If you’ve been planning to explore vertical peaks, turquoise lagoons, lush landscapes, and white-sand beaches, you won’t be able to find anything better than this world’s best kept secret Island. Hovering nearly 15km across the ‘Sea of the Moon’ from its big sibling, Tahiti, Moorea is a cleaner and surprisingly not so overcrowded Island in the middle of nowhere.
Moorea has a fine collection of top-end beach resorts, but it is also host to a decent choice of smaller hotels. There are attractive white-sand seashores, but nothing sweeping and big. The top attraction is the limpid, warm water of the throbbing lagoon. If you need some action, take a hike, learn to kitesurf, go on a dolphin- or whale-watching tour, hire a kayak or a bike, or go beach horse riding. Whatever the adventure, there’s only one word to describe Moorea: heavenly!
How to reach Moorea?
To reach Moorea, you can take the high-speed Aremiti ferry from Papeete. If you are not airsick, you can also take fifteen minutes of Tahiti flights.
These planes fly at a low altitude and are small, so if weather gods are not kind, you will feel it inside the aircraft with numerous bumps.
Things to do in Moorea:
Now that you’ve reached this paradise, let’s explore the top things to do here.
These are supervised tours of Moorea’s fantastic interior. Trips will alter based on the tour company you are picking. Most trips are about 4-hour long and will travel to four distinct locations. The roads are surprisingly good in Moorea. There is one central ring road all around the Island that takes about 90 minutes to drive in a complete circle.
The large, best public beach in Moorea is Temae which is situated just next to the Sofitel beach (sadly, Sofitel is a private beach). The entrance is situated between the Sofitel and the airport. You will ride down a long road and then see cabs parked. If you keep driving, you will see public toilets and outdoor showers toward the beach end. Trees are scarce and so, we suggest you to carry an umbrella. It is a quiet, beautiful place to hang out for a couple of hours and seems empty most days a year.
Hiking and Mountain Biking
There is an extended trail network on Moorea, and markers and modern signposts have been installed correctly in 2016, making Moorea the first of many islands where you can do proper hiking without a guide. There is a useful map of both cycling and hiking paths on the road to Belvedere Lookout – look for the blue info post on the right side of the track and the sign with the map on the left end.
This is my favorite way to see the Island’s stunning interior. Your guide will pick pineapples from the ground and fresh fruits from trees for you to once you reach the mystical high lookout point.
Jet Ski Tours
A couple of tour operators leave from the various hotels. You do not have to stay at the hotel to obtain the jet ski tour. Just head to the dock or ask reception. This is the best way to be on the water, stay cool (via water and wind), explore the Island and enjoy the greatest Ocean on Earth.
Swimming with Sharks and Rays (Snorkeling)
There are a couple of places where the stingrays gather for feeding and at least one place where you can swim and snorkel with the stingrays and the reef sharks near the Hilton. You can swim next to them, and some people enjoy touching the backs of the rays as they are incredibly soft. I wouldn’t recommend touching them, though.
Top Attractions in Moorea:
- Belvedere Lookout: Here, you can see Cook’s Bay, sacred Mt. Rotui, and the lovely Opunohu Bay. There are also the ruins of an old temple situated along the Belvedere Lookout road.
- Waterfalls: There are numerous waterfalls around the Island. None are massive. All waterfalls require hiking (beginner level hiking, so don’t worry). The waterfalls are extremely clean and picturesque.
What to eat and drink in Moorea?
The wet climate can cause a reduction in appetite. Thus natives tend to have many snacks or small meals throughout the day. Remember that many restaurants will close in the afternoon (around 2:30 PM) until the evening, so plan your lunch before 2:30 PM.
- Poisson cru is the best option to hog. Food trucks are also present, though, and they serve delicious meals.
- Milk is not purified, and thus yogurts and cheese are more delicious.
- There is a brilliant pizza place at the ferry road station well worth a visit. A French couple operates it.
Every hotel and resort has a bar, and there are lots of restaurants and little bars around. But drinking in French Polynesia bars is extremely expensive, so plan your budget accordingly if you like getting drunk by the beach.