Moorea is the ideal spot for beach lovers, snorkelers and scuba divers, but it’s an island often overlooked because it’s sister island is the famous luxury destination of Bora Bora. Yet what we’ve discovered is that scuba diving in Moorea is some of the best throughout French Polynesia!
This island of volcanic origins is also known as “The Magical Island” and is said to have inspired the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of stories published by James A. Michener, “Tales of the South Pacific”. Its striking beauty and welcoming vibes will lure you into a vacation of a lifetime, and its underwater life will give you memories that’ll last forever too.
Below we show you why Moorea is such an exciting dive location. We then share with you our top five dive sites, before delving into what else you can do when visiting this beautiful island!
Scuba Diving in Moorea: Why You Should Do It
The clear and warm waters around Moorea offer some excellent dive spots. And if you want to dive with sharks in the South Pacific, then Moorea is the place to do it! Various shark species swim in the waters around the island, alongside a huge number of turtles.
The aquatic life here is intense and the coral gardens are colorful and in great health. The many types of sharks that can be easily spotted in Moorea’s underwater environment include black tip reef sharks, nurse sharks, grey reef sharks and huge lemon sharks – reaching about ten feet in length. Green and hawksbill turtles, stingrays, moray eels, eagle rays, dolphins, parrot fish and clownfish are some of the other inhabitants you’ll find in the blue waters around Moorea.
You’ll also find that stingrays and sharks come close to the coast for feeding sessions. That’s almost a routine thing here in Moorea. It’s pretty special. (Recommended: Scuba Diving in Bora Bora).
However, the top reason many go scuba diving in Moorea is the chance to encounter humpback whales, a truly exciting and emotional event on every diver’s bucket list. These gentle giants migrate to Moorea around August, and remain until around the beginning of November when they continue their migratory patterns. It’s here in the calm and nutrient-rich waters of Moorea that they come to nurse their calves or to mate.
That makes the period between August and November the best months to visit Moorea for scuba diving. Luckily those months are the last ones of the dry season, so there’s great visibility, scarce rainfall and pleasant temperatures both below and above the surface.
Visibility in these months ranges between 60 and 100 feet, and the average water temperature in Moorea ranges from 79 to 84 F. Several of the luxurious resorts in Moorea have an on-site dive center, and numerous liveaboards operate in French Polynesia, so everything is set up for perfect diving.
Below we share with you our favorite dive sites on this wonderful island.
The Five Best Dive Sites in Moorea
The best scuba diving in Moorea is mostly located on the north side and is easy to reach via charter boats for a single tank or a double tank dive, or even for a night dive.
Out of the numerous exciting dive spots, here is our personal list of what we believe are the five best sites in Moorea. Places we believe you should not miss when vacationing on this amazing corner of paradise.
1. The Garden of Roses
This is a fantastic, yet difficult, world-renowned dive site. It’s recommended for experienced divers only, and thats because its overall depth – averaging around 150 feet – requires divers with decompression training,
The Rose Garden takes its name from the immense reef covered in colorful Montipora corals, that makes it look like a garden of roses. The reef is a great location for spotting numerous sharks, as well as rainbow jacks and barracudas. Most dive centers will require a minimum Rescue Diver level, and will not take any diver there for their first dive (check dive required).
2. Tiki Point
This is one of the most popular dive sites in Moorea, and is especially appreciated by photographers due to the abundant marine life, crystal-clear waters and exciting encounters.
Tiki Point is one of the top shark dives around Moorea too as it’s home to nurse sharks, black tip reef sharks, grey reef sharks and enormous lemon sharks. However, encounters with dolphins and humpback whales often happen here as well.
This spectacular drift dive near Tiki Point is the place to see a good number of turtles and Emperor Angelfish.
Its depth – anywhere between 60 and 90 feet – makes it a good dive for advanced divers with some drift knowledge and experience.
4. Opunohu Coral Wall
Thanks to its exceptional position in front of the bay of Opunohu, this Moorea dive site offers a unique view above and underwater, and is conveniently protected by winds.
The wall is so wide that it can be split into two or three dives. The first part, which is also the deepest area, is similar to our beloved Rose Garden, but smaller in size.
The second dive is the main underwater wall which is an amazing drift dive with canyons and overhangs where you can see turtles, sharks and all sorts of tropical fish.
The last part is called the Sharks Dining Room: a shallower patch where divers can examine the behavior of different species of sharks in their ideal habitat.
5. Rays Corridor
This is a very particular dive site, that can be started from the mooring and then you can work your way back to it by choosing your favorite pattern. The depth ranges from 10 feet at the mooring on a sandy slope to about an average of 65 feet on the farthest side.
The lagoon channel offers some interesting currents that can be challenging for beginners but also one that allows for an abundance of marine life. The schools of Eagle Rays that give their name to this dive site can be seen along with white and black tip reef sharks.
While the visibility might be a little worse than in other Moorea dive sites, the view of these magnificent animals is extremely rewarding, and exactly why it’s one of our favourite sites for scuba diving in Moorea.
An adventure-packed location
Once you reach Moorea, you will immediately see that the activities you can choose on or around the island are truly uncountable. With eight lush mountain ridges, stunning beaches, the exceptionally beautiful Opunohu Valley and its pineapple fields and tropical vegetation, there’s truly so much beauty for the eyes in Moorea.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a golf course on the island and some of the most beautiful panoramas across French Polynesia. Those can be enjoyed from scenic viewpoints disseminated throughout Moorea that are reachable by either car, on foot, or by 4×4 excursion.
Moorea has breathtaking rocky mountains that are a true climbers’ paradise too, some with fantastic hiking trails. Mount Tohiea, Mount Rotui, and Mount Mouaputa, or the famous Mount Mouaroa or Bali Hai, are all worthwhile treks.
Quad bike tours offer excursions exploring the scenic Opunohu Valley up to the Belvedere Lookout which will bring you incomparable views of the two north side bays. You’ll also be able to visit vanilla and tropical fruit plantations nearby.
The waters of Moorea offer opportunities for kite surfing, kayaking and surfing; while its small and intimate beaches are ideal for tourists craving privacy and not looking for crowded shorelines.
Hospitality in Moorea
The exotic island of Moorea offers so much to do both on land and on water, and is a perfect destination for couples and families alike. Not necessarily as honeymoon-oriented as other French Polynesian locations such as its sister island, Bora Bora, Moorea is still focused on pampering all sorts of groups, and has a lot on offer.
White sandy beaches surround this heart-shaped island, and many of those beaches are home to the best resorts in the area, including numerous well known hotel chains that guarantee impeccable five-star service. The iconic French Polynesian overwater bungalows remain the most sought-after type of accommodation on the island, delivering a peaceful vacation in comfort and privacy, with exceptional views over the splendid lagoon and the turquoise ocean.
Most resorts are located on the north side of the island, which is also the area where both cruise ships and planes arrive. This side of the island also hosts the two bays of Cook and Opunohu, a large number of beautiful dive sites, and the most stunning beaches.
Because of its proximity to Tahiti, a holiday in Moorea is significantly more affordable than one in Bora Bora, with room rates that are far cheaper than on its more famous sister island.
It’s a beautiful region and a wonderful island. Have a fantastic scuba diving in Moorea adventure!