Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa. A Hilton Resort.
Coordinates in degrees decimal: 17.48444 S, 149.843889 W.
Visited in February 2021. Photographer: Nigel Thomas. Cameras: Olympus Tough T6.
The Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa is located on the north coast of Moorea, in French Polynesia. The resort is 30 minutes from the Moorea ferry port, which can be accessed from Papeete on the main island of Tahiti.
The resort faces north into the Moorea Lagoon. It features a chain of overwater bungalows, each with individual access to the sea. The sea areas around the piers and off the beach support a variety of shallow water habitats (<3m), with the principal type comprising coral heads (0.3m to 3m diameter), resting on a generally flat sandy seabed. Care needs to be taken while snorkelling due to the shallow water nature of the corals, which can be easily kicked inadvertently.
The sand in many cases is very thin and overlays rock and moribund coral, which supports numerous small burrows. The coral heads are generally in good condition, but several have died leaving rock formations with many hollows and overhangs. Most of the coral heads coexist with Turbinaria algae in the shallower waters. The sand areas may appear to be lifeless but numerous fish species occupy the burrows, and these can be observed with a bit of patience.
Fish life overall is varied and often abundant. Seventy species of fish were identified with a further 60 invertebrate and other species observed. Unfortunately, local spearfishermen visit the area regularly and few large individuals of the common species, such as Parrotfish, can be observed.
Climate and sea conditions
Winds are generally from the ENE to ESE with the prevailing wind coming from the east. The winds are rarely over 12 knots, mostly staying below 9 knots. Periodic squally winds occur, with the strongest winds occurring between July and September. Winds from the westerly to southerly quadrant are rare. Water temperatures range from 25 to 28 Celsius, with the lowest in August and the highest between January and April. Atmospheric temperatures are fairly uniform, with mean daily maximums between 26 and 29 Celsius. Warmest months are December to May.
Max tidal range is in the order of 30cm, which in general does not create any strong currents in the lagoon, however, the continuous heavy surge created by the waves breaking on the outer reef edge, results in periodically moderate currents in the lagoon. These appear to be in an easterly direction in the inshore waters and westerly in the outer lagoon areas. Use the current to your advantage by swimming against or across the flow initially and then drifting with the current.
Visibility appears to be uniformly clear, up to 15m in the lagoon, despite the sporadic nature of the rain. Heavy rain, however, may occur with strong squally winds, which reduces visibility and makes snorkelling uncomfortable. Heaviest rainfall period is between December and February with minimum rain between July and September.
Vessel activity is minimal as most operate in identified channels further offshore. An open sea access channel exists to the west of the resort, originating from the diving hut jetty on the shore. Fast moving, sports canoes, also cross the area so keep your head up occasionally.
Completed without the support of the resort.