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Photos by Matthew Meier

Moorea Island (pronounced Moe-oh-RAY-ah) is located a mere 9.5 miles (15 kilometers) northwest of the island of Tahiti. Covering an area of 53 square miles (136 square kilometers), it is the only other major island in the Windward group of the Society Islands besides Tahiti.

Like the other Polynesian islands, Moorea is volcanic in origin. Geologists estimate that it is 1.2 – 2.0 million years old. Moorea is a high volcanic island that is encircled by a lagoon and fringed by a complex of coral reefs. Over time the volcanic island will subside, or sink, as the coral reef continues to extend upward, ultimately resulting in a coral atoll. This process takes tens of millions of years. At present, the highest point on Moorea is Tohie’a at 3983 ft (1207 m), followed by Tamaru Toofa at 3005 ft (916 m), Rotui at 2949 ft (899 m), Mou’a Roa at 2904 ft (880 m), and Mou’a Puta at 2739 ft (830 m).

Archaeologists have found evidence of human inhabitants, including stone Marae temples, on Moorea dating back to 900 A.D. Today there are just over 14,000 people living on the island.


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