Moorea Pictures, South Pacific
Moorea seen from the air. The east coast (on the right) is the most popular and has the best weather. Photo by Remi Jouan.
Part of Moorea’s stunning skyline from the road on the island’s south side.
Moorea, (also known as Mo’orea in Polynesia) though a bit short of huge beaches is an island that is much closer to a tropical paradise than Tahiti. Moorea is quiet, has no town or even village, is surrounded by clear waters and a moderately thriving coral reef, offers white sand beaches and a totally magnificent group of green mountainous peaks in its centre.
Just half an hour by fast catamaran (20kms/12mls) from Tahiti’s depressing capital ‘city’ of Papeete (Pape’ete) lies Moorea, backdrop to many a Hollywood movie with its jagged green mountains, little developed bays and aquamarine lagoon.
Mo’orea’s peaks are probably all that remains of an ancient volcano while the all-enveloping lagoon is due to a coral ring surrounding the island which ensures that marine activities are prolific and possible under most weather conditions.
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.
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!