Cooks Bay, Moorea Island, Polynesia

Mo’orea is a high island in French Polynesia, one of the Windward Islands, part of the Society Islands, 17 kilometres (11 mi) northwest of Tahiti. The true spelling of Mo’orea is Mo’ore’a, which means “yellow lizard” in Tahitian: Mo’o = lizard ; Re’a = Yellow. An older name for the island is ‘Aimeho, sometimes spelled ‘Aimeo or ‘Eimeo (among other spellings misunderstood by early visitors with no knowledge of the language). Early Western colonists and voyagers also referred to Mo’orea as York Island.

Like many of the other islands, Mo’orea was first settled by Polynesians from the islands west of Mo’orea. They arrived on canoes coming down from South Asia looking for islands to settle. It is estimated that they arrived on Mo’orea roughly 1000 years ago. There are some ancient landmarks on Mo’orea known as marae, which consists of ancient stone rocks shaped like pyramids. On the rocks are carvings that tell when sacrifices occasionally took place. The oldest marae is the ‘?fareaitu Marae, located in the island’s main village. It was made by the early Polynesians in the year 900.

The first European that recorded its sight was Pedro Fernandes de Queirós in 1606.The first settlers who were Europeans arrived during the 18th century. The first European to arrive on the island were Englishman Samuel Wallis and James Cook. Captain James Cook first settled on Tahiti and then he took his ship with Samuel Wallis and went onward to Mo’orea. The bay he first settled in was later named Cook’s Bay in his honor. Spanish sailor Domingo de Bonechea visited it in 1774 and named it Santo Domingo.

The island was among those visited by the United States Exploring Expedition on its tour of the South Pacific in 1839.

Charles Darwin found inspiration for his theory regarding the formation of coral atolls when looking down upon Mo’orea while standing on a peak on Tahiti. He described it as a “picture in a frame”, referring to the barrier reef encircling the island.

Don the Beachcomber lived here briefly in the 1920s until his houseboat was destroyed by tropical cyclones.

On October 7, 1967, construction was completed on the Mo’orea Airport, which opened the following month

Cooks Bay, Moorea Island, Polynesia

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