Moorea, French Polynesia - Travel Guide

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Not so long ago, I knew nothing about Mo’orea, actually I had no idea it even existed. We stumbled upon this beautiful island while we were doing our research about Bora Bora, where we wanted to spend our honeymoon.
We read so many wonderful things about Moorea that it quickly caught our eye and we decided to include it in our honeymoon. Considering we were flying half way around the world it would have been a shame to miss it.
Due to its heart shape the island is called The heart of French Polynesia and we came to learn quickly that Moorea has the Bora Bora charm at almost half the price.

No matter where you are starting from, French Polynesia is far away. And if you are not from New Zealand or the West Coast of the USA, then it’s even further away.
Making the trip from Romania in one journey seemed to be much to tiresome so we decided to divide the journey a bit. The cheapest routes to Tahiti are from New Zealand, Los Angeles and San Francisco, but the last two require a visa for Romanian tourists and not only.
There are a few airlines that fly to French Polynesia, Air Tahiti being the major one. However you can find cheaper flights, even at half the price, with FrenchBee, a low cost carrier. The services were very good for a low cost company as they had almost all the standard services included, like free luggage, food and entertainment and we were very happy with our choice.
We flew from Budapest to San Francisco, where we had a one night stopover and the next day we boarded the plane to Tahiti, a flight that took a bit over 8 hours.
Unlike Bora Bora where you need to book another flight from Tahiti, Moorea is just a short ferry ride away from Tahiti.
We bought the tickets right at the ferry terminal for 3000 XPF (return ticket/person) and the ride was about 45 minutes. The view as we approached the island was a bit above stunning and we instantly knew that something great awaits!

The best time to visit Moorea is from May to October when the rain is scarce and the weather is close to perfect. However this also coincides with the high tourist season therefore expect higher prices. This also requires planning and booking in advance in order to catch the best deals in terms of accommodation.

There are a bit more options for cheap accommodation in Moorea than Bora Bora and although I use the term cheap, nothing is really cheap in French Polynesia but maybe a bit cheaper than Bora Bora. Nevertheless, you can find some Airbnb’s where to stay or even some nice home stays.
Because we made this trip as part of our honeymoon, we chose to stay at the Hilton Moorea Resort and Spa in a garden bungalow and we were thrilled about it. We had a buffet breakfast included in the room rate and they replenished our mini fridge every day with water, soda and beer. Some of the water activities like paddle boards, kayaks and snorkel equipment were complementary from the resort which was a nice addition.


As mentioned above, we had some of the water activities included in the room rate at the resort: snorkel equipment, kayaks and paddle boards. We spent all day looking for stingrays and colorful fish, we paddle boarded around the lagoon and we went kayaking to some beaches nearby and even to Opunohu bay as it was in “close” range to our resort. Time flies when you are having fun!

Besides staying at the resort, the island has a lot of attractions worth a visit. On a sunny day we rented a buggy from Moorea Fun Roadster (more HERE) and drove around the island to explore its wonders. We booked the buggy in advance, which is something we recommend you do especially during high season. We paid 148 euros for 8 hours of rental with full insurance. We recommend the Buggy Cruiser as it was suitable for two adults, the Fun 440 might be a bit cheaper but it is very small, cramped and loud.

There are a lot of organized and guided tours (ATV or bicycle ones) that take you to certain locations on the island, but we are not very big fans of those as we like to explore things at our own pace, so renting a car was the best choice for us. The only spot you cannot reach by car is the Magic Mountain. Getting there requires driving on the Pineapple Road which is only allowed with an ATV, that can only be rented with a guided tour. However, if you feel adventurous and have good stamina you can hike up to the mountain.
Getting back to our journey, the first thing we did early morning was to head to the Belvedere viewpoint as we wanted to avoid it getting crowded. The view was breathtaking! From here we could see the beautiful Opunohu Bay and Cook's Bay separated by Mou'a Rotui.

We jumped back into our fiery red buggy and drove to our next destination, but we stumbled upon a pineapple plantation so we had to stop and explore it a bit. We’ve never seen one before so it was a delight to see how pineapples grow.

Next on the list was the only black beach on the island. We drank coconut from the closest supermarket and we continued our journey onward. We went all around the island, stopping for pictures and eating local fruits. Overall we had a great day and we got to enjoy the Polynesian way of life.

Swimming with sharks and stingrays is one of the most popular activities in Mo’orea. There are two main ways to do this: book an organised tour with a tour company or enjoy this activity at Lagoonarium de Moorea.
A tour costs around 90$ per person, depending on the tour company you choose. They usually pick you up by car from your hotel/resort and take you up to a certain spot where they feed the fish. The main downside to taking a tour is that you usually have limited time to do the main activities and they get crowded, because almost all the tour boats go to the same location. There are of course private tours, for only two people that make sure you get a more intimate experience, but get ready to spend a lot of money from your pocket for these ones.
Reading about the Lagoonarium we started to incline towards this option as it allows you to plan your day however you want and stay as long as you want (well until late afternoon at least).
We paid 45$ / person that included the short 3 minute boat ride to Motu Ahi, the small “island” where all this is organized and a small beach hut where we left our belongings. For more info you can have a look here Lagoonarium de Moorea. The main idea is that you get to swim freely in a wild yet protected environment with an array of fish, stingrays and black tip sharks. Two times a day there is feeding time and this is when all the rays and sharks come to join the party. Don’t get me wrong, this is still an organized “event” especially during feeding time, however you have the option of dividing your time as you wish: go at what time suits you best, stay for as long as you like, swim and snorkel freely and as much as you want.
There are no shops on the motu so it’s best if you bring some snacks, however they provided free water and coffee.
The experience turned out to be an incredible one and the moment I spotted the first shark next to me is now somewhat imprinted in my head.
No matter which option you choose, swimming with rays and sharks is definitely a must in Moorea. We’ve been snorkeling in many places around the globe, but nothing compared so far with the experience at Motu Ahi where there was literally a frenzy!

Moorea was a great surprise and an amazing experience! The island has a bit of everything and while there we realized that it’s called the heart of French Polynesia not only because it’s unique shape.


Ia Orana (yo-rah-nah) – Hello
Maeva (mah-yeh-vah) – Welcome
Maururu (mah-roo-roo) – Thank you
Nana (nah-nah) – Bye/See you later
Manuia (mah-nwee-ah) – Cheers / To your health
E (ay) – Yes
Aita (eye-tah) – No
Uua here vau ia oe (oo-ah hay-ray ee-ah oh-ay) – I love you


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