From above: Jet Skiing at the Four Seasons
Making a splash at the Four Seasons
HILTON MOOREA LAGOON RESORT AND SPA
If you’re looking to immerse your kids in a tropical island experience replete with incredible marine adventures and jaw-dropping scenery, it’s hard to beat a few memorable days on Moorea, just a half-hour ferry trip from Papeete, Tahiti.
At Moorea’s ferry terminal we pick up a hire car and set off around the island’s spectacular coastline with our wide-eyed seven-year-old son, Luca, in the back. It’s an easy 25-minute drive around stunning bays overlooked by jagged volcanic peaks, past neatly painted churches and fragrant frangipani trees on the way to our destination, the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa. Set among manicured gardens fronting a translucent turquoise lagoon between Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay, the resort has a choice of spacious garden bungalows with plunge pools and private decks or overwater bungalows built on stilts and connected by wooden walkways.
On our first afternoon we borrow snorkel gear and head straight for the lagoon directly in front of the hotel for hours of aquatic exploration among clusters of coral teeming with tropical fish. We top it off with games of hide-and-seek in the hotel’s enormous pool before heading back to the room to prepare for the night’s Polynesian feast followed by a spectacular fire dance show.
Next morning, after an indulgent buffet breakfast, we make our way to the pier where our tour guide, Tom, is waiting to whisk our small group across the lagoon by speedboat for a picnic lunch on a motu (island). Halfway there, we drop anchor on a sandbank where half a dozen other boats have congregated. Tourists stand in the water or peer overboard as dark, winged shapes move around the ocean floor and reef sharks patrol the perimeters.
Following Tom’s lead we pull on our fins and snorkel gear and slip into the waist-deep water. Almost immediately I feel the gentle caress of a metre-wide stingray as its wing grazes my leg; I peer through my goggles and watch it gracefully glide past.
Back on board, we zoom off to our motu and enjoy the delicious picnic lunch prepared by our tour guide, followed by more snorkelling and another visit from a tame stingray that beaches itself obediently at our feet.
The next day, we experienced another aquatic encounter. At the Moorea Dolphin Centre, Luca gets to plant a kiss on a dolphin’s wet beak. It’s another experience on Moorea that he’ll never forget.