French Polynesia is known for being a tropical getaway. If you are traveling that direction, make sure to visit the island of Moorea. It is known as Tahiti’s little sister, and is one of French Polynesia’s best kept secrets. This secluded island makes a great vacation destination for couples or families who are looking for an adventure.
Small island feel
Although Moore is the second most populated island (after Tahiti), it still maintains the feel of a small island. There are many pineapple plantations and juice factories that show off native Polynesian culture. The locals are always welcoming and make you feel comfortable during your stay.
Moorea has eight mountain peaks that sit around the lagoon. The breathtaking view of these mountains will make you want to extend your stay in paradise. This mountain silhouette is even visible from Tahiti. The island has two bays, Cook’s (Paopao) and Opunohu Bay, with perfect waters. Moorea is even shaped like a heart, making it an inherently romantic destination.
The lagoons have clear, blue water and white beaches that are picturesque. You can swim, snorkel, paddleboard, or just enjoy laying in the sand. Moorea has some of the clearest water in the world and it is full of coral, brightly colored fish, and stingrays.
How to get there
Moorea is 10 miles from the island of Tahiti. From Papeete, Tahiti you can catch a ferry or a plane to get to Moorea. Air Tahiti offers flights that are only 10 minutes leaving from Faa’a International Airport. These flights leave several times a day, but should be arranged in advance.
Where to stay
Around the island of Moorea, there are several internationally-acclaimed resorts. Our favorite is the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa. They offer luxury amenities, while still maintaining the relaxed feel of the island. They even have water bungalows that offer a cozy but contemporary stay right on the beautiful lagoons. You could also check out the Moorea Pearl Resort or the Hotel Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort.
What to do
Moorea offers much to do as far as recreation goes. You can do anything from swimming in the water to exploring the island’s trails. There are guided tours, horseback rides, snorkeling, and more activities that are easily available. If staying at the Hilton, you can also visit their spa or fitness center. Here’s a list of some of our favorite things to do:
- Jeep safari: This tour takes around 3 and a half hours. You get to see “Magic Mountain,” Opuhonu Bay, and other sites around Moorea. You will also get to see local pineapple plantations, and it only costs around $50.
- Aquable helmet dive: If you are looking for an alternative to snorkeling, try helmet diving. You can walk directly on the ocean floor and get up close and personal with exotic fish. There are instructors that will help you, so you can be safe while having a blast.
- ATV tour: Another way to explore the island is through an ATV tour. There are several ATV tours on the island so you can explore with a guide. You will be able to see many of the island’s landmarks along the way.
- Dolphin Center: Visit the Moorea Dolphin Center to swim with the dolphins. They love to play, and you can learn all about the life and personalities of these animals. This center provides an educational experience for kids.
Where to eat
French Polynesia offers a wide variety of fresh seafood and exotic foods to try. Foods typically aren’t spicy, but are still packed with flavor. One of Tahiti’s most popular dishes is poisson cru, which is raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut. This dish is a must-try while in Moorea.
Here is a list of restaurants that you should try while visiting the island:
- Mayflower: This restaurant is located in Haapiti and is one of the best gourmet restaurants in town. They have a variety of creative dishes, including tuna steak with tomato, that you should try. With the wide selection of seafood, the Mayflower makes a great dinner spot.
- Coco D’isle: Also located in Haapiti, this restaurant offers a more casual and laid-back atmosphere. You can enjoy your dinner with your feet in the sand. This restaurant serves big meals at a low price, so you will get the most for your money.
- Le Mahogany: This small bistro near Cook’s Bay is even popular among the locals. Just like the name suggests, the restaurant is decorated with mahogany wood, giving it a warm and inviting feel. There are Chinese and French items on the menu, providing an alternative to authentic Polynesian cuisine.
- Te Honu iti: The name means “the little turtle.” This restaurant serves up traditional French food near Cook’s Bay. With a gorgeous outdoor patio, this is a great place to go at night. Guests have a perfect view of the lagoon and locals feeding the stingrays.
So when you go to French Polynesia, don’t miss out on the island of Moorea. Start planning your adventure!
Born and raised in California, Brandon has always loved being outside and going on adventures. Besides traveling I love my family, sports, oreos, start ups, and bologna sandwiches. Follow him on twitter @travelintweeter