Learn how to farm and fish like a Polynesian with Moorea Maori Tours
On the remote west coast of Moorea, jagged mountains rise steeply from the beaches along the edge of a wide azure lagoon. The Haapiti district, which encompasses this region, feels a world away from everything, making it a perfect place to get an intimate introduction to the traditional Polynesian way of life.
“I’m proud to help others experience my culture and show how a simple life can be rewarding,” says Sam Folituu, who, with his wife, Sylvie, founded Moorea Maori Tours. “We often have to fight to keep these elements of Moorea from being lost to corporate interests.” The couple does this by leading visitors on a day-long adventure called My Polynesian Life. The program begins with an outrigger canoe excursion into the lagoon, where guests can snorkel and learn how to paddle and set a net to catch fish. Once the net—which has larger holes than those used in many parts of French Polynesia, to help protect the local fishery—is put in place, participants swim quickly toward it, steering fish inside.
Back at their open-air home in a lush valley, Folituu and his nephew Manu show visitors how to prepare coconut milk, a key ingredient in the group-made lunch that appears in classic dishes such as poisson cru (a sort of Polynesian ceviche) and po‘e (sweet fruit pudding made from bananas, papaya, and pumpkin). Folituu talks about how he can trace his ancestral roots back hundreds of years, and points out how his tattoos, which stretch from his forehead to his feet, have special meanings that connect to the island. “I love my home,” he says, “and want to share the knowledge that has been passed down from my grandfather.”
After lunch, Folituu guides guests through his fa‘a‘apu, the organic plantation where he grows taro, breadfruit, lime, coconut, and a variety of bananas, just as his ancestors did. The fa‘a‘apu also contains avocado, papaya, soursop, passion fruit, and star fruit plants, and Folituu pauses at each to explain how it’s used locally. Anyone who joins him will leave with an armful of freshly harvested fruit—and a newfound understanding and appreciation for the Polynesian lifestyle.
From $184 per person, moorea-maori-tours.com.