Location: Cook's Bay, Mo'orea

It was an extremely tough wake up call this morning because had an entire 15 minutes taken out of the normal sleep schedule. We ate granola with yogurt or milk underneath a cloudy sky and then readied ourselves for a long day. The game plan was to take a hike to Belvedere Lookout on 3 Coconut’s Pass and finish the day with a trip to the GUMP research facility and go over a few safety drills. After a short boat and car ride, we arrived at the bottom of the trail to find ourselves overlooking a breathtaking view of Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay. Little did we know that was just a taste of what was to come at the end of the trail. The trail took the group through a variety of different scenes that ranged from rocky creek bottoms to switch-back, muddy, narrow trails. The entire pathway was littered with roots and rocks no matter where you stepped. Almost 2 hours later we arrived at the top to find ourselves staring at a view no picture could paint. From where we were standing, we could see both sides of the island. The mountainsides were pristine with luscious forest growth, and their peaks pierced the clouds. After breaking for lunch, we departed back down the mountain to the taxis that took the team back to the dock, where we then grabbed a quick ride to Argo. In between our arrival back to the ship and our trip to the facility, some of the students who were completing their open water diver certificate took their final dives. At 4:30, we ventured to the facility to be met with friendly faces of graduate students at the dock. We threw plenty of questions their way about the research they were conducting that involved their monitoring of the coral reefs around the island that were undergoing a dramatic bleaching process along with other environmental factors that might help aid them in their quest to save the reefs. Our time there ended with some of the research group members describing how 3D technology is used to monitor the growth of the coral reefs. From there, we headed home for a shepherd’s pie dinner and a handful of safety meetings following the ship’s clean up time. Tomorrow we set sail for the next stop in our journey across the South Pacific.

Pictured: Group photo at Belvedere lookout, view from the beginning of the hike; beautiful trees and jungle on our way to the next lookout; Sam at the top; Sam and Ryan at the top; view of shore from back on the boat; awesome drone photo of Argo; our visit to the Gump marine station; Maddy and a friendly pup; Lucy, Cat, and Maddy enjoying their homemade hot tub