Moorea, which means ‘yellow lizard’ in Tahitian language, is a high rise island in French Polynesia, part of Society Island. It is about 10 miles (16.093 kilometers) in width from west to east. It is the world’s largest coral reef eco-system that consists of roughly 3,000 separate reefs. Early Western colonists and voyagers also called it the York Island.
Like all Polynesian islands, Moorea has its share of folklore. It is told that a golden skinned lizard was abandoned by its human parents, was stranded on the Emeho reef as it swam after them. Merciful gods turned it into the island of Moorea, meaning ‘Golden Lizard’ the true jewels of French Polynesia.
The island has two small almost symmetrical bays in the north shore. Anohu Bay is located in the west part of the shore and to the east is Cook’s Bay. Anohu Bay is not very much populated although many travelers frequent this place. Cook’s Bay is also called Pao Pao Bay because it is at the bottom of the bay where the largest commune in Moorea is located. There are also two other communes, the Piha’ena to the west and the more cosmopolitan Maharepa to the east. The highest point of the island is Mount Tohi’e’a, located near the center of Moorea where it overlooks the panoramic view of the two bays. At the eastern shore is another bay, the Vai’are Bay which is smaller than the two main bays but does a lot of businesses due to the fact that just south of bay is the main village.
Going and Leaving Moorera
There are 3 ferries servicing Vai’are wharf in Moorea daily from the Tahitian capital of Papeet. They are the Aremiti 5, the ‘Aremiti Ferry which is the largest and the Moorea ferry. Moorea’s TemaÊ»e Airport (MOZ), located north of the Vai’are bay is link to the international airport of Papeet and onwards to several Society Islands. To make an international flight, islanders has to take Air Tahiti to get to Fa’a’a International Airport on Tahiti. The island of Moorea has one road that goes around the island with conspicuous kilometer markers from 1-35. Kilometer 1 is near the airport and the 35th ends in Ha’apiti. On the road are white signs that tell a driver which commune they are entering and red slash signs which mean that the driver is leaving a commune.
The best way to explore this magnificent island is to tour around the island by hiring a car or a scooter to roam around small strikingly picturesque villages. You can roam around at your own pace and at your choice from the white sandy beaches to the inland bamboo forests and sloping pineapple and vanilla plantations. Most often the trip will take you around a little more than 4 hours depending on how long you’ll stop to take photos and appreciate the spectacular views of the heart-shape mountain, sloping valleys and clear lagoons and bays.
Tourisms in Moorea
Due to its natural beauty, stunning scenery and accessibility to Papeet, Moorea is always visited by many western tourists who travel to French Polynesia and is often likened to James Mitchener’s mythical island of Bali Hai. The island of Moorea is fittingly best for snorkelers and scuba diving enthusiasts seeking unparalled diversity of life within and unsurpassed beauty of the corals. A third of French Polynesia’s hotel capacity is in Moorea with almost a thousand rooms are provided by hotels and bungalows or in small local style thatched roof bungalows. Of these includes beach gardens, over-water bungalows and lodging rooms. The island is especially the popular honeymooner’s destination for where you can find white sandy beaches bordering crystal clear lagoons. Life here is slow moving and yet it offers a variety of entertainment and recreation. Most famous attractions are the Lagoonarium, Magic Mountains and Belvedere Lookout. You can dine at Lilikoi Garden Cafe, Rudy’s, Pizza Daniel or at Snack Mahana and sleeps at Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa, Fenua Mataioa and Green Lodge.
Vacation rentals starts at US $139/night.