Moorea, with its dream-like scenery, French cuisine and tropical climate, almost seems too good to be true. Yet, it’s there, just 19 kilometres (12 miles) west of Tahiti, and waiting to be discovered. Read a book under a palm tree on a picture-perfect beach or visit the island’s breathtaking waterfalls, sacred mountains and charming Polynesian villages.
The triangular-shaped island of Moorea, pronounced Moe-oh-re-ah, is one of the Windward Islands. Moorea is smaller and less visited than Tahiti, which means you can still enjoy this South Pacific paradise without having to pay top prices.
Choosing which of the island’s pristine beaches and coves you want to visit first is your only challenge. Take your pick from black- or white-sand beaches and decide if you want to play in the waves or swim in sheltered bays. The main beaches are Cook’s Cove and Opunohu Bay. Go scuba diving, snorkelling or surfing around the island’s outer reefs. The sea life is abundant here, and you can see many colourful fish and marine mammals.
If you would rather stay dry, hike the island’s network of paths through the mountainous interior. Follow the Belvedere View track to the top and enjoy views of the shoreline as well as Mount Rotui and Mount Tohiea. Be sure to taste the local produce; drink cocktails with pineapple juice or coconut water in one of the beachside bars and try Tahitian seafood dishes.
Get to Moorea on a cruise ship or yacht, by high-speed ferry or by plane from Pape’ete in Tahiti. Rent a scooter or car or take a LeTruck bus or minibus to explore the island. Tours include four-wheel drive expeditions and horse riding. Accommodation options range from campsites to upscale resorts.
It’s possible to visit Moorea just for one day, but it’s recommended to stay a few days to allow your body and mind to fully adapt to the slow pace on the island.