Moorea, neighboring island of Tahiti, is full of places and stories to discover. Quite wild, at times it even feels like being in the countryside and the green and abundant nature allows you to fill up on energy. Moorea is home to nearly 18,000 inhabitants for an area of 134km2. It is located 17km northwest of Tahiti, hence its name "sister island". We wanted to tell you a little more about this pretty little island after which we named one of our ukuleles, the "Moo" (link to the product page) which means "lizard" in Tahitian, hence the beautiful patterns that decorate it. Between history, anecdotes, tips and legends, let's go for a colorful trip to Moorea!
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 which was made by man. Its three main mountains are Mont Rotui, Moua Puta and Moua Roa. Mount Rotui has caves and is 899m high. It is possible to hike there and climb its ridge! Moua Puta, which means "pierced mountain", was named after the legend of the warrior Hiro who allegedly pierced the mountain with his spear. And the Moua Roa, meaning "pointed to 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 widely used for coconut plantations for copra in the 19th century by missionaries or for coffee, vanilla, cotton and sugar cane plantations. Today it is mainly the cultivation of pineapple that is present on the island, the famous Queen Tahiti as it is called here, or "painapo" in Tahitian, derived from the English "pineapple". The pineapple has become Moorea's flagship fruit, which has 200 producers. There are many pineapple fields especially for making jam or juice in the local fruit juice factory Rotui. 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 anecdote, the English explorer James Cook arrived in the 18th century in the bay of Opunohu, which means belly of the stonefish in Tahitian. Since this bay was already named, he gave his name to the second bay: Cook's Bay.
The little things that we advise you to do are to go for a walk to the beach of Temae, not far from the ferries, or to the splendid beach of Ta'ahiamanu in the bay of Opunohu, 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 of the Belvedere of Opunohu overlooking the sumptuous Rotui mountain, and from where several hikes are possible. Due to its small size, Moorea is also very nice for walking or cycling without forgetting to stop for lunch at the Coco Beach restaurant located on a motu, where you can eat local ma'a with your feet in the water. water in a dream setting! To be honest there are really a lot of cool places to visit during a stay in Moorea, such as the magic mountain walk which offers a 360º view of the island, or the very popular Snack Mahana by the sea. also. Normally with all these suggestions you will have enough to do!
The legend that changed the name of the island
As you surely know, Polynesia is full of legends and beautiful stories and there is precisely one on the origin of the name of the island "Moorea", which means yellow lizard.
A long time ago, a young man named Temaiatea and his wife lived on the island of Maiao, neighboring Moorea, formerly called Aimeho. The young woman became pregnant and gave birth to an egg which they placed in a small cave until it hatched. In her sleep, the wife had a vision that she had given birth to a yellow-skinned boy. Upon awakening Temaiate went to check the egg in the cave after she told him about her dream, and he found that it had hatched into a baby yellow lizard. He therefore gave it the name "moo-rea", literally yellow-lizard. With his wife they took care of him and fed him until he was big. When it grew huge, the woman insisted on giving it up, lest the lizard end up eating them. The husband accepted reluctantly and began to build a canoe to flee the island towards the rising sun, towards Tahiti.
The lizard, no longer fed, 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. He rushed towards the east but faced a terrible current called Teara-Veri, which means hundred feet and which explains well the rigor of its waves. Then he faced a second current 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 foams like soap. Exhausted after his fight against these three phenomena of nature, he drowned and washed up on the shore of Vaianae in Aimeho.
The next morning, when two men went fishing, they discovered 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 this giant yellow lizard. This is also the name given to our Moo ukulele!