Moorea, its nature and its history
Moorea has 8 mountains and has 12 natural passes where there is no coral because there is fresh mountain water. In comparison, in Tetiaroa there is no pass and in Bora Bora there is only one that was made by man. Its three main mountains are Mont Rotui, Moua Puta and Moua Roa. Mont Rotui has caves and is 899m above sea level. It is possible to hike there and climb on its ridge! Moua Puta, which means "pierced mountain", was named after the legend of the warrior Hiro who pierced the mountain with his spear. And the Moua Roa, meaning "pointed towards the sky", which we know well because it is the one that is drawn on the current 100F coins.
The large expanses of Moorea were used a lot for coconut plantations for copra in the 19th century by missionaries or for coffee, vanilla, cotton and sugar cane plantations. Today it is mainly pineapple cultivation that is present on the island, the famous Queen Tahiti as she is called here, or "painapo" in Tahitian, derived from the English "pineapple". Pineapple has become the flagship fruit of Moorea, which has 200 producers. There are many fields of pineapple especially for making jam or juice in the local Rotui fruit juice factory. As for the jam, you can taste some very good ones for free, carefully prepared by the students at the Lycée Agricole Professionnel de Opunohu, who offer several flavors depending on their harvest such as papaya, banana, pineapple or even tiare flower!
For the record, the English explorer James Cook arrived in the 18th century in the bay of Opunohu, which means belly of a stonefish in Tahitian. Since this bay was already named, he gave its name to the second bay: Cook's bay.
The little things we advise you to do are go for a walk to Temae beach, not far from the ferries, or to the splendid Ta'ahiamanu beach in Opunohu bay, which is lined with coconut trees. Of course you have to come with diving masks to be able to observe the reef fish, as well as rays, turtles and sharks for the lucky ones! There are sandbanks where it is more likely to see them, like at Tipaniers for example. Water activities are available all over the island. There is also the postcard panorama of Toatea which overlooks the turquoise lagoon and the overwater bungalows of the Sofitel, with Tahiti in the background. But also the viewpoint from Belvédère de Opunohu overlooking the sumptuous Rotui mountain, and from where several hikes are possible. Moorea, due to its small size, is also very nice for walking or cycling without forgetting to stop for noon at the Coco Beach restaurant located on a motu, where you can eat local ma'a with your feet in the sea. water in a dream setting! To be fair there are really a lot of cool places to visit during a stay in Moorea, like the Magic Mountain Ride which offers a 360º view of the island, or the popular Snack Mahana by the sea. also. Normally with all these suggestions already you will have plenty to do!
The legend that changed the name of the island
As you probably know, Polynesia is full of legends and beautiful stories and there is just one about the origin of the name of the island "Moorea", which means yellow lizard.
Long ago, a young man named Temaiatea and his wife lived on Maiao Island, neighboring Moorea, formerly called Aimeho. The young woman became pregnant and gave birth to an egg, which they placed in a small cave while it hatched. In her sleep, the wife had a vision that she had given birth to a boy with yellowish skin. When Temaiatea woke up to check out the egg in the cave after she told him about her dream, he found it had hatched into a baby yellow lizard. So he gave it the name of "moo-rea", literally yellow lizard. Together with his wife they took care of him and fed him until he was grown up. When it grew huge, the woman insisted on giving it up, lest the lizard might eat them. The husband reluctantly agreed and began to build a canoe to escape the island towards the rising sun, towards Tahiti.
The no longer fed lizard felt abandoned and filled with despair, and threw himself into the sea in search of his parents who had taken such good care of him. It set off towards the east but faced a terrible current called Teara-Veri, which means hundred feet and which explains the severity of its waves. Then he faced a second current which is called Tefara ("pandanus") because it is as thorny as the pandanus. He also managed to get out of it, but he was exhausted. A third current faced it, this time named Tepua ("soap") due to its foam which makes foam like soap. Exhausted after his struggle with these three natural phenomena, he drowned and was stranded on the Vaianae shore in Aimeho.
The next morning, when two men went fishing, they found this huge creature lying on the beach and ran to warn the people of the island, shouting, "It's a yellow lizard!" E mo’o re’a! ". And so Moorea became the name of the island, in commemoration of that giant yellow lizard. This is also the name given to our Moo ukulele!