Elemental Passions in the Blue World of the Shark: Moorea


Text by Ty Sawyer

For divers off Moorea, the clear waters of the lagoon are never far away.

Photo/Ty Sawyer

Approaching the sharp profiles of Moorea by ferry from Tahiti, it occurred to me that the mere presence of this island has an uncanny ability to stir the heart. The lagoon surrounding Moorea is equally intoxicating. The colors are precise shades of blue, crystalline, inspiring, and they seemed to urge my wife and I to dive in even before the ferry docked.

The heartstopping and intoxicating beauty above the water on Moorea.

Photo/Philippe Bacchet

We picked up the rental car and drove to our accommodations under a sunset that would fill even the most hardened heart with a revelation of romance. Arriving after dark, our bungalows appeared to float atop the reflected expanse of the Southern Cross and the heavens that surround it. Not a whisper of wind crumpled the mirrored surface of the lagoon, and we watched the night pass nestled in silence. The next day we traveled over the 80°F waters to Tiki Point. Famous for its shark feedings, this is Moorea’s heart-jolting welcome cocktail for divers from around the world. Before the boat dropped anchor, sharks had gathered, slowly undulating through the translucent water.

After our descent, the wrangler began to hand feed the 20 to 30 sharks that had gathered: Black-tips, White-tips and even a 12-foot Lemon Shark. They appeared from the far horizons of visibility, the scent of breakfast pounding hard on their senses. For a full 30 minutes they feasted, bustling for space with hoards of Blue-striped Snappers, Moorish Idols and myriad other reef tropicals, in flashes of color and sharp teeth.The sharks were our constant companions here, showing up on the periphery of every dive. In between were jovial Napoleon Wrasses, moray eels that prowled the reef during daylight, stingrays, eagle rays and more types of trigger and butterflyfish than the mind could absorb.Between dives we explored the secluded coves, deserted sand beaches and cascading waterfalls that punctuate the mystical hush of the lushly forested terrain. During our nighttime walks down the beach we happily fell under the spell of the Polynesian moon. Moorea has been called the Island of Love. And after experiencing such a blissful and exhilarating corner of the world, it’s hard to imagine it in any other context.