The sight of Moorea's jagged volcanic peaks, just 12 miles from Tahiti, proves irresistible to most visitors. Tahiti's hustle and bustle gives way to a quiet isle boasting beautiful bays, lagoons, and pineapple plantation-draped mountain slopes. Moorea means "yellow lizard" and you can reach it by plane (10 minutes) or ferry (30 minutes) from Tahiti.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Passport, return ticket
French, Tahitian, English
French Pacific Franc (CFP)
18 hrs from NYC, 7.5 hrs from LA, 16 hrs from Dallas
When To Go: Moorea at its best
Dry season runs May to October; evenings are sometimes cool enough for a light sweater
Rates are consistent year-round
What To Do
Splurge and swim:
Overwater bungalows (where your room is on stilts, and you can step out your door and right into the crystal-clear water) are the way to stay when you're in French Polynesia, and the accommodations provide a unique opportunity to indulge. Stay at certain hotels, for example, and you can have your breakfast delivered to your door by canoe!
Take a 4x4 tour:
Rent a Jeep or join a tour to see Moorea, and follow the coastal road to ogle the stunning interior mountain range. Be sure to visit Belvedere Lookout, surrounded by mountains save for spectacular vistas over Cook's and Opunohu bays. At night, feast your eyes and stomach at the Tiki Village Theatre. The evening begins with a feast, in which food -- usually an entire pig -- is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a pit oven in the ground. Next, drum-beating dance and fire dancers create a true island ambience!
Shop for black pearls:
Polynesia is the capital of these exotic members of the demure pearl family, which are cultivated in the indigenous black pearl oyster. Tour pearl farms, learn how they are cultivated, and choose your own to take home from black pearl boutiques like The Black Pearl Gem Company, Perle d'O, and Moorea Black Pearls.