What’s so special about Moorea? The island has been described as a "geographical marvel," which is praise indeed. The natural beauty of this island is nothing less than breathtaking with its pristine secluded beaches, lush mountains and valleys, as well as a kaleidoscope of contrasting colours - be it the turquoise sea, the white sand beaches, or the dark green of the stunningly scenic interior. It's not surprising that most of The Islands of Tahiti vacations include a visit to Moorea!
Moorea still maintains a small island feel and is known for its tranquility. The wide shallow lagoon that surrounds the island makes it a perfect destination not only for swimming, but also for snorkeling and scuba diving. And it’s only 16 kilometres/10 miles away from Papeete - easily accessible by high speed ferry in 30 minutes or by air in a small plane in 15 minutes. SOLD?
There are no major towns. Simple small villages with pastel-painted houses, surrounded by gardens of hibiscus and birds of paradise, are spread throughout the island. The air here is heavily scented with tropical flowers which cover the valleys. The interior is made up of 8 volcanic craggy peaks which rise up from the lagoon surrounding Moorea. Inland, you can see waterfalls tumbling down the sides of vertical mountains. There is only one road encircling the island which is 64 kilometres/40 miles around and about 16 kilometres/10 miles in width from west to east.
There are two very beautiful small, nearly symmetrical bays on the north shore. The one to the west is called Opunohu Bay, which isn't very populated and more isolated. Cooks Bay in the east is spectacularly beautiful, and the village of Pao Pao is the largest on the island, albeit a sleepy one which provides some shopping and a few restaurants.
Activities in Moorea
If you want to explore the island, a good idea would be to take the Circle Island tour. This travels along the scenic coastline and then turns inland to a spot called Belvedere Viewpoint, where you can look down on not only the coastal area but also the pineapple and vanilla plantations. These amazing panoramic views of the island have been described as some of the most spectacular in the world and is a must visit for all Islands of Tahiti vacations. All this can also be done on a more adventurous jeep safari tour.
You can explore the interior on a guided nature hike through tropical rainforest and high mountain overlooks. For the more energetic, there is a one-day walk through an undergrowth of hibiscus before arriving at the Belvedere Lookout. The last stage includes a visit to an agricultural college en route back.
Another way to view the interior is to take a helicopter ride over Moorea.
Naturally, Moorea goes hand in hand with snorkeling and diving. There are a couple of diving sites where the stingrays congregate for feeding and at least one site where you can snorkel and swim with reef sharks and stingrays. Some people enjoy touching the backs of the rays as they are very soft!
Horseback riding can be a great way to see the beautiful interior of the island. You can do this with a group and guide.
For the golfer, Moorea has one of the only two golf courses found in The Islands of Tahiti. The Moorea Green Pearl course was designed by Jack Nicklaus on the shores of a lagoon amid tropical palms, deep blue lagoons, and multi hued flowers.
Shopping in Moorea
As in other Tahitian islands, a good buy here is black pearls and they are typically the most sought after shopping purchase on all The Islands of Tahiti vacations. There are several established pearl shops on the island and many people find the prices here to be better than on Tahiti or Bora Bora. You can try shops in larger villages such as Maharepa to find reputable, friendly sellers and a range of prices. Also for purchase are wood-carved outriggers, small hand painted murals of Moorea, and jewellery. You will find a number of small markets dotted around the island.
For Your Pleasure….
A number of hotels have overwater bungalows with glass floors over a turquoise lagoon where an amazing variety of tropical fish make their home. Moorea is also a popular honeymoon destination, and one can have an authentic Tahitian wedding ceremony if so desired.
For evening entertainment, try a Polynesian show. Tiki Village has an excellent one. Music and dance are integral to Polynesian culture. In the evening, fire dancers perform to the sound of ukuleles and drums.
So, if you want fabulous scenery, excellent beaches, and a variety of choice of activities plus a wonderful climate, then Moorea is for you.