I love Oahu. I just wish there weren’t so many tourists stumbling around the beaches — or that the high-rise hotels didn’t obliterate the mountains and that there wasn’t a souvenir shop on every corner. If you feel the same, head right on to Mo’orea.
Mo’orea is a South Pacific island, part of French Polynesia’s Society Islands archipelago, and it’s just 30 minutes by boat from Pape’ete or a 10-minute plane ride. It reminds me so
much of the remote side of Maui on your way to Hana. It’s very green and its mountains are
spectacular. The water is very clear, and many friendly sharks. Yes, I did say sharks.
I stayed in one of those amazing over-the-water bungalows and I saw four sharks underneath
my bungalow; I kid you not. Supposedly they’re harmless. But I can tell you this: It was scary getting in the water, but I did. And I am still here to tell the story.
What I love about Mo’orea is imagining that it must be what Hawaii looked and felt like some half century ago — which is only the ’60s, after all. The Polynesian culture is still very intact and thriving here, and the island way life is honored and preserved. There’s no traffic here; there are no major freeways, not many high rises, and hotels are designed to blend in
with their surroundings, which seems to integrate the modern with the timeless beauty of nature so much better. For all those reasons, this spot has a small island feel despite its popularity, and Mo’orea remains one of the top honeymoon destinations, second to in Tahiti in Bora Bora.
I am a huge fan of Bora Bora. But Mo’orea has several advantages: First, it is much less expensive. Second, it’s an easier travel destination to arrange, and three, there are more activities here to keep you occupied than Bora Bora has to offer. I can’t wait to see more of Mo’orea.
Enjoy new highlights of travel photographer Edwin Santiago’s journeys each week.
Last modified: July 7, 2017