The island of Moorea was inhabited solely by its native people until the island was discovered by the famous Captain James Cook  of England in 1774.  The island's native people allowed Cook to anchor his ship in what is still today known as Cook's Bay.  When Cook returned to England, his stories of the people, animals, and flowers on Moorea and Tahiti inspired further expeditions to the area.  By the beginning of the 19th Century the area was full of whaling ships, missionaries, and military expeditions.

A series of skirmishes between the English and the French resulted in Moorea and its surrounding countries becoming the territory of both countries back and forth several times.  Eventually the Polynesian Queen Pomare was convinced to accept military protection from France in hopes of limiting the amount of fighting.  Her heir, King Pomare V, would eventually give up control of the islands to the French in 1880.

Today Moorea and it surrounding area is still known as French Polynesia and come under the control of France in certain situations only.  Since 1988 Moorea has been able to operate as an independent nation in most respects including entering into treaties and agreements with other countries.