Mo’orea shows me the hidden world

Hidden Pristine world of Mo’orea

This tiny island Mo’orea hidden in the Pacific Oceans is truly a pristine and untouched world away from the rest of the world. 

By i.c Golina

mo'orea
Photo credit

Hidden in one of the many islands in the French Polynesia archipelago is Mo’orea. Mo’orea is a South Pacific island, part of French Polynesia’s Society of islands and is known for its jagged volcanic mountains and sandy beaches. In the north, Mount Rotui overlooks picturesque Ōpūnohu Bay and the settlements around Cook’s Bay. Inland, hiking trails wind through rainforest on the slopes of Mount Tohivea. The Belvedere Lookout has panoramic views of the island’s peaks and Tahiti beyond.

Mo'orea bay

The island was formed as a volcano 1.5 to 2.5 million years ago, the result of a geologic hotspot in the mantle under the oceanic plate that formed the whole of the Society Archipelago. It is theorized that the current bays were formerly river basins that filled during the Holocene sea rise. The island was formed as a volcano 1.5 to 2.5 million years ago, the result of a geologic hotspot in the mantle under the oceanic plate that formed the whole of the Society Archipelago. It is theorized that the current bays were formerly river basins that filled during the Holocene sea rise.

Mo’orea is about 10 miles in width from the west to the east. There are two small, nearly symmetrical bays on the north shore. The one to the west is called ‘Ōpūnohu Bay, which is not very populated but many travelers have come into the bay. The main surrounding communes of the bay are Piha’ena in the east and Papetō’ai to the west. The one to the east is Cook’s Bay, also called Pao Pao Bay since the largest commune of Mo’orea is at the bottom of the bay. The other communes are Piha’ena to the west and busy Maharepa to the east. The highest point is Mount Tohi’e’a, near the center of Mo’orea. It dominates the vista from the two bays and can be seen from Tahiti. There are also hiking trails in the mountains. The Vai’are Bay is another small inlet, smaller than the two main bays, on the east shore. The main village is located just south of the bay.

Like many of the other islands, Mo’orea was first settled by Polynesians from the islands west of Mo’orea. They arrived on canoes coming down from South Asia looking for islands to settle. It is estimated that they arrived on Mo’orea roughly 1000 years ago. There are some ancient landmarks on Mo’orea known as marae, which consists of ancient stone rocks shaped like pyramids. On the rocks are carvings that tell when sacrifices occasionally took place. The oldest marae is the ‘Āfareaitu Marae, located in the island’s main village. It was made by the early Polynesians in the year 900.

The first European that recorded its sight was Pedro Fernandes de Queirós in 1606. The first settlers who were Europeans arrived during the 18th century. The first European to arrive on the island were the Englishmen Samuel Wallis and James Cook. Captain James Cook first landed on Tahiti, where he planned the 1769 Transit of Venus observed from Tahiti and Mo’orea. At Mo’orea, where Ta’aroa was chief, Cook first landed in ‘Ōpūnohu Bay, Cook’s Bay was later named in his honor. Spanish sailor Domingo de Bonechea visited it in 1774 and named it Santo Domingo. The island was among those visited by the United States Exploring Expedition on its tour of the South Pacific in 1839. Charles Darwin found inspiration for his theory regarding the formation of coral atolls when looking down upon Mo’orea while standing on a peak on Tahiti. He described it as a “picture in a frame”, referring to the barrier reef encircling the island. Don the Beachcomber lived here briefly in the 1920s until his houseboat was destroyed by tropical cyclones. In October 7, 1967, construction was completed on the Mo’orea Airport.

Because of its stunning scenery and accessibility to Pape’ete, Mo’orea is visited by many western tourists who travel to French Polynesia. Especially popular as a honeymoon destination, therefore considered to be very expensive island and not a lot of tourist flood the island. In Frommer’s travel guide that he considered it the most beautiful island in the world. It is not a tourist populated location because of the accessibiliy to the island. The main entry point to the island is from Papeete, capital of Tahiti. Several ferries go to the Vai’are wharf in Mo’orea daily from Pape’ete. The Vai’are wharf is in the Vai’are bay. There are 3 ferries. One of them is the ‘Aremiti 5. The largest one is the ‘Aremiti Ferry and the other one is the Terevau ferry. The ferries have to pass through Mo’orea’s coral pass, then toward Pape’ete across the ocean and into the Tahiti Lagoon. The Vai’are bay is in the east part of Mo’orea. Mo’orea’s Tema’e Airport has connections to the international airport in Pape’ete and onward to other Society Islands such as Bora Bora. If the islanders want to make an international flight, they would take Air Tahiti to get to the Fa’a’ā International Airport on Tahiti. The Mo’orea airport is located north of the Vai’are bay. There is one road that goes around the island. Along the road are kilometre markers from 1 to 35. The first one is near the airport. The 35th one is in Ha’apiti. There are also white signs that tell the driver which commune they entered. Other signs have the communes name with a red slash through it, meaning that the driver is leaving the commune.

