Moorea (about 14,700 inhabitants) is a mountainous island of volcanic origin, located in the archipelago of Society Islands in French Polynesia, about 17 km north-west of Tahiti. Moorea is an island full of mountain peaks, which make the landscape unique, measuring about 134 square kilometers and its highest peak is Mount Tohiea (1207 meters).
The heart of the island is made up of other mountains often oddly shaped, among them Mount Rotui (899 meters), Mount Mouaroa (880 meters), Mount Mouaputa (830 m), Mount Tearai (770 meters) and Tautuapae mountain (769 meters). The island is characterized not only by the mountains, but also by two famous bays: Cook’s Bay and the Bay of Opunohu that are parallel along the northern coast.
The island is inhabited along the coast, it 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 along the coast, the island is the remnant of an ancient volcanic crater collapsed into the sea.
A coral reef surrounds the island, but it has several openings, the main four passes are located at the port of Vaiare, at the bays of Cook and Opunohu, and at the southern end. Some islets that the Polynesian called motu are located near the northwestern tip of the island.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: WHAT TO VISIT IN MOOREA
The real beauty of Moorea is its green mountains and the two bays of Cook and Opunohu on which they are facing, but the island also has beautiful beaches and a lagoon full of life.
The mountains of Moorea, with their unique shapes, create a unique landscape in the world, here are the mountain Mouaputa (830 m), the careful observer will discover that the mountain has a hole on the top, or the beautiful and evocative shape of Mount Mouaroa (880 meters) or the imposing Mount Tohivea (1207 meters), the highest peak of the island.
For the complete tour of the island is recommended a rental car or a scooter, a complete tour is about 60 km, the road always follows the coastline, and it is rather flat, except for a steep hill at the Teavaro-Temae beach, you can also do the bike ride, but it is better to use shorter segments, the car (or motorbike) is required to arrive at the Belvedere, because it is located on the top, and the road is very steep.
To get an overview of the island’s mountains and two bays that characterize Moorea you must go up to the Belvedere, a scenic place near the center of the island, from here you can admire from east to west: Mount Mouaputa and Cook’s Bay, right in front Mount Rotui, the mountain that separates the two bays, more to the left is the Opunohu Bay and then various peaks including the Mount Mouaroa, behind the belvedere is the highest mountain of Moorea, Mount Tohiea. This is the current view of what remains of the volcano of Moorea, partly collapsed, the two bays are the one where was the base of the crater, while the surrounding mountains are the remains of the crest of the volcano.
Along the road that leads to the Belvedere stop to visit the area of the ancient maraes of the Opunohu Valley, they were built between the thirteenth and eighteenth century, the most impressive is the Marae Titiroa, which is located near the parking area, hence a marked path leads to the stone platforms, to Marae Ahu-o-Mahine and other smaller marae. Returning to the main road a little further, we find another marae, the marae Afareaito with other ancient sacred platforms.
The best beach on the island is the beach of Teavaro-Temae, a public beach that runs from the airport to the Hotel Sofitel Ia Ora, the beach is located on the northeast side of the island, overlooking to the island of Tahiti with its mountains over 2000 meters. Another beach, but where access is difficult because of the many hotels, is present in the area of Hauru Point, it faces, in the northern part the three motus Fareone, Tiahura and Irioa.
Other places to visit in Moreea are the octagonal church of Papetoai, at the western entrance of the Bay of Opunohu, it is a beautiful religious octagonal building dating back to 1870. Along the west coast between Hauru Point and Haapiti are, facing the sea, the ruins of the Marae Nuurua, which has two sacred stones with petroglyphs. At the southern end of the island a short distance from Nuupere Point is Marae Nuupere difficult to visit because it is located within a private property.
The oldest marae of Moorea, the Marae Umarea, dating from the tenth century, is located in Afareaitu, along the east coast, the coast facing Tahiti, the marae is located near the coast. Also in Afareaitu, but on a road that leads to the interior, along the valley of the river Vaioro you can reach the Afareaitu waterfalls. For hikers there are several paths to take, including one that leads to Monte Mouaputa, or the circular path along the ridge of the Opunohu valley.
HOW TO GET TO MOOREA: FLIGHTS AND FERRIES
AIR: Air connections between Tahiti and Moorea are operated by Air Moorea making between 15 and 17 flights a day between the two islands, almost every hour, sometimes every half hour, flights are made between 6 am and 7pm, the flight takes 10 minutes.
Moorea is connected by Air Tahiti with daily direct flights or with a call to the islands of Bora Bora, Huahine and Raiatea. Moorea Airport is located on the northeastern tip of the island, the one that looks Tahiti.
FERRY: Due to the proximity to Tahiti, the most commonly used means to get to Moorea are ferries and fast ferries. There are two companies that operate the service between Tahiti and Moorea: Aremiti and 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 makes 3 to 5 daily trips. While the fast ferry Aremiti 5 with a capacity of 630 passengers and 30 cars takes only 30 minutes, Aremiti 5 makes from 5 to 7 daily trips.
The Moorea Express is a fast ferry that connects the two islands in 30 minutes, it can carry up to 306 passengers and motorcycles, and make 6-7 daily trips. The Moorea Ferry is a regular ferry that carries up to 350 passengers and 62 cars and make 3 to 4 daily trips, the journey takes about 1 hour.
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