The Pearl of Moorea Part 3: Food & Fun

For whatever reason, doing absolutely nothing on the other side of the word is always more enjoyable than doing absolutely nothing at home.

But of course, I exaggerate when I say that my girlfriend and I did absolutely nothing on the French Polynesian island of Moorea during our recent vacation. It was actually quite the opposite. We kept our days very busy eating, sleeping, and swimming. There was hardly any time to do anything else.

Dining in Moorea
Food in the South Pacific always seems to be a challenge–as we first discovered in the Cook Islands two years ago. The biggest complaint is that everything is always so horrifically expensive. We spent $100 for pizza and beer one afternoon, which was pretty much the average for every meal we ate on Moorea. Ouch!

What’s wonderful about the restaurant scene on Moorea, however, is that most restaurants will pick guests up from their resort for free–a very welcome surprise that helped to keep the already expensive cost of meals slightly lower by not having to pay for a taxi.

Ironically, our favorite restaurant that we frequented the most often was also the closest. Le Sud was just a five-minute walk from our resort. This quaint little eatery wraps around the outside porch of a small house where geckos scampered about on the walls in search of insects while we dined.

Le Sud serves tasty thin crust pizzas, a smattering of fish and meat dishes, and has a great wait staff that is serious about pairing the right wine with your food. My girlfriend usually ordered the pizzas while I opted for the tasty Mahi Mahi breaded in coconut shavings. We both finished off our meals with some outstanding home-made strawberry ice cream.

The food at the Moorea Pearl Resort and Spa, on the other hand, was strictly average. I blew through their lunch menu of club sandwiches, hamburgers, and panini, and was not too impressed. Dinner was slightly better with some decent chicken curry, cheese plates, and a surprising dish that turned out to be my favorite on the island: poisson cru. The kitchen prepared this Moorean raw fish specialty in three distinct styles served at the same time. It’s basically sushi salad with a medley of flavors and man, was it good!

The resort also served up some chocolate mousse that was very tasty–depending upon the day I ordered it. My first serving was delicious, served in a crisp cookie shell. The second time, however, the shell was mushy as though it had sat in the fridge for too long. The third and final time, there was no shell at all and the taste of the mousse seemed a little off.

Leisure Time
When we weren’t eating, sleeping, or reading, my girlfriend and I split off and did the things we each do best when vacationing: shop and snorkel.

The resort’s over-water bungalows sit on the edge of a nice little reef where I spent much of my time snorkeling with fish and coral and otherwise enjoying the perfect temperature of the water. The reef wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen, and the cloudy skies diminished the bright colors, but it was still very cool and entertaining. And, of course, it was conveniently located just off our balcony.

As for shopping, my girlfriend was determined to buy our resort’s namesake: a black pearl. I’ve never been a big fan of pearls, but black pearls, I learned, are beautifully mesmerizing. I discovered this at Eva Perles, a jewelry shop just down the street from the resort. It’s owned by a very nice French woman named Eva (naturally), who spent quite a bit of time showing my girlfriend a variety of pearl rings, necklaces, and earrings while I buried my nose in a fascinating book that described how black pearls are harvested in the South Pacific. I didn’t end up buying the book, but my girlfriend walked out with a pearl ring, necklace, and pair of earrings.

A Happy Ending
So, that’s about it. We shopped, snorkeled, ate, slept and read for seven days. Frankly, I’d love to tell you more about the island of Moorea but I haven’t anything else to report since the goal of this vacation was to do nothing at all. And, we did this quite well.

Yesterday: The Resort

Underwater Florida: There’s a spring with your name on it

A friend of mine moved to Florida recently and has discovered the wonders of Florida’s underwater scene. Actually, he hasn’t made it to any of the places that he’s salivating over whenever he browses the Web site, but he’s planning upcoming outings for whenever he has time off from work.

He showed me the section of the Web site that lists many of Florida’s freshwater springs by region. If you click on each one, there’s a description about what makes a particular spring unique from another. For example, Rainbow Springs is one of the clearest in Florida. Here you can snorkel, canoe and swim. There is also a hiking trail and tropical gardens. As I’m sitting in gray, cold Ohio, tropical gardens sound divine.

DeLeon Springs caught my attention, but it has nothing to do with the fountain of youth. What it does have something to do with is the Civil War. There used to be a sugar mill here that was burned down twice by Confederate soldiers. Now you can canoe and scuba dive.

Hearing my friend talk about the places he’d like to go (he’s up in Ohio for the holidays) reminds me of what is so alluring about moving to a totally new state, country or even a new town. Although, there’s a certain coziness about living in one place for a long enough time that it’s as comfortable as an easy chair, and you’ve been to the same dentist or mechanic so many times that you don’t even have to remember how to get there anymore, there’s an edginess that’s missing.

That crackle of excitement when learning to navigate the unknown and making new discoveries is hard to come by when settled down–which is why travel is as necessary as breathing. Moving to Florida, particularly this time of year, makes sense to me, particularly when there are more than 30 springs listed with directions on how to get there. Of course, moving means packing and that’s another story. Still, Skybus flies to Florida and the next round of cheap seats should be posted soon.