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Safari Expeditions

You can see the sights and learn a lot about the island on a four-wheel-drive excursion through Moorea's mountainous interior. Every hotel activities desk will book you on one of these adventures. Albert Tours (tel. 56.13.53) and Moorea Explorer (tel. 56.12.86) both have them. I've been with Alex and Gheslaine Haamatearii's Inner Island Safari Tours (tel. 56.20.09; intersaf@mail.pf), which will take you through the valleys, up to Belvédère Lookout, and then down to a vanilla plantation in Opunohu Valley. They explain the island's flora and fauna along the way. The best trips end with a drive around Moorea's south coast and a hike up to Atiraa Waterfall for a refreshing swim. Expect to visit a black pearl shop and Jus de Fruits de Moorea. These half-day trips cost about 5,000CFP (US$63/£32) per person.

In a variation on this theme, Mahana ATV Tours (tel. 56.20.44) takes you on all-terrain vehicles into the Opunohu Valley.

Lagoon Excursions

The lagoon around Moorea is not as beautiful or diverse as Bora Bora's, but it's worth a day's outing. Most hotel activities desks will book you on a lagoon excursion, the best way to experience the magnificent setting. The full-day version of these excursions invariably includes a "motu picnic" -- a lunch of grilled fresh fish, poisson cru, and salads served on a motu (little islet) out on the reef. Quite often, the fresh fish is caught on the way. You'll have an opportunity to snorkel in the lagoon and learn how to husk a coconut. Some tours also include shark- and ray-feeding, one of the most interesting and exciting things to do in the water here. Wear shoes that you don't mind getting wet. The cost is about 7,000CFP (US$88/£44) per person.

Dolphin- & Whale-Watching

Watching and swimming with dolphins is as much a part of the Moorea experience as is swimming with the sharks on Bora Bora. You also stand a good chance of seeing humpback whales offshore from July until October, when they migrate from Antarctica to calve.

The best way to observe the animals in their natural habitat is on a dolphin- and whale-watching excursion led by American marine biologist Dr. Michael Poole (tel. 56.23.22 or 77.50.07; www.drmichaelpoole.com). An expert on sea mammals and a leader in the effort to have French Polynesian waters declared a whale sanctuary, Dr. Poole will take you out beyond the reef to meet some of the 150 acrobatic spinner dolphins he has identified as regular Moorea residents. In calm conditions, and if the animals are agreeable, you can don snorkeling gear and swim with them. You'll also be on the lookout for pilot whales that swim past year-round and giant humpback whales that frequent these waters from July to October. The half-day excursions cost about 7,500CFP (US$94/£47) for adults, half-price for kids, including pickup at most hotel docks. Make reservations in advance, and be prepared not to go if the sea isn't calm.

Among the many activities at the InterContinental Resort and Spa Moorea and by far the most popular is the Moorea Dolphin Center (tel. 55.19.48; www.mooreadolphincenter.com). The intelligent sea mammals are sure to excite young and old alike -- and many honeymooners love to have their photos taken face-to-face with "smiling" dolphins. The animals live in a fenced area, although the center professes to be dedicated to their care and conservation. Kids 16 and older can join adults in snorkeling with the mammals in deeper water (all must be good swimmers) for 24,300CFP (US$304/£153) per person. A 1-hour "dolphin discovery" excursion in shallow water costs 19,800CFP (US$248/£125) per person. There's a 1-hour children's program (ages 5-11) that costs 12,000CFP (US$150/£76) per kid, and there are family programs, too. They'll even take honeymooners on their own private encounter.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.