Moorea is a high mountainous island with two nearly symmetrical bays found on the north coast. The island’s triangular shape has been likened to a heart or a bat. Eight mountain peaks reaching a height of up to 1,207 meters give Moorea a very rugged silhouette. The reef surrounding the island encloses a narrow lagoon –a RAMSAR Wetland- and has barely any motu (reef islets). Sharks and rays are some of the lagoon’s attractions. The island is only one eighth the size of neighboring Tahiti and has a more relaxed life-style.
A road leads around Moorea, passing small villages with their churches and the resorts and smaller hotels mainly found on the north coast. A detour into the interior will show large pineapple plantations, French Polynesia’s only agricultural school, ancient marae (stone platforms) and splendid views of the island from Belvedere above Cook’s Bay. Many of the 18,000 residents work in Tahiti, taking one of the ferries plying between Vaiare on the east coast and Papeete. This led to Papeete being one of France’s busiest ports in passenger volume. Foreign visitors either come into Temae airport, tucked in-between the Green Pearl golf course and Temae’s public beach, or by ship entering one of the two bays on the north coast. Both bays are connected to Captain Cook’s visit in 1777: he stayed in Opunohu Bay, but to honor him Pao Pao Bay has been named Cook’s Bay.