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The island of Mo’orea is a tropical paradise! It’s all about the island vibes here, In fact, it looks just as amazing in real life as it does in those photos you’ve seen. So if your next destination is French Polynesia, here are my top 7 things to do in Moorea, courtesy of my Moorea travel blog…experiences you won’t want to miss here!
It was rainy season when we arrived at the end of our two-week New Zealand trip, but I decided to chance it since the week layover and three nights in Tahiti came free with our amazing cheap airfare to New Zealand. The only other tropical place I’d been before French Polynesia was Hawaii.
It did pour buckets during our first three nights at the Manava Suite Resort Tahiti in Papeete. (Check the Air Tahiti Nui website for free stay deals like these). While the resort’s infinity pool was a little less inviting during two days of epic rain showers, I still managed to snap this shot when the sun finally peaked out.
- Mo’orea French Polynesia
- What to Do on Moorea
- Ferry from Tahiti to Moorea
- Things to do on Moorea
- 1. Kayak in a Glass Bottom Boat
- 2. Lunch at Coco Beach Moorea
- 3. Snorkeling Moorea: Snorkel with Sharks at the Lagoonarium
- 4. Try Poisson Cru at Snack Mahana
- 5. Head to the Best Beaches in Moorea
- 6. Visit Belvedere Viewpoint
- 7. Sunset at Les Tipaniers Beach
- Where to Stay in Moorea
Mo’orea French Polynesia
I’m happy to report we had beautiful sunny days for the whole rest of our trip on Moorea!
Where is the island of Moorea? I’ll admit I was a little sketchy on the geography of French Polynesia before we went. So in case you could you use a refresher too, here’s the deal. You’ve likely heard of the islands of Tahiti and Bora Bora. And maybe Moorea island.
But there are actually 118 islands that make up French Polynesia. And all those islands are divided into five groups of Islands…which explains why I was so confused when I read that Tahiti and Moorea are in the Society Islands. Just to confuse things further: The Society Islands are composed of the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands.
But let’s not go down that rabbit hole.
All you really need to know is that French Polynesia is very French. I mean…I knew they spoke French, but I was so excited to see fresh baguettes and croissants and delicious pastries everywhere and to be greeted with kisses on both cheeks. I did not expect to find foie gras or a massive selection of French wines and cheeses in the grocery stores. So yum.
What to Do on Moorea
The island of Tahiti is workaday French Polynesia. And Papeete, the city where your international flight will be landing, is large, industrial, and not your best bet for lush tropical memories.
However, you can also do a full-day jeep tour of the lush rainforested part of Tahiti while you’re here. You’ll see gorgeous waterfalls, Mount Marau, and the Arahoho Blowhole with a local guide. I wish I’d known about this tour when we were there as it gets great reviews! You can check prices and availability here.
There are nice beaches on Tahiti, but with swoon-worthy islands like Moorea and Bora Bora so close, why not head to exactly the tropical beach of your dreams?
Like this one…
Or perhaps here…
Vivid green jungles and soaring cliffs. Check.
Ferry from Tahiti to Moorea
Wondering how to get from Tahiti to Moorea? It’s easy and inexpensive to catch the Tahiti to Moorea ferry. The Aremiti ferry leaves from Papeete. You can check the Moorea ferry schedule here.) You can even take your rental car on the ferry to Moorea (but not to Bora Bora. If you’re headed there next, you’ll need to rent a car there on island.)
The fare is about $15 USD one-way or $30 USD round-trip. You can buy tickets in advance if you like, but it’s not necessary. Arrive 30 minutes early and just get in line for tickets and to board. (Or arrive a little earlier if you want to take your Tahiti rental car on board.)
Things to do on Moorea
1. Kayak in a Glass Bottom Boat
If you’re seeking unique things to do in Moorea, this is the experience for you. What better way to explore a coral garden and see all the tropical fish than a guided tour in a glass kayak? We opted for a two-hour morning tour during our trip to Moorea, which was perfect.
After paddling across Moorea lagoon, we anchored boats and snorkeled with sharks! Yes, really. So many stingrays and black-tipped reef sharks that I couldn’t believe it.
I was shocked that these Moorea sharks were so uninterested in humans, but there you have it. One hundred percent safe.
Also brilliant tropical fish everywhere. Some so adept at ingenious camouflage among the dark coral and clear turquoise water. The innate intelligence of nature is always miraculous to witness in person.
Eventually, we anchored off some rocks poking up in the middle of the lagoon for a respite and rum cocktail served in a coconut. And that’s when we spied a beautiful little motu—a reef “islet”—starboard that teased us with some gently swaying palms and wide sandy Moorea beaches.
So of course, we headed over! To kayak Moorea was a gorgeous experience. Click here to check availability and prices on this tour.
2. Lunch at Coco Beach Moorea
Have you heard of Coco Beach Island? It’s actually a “motu” as well, but bigger than the tiny one where we stopped during our kayak tour. We took a water taxi over to the motu we’d seen for lunch at Coco Beach after the tour was over.
