How to save £1000 per day
The accommodation isn’t that different: over the water, around 40 square metre room size, large bed, flat-screen TV, private bathroom and beach. But the price, well, that’s another matter.
We anchored Lady Jane near the Sofitel Resort on the east coast of Moorea where an over-the-water chalet costs £1000 per night. We anchored for free. And it’s not even crowded. Only four boats were here when we arrived, and that reduced to just two (and the hotel guests) enjoying the calm and crystal clear sea. The water is so clear that it is possible to see the bottom at 10 meters, so it isn’t necessary to get the snorkelling gear out. We have watched eagle rays, butterflyfish, parrotfish, their other coral-crunching friends, and all varieties of coral while standing on the paddleboard on the way to the public beach, which is right next door to the one owned by Sofitel.
Granted, we don’t have some of the luxuries: there are no bathrobes onboard, we are responsible for cleaning our accommodation, getting our toiletries and making our bed. But I think we are getting the better deal here. And we don’t need to pay extra for dinghy or paddleboard hire.
Unfortunately, however, there’s a 7-day limit for anchored boats. This is not so for guests at the hotel; they can stay until their bank accounts are empty. So, after accumulating a £7,000 virtual saving, we had to move on before the local police came back with a reminder. So, within 20 minutes we arrived at our new location just to the south of Pass Vaiare, where we met up again with the crew of JaJapami for party time, a trip to town, pizza at a local restaurant, and to help replace their propeller anodes.
This new location is also time-restricted, so a couple of days later we headed to the north of Moorea and Cook’s Bay – principally because we needed to stock up with diesel.
It’s a petrol station, but not as you know it
You don’t see any petrol stations like this back in Basingstoke. Mobil has set up shop deep within Cook’s Bay, with pumps on the roadside for cars, and one for boats right on the waterside. Unfortunately, the dock didn’t look deep enough for Lady Jane, so we dropped the anchor as close as we could in about 20 meters of water and lowered the jerry cans into the dinghy.
After a quick visit to the Mobil shop, where we showed the folks there our duty-free certificate, passport and boat papers, we were invited to use the pump at the dock and return as many times as we needed to fill up. And we did. Three trips and 300 litres later, we had a full tank and full jerry cans for spares. Then, after that last trip, we walked back over to the station and paid up. At around half the price of diesel back home, this was a rare bargain.
Deep, wide and surrounded by volcanic peaks, Cooks Bay is an exciting place to anchor. The downside is that it is heavily shaded by the sun and by mid-afternoon it was almost entirely in the shade. That’s not good for our solar power generation. So, after securing the jerry cans to the boat, we raised the anchor and headed out into the sunshine opposite Pointe Paveau- just to the right of Cook’s Bay. Weaving our way past the anchored boats, we managed to find a spot to anchor in 2.5 meters of water near to JaJapami who arrived a little earlier than us.
Cooks Bay is a surprisingly busy place. The next day we took the dinghy into the bay and walked the few steps into town for a quick look around. And after a stop at the Snack Rotui for drinks, walked over to the Super U shop expecting to see something like a 7/11 or Tesco Express. But this thing was huge, and as well-stocked as any supermarket we have seen. So, we stocked up with chocolatines for a light snack – and wine and sausages for farewell BBQ later on JaJapami. The JaJapami’s had to return to Tahiti for repairs, and we wanted to carry on westward.
After a day recovering from excessive wine and sausage consumption, we continued along the north coast to Point Vaipahu where we anchored in 3.5 meters of water, within easy paddleboarding distance of the public beach.
Opunohu Bay is a great place to anchor and not just because of the beach. It almost goes without saying that it is picturesque, and the water is crystal clear. But, only 3 miles away to the west, accessible by dinghy, is Stingray City.
OK. I know this is a tourist thing and it taps into the psyche of the inner child, but it is great fun. The tourist boats descend here en-masse with their wide-eyed cargo to see not only the stingrays but the black-tipped sharks. We can’t decide what was more entertaining: watching the graceful rays swim around the hoards of people, or the hoards of people screaming as the sharks approached.
The tour boat staff carry pieces of fish with them to feed the rays. And the rays know this – so there is no shortage of these beautiful animals to look at.
Not far from Stingray City is another odd sight: the ruins of a Club Med resort. There was some dispute between the landowner and Club Med, and the result is in the photographs below. There’s not a lot left. That seems bonkers to me.
By lunchtime, we were back on the boat for lunch. And later we plopped ourselves on the beach for an afternoon of basking before heading off to Huahine the next day – 27th August. Our agent has tracked down our watermaker pumps in Tahiti (they were held up in customs because of the lack of an invoice label), and they should be in Raiatea in a week – so we are continuing our quest west. Patience is a must-have virtue here.