Most hotels have active watersports programs for their guests, such as glass-bottom-boat cruises and snorkeling in, or sailing on, Moorea's beautiful lagoon. Moorea has no public tennis courts, so pick a hotel that has them if tennis is important to you.
Chris Lilley, an American who has won several sport-fishing contests, takes guests onto the ocean in search of big-game catch on his Tea Nui (tel. 55.19.19, ext. 1903, or 56.15.08 at home; email@example.com). In keeping with South Pacific custom, you can keep the little fish you catch; Chris sells the big ones. Contact Chris for rates and reservations.
Encompassing Lake Temae west of the airport, the Moorea Green Pearl Golf Course of Polynesia (tel. 56.27.32; www.mooreagolf-resort.com) opened in 2007 with 18 holes designed by Jack Nicklaus. The par-70 course measures 6,002m (6,596 yards). Greens fees are 12,000CFP (US$150/£76) for 9 holes, 18,000CFP (US$225/£113) for 18 holes, including a cart. Rental equipment is available. The course and clubhouse are open daily from 7:30am to 5:30pm. You can practice by driving balls into the lake. Plans call for the 154-room Warwick Moorea Golf Spa Resort to open here in 2010 (www.warwickhotels.com).
You won't need a guide to hike from the coast road up the Opunohu Valley to Belvédère Lookout. Up and down will take most of a day. It's a level, but hot walk along the valley floor and gets steep approaching the lookout. Bring lots of water.
Several unmarked hiking trails lead into the mountains, including one beginning in Cook's Bay and ending on the east coast near the Vaiare ferry dock, another from the southwest coast near Haapiti village across Three Coconuts Pass and into Opunohu Valley. Go with a guide on longer hikes up in the mountains. Moorea-based Tahiti Evasion (tel. 56.48.77; www.tahitievasion.com) has half-day treks to the archaeological sites in the Opunohu Valley, across Three Coconuts Pass between the Belvédère and the south coast, and to the Afareaitu waterfall and the pierced Mount Tohiea. Prices range from 4,500CFP to 8,000CFP (US$56-US$100/£29-£51) per person.
Landlubbers can go horseback riding along the beach and into the interior with Ranch Opunohu Valley (tel. 56.28.55). Rates are about 6,000CFP (US$75/£38) for a 1 1/2-hour ride. Advance reservations are essential.
The most extensive array of sporting activities is at the InterContinental Resort and Spa Moorea (tel. 55.19.19), and its facilities can be used by both guests and visitors who are willing to pay. Options include scuba diving, parasailing (magnificent views of the bays, mountains, and reefs), water-skiing, wake-boarding, scooting about the lagoon and Opunohu Bay on jet skis, viewing coral and fish from Aquascope boats, walking on the lagoon bottom while wearing diving helmets, line fishing, and speedboat rentals. Nonguests can also pay to use the pool, snorkeling gear, and tennis courts, and to be taken over to a small islet. Call the hotel for prices, schedules, and reservations, which are required.
Although Moorea's lagoon is not in the same league with those at Rangiroa, Fakarava, or even Bora Bora, its outer reef has some decent sites for viewing sea life, and especially the whitetip and blacktip reef sharks. Since the northern side of Moorea fell away from the rest of the island eons ago, the reef slopes away gently here, as opposed to the precipitous drop-offs found on Tahiti and most other South Pacific islands. The shallow lagoon has mostly dead coral, so you must dive to deeper depths in order to see the colors of the living reef.
Most sites are within short boat rides of the northwest-coast resorts and require dives of 10 to 20m (33-70 ft.). The Tiki, off the island's northwestern point, is popular thanks to the shark-feeding (as on Bora Bora, many dives feature shark-feeding, although not all of Moorea's operators engage in this practice). Even novice divers can pet the friendly rays at Stingray World, just off the InterContinental Resort and Spa Moorea. Opunohu Canyons, off the mouth of the bay, is another favorite shark-feeding site. You can drift dive through Taotoi Pass, to the west of Opunohu Bay. Experienced divers can see a huge expanse of flat montipora coral at the Roses, at a depth of 30 to 40m (100-130 ft.) halfway between Opunohu and Cook's bays. Inside the lagoon, the Wreck is an old ship that was sunk to provide an artificial reef home to a multitude of fish.
The island's best diving operator is TOPdive (tel. 56.17.32; www.topdive.com), at the Sheraton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa. Also excellent is Gilles Pétré's Moorea Diving Center (tel. 55.17.50; www.bluenui.com) at the Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa. On the northwest coast, the InterContinental Resort and Spa Moorea is home to Bathy's Diving (tel. 55.19.19, ext. 1139; www.bathys.net), and Scubapiti Moorea (tel. 56.20.38; www.scubapiti.com) resides at Hotel Les Tipaniers. All charge about 6,500CFP (US$81/£41) for a one-tank dive, including equipment (gauges are metric).
Snorkeling & Swimming
Sharing the lagoon with the Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort, the gorgeous Temae Plage Publique (Tamae Public Beach) has some of the island's best snorkeling, and it's relatively safe. Also good is the lagoon around the islets off Haapiti, but watch out for strong currents coming in and out of the nearby reef passes.
Another favorite with locals for sunning and swimming is Mareto Plage Publique (Mareto Public Beach), in a coconut grove west of the Sheraton Moorea between the two bays. Go around the barbed-wire fence on the eastern end.
There's good snorkeling over coral gardens off Pianapo (Pineapple) Beach (tel. 74.96.96; www.painapo.com), on the Haapiti coast. This picturesque little playground charges a one-time 2,000CFP (US$25/£13) for a day pass, including use of snorkeling gear. I love to fill up on Sunday at the restaurant here.
The lagoon off Moorea's northwest corner is blessed with offshore motus, small islets where you can sunbathe, swim, and snorkel (but beware of strong currents), plus have lunch on Motu Moea. You can rent a boat to get over there from Moorea Locaboat (tel. 78.13.39), based next to Hotel Les Tipaniers, or take a transfer from Tip Nautic next door (tel. 73.76.73) for 700CFP (US$8.75/£4.45) round-trip. Tip Nautic also rents snorkel gear for 500CFP (US$6.25/£3.15) for a half-day and kayaks starting at 500CFP (US$6.25/£3.15) per hour, and it has water-skiing and dolphin-watching trips as well.
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.