn’t use the fins at all.
Bring water shoes (reef walkers) for the entire family. The snorkeling area by the island had a lot of coral. Bring flip-flops or slippers to use when walking around the island.
Bring sunglasses, plenty of sunscreen and your own beach towels as well as a cover-up. I suggest bringing a towel for each family member.
Don’t forget your underwater camera or GoPro. Most of the pictures here and all videos were taken on our GoPro.