- Big, blue bays; vast verdant valleys
- Coast life
- Snorkelling, surfing, swimming and sunbathing
Shaped like a heart or an angel (depending on your mood), the high island of Moorea combines lush jungle with blissful bays for a magical marriage made in Polynesian heaven.
Visible from the shores of larger sister Tahiti in the Society Islands, Moorea is just a hop west by boat or plane. On arrival your gaze will constantly be drawn up, up and away to the summit of vertiginous emerald peaks clad in thick foresty coats. Slicing between them, dramatic Opunohu and Cook's Bays mark the crater floor of an extinct volcano (yes, Captain Cook did anchor here). Voluptuous valleys sweep inland to lofty lookouts and ancient hidden marae temples, laced with hiking trails. Once home to coconut and vanilla planations, Moorea is now a major pineapple grower (cue pina coladas). Less developed than Tahiti or Bora Bora, local life is all about watching canoes skim through the lagoon, diving off fish-flocked reefs or lazing on snow-white beaches such as Teavaro or Temae. Mini motu (islets) promise private picnics offshore or just order cocktails on the balcony of your overwater bungalow. Did someone say sunset o'clock?
- Do go/don't go
- You'll usually get the best weather in the dry, cooler winter period from May to October. November to April sees hotter summer temperatures, rising humidity, cloudier skies and heavier rains, although storms are usually brief. Peak season falls in line with the northern school holidays, especially July and August, and Christmas; the island also books up for the July Heiva festival, so get in early or look for off-season bargains. Surfing and diving are good year-round.