Moorea at a glance

Only 7 minutes away by plane or 25 minutes by ferry from Tahiti, the landscape difference is striking. As you leave behind Papeete’s traffic jams, you immerse yourself in the ever-present nature and tranquillity. All around the island the many white sand beaches offer visitors a whole range of beautiful underwater scenery. Even in the shallowest water you can admire the amazing fauna and flora of Mo’orea’s lagoon. But Mo’orea’s beauty is not limited to the sea side. At the heart of its mountains, you can discover secret valleys and waterfalls, as well as remnants of Mao’hi civilization’s archaeological past. Maraes and tikis are waiting for you surrounded by pineapple, bananas or vanilla plantations.

Pineapple plantation

Mo’orea is an island of volcanic origin, situated 17 km Northwest of Tahiti, with a total area of 13,2 hectares and 62 km diameter. Mount Tohiea, 1207m is the highest mountain, with Moua Puta (the mountain with a hole) at 830m, Rotui, between Opunohu and Cook’s Bay, at 800m and Moua Roa, called Bali Hai after the American movie South Pacific, at 762m completing the mountain range. One of the most beautiful lagoons in the Society Islands after Bora Bora, Mo’orea harbours 3 motus, small coral islets within the lagoon, where snorkelling is unbelievable.

Mo’orea Map

The food is a mixture a French and island specific cuisine. You can find a variety of restaurants offering fish, shells, beautiful sashimi, Italian, Chinese, local products creating a very refined and original international gastronomic cuisine.

What to do in Mo’orea

A tour around the island by rented car, scooter or bicycle should not be missed! If two hours are enough to complete the 62 km road around the island, I will recommend to take the whole day in order to fully enjoy it.

Vaiare beach

The Toatea View Point in Temae, right above the Sofitel Hotel, where you can admire the lagoon’s colours and a breath-taking view of Tahiti Island. A must at sunset!

Toatea View Point

The Belvedere View Point, 240m altitude. You can start at the end if Cook’s Bay and cross pineapple fields or at the end of Opunohu Bay, through The Agricultural School and passing near marae before reaching the spectacular panoramic view over the two bays, separated by Mount Rotui. You can hike thorugh the island by taking two trails both leading to Pao Pao, a 2 hours long one from Vaiare or the 4 hour long one from Vaianae.

Belvedere View Point

Visit the Lycee Agricole d’Opunohu, the Agricultural School, on the way to Belvedere offers free visit of the tropical plantation (vanilla, pineapple, hibiscus, bougainvillea, red ginger, heliconias, antherium, golden trumpets, wild orchids and plumerias, grapefruit trees, taro and tiare flower plantations, etc.), plus you can taste and buy their organic jam, vanilla, fresh and dry fruits.

Agricultural School visit

Explore the inside of the island in a 4WD or ATV, a mountain bike, or just hiking to access the incredible view points over the spectacular bays and the incredible lush and tropical flora.

Enjoy a traditional meal is Ma’a Tahiti, food wrapped in banana leaves, and cooked in a ground oven on very hot stones. Just pour coconut milk over it and eat it with your fingers.

The Afareaitu Waterfalls, one trails starts from the hospital, the other one from the Afareaitu School driveway.

World famous Cook’s Bay, framed by jagged mountains, where large cruise ships and luxurious yachts often anchor.

Opunohu Bay, a pristine bay, where Captain Cook anchored in 1777.

La Poterie de l’Aquarium, Cook’s Bay handmade pottery, a unique garden and wonderful views of the bay.

The Mou’a Roa, House of Nature, in Vaianae, with its botanical trail and the hiking path to reach the ‘’three coconut trees’’ pass with a breathtaking view on the island’s most beautiful bays; Opunohu Bay and Cook’s Bay.

Tiki Village Theatre in Varari, cultural and folkloric centre with live authentic shows, a pearl farm and a traditional village.

Varari Beach

Moorea International Golf, an 18-hole golf course, with an amazing Polynesian style 5 start resort.

Motu Moea, a gourmet stop on an exceptional private beach and discover their wild coral garden.

The Mo’orea Dolphin Centre, inside the Intercontinental Resort and Spa, where few dolphins are dolphins who are unable to be released back into the wild because of their upbringings, are looked after, alongside wounded sea turtles that are taken care of.

The Lagoonarium, motu Ahi, in Afareaitu, where you can swim with rays, baby sharks, sea turtles and all of the lagoon’s colourful fish. A transfer boat takes you to the tropical islet and you can spend a day on this idyllic location.

Boat or canoe rides where you can meet dolphins, humpback whales (between June and October), black tip sharks.

Snorkelling is perfect to encounter very gentle sting rays, clown fishes and sea anemones living in symbiosis.

Scuba diving is a must for black tip sharks, grey sharks and lemon sharks, scaled turtles and green turtles, spotted rays, moray eels, jackfishes and many other species of deep-sea and lagoon fish.

Arts and craft

Many artists have settled in Mo’orea, painters and sculptors will surprise you with their originality and the diversity of their products. From traditional tattoo, pareo, tifaitifai (hand sewn bedspread), monoi (infused perfume oil made from soaking the petals of Tahitian gardenias in coconut oil), vanilla, sculpture, black pearls and shells.

Useful facts:

Official language is French, but most of the locals speak Reo Mao’hi among themselves. English is spoken in all hotels and most tourist-orientated businesses.

The average temperature is 26.5 O C, and rarely goes above 32O C. The raining season extends from December to April, alternating sunny days with rainy spells. In saying that, we were visiting in early February and it wasn’t raining more than 1 hour daily, that warm, nice rain, that you enjoy anyway.

Rainy day

Tipping is welcomed, but not compulsory.

Flying takes just 7 minutes and there are plenty of flights throughout the day operated by Air Tahiti and Air Moorea.

Ferry: There are 3 catamarans and ferries all day long and the 25 minutes ride is worth it. Aremiti 5, Aremiti Ferry 2 and Terevau, all going from the Papeete’s ferry dock.

Tahiti to Mo’orea ferry

Accommodation varies from plenty guest houses, to villas and international resorts.

Like Bora Bora, the magic island of Mo’orea, Tahiti’s little sister, has become a hot spot of tourism in Polynesia. With its diversified hotel infrastructure, Mo’orea possesses all the assets to display its charm and originality: breath-taking and accessible beaches, mysterious and strangely shaped mountains, plenty of nautical activities and unforgettable excursions.

The locals are very friendly and totally dedicated to offering their traditional welcome the way traditional Polynesians did. They will help you discover this magnificent island.

It was one of the best islands I have been to, a blend of tropical relaxation and activities that get you exhausted by the end of the day. Let me know if you want to know more, I can talk about it for ages ?.

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Written by Oana

I'm Oana, the storyteller behind the Romglish Vagabond. I am inspired by mental alchemy, mindfulness, creativity and exuberance. My enthusiasm for travelling helped me discover this spectacular planet with its myriad of cultures and places, but more importantly is providing guidance to a better, healthier and more grateful me. Thanks for joining me on my journey!

8 thoughts on “Moorea at a glance

  1. OMG! I just fell in love with this place, I cannot wait to travel around the Pacific Islands. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I see I have a new destination, to Moorea! I like the details you tell about the nature that they have to offer in the place! Love it! Nature is amazing! ?

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