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Travelers looking to squeeze a little adrenaline boost into their next stay on the island of Moorea may want to consider a couple of hours on a Jet Ski. During a recent visit to the French Polynesian island, I had a blast exploring the destination’s north shore on one of the machines with Moorea Mahana Tours, an operator based at Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa.
Although I had never been on a Jet Ski before, getting a basic understanding and feel for the operation didn’t take long. And after a crash course at Hilton Moorea’s oceanfront dock, I was chasing after my Tahitian guide on a nearly wind-free morning, racing over the extraordinarily calm and vibrant blue Pacific.
Before we motored away from Hilton Moorea’s dock, my guide mentioned that we had a good chance of spotting some humpback whales beyond the outer reef, so I eagerly agreed to his plan to head out that way and try our luck. Zipping along close to shore, initially within the protected lagoon, proved quite easy over the flat water, but as we headed into the channel and out beyond the reef, the water got much more turbulent. I even found myself catching some unintended air after speeding into some good-size waves.
It wasn’t long before I noticed my guide pointing toward a collection of spouts along the horizon, each only a few hundred yards from us. Suddenly, a great tail rose above the water, and I saw a handful of dark silhouettes as several of the massive mammals’ backs breached the ocean’s surface. We sped a little closer but ultimately kept a great distance between ourselves and the humpbacks, who were moving away from us surprisingly quickly. Still, I saw many more spouts and another fluke or two before we finally turned our Jet Skis east, heading along the outside edge of the island’s fringing reef back toward photogenic Cook’s Bay.
Looking up at Moorea’s jagged mountains from the water was a jaw-dropping sight, and I found myself occasionally slowing the Jet Ski to take in the stunning views. Even with my vista-admiring pauses, however, we passed by Opunohu Bay and were on the edge of the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa property in a matter of minutes.
Several hundred yards from the hotel, my guide switched off his Jet Ski engine and motioned for me to do the same. A growing collection of reef sharks was encircling us; there were at least 15 of the impressive predators, some stretching as long as 6 feet. Accustomed to the daily tours that come to the same spot to feed them, the sharks had joined us because of the familiar sound of our engines, according to my guide, who didn’t feed them during our visit. A moment later, we also spotted a large stingray with about a four-foot wingspan.
We spent several quiet minutes watching the sea creatures turn circles around our machines, gliding effortlessly beneath us and hoping for a snack. When the sharks started to grow disinterested, my guide started up his Jets Ski, and we were off again — this time enjoying the calm waters of the interior lagoons and speeding nearer to shore. The still, topaz waters of the Pacific provided a gorgeous contrast to the green, soaring, saw-toothed peaks of Moorea, and I found myself once again slowing the Jet Ski to admire the reflections of the mountains that lingered in the calmest stretches of ocean on our way back to Hilton Moorea’s dock.
Folks staying at the property can, of course, just pop down to the lobby to book the Jet-Ski tour. I, however, was overnighting at another property during my visit, and the staff from Moorea Mahana Tours picked me up and dropped me off at my hotel. The guided Jet Ski excursion, which runs about $150 per hour, is a terrific activity for adventurous families or honeymooners looking to escape their villa for a couple of hours.
Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spawww3.hilton.com
InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spamoorea.intercontinental.com
Moorea Mahana Tourswww.facebook.com/moorea.mahanatours