Moorea

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Moorea

"Coconut palms nodding gracefully toward the ocean. A monument to the prodigal beauty of nature…Lovely beyond description."
- James Michener—Tales from the South Pacific

Considered by many to be the most beautiful island in the world, Moorea is the paradise people envision when they think of Tahiti, its crowded, much larger neighbor. Michener spent time in the service here, and even in the midst of a terrible war, knew he had found nirvana. Thankfully the many delights of the island remain unspoiled today: jagged peaks, lush forests, white sand beaches, and crystalline waters in multiple shades of blue and green--filled with kaleidoscopic fish. Getting to Moorea may take a while, but why shouldn't it? You've journeyed to a whole other world.

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FUN

This is a small island, only 37 miles in circumference, yet it offers so many choices. As with Moorea's more remote, smaller sister, Bora Bora, natural wonders abound here—in and out of the water.

WATER

The great joy of Moorea is its idyllic seas and you'll want to immerse yourself moments after you arrive, as soon as you wake, and most likely, multiple times per day. The resorts each have lovely sandy beaches, but visit gorgeous Temae for a little variety. Moorea is ideal for snorkeling, thanks to the protection of the encircling reef, its shallow waters, and its dazzling marine life. It's also a world-class dive destination: Scubapiti and Top Dive are our favorite outfits. Hire Moorea Boat Tours for a private day trip to a motu— the tiny uninhabited islets that lie just within the island's surrounding coral ring. Take the Lagoonarium to Motu Ahi and frolic with spinner dolphins, rays and turtles. Or sail alongside the dolphins with the Fai Manu, a luxe catamaran with crew, and in the summer, keep your eyes peeled for Humpback whales.

LAND

Ready to dry off? Rent a bike or scooter This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and make your way around the island's well-paved roads. There's no real town center here, but stop and wander the occasional clusters of shops, hotels, and restaurants. Le Petit Village near Haapiti, on the Southwestern side of the island, offers Moorea's best shopping. Browse the beautiful collection of black pearls at Tahia Collins or purchase a colorful pareo, the island's "wearable art."

Venture to Belvedere lookout for spectacular views of the island's twin lagoons, Cook's and Opunohu Bay. AITO's 4x4 Safari Tour visits some of the island's more remote locales—volcanic craters, waterfalls, pinapple plantations--and offers a touch of true Tahitian culture. If you don't take a tour, make your way to the village of Afareaitu on your own, where you'll spot two tall waterfalls from the main road. The beautiful falls plunge 100ft into a small pool, and the 20 minute hike to get there is a rewarding adventure in itself. Visit the InterContinental's Moorea Dolphin Center and Sea Turtle Care Center, wonderful research facilities which allow intimate encounters with the magnificent creatures.

SCOOP

Ia Orana (yo-rah-nah) is "hello" in Tahitian—and you'll hear it often from your very friendly hosts. There is no real rainy season, as the weather is consistently around 85F throughout the year. A car could be fun to explore for a day or two (we like the local Avis) but is otherwise unnecessary: almost all restaurants will pick you up and drop you off, as will some of the better shops. Meals are very expensive here as in all of the South Pacific, so maybe stock up a bit at the excellent Champion Supermarket in Vaiare, near the airport. The official currency of French Polynesia is the Pacific Franc (CFP)--the exchange rate is fixed to the Euro (1E=119CFP), but $USD is accepted almost everywhere.

 

LIVE

ULTRA-LUXE: Sofitel Moorea Brand new renovation, every luxury. Just gorgeous.
Moorea Pearl Lovely spot, beautiful resort. Best all-around value.
Sheraton Moorea Great spa. Dreamy bungalows.

MODERATE: Club Bali Hai Hotel One of the best locations. Beautiful views.
Villa Corallina Private luxury, on its own motu.
Fare Vaimoana Small cottage resort, on one of the best beaches.
Hotel Kaveka Family-run, intimate resort. Extremely well-run.

BUDGET: Hotel Les Tipaniers Gorgeous spot. One of our favorites at any price.
Hotel Hibiscus Great value. Perfect beach.

DINE

The hotel restaurants are generally far more elegant, but the food is just as fine in the better local haunts. Many of the restaurants have French-inspired cuisine but try local Tahitian dishes poisson cru (raw fish) and poulet fafa (breaded chicken).
Le Bateau Gorgeous view, great French fare. On a boat!
Arri Vahine Excellent French/Tahitian fare. At the Sheraton.
Pure at Sofitel. Modern, sophisticated, romantic.
Te Honu Iti French, romantic spot. Rays swim up to your table.
Alfredo's Casual Italian, with a lively scene.
Le Mahogany French Chinese fare. Informal and yummy.
Blue Pineapple Great seafood, best burger on island.
Les Tipaniers Beautiful setting. Excellent fish/seafood.
Maria Tapas Tex Mex. Local fave. Live music, great scene.
Caraméline This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Patisserie. Excellent for breakfast and lunch.

FILM

The true mutiny of Mutiny on the Bounty occurred in Moorea so it's only fitting that both the Brando and Mel Gibson versions (The Bounty) were filmed here. In Love Affair, Beatty and Bening visit Katherine Hepburn on Moorea. South Pacific is a great adaptation of Michener but was filmed in Kauai.

GO

Tahiti is an 8.5 hours nonstop flight from LA (Air France, Air Tahiti Nui, Air New Zealand) and an 11 hour direct flight from JFK (Air Tahiti Nui). Moorea is a short 8 min flight or 35 min ferry from Tahiti.

HOW

Escape to bliss in Moorea at the lowest possible prices. Contact us and we'll show you how.