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Moorea: the island with the spectacular mountains

Moorea is a mountainous island of volcanic origin, located in the archipelago of the Society Islands, in French Polynesia. The island which has about 14,700 inhabitants is located about 17 km north-west of Tahiti. Moorea is an island rich in mountain peaks, which make the landscape unique. The island measures approximately 134 sq km and its highest peak is Mount Tohiea, which reaches an altitude of 1,207 meters.

The heart of the island is formed by other mountains often with bizarre shapes. These include Mount Rotui (899 meters), Mount Mouaroa (880 meters), Mount Mouaputa (830 m), Mount Tearai (770 meters) and Mount Tautuapae (769 meters). The island is characterized not only by the mountains but also by two famous bays: Cook Bay and Opunohu Bay which are parallel along the northern coast.

The island, inhabited along the coast, has a mountainous and wild interior. The main villages are those of Maharepa, Hauru, Paopao, Teavaro, Papetoai, Haapiti, Afareitu, Tiaia and Vaiare. The plains are scarce and are located on the coast. The island is what remains of an ancient volcanic crater collapsed into the sea.

A coral reef completely surrounds the island, but has several openings. The main ones are four and are located at the port of Vaiare, the bays of Cook and Opunohu, and at the southern end. Some sand islets, which the Polynesians call motu, are located near the north-western tip of the island.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: WHAT TO VISIT IN MOOREA

The real beauties of Moorea are its green mountains and the two bays of Cook and Opunohu which they overlook. But the island also has beautiful beaches and a lagoon full of life.

The mountains of Moorea, with their particular shapes, create a unique scenario in the world. Here we find Mount Mouaputa (830 m), which the attentive observer will discover having a hole on its top. Or the beautiful and suggestive shape of Mount Mouaroa (880 meters) or the imposing Mount Tohivea (1,207 meters), the highest peak of the island.

For a complete visit of the island a rental car or a motorbike is recommended, the complete tour is about 60 km. The road always follows the coast line, and is therefore quite flat, apart from a climb at the Teavaro-Temae beach. If you prefer, you can also take the bike ride, but it is better to use it for shorter sections. The car (or motorbike) is necessary to get to the Belvedere, because it is located at the top and the road is very steep.

THE BELVEDERE OF THE ISLAND

To get an overview of the mountains of the island and the two bays that characterize it, you have to go up to the Belvedere, a panoramic place located almost in the center of the island. From here you can admire from east to west: Mount Mouaputa and Cook Bay, right in front is Mount Rotui, which separates the two bays from each other. Further to the left is the bay of Opunohu and then various peaks including that of Mount Mouaroa. Behind the belvedere is instead the highest mountain, Mount Tohivea. This is the current vision of what remains of the Moorea volcano, partially sunken. The two bays represent what was the base of the ancient crater, while the mountains all around are the remains of the volcano’s crest.

On the way to the Belvedere stop to visit the area of the ancient marae of the Opunohu valley. They were built between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries. The most impressive is the Marae Titiroa, which is located near the parking lot. From here a marked path leads to stone platforms, the Marae Ahu-o-Mahine and other smaller marae. Returning along the main road just beyond we find another marae, the Marae Afareaito with other ancient sacred platforms.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACH IN MOOREA

The best beach on the island is Teavaro-Temae beach, a public beach that runs from the airport to the Sofitel Ia Ora hotel. The beach is located on the north-east side of the island, and faces the island of Tahiti with its mountains that exceed 2,000 meters. Another beach that is difficult to access due to the numerous hotels present is located in the Punta Hauru area, in its northern part it faces the three motus of Fareone, Tiahura and Irioa.

Among the other places to visit in Moreea is the octagonal church of Papetoai, at the western entrance of Opunohu Bay. It is a beautiful octagonal religious building dating back to 1870. Along the western coast between Punta Hauru and Haapiti in front of the sea there are the ruins of the Marae Nuurua. This Marae has petroglyphs on two sacred stones. At the southern end of the island a short distance from Punta Nuupere is the Marae Nuupere. This Marae is difficult to visit because it is located within a private property.

The oldest marae of Moorea, the Marae Umarea, dating back to the tenth century, is located in Afareaitu, along the east coast, the one facing Tahiti, the marae is located near the coast. Still in Afareaitu, but following a road that leads inland, the Afareaitu waterfalls can be reached along the valley of the Vaioro river. For trekking lovers there are several itineraries to do. Including the one that leads to Mount Mouaputa, or the circular route along the ridge of the Opunohu valley.

HOW TO GET TO MOOREA: AIR FLIGHTS AND FERRIES

PLANE: Air connections between Tahiti and Moorea are ensured by Air Moorea which carries out between 15 and 17 flights per day between the two islands. There is a flight practically every hour, sometimes even every half hour. Flights are made between 6am and 7pm. The flight lasts 10 minutes.

Moorea is connected by Air Tahiti with direct daily flights or with a stopover with the islands of Bora Bora, Huahine and Raiatea. Moorea airport is located on the northeastern tip of the island, the one that faces Tahiti.

FERRY: Thanks to its proximity to Tahiti, the most used means of getting to Moorea are ferries and fast ferries. There are two companies that provide the connection service between Tahiti and Moorea: the Aremiti and the Moorea Express. Both have normal ferries and fast ferries.

The Aremiti is a ferry that can carry up to 450 passengers and 100 cars and takes 50 minutes from Tahiti to Moorea. The Aremiti Ferry runs between 3 and 5 daily trips. While the fast ferry Aremiti 5 with a capacity of 630 passengers and 30 cars takes only 30 minutes. The Aremiti 5 runs from 5 to 7 daily trips.

The Moorea Express is a fast catamaran that connects the two islands in 30 minutes, carries up to 306 passengers and scooters, and makes 6-7 trips per day. The Moorea Ferry is a normal ferry that carries up to 350 passengers and 62 cars and makes 3 to 4 trips per day. The crossing takes about 1 hour.

The climate of Moorea.

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