Moorea Island, the sister island, as it is called here, is a little piece of paradise, located only a few miles from Tahiti Island, in French Polynesia. At the time of writing this article, I have been living on Tahiti Island for more than two years and have had the opportunity to discover the island of Moorea several times. And what a treat it is every time I must say. In this article, I explore the different activities that are available during a trip to Moorea Island.
Not everything will be in the article as here I explain the things I prefer to do in Moorea, the ones I find the most essential! There are many activities on Moorea Island (Quad biking, electric cars, diving, whale watching, etc.) and everyone can choose what they want according to their preferences.
Since the beginning of 2020, it is now possible to go on catamaran trips from Moorea to the wonderful atoll of Tetiaroa with Poe Charter, a trip that I recommend 100%. Get 10% discount with the coupon code “les2pieds”“
Among all the things to see on Moorea Island, a tour of the island is essential. The island is relatively small, and can be done in several ways. The bravest will experience it by bike, as the road around the island is almost flat. Others can find electric bicycles, scooters or rental cars.
The tour allows you to slowly appreciate, at the rhythm of local life, all the beauties of the island. You will follow the coast and enjoy discovering the local landscapes, superb views of the lagoon and the mountains of the island’s interior. It is also an opportunity to make a few stops for swimming, especially in the south of the island, where you will find small paradisiacal beaches along the road without tourists and hotels. Occasionally, you can stop to admire an archaeological site by the roadside.
The island’s lagoon is splendid in every way and you will very quickly be amazed by the colour of the seabed on the island. It is up to you to choose the service provider, but I strongly advise you to avoid the major tourist agencies and tour operators. Most of them are used by the island’s big luxury hotels and it is very likely that you will spend your day surrounded by Chinese and American tourists, not the best and authentic atmosphere in my humble opinion.
Try favouring a local company with a small boat. The experience will be undoubtedly better, in my opinion. Among the names of the providers often recommended here: Moorea miti tours, Francky tours, Dolphins & whales spirit adventure and Voil’ à Moorea. I’ve never personally tested them, you can tell me how it goes, if you try them, ok? Usually, the excursion takes you around the island, into the two main bays, to see rays and sharks and do some snorkeling along the reef. They also often take you around the front of the luxurious hotels (Hilton for example). Take advantage of this day to sunbathe, swim in crystal clear water, observe the island from the sea side with a splendid view of Mount Rotui and its lush vegetation. Very often, you will have the opportunity to meet local people in a canoe (called Vaa’a).
It is possible that during the day excursion, you will be taken to the site but I recommend that you do it on your own, by kayak. It is a magical moment where you can get very (very) close to the stingrays and sharks in the lagoon.
It is important to know of course that the animals are fed in this particular place, hence their presence. Opinions are therefore contradictory on this activity. Even if I’m not a big fan of the “feeding” concept, swimming with these animals is still a great thing to do without actually having to feed them. That’s why I recommend that you do it in a kayak. This gives you the opportunity to avoid the large tourist boats that stop there. At times, there may be more than fifty people there….
The site for swimming with rays and sharks is located in front of Tipaniers Beach, in the north of the island. You can access it by going through the Tipanier Iti Hotel by a path that leads to the beach. It is possible to rent kayaks directly there. Count 1000 xpf (8€) for 1 hour however the rate decreases after that. Swimming in a meter of crystal-clear water with rays and sharks is very nice to experience.
Among the activities on Moorea Island, this one is a must! Moorea’s Lagoonarium, a place very well known to the locals. It is actually a site on a motu, a small local island, where you can spend the day snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing. In short, a day of relaxation.
The site offers an underwater path, via a rope, that allows you to observe the corals and local fauna. The place is amazing, simple as can be, as I personally like it.
Let yourself be carried away for a day in this idyllic location that looks like Robinson Crusoe.
From a financial aspect, the price of the Lagoonarium tour in Moorea is 3900 xpf per person, or about 30€.
As mentioned in the introduction, the island has beautiful beaches and postcard lovers will find something to please themsleves. The most renowned of them, the public beach of Temae, offers turquoise water and a breathtaking view of Tahiti Island. Very little shade on the beach, but a great place to enjoy the beauty of the island.
The other well-known beach is Tipanier Beach, the same one that allows you to access the site to swim with sharks and rays. The latter can sometimes be crowded, especially on weekends, but here you will appreciate the color of the water, its shallow depths and the opportunity to snorkel on the islets in front of the beach.
In the south of the island, while riding a scooter or bicycle, you can see some small deserted white sand beaches. Let yourself be enchanted by the magic of the place and enjoy these peaceful places.
There is also the superb beach of La Mareto, in the village of Maharepa. The beach of the former Club Med in the village of Haapiti has just been reopened to the public. If you pass by, stop there!
If you are looking for what to do on Moorea Island, this is probably the first site we will tell you about. This is the essential viewpoint of the island and certainly one of the things not to be missed on Moorea Island. The place is accessible by a superb small shaded road in the undergrowth. Upon arrival at the top the view is breathtaking. From the summit, an amazing view awaits you over the island’s two most famous bays, Cook Bay and Oponohu Bay.
You can choose to use any means of transport. The bike ride allows you to take your time and enjoy the forest along the road. From the viewpoint, there are many hikes starting in the center of the island, including the famous 3 coconut trees hike.
Among the unforgettable things to do on Moorea Island, hiking in the center of the island is a must! However, as in French Polynesia, few hikes are marked out and easily accessible. Moorea Island has some well-known hikes, such as Mount Rotui, the Magic Mountain or the 3 coconut palms, accessible from the Belvedere site.
This blog (in French sorry) lists a collection of hikes on Moorea Island. You can also check with the pension where you sleep. In any case, take advantage of your stay on Moorea Island to go for a walk and explore it’s center.
Moorea Island is locally well known for its beautiful pineapple fields all over the island. They are the origin of the renowned “Rotui” pineapple juice found throughout French Polynesia.
You will find its fields all over the island, especially as soon as you enter the land. It is also an opportunity to visit the Rotui factory in Moorea where the juice making process will be explained in detail. A small tasting is also offered with the visit.
If I had to answer the question what to do on Moorea Island, in one answer, there is a good chance that eating raw fish with coconut milk at the Mahana snack bar would be in my Top 3. I often say it and I repeat it again, it is for me the best raw coconut milk fish I have tasted in French Polynesia in 4 years now. During your stay in Tahiti and throughout French Polynesia, try to find a better one 🙂
It is not for nothing that this small snack bar, unpretentious as it is on the roadside, but especially on the edge of a superb lagoon, was voted “best restaurant” on TripAdvisor. The cost of success is such that it is very often necessary to reserve a place at the snack bar beforehand