Moorea seen from the air. The east coast (on the right) is the most popular and has the best weather. Photo by Remi Jouan.
Inland there are no urban centres and only occasional clusters of shops.
Best accommodation is right on the north shore with the road behind, while the cheaper, backpacker places are often just on the other side of the road.
The upmarket Sofitel beach resort. Photo by Lander.
The best beaches on Moorea, which are bigger and well manicured, belong to the international – need we say, very, very pricey – five star hotels.
Coral inside the big outer reef is not in very good shape, much of it dead, but the fish are kaleidoscopic, and small black tip sharks and amiable stingrays amusing.
A dolphin at work in the Beachcomber (Intercontinental) hotel with its lovely but hideously expensive waterfront bungalows.
A lovely little beach house on the east coast was our home for Christmas, low cost but no beach, though the water depth is shallow until way out and the facilities comfortable and quiet. The best of these low-rent beach cottages need to be booked well in advance.
An excitable swimmer, attacked by an absurdly territorial and aggressive Picasso Triggerfish (absurd considering that they’re only 4 inches (10cms) long) – attempts to escape by hitching a ride on an passing stingray.
As far as evening entertainment goes, apart from the obligatory sunset cocktails the most obvious action is attending a Tahitian feast followed by a traditional and an erotic – if commercialised – dance show, grass skirts, thrusting hips and all. Ah, so that’s what got syphilitic old Gauguin the goat going!