Moorea, Risky Business, Travel

A FINtastic Birthday Celebration!

Aloha Friends! If you haven’t noticed I’m a little bit behind schedule. My birthday (and our wedding anniversary) was in June, and here it is, already the end of September. I’m hoping to catch up soon. As always, thanks for following along. ūüôā

I love Birthdays! In my family we have a running joke about celebrating not just our birth-day but our “birthday month.” I mean, why celebrate only one day when you can celebrate the entire month? ūüôā¬†I was lucky enough to celebrate my 25th birthday in Maui, and I surprised my husband on his 29th birthday with a trip to Indianapolis to watch¬†his favorite football team; so as¬†we began planning our anniversary trip to Mo’orea, my husband had the brilliant idea to make sure that we would be¬†there¬†over my 30th birthday (lucky me!).

And in true Krystle-style, I figured that there was no better way to celebrate my birthday than by checking off not one, not two, but three different bucket list adventures during our dream vacation.

Hilton Mo'orea

Always looking for a memorable¬†adventure, we decided to spend the day¬†snorkeling with sting rays and reef sharks on an¬†excursion with¬†Mo’orea Miti Tours. Their stellar reviews on Trip Advisor combined with the promise of no more than 12¬†guests sealed the deal for us. Not to mention I would finally check off another exciting¬†bucket list item.

Hilton Mo'orea
A beautiful sunrise

Hilton Mo'orea

Our taxi arrived at 8:00am to shuttle us to the nearest pier where we met our Captain and his first mate, Romain and Olivia; and we boarded the traditional Polynesian outrigger canoe with only two other guests (talk about a perfect semi-private excursion).

We¬†cruised through the electric-blue¬†lagoon and saw a pod of spinner dolphins as they surrounded our boat and¬†showed off their acrobatic¬†skills. Romain excitedly¬†explained that¬†dolphins are not usually¬†spotted in the lagoon surrounding Mo’orea, so it was an extra special day. (Maybe it was a little presumptuous, but I considered it another Mo’orea birthday present especially for me). ūüėČ

Mo'orea Shark and Stingray snorkel

Mo'orea Shark and Stingray snorkel

As we cruised through Cook’s Bay — one of the two deep water bays in Mo’orea — I was hypnotized by¬†the tall, green, chiseled peaks that rose up out of the lagoon. The entire area was a photographer’s dream as every angle and view was postcard-worthy. The outrigger cruised¬†by our home base at the Hilton Mo’orea¬†towards our first official stop of the day: Bucket List Snorkeling!

We arrived at the shallow sandbar and a group of sting rays¬†surrounded our canoe¬†by the dozen. Romain was not only our captain for the day but also our personal sting ray expert, and¬†he was the first one¬†into the water as he¬†began¬†feeding the rays. These large, grey creatures snuggled close¬†and pushed themselves onto¬†his chest as I stood by and watched in wonder. I¬†couldn’t help but compare the rays to big puppy dogs — albeit much more rubbery, slightly more slimy, and with much sharper tails. ūüėČ

Mo'orea Sting Rays

Mo'orea Sting Rays

Mo'orea Shark and Stingray snorkel

And luckily for me, the sting rays weren’t the only friends to show up to¬†my birthday party; a large group of sharp-toothed, black-tipped reef-sharks began circling our¬†group. Their curiosity brought them close but any small movement on our end would cause¬†the sharks to swim¬†for their comfort zone away from the snorkelers. Of course I couldn’t help but channel my inner aquanaut¬†to see how close my new friends would come. I mean, how can you be new friends if you can’t at least give each other a high fin five? ūüôā

Mo'orea Shark and Sting Rays

Mo'orea Shark snorkel

Mo'orea Shark and Stingray snorkel

At one point I reached down to pet what I thought was a ray, and as I placed my face in the water I realized that it was actually a shark. And can you believe that I still have all of my fingers? ūüėȬ†I could have hung out with my new friends all¬†day but soon it¬†was time to move on to our next destination.

Off a¬†small motu (another word for “island”) just off the northern coast of Mo’orea, we soaked up the sun as we drank a couple of Hinanos — the official beer of¬†Tahiti — and then snorkeled with schools of colorful fish.


After our snorkels were thoroughly used, we continued my birthday celebration with an island picnic on the west side — complete with lilikoi rum punch, plenty of palm trees, and a long stretch of white sand.

Mo'orea Miti Excursions

Mo'orea Shark and Stingray snorkel

Throughout¬†our travels I always look for small, locally-owned, excursions because the personal attention¬†and smaller group sizes are what set those excursions apart from the rest. Mo’orea Miti Tours¬†made sure that our day was perfect — they provided¬†towels and¬†snorkeling equipment, delicious post-snorkeling snacks,¬†ice-cold beers, and a tasty lunch (complete with dessert); no detail was too small. This excursion¬†was exactly what we were looking for and worth every Franc!

Traveling to the dreamy South Pacific island of Mo’orea, staying in a luxurious overwater bungalow, AND swimming¬†with stingrays;¬†I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend my 30th birthday!

Thank you Mo’orea Miti Tours¬†for an incredible day! It was a birthday I won’t soon forget.

Would you snorkel with sharks and stingrays?

6 thoughts on “A FINtastic Birthday Celebration!”

    1. Hey Cate!
      I was a little nervous at first with the sharks, but then quickly realized they were much more scared of me ūüôā Sounds like you’ve had an awesome encounter as well. We are looking at traveling to Belize sometime soon! Where did you go while in Belize?
      PS. Thanks again for your help with the previous post. Hope the pictures are all showing up and working now. ūüôā

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