Moorea is a quiet, laid back island in French Polynesia that is just a hop and a skip away from the main island of Tahiti. Bright blue lagoon water, luscious jungle greenery, and the best seafood ever are just the tip of the iceberg in this tropical paradise.
There is plenty to do from snorkeling, diving, and kayaking to hiking, nature tours, or simply taking in the breathtaking views. The island caters well to tourists yet doesn’t feel touristy, which makes it a great destination for honeymooners, families, and everyone in between.
It’s worth noting that Moorea ain’t cheap. Average costs were $30 per person for lunch, $40-60 per person for dinner, and $150 a night for a mid-range hotel. It’s highly recommended that you save for this trip and then pack your YOLO attitude, but a few tips are also included below that can help you some money.
Do and See
Popular for a reason, this lookout point is part way up one of the jagged mountains and overlooks the Opunohu and Cook’s bays. Access it with your rental car via Paopao Road or ride up in an ATV as part of a guided tour.
Shark and Ray Tour
Enjoy the boat ride along the coast before jumping into chest-deep water to swim with the reef sharks and rays. You’ll squeal with delight as animals glide right past you. We sprung for a tour that also included a traditional BBQ on a small private island. The highlight of our trip!
Dubbed the Pool Beach during our trip, this public beach is famous for its turquoise waters and wide beach with white sand. Grab a spot under one of the trees and then wade out into for a quick swim when it gets too hot.
Shopping in Maharepa Village
Grab a few souvenirs in the largest village of the island. A collection of stores offer everything you’d want including sarongs, clothing, and black pearl jewelry. Stop by Made in Moorea for handmade, stylish dresses and Happy Moorea for crafty, colorful souvenirs.
Eat and Drink
Toatea Creperie & Bar
Allow Chef Claude to win you over with his delicious crepes and big smile while you watch the fish swim below the deck. Savory and sweet options are both available but the culinary adventurous should spring for one with seafood.
Don’t miss a taste of Tahiti’s national dish made of raw tuna marinated in lime juice and coconut milk with diced veggies (pictured above). Similar to poke or ceviche, it’s tasty whether ordered from a nice restaurant, beach shack, or a roadside food truck.
Stop at one of the roadside stands for a refreshing drink. The vendor will lop of the top of a coconut and drop in a straw so you can slurp down the cold, semi-sweet coconut water.
Restaurant Te Honu Iti
Treat yourself to a dinner at this classic French restaurant. Ravioli is a house speciality and is as tasty as traditional dishes like duck a l’orange and the prime rib. Service is on island time yet is friendly and the view from the terrace of the sharks and rays can’t be beat.
Hotel Kaveka is a solid mid-range hotel in Cook’s Bay where the vibe is chill and the service is friendly. Some of the best snorkeling of the island is just steps away from the hotel’s small private beach. Fellow guests saw turtles and reef sharks!
Though the rooms are a bit old-fashioned, they are clean and have air conditioning. WiFi is available for free in the lounge; if you can’t find the signal, just ask them to turn it on. The restaurant is well-known on the island for it’s tasty seafood dishes. That said, I’d avoid the overpriced breakfast.
If you’re looking for something a bit more lavish, Sofitel Moorea La Ora Beach Resort (pictured above with the huts on the water) has the best location of all the resorts but the Hilton and Intercontinental will also treat you well. Those on a budget may want to look into Fare Tokoar or Tipaniers Iti based on reviews in Lonely Planet.
Tips and Tricks
Many folks choose to do like the locals and rent a bike to do a little adventuring of their own. We also saw quite a few tours where a guide led a pack of ATVs around the island.
Though a bit expensive, it is definitely worth it to rent a car for a day or two. We enjoyed the freedom of exploring on our own and jetting from beach to beach whenever we wanted.
Also, most restaurants offer a free shuttle service where they’ll pick you up for your meal and then drop you off afterwards. Not a bad way to live.
The easiest way to save money is to cut some corners when it comes to food and drinks. We packed Clif bars that we ate for breakfast and healthy snacks (like nuts and dried fruit) that were easy to tote around.
Once you land, I suggest going to the local grocery store to stock up on sandwich fixings for lunch and a couple six-packs of Hinano beers to enjoy while watching the sunset. Restaurant portions are also fairly large so sharing an entrée when eating out will cut costs.
Though we’re in the habit of having a drink with dinner, it was hard to justify the price of a glass of wine or a cocktail ($15+). You can either order a local beer ($6-8) or stick with water and give your liver a vacation.