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Location: Moorea (French Polynesia)
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On this page you can see an overview of the location, including interactive maps, climate data, and photos.
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Moorea is a small island in French Polynesia, a close neighbor of Tahiti. Moorea is generally less developed than its famous neighbor, and is slightly less accessible since it is one step further removed from the rat race back home. Eight-hour direct flights link Los Angeles and Tahiti, and ferry boats (or ten-minute plane rides) shuttle people between Tahiti and Moorea.

The diving: Based on my trip (November 2005), divers will probably encounter black-tip sharks (non-aggressive) on nearly every dive, sometimes more than a dozen at a time. Several grays and even some lemon sharks are likely sightings in the course of a week's diving. Turtle encounters occur often, and clownfish (anemonefish), pufferfish and lionfish are also to be readily found repeatedly over the course of a few dives. Many species of colorful angelfish and parrotfish live here, and are distinct from those to be encountered in the Caribbean. Moorea may not seem to have the large schools of fish that reputed to be found off Indonesia or Thailand, but consistently good visibility ensures that there is always plenty to see. Likewise, the color of the corals may not match those in that Palau video you saw last month, but on many dives coral carpets the bottom so that it would be hard to find sand if you were looking for it. Overall, it's a worthy dive destination, especially considering the direct flights provided from Los Angeles and other cities.

Dive operators: There are few dive operators on the island, the island economy having suffered after the decline in international air travel after September 11, 2001. Compared to more 'developed' (and more crowded) destinations, Moorea also has comparatively few 'named' dive sites. However, the variety of marine life, pervasive coral, and very good visibility make even the 'repeat' dives (at the same site) a new experience. Seas are usually very calm and strong currents are rare, even beyond the breakers that are a few hundred yards from shore. Boat trips to the dive sites are short (usually less than fifteen minutes, at least from Moorea FunDive). Breaker-sheltered lagoons provide great snorkeling for non-divers. Stingray snorkeling can sometimes be incorporated during surface intervals between consecutive scuba dives. Most of the dives seem to be in the 60-80 foot (30-40m) range, though deeper ones (like the Coral Roses) are definitely worth the shortened dive times. Dives are pricier than Caribbean destinations, usually about US$50 per dive, or US$100 per two-tank outing (volume discounts are common). In the afternoons, some of the dive shops provide 'baptême' (baptism, or beginner) or Discover Scuba dives. Dives for certified divers seem to be scheduled for the mornings.

On land: The dominant language in French Polynesia is (somewhat predictably) French, but it is easy to find people (French and native Polynesian) who can speak English as well. Most visitors are native French speakers, and the culture and cuisine have not been Americanized (though pizza is popular). The locals are friendly and generally accommodating, though restaurant service definitely marches to 'island time.' In general, thankfully, the island does not smack of overdevelopment, overcrowding, or commercialism. Nor are you harassed by street vendors à la Jamaica. Yes, there are Internet cafes. Carrying local currency is a plus in shops, as many merchants don't provide a very good cash exchange rate for visitors' currency. Use credit cards instead (often US$10 or US$20 minimum). Renting a car for part of a visit lets tourists circumnavigate the entire island on its scenic oceanfront two-lane highway in just a few hours. There doesn't seem to be a rush hour on Moorea, with an island-wide speed limit of 60 km/hr (40 mph). The steep and lushly foliated volcanic mountains, rising from the ocean, are memorably striking, and the view from driving up the mountain on the Belevedere (road) is well worth the short detour. There are many restaurant-bars, some with live local Polynesian music, but you won't find Cancun-style party districts.

Lodging: Everything from resort-style hotels to quaint bungalows (sometimes on docks placing your quarters directly over water) can be your home on Moorea. Modern amenities are easy to find. Americans should bring a 220-110V converter and adapters. Although the literature often says that air conditioning is not needed because of the prevailing trade winds, you will be uncomfortably hot and perpetually sticky if your dwelling is sheltered from said winds. Know your lodging well, in advance!

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Climate Data:
View data in degrees Fahrenheit.
Average air temperature: Chance of rain: Hours of sun / day:
Surface water temperature: Water temperature at 30m: Water visibility:
General Info:

Travel Tips:
Most visitors thought
Moorea was:
Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews Ranked as Fantastic by independant reviews
Non diving activities: Lots to see and do!
Language: French, English
Money: Cours du franc Pacifique
Stability: No travelling problems expected
More Information: Country Bio from Lonely Planet

Rating: Ranked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviewsRanked as Excellant by independant reviews95%
Highest ranked My Blue Planet photo shared by Sushi.
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When did you go?
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Did you see any of these?
(the information you provide
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Marine Sightings section)

Basking Shark
No Some Always
Beauforts Crocodilefish
No Some Always
Bottlenose Dolphin
No Some Always
Clown Anemonefish
No Some Always
No Some Always
Emperor Angelfish
No Some Always
Gray Whale
No Some Always
Great Barracuda
No Some Always
Great Hammerhead
No Some Always
Great White Shark
No Some Always
Green Sea Turtle
No Some Always
Grey Reef Shark
No Some Always
Hawksbill Sea Turtle
No Some Always
Humpback Whale
No Some Always
Leatherback Sea Turtle
No Some Always
Leopard Seal
No Some Always
Longspine Porcupine Fish
No Some Always
Manta Ray
No Some Always
Marbled Ray
No Some Always
Orca (Killer Whale)
No Some Always
Pilot Whale
No Some Always
Potato Grouper
No Some Always
Scorpion Fish
No Some Always
Sixgill Shark
No Some Always
Spotted Eagle Ray
No Some Always
No Some Always
Whale Shark
No Some Always
Whitetip Reef Shark
No Some Always
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