If you’ve ever imagined yourself stranded on Gilligan’s Island, perhaps sipping on an inventive cocktail under a palapa with Ginger or Marianne, the Coco Beach restaurant is for you.
It’s easy to get there by grabbing a water taxi just down the road from the ritzy Intercontinental Hotel. It’s a ten-minute speed boat ride. Then, wade ashore, find a shady picnic table and place your lunch order! (Call ahead for a reservation at the restaurant, but no reservation needed for the water taxi. Credit cards accepted at the restaurant.)
It’s true that Moorea restaurants are super expensive. We shopped and ate in at our vacation rental except for one or two splurges.
But when is the last time you ate an incredible French meal in your bathing suit contemplating a warm clear sea? I thought so!
3. Snorkeling Moorea: Snorkel with Sharks at the Lagoonarium
So I have irrational shark fears…which is why I really wanted to challenge myself to enjoy safe experiences with them on Moorea. After our kayaking adventure, I was feeling confident so we decided to up the ante at The Looganarium.
The Lagoonarium is a protected area of the lagoon just off the coast of Moorea where they feed the fish in the coral garden daily at 11:30 am and 2 pm. You can stay as long as you like snorkeling, kayaking or resting in adorable little A-frame huts where you can store your things. (Stake our your hut ASAP though when you arrive to reserve yours.)
While we visited on a lovely calm day, it’s important to know that sometimes there’s a strong current. However, there are ropes to hang on to should you need them. You can definitely see the Lagoonarium on your own, but if you prefer to go with a guide and enjoy a convenient hotel pick up, you can click here to check availability and prices.
You zip over during a three-minute water taxi ride for snorkeling and lunch. (We brought our own lunch, but you can buy it there as well.) Gorgeous views of all the overwater bungalows and the Moorea coast along the way.
Trust me. You do not want to miss when they feed the fish! (And if it’s big fish you want to see, consider planning a next South Pacific trip to swim with the whales in Tonga!)
4. Try Poisson Cru at Snack Mahana
Whatever you do…don’t miss tasting “poisson cru,” which is roughly translated as raw fish, in Moorea. It’s not fancy, but I think Snack Mahana is one of the best restaurants in Moorea to try it.
This isn’t your typical ceviche, however. Poisson cru is served throughout French Polynesia. It’s essentially “sustainable eating” as all the ingredients are readily available on the islands.
First, ahi tuna is briefly marinated in lime juice. Then a little coconut milk is added, along with cucumber, carrot, and tomato. Here’s an easy recipe if you’d like to bring a taste of Tahiti to your table soon.
5. Head to the Best Beaches in Moorea
If you’re not staying at a resort, head directly to one of the beautiful public beaches. You can choose from:
Les Tipaniers Beach
You can park in front of the little hotel and head directly to the beach or out into the shallow reef for snorkeling. Join the locals on the dock for a scenic sunset or dive into the beach bar for a coffee or a beer to wait out a thundershower.
Right by the Sofitel hotel is another gorgeous beach for both swimming and Moorea snorkeling. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Les Tipaniers or 20 minutes north of the ferry terminal. It too offers great snorkeling. You’ll navigate an easy dirt road through a forest to the parking lot here. Just keep heading towards the water.
This a public beach located about halfway between the two beaches above. Easy street parking, public showers and picnic benches (no restrooms though). A nearby mini market is convenient, too.
This one is close to Les Tipaniers. This is a tiny, narrow white sand beach located inside a park with free showers, toilets, and fewer beachgoers. (Just wave to the friendly security guard.) The park does close at 5:30 pm however so there’s that. Not as great for snorkeling.
If you plan to do some snorkeling on Moorea, bring your gear from home! It was harder than I expected to rent gear on the island of Moorea. The only place I found was a beach shack at Les Tipaniers, but there was no affordable rental rate beyond a half day. And don’t forget the aqua socks to protect your feet. The reef is rocky!
6. Visit Belvedere Viewpoint
Belvedere Lookout in Moorea offers some of the most striking views of Opunohu Valley and Cook and Opunohu Bays. You can drive up the dirt road to take in the view. Or, park at the top and hike Three Coconuts Pass. But bring lots of water and plan on two to three hours round-trip. For best views before the clouds move in, go mid-day.
If you love the idea of a moderate hike and mountain workout but are less sure about navigating the jungle, consider a guided hike with a local. You can click here to learn more about this adventure.
7. Sunset at Les Tipaniers Beach
The best end to a perfect day of island adventure? A Moorean sunset, of course. Join the locals on the dock at Les Tipaniers to watch the show.
Where to Stay in Moorea
I highly recommend Fare Marama, an incredibly beautiful two bedroom private home and VRBO vacation rental. It’s nestled high into a lush hillside with no other homes nearby with unbelievable views of Opunohu Bay.
This is a two bedroom home, although we found it very cozy and just perfect for us as a couple. Very centrally located too! Check prices and availability here.
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