My time on this beautiful and pristine island hidden from the rest of the world was very brief. I decided to take a tour of the local tour service which took us up to Belvedere Lookout which has the panoramic views of the island’s peaks and Tahiti beyond. The view was just absolutely stunning but the road leading up to the top was arguably the most scariest bus ride I ever done. The road was absolutely so narrow without any road signs or rules alongside this sheer dropping cliffs and at the same time, the condition of the bus according to me was not what I expected to transport tourist up this narrow cliffs.

From a personal perspective: As I travel to some of this exotic holiday destinations in world, I not only see the beautiful scenery and stunning views but try to understand the local people and what tourism does to them.

 

Bora Bora : My Journey through the Pearl of the French Island group.

EXPERIENCE

___________________________________

BORA BORA

Bora Bora: The holiday destination that dreams a made of. Follow my journey through this island paradise – The Pearl of the South Pacific.

Posted by

akamau

Bora Bora in brief

With open water bungalows to taming wildlife and tropical jungle, Bora Bora’s reputation of exotic getaways has carried away the tides to all corners of the world. Shimmering in the South Pacific Ocean, sheltered by pristine lagoon and barrier reef, this French Island group is just an hours flight away from Tahiti. 

This island paradise, Bora Bora is a small South Pacific Island located northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia. The island is surrounded by sand-fringed motus (islets) and a turquoise lagoon protected by a coral reef. It is known for its scuba diving and a popular luxury resort destination where bungalows are perched over the water on stilts. Once a sleepy tiny island, today Bora Bora is created just for one thing – RELAXATION.

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Why Go?

Bora Bora is an island that provides abundant of natural beauty – both on land and sea. It packs in travel inspiration for paradise-seekers in spades. The journey is the reward when visiting Bora Bora and is a part of the world that is on many peoples’ bucket-list. When a destination is this dreamy, it is easy to forget that a holiday here can be a reality. It is one of the most beautiful, expensive and exotic holiday destinations in the world, a place where sun, sand and sea that visitors come to enjoy. Bora Bora is the largest draw-card in all of French Polynesian Islands.

Having seen it on TV travel shows, travel glossy holiday brochures and Hollywood movies has made it a fantasising idyllic tropical escape. With high expectation, it was time to explore and experience this jewel of the French Polynesia Island – Bora Bora. The thought of worrying, was that when I get there, the chance of visiting this fabled dream destination, won’t live up to its lofty expectation. However, my imagination couldn’t fathom what I was about to experience and was left absolutely awe-struck with what lied in front of me.

Arriving on the island and the first moment, I stepped on the island, I knew why, this island is loved by so many. Truly, Bora Bora is the Pearl of the South Pacific Islands. This island paradise, surrounded by crystal clear waters are famous for their dazzling turquoise blues and are one of the biggest draw-cards for visitors from around the globe. I could see and experience that when combining that with the vibrant marine life below the surface and the luscious rugged mountains that run right to the water’s edge, it is easy to see why this island is so popular.

I couldn’t wait to indulge myself in this paradise haven island and tick it off my long-line of bucket-list. Falling in love for this beautiful island is so easy in Bora Bora. The people are so friendly, the beaches are crystal clear with shiny white sands and being on island time – taking things at my own pace means rushing has no value in this part of the world. I just felt in love with this place at first instance and I was only on the island for few hours and it was just only the beginning. I didn’t have to be an expert diver nor world-class swimmer to make the most of the underwater world here which was a huge bonus. In fact, Bora Bora and most of the surrounding islands are in very shallow waters which has encouraged me to stand up and make the most of this clear crystal waters. What a thrill to be experiencing this paradise in a very unique way.

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Exploring Bora Bora 

Bora Bora is widely promoted as a dream destination worldwide for honeymooners, but once you get, there a lot more things to do than relaxing in an out-water bungalow with someone special. There are plenty of activities and attractions to fill up your travel itinerary. I have found that, even though, it is a tiny island, there is no shortage of things to do and see on the island.

