Shaped like a raised baseball glove, Mo’orea is the Society Island’s pineapple growing center. It’s the major industry here with tourism #2. In some ways Mo’orea is French Polynesia’s most beautiful island and, some say, the inspiration for the song “Bali Hai” is here. Mount Roa, 2,499 feet tall, is often called Bali Hai. Mel Gibson spent 6 months here when he starred as Fletcher Christian in The Bounty. Mo’orea looks more prosperous than the other islands, and I mentioned in a previous blog that the only real factory I saw was on it. It also has lots of protected land and the only agricultural school in French Polynesia, the Lycée Agricole. This school has 300 agricultural students and interns.
Different in many ways, Mo’orea has shrimp farms, stands of bamboo, and many tattoo artists. It’s the only island we visited that has a drivable interior road, the Opunohu Valley paved two-lane highway that takes many visitors to a sensational viewpoint near its end called the Belvedere Lookout. Travelers on this road get to see the agriculture school and an ancient marae with resident chickens on their way to the top. A marae is an old native gathering spot often used for religious festivities. Many are now archaeological sites. There’s a popular walking trail through the estate at the school. A childless couple donated their land to the University of California’s Berkeley campus, so there are marine biology students around too. Mo’orea’s sights include a ring road, waterfalls, tropical gardens, lots of fine resorts and guest houses, and numerous, breathtaking beaches.
Often called Tahiti’s little sister, Mo’orea can be seen from several vantage points on Tahiti Nui’s ring road. Those who drive its northwest section, get to enjoy this view. Lots of tourists take the daily catamaran from Pape’ete’s harbor over to visit. It sails 3 to 5 times each day and takes about 45 minutes. Mo’orea’s circle road is 39 miles long and a big biker lure. Some hotels provide bikes for guests. This island’s drier stretch of time is May to October.
Mo’orea is an ancient term meaning “yellow lizard”. I saw many colorful chickens here, but not a single yellow lizard.