Moorea, Tahiti

Like all Polynesian islands, Moorea is enveloped in folklore.

Legend has it that a golden-skinned lizard abandoned by its human parents became stranded on the reef of Emeho as it swam after them. The merciful gods turned it into the island of Moorea (which means ‘golden lizard’), one of the true jewels of French Polynesia.

Only 17 kilometres from Tahiti or an eight minute flight and regarded as her sister island, Moorea is renowned for its natural beauty and tranquillity and often thought to be the inspiration for James Michener’s mythical island of Bali Hai. The island’s steep volcanic peaks rise sharply from the island’s basalt base and are best viewed from Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay.

Moorea’s laid-back atmosphere provides the perfect backdrop for relaxation but the island also has a wide variety of recreational activities to suit the most active traveller. The island is home to a third of French Polynesia’s total hotel capacity, with accommodation ranging from luxury resort over-water or beach bungalows to hotel rooms and small local-style thatched roof ‘ fares’.

One of the best ways to get to know this magnificent island is hire a car or scooter and tour the single road around the island, visiting secluded beaches, pineapple and vanilla plantations and small picturesque villages. The trip should take about four hours depending on how many stops are made along the way. Inland, lush forests cover Moorea’s mountains, which offer spectacular views of the island’s valleys as well as its lagoons and bays.

The beautiful large garden and old colonial home in Opunohu Bay at the Kellum is worth a visit, built last century and well preserved. Opunohu valley is also home to stone marae temples and archery platforms used by Polynesian royalty in pre-Christian days. Le Belvedere Lookout Point offers an unequalled panorama of Cooks and Opunohu bays, divided by the sacred Rotui mountain.

Moorea has many talented artisans whose creations are sold in boutiques around the island. Ideal for the tropical climate, handpainted pareus, sundresses, bikinis, shirts and beachwear add instant beach chic to any wardrobe or make perfect gifts.

Tahiti’s prized black pearls are available loose or set in designer jewellery from jewellers and boutiques on Moorea, while the public market in Pao Pao beside Cook’s Bay has locally made shell jewellery as well as hats, tote bags, baskets and mats woven from palm fronds, pandanus and banana plants.

Moorea plays host to a number of special events each year that are well worth attending, including the Tahitian Tamara’a Show. Visitors arrive by outrigger canoe at sunset, try foods cooked in a traditional underground oven, enjoy a spectacular Polynesian dance performance and stay for the bringue, or party, that follows.

Things To Do in Moorea

Food and Restaurants in Moorea

Activities in Moorea

Activities in Bora Bora

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