Moorea, volcanic island (2002 pop. 14,226), c.50 sq mi (130 sq km), South Pacific, second largest of the Windward group of the Society Islands, French Polynesia. The island is mountainous, with Mt. Tohivea (3,975 ft/1,212 m) the highest peak. On the northern coast are Cook Bay and Papetoai Bay. Paopao, Haapiti, and Afareaitu are the chief towns. Tourism is a major industry. Copra and coffee are the main products.
Moorea Rolfe is a synonym of the orchid genus Neomoorea.

Moorea is a high island in French Polynesia, part of the Society Islands, 17 km (roughly 9mi) northwest of Tahiti. Its position is . Moorea means "yellow lizard" in Tahitian. An older name for the island is Aimeho, sometimes spelled Aimeo or Eimeo, (among other spellings misunderstood by early visitors with no knowledge of the language). Early Western colonists and voyagers also referred to Moorea as York Island.


Several ferries go to the Vaiare wharf in Moorea daily from Papeete, the Tahitian capital. Moorea's Temae Airport (MOZ) has connections to the international airport in Papeete and onward to other Society Islands.


The island is administratively part of the commune (municipality) of Moorea-Maiao, itself in the administrative subdivision of the Windward Islands. The main village is Afareaitu


Because of its stunning scenery and accessibility to Papeete, Moorea is visited by many western tourists who travel to French Polynesia. Especially popular as a honeymoon destination, Moorea can often be seen in advertisements in American wedding magazines.

Physical description

From above, the shape of the island vaguely resembles a fork, with its two nearly symmetrical bays opening to the north side of the island: Cook's (or Paopao) Bay and Oponohu 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 searise.


Charles Darwin was inspired for his theory regarding the formation of coral atolls when looking down upon Moorea 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 for some time until his houseboat was destroyed by tropical cyclones.

Research facilities

The University of California, Berkeley maintains the Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station on the west coast of Cook's Bay. The Gump station is also home to the Moorea Coral Reef Long Term Ecological Research Site (MCR LTER). The project, funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), is a partnership between the University of California Santa Barbara and California State University, Northridge that includes additional researchers from UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego and the University of Hawaii. The Moorea Coral Reef LTER is part of the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network The LTER Program was established by the NSF in 1980 to support research on long-term ecological phenomena. The Moorea Coral Reef LTER became the 26th site in the LTER network in September 2004.

See also


External links

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