My first few days on island was simply relaxing in this beautiful crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches – fulfilling my island dream holiday. 

Jeep tour

After few days of relaxation, it was time to take a Jeep tour that has taken through the interior of the island. Having not done any jeep ride tour before, the experience of jeep-trekking was intriguing and couldn’t wait to experience it. I thought to myself, this was going to be a fun way to see the island. I signed up for this tour at the resort that was located on the main island. Our local guide who has never moved out of the island was very informative, funny and had a great sense of humour. He was very knowledgeable about not only Bora Bora but also the surrounding islands and the history of the colonisation. He was very passionate about sharing his ideas, knowledge and caring about the island. 

The tour began with a great introduction to the island with a ride along the waterfront, with lush and unpopulated coastlines with crystal clear waves bumping against the sands on the shore made you think you were on a different planet. From the coastline, it takes you inwards up the steep, rugged, rough and bumpy hillside. The views leading up to the hilltop were spellbinding. With views of lush green shorelines and crystal clear blue seas as far as your eyes could see, can only be describe in one word – Paradise. It was incredibly amazing and mesmerising. The white sandy beaches and luxurious resorts that are perched over waters on stilts can be seen in all directions from the hill-top definitely created a sense of dream island. Having time to absorb the views were absolutely breathtaking and my doubtful expectation on this tour was just beyond. What a great way to see the island and it was so much fun. I felt like I saw the entirety of Bora Bora. We had plenty of stops for pictures, my camera never stopped clicking and was definitely worth the time and value for money.

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Getting there?

Getting to Bora Bora is only accessible by air, unless you’re visiting island on a cruise. You have fly into Tahiti and then take a ferry to Bora Bora and take a short fly away from the main island of Tahiti.

Where to stay?

There are various types of accommodations in the area to suit all budget and are inexpensive. Most of the accommodations that are perched over waters are very expensive. However, they are absolutely amazing places to stay and you will be incredibly surprise and mesmerised of these bungalows on water. I highly recommend to stay in one of them to experience real Bora Bora. However, there are cheap and inexpensive accommodations in the township of Bora Bora from hostels to backpacker style rooms.

Popular Attractions

Bora Bora is home to many iconic resorts, pristine beaches and lagoons. Driving around in the island is possible if you have the time and want to see more of the area on your visit. To fully enjoy your stay in this area and to make the most of the region’s activities and attractions, I’d recommend staying in one of the bungalows perched over the water, an ideal introduction to the Bora Boras life. This way, you get to sample the beautiful beaches, lagoons and most importantly – “Relaxation”. Unfortunately, this is where the true heart of the area shines.

Though, this island of Bora Bora is relatively small but it is an activity giant destination as well. It offers visitors to experience sunbathe and swim at white sandy beaches with crystal clear waters, dive in a natural underwater among fish and corals, experience thrilling shark feedings and 4×4 safari or simply circle the turquoise lagoon by boat. This island is a superlative romantic spot. Many come to fall captive to this lush gen of Polynesian island by sharing an intimate midnight dinner on the beach, visiting the Lagoonarium, the Diving Centre, the Coral Gardens or the Leopard Rays Trench or taking it all in from the lofty heights of 2,300 foot Mount Otemanu.

Exploring the area

Bora Bora is a tiny island and it is entirely possible to get around and visit many attractions and places in this area with the help of public transport. However, it is easier to hire a car and do a self-drive around the island and explore the area on own time in a day but my recommendation is to go on a tour. Most tours have knowledge of the area and are very passionate about sharing their knowledge to the visitors. Driving in this area is straightforward and most locals are vary of tourists. When visiting new areas, be aware of no-drive zones and one-way streets. Sometimes, you will save yourself a few headaches when it comes to parking or driving around places to locate the area, it is best to go on a tour and get away with less stress.

My stay in Bora Bora, The Pearl of the Pacific has truly given me an experience of a lifetime. The stunning views, natural beauty- both land and sea, pristine and crystal clear lagoons. Yes, my camera never stopped clicking the moment I set foot on the island. This is the destination that I highly recommend to travellers hoping to visit this paradise island.

ABOUT ME


ic.golina

Papua New Guinean living in Cairns, Australia. Weekend getaway adventurer and Free-Independent-Traveller (FIT). Lover of unique and exotic travel experiences with a touch of luxury. Follow me to my travel world, brining you closer to your destination.

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