It's best to get away from the main cities--and other travelers we met mentioned nearby Moorea and Bora Bora are very different. Moorea is just a 30-minute ferry ride away, so we made a day trip of it.
Aboard the ferry, approaching the narrow opening in the reef surrounding Moorea.
Fortunately for us there is a nice public beach a few miles north of Moorea's ferry terminal. On both islands many of the good beaches belong to big hotels and access to them is restricted.
The beaches are quite different from the kind I'm used to. Having grown up in Hawaii and California, I'm partial to soft, fluffy beaches with lots of waves for boogie boarding and body surfing. Tahiti and Moorea are surrounded by offshore coral reefs which protect the beaches, so with very little wave action to grind sand particles or stir things up, the beaches settle into flat, hard-packed expanses of coarse sand and pulverized shells.
One of only two public beaches on Moorea.
The lagoons between the beach and the reef are like bathtubs, devoid of waves and with shallow water that gets quite warm--even too warm--during the day. In places the reef is a half-mile or more offshore, yet the lagoon doesn't seem to get more than about 10 or 15 feet deep.
Overlooking the thatched huts of the Sofitel Resort on Moorea. You can clearly see the coral reef separating the deep blue ocean and the shallow, aqua lagoon.
Posted by Dan 11/01/2012, revised 11/11/2012 by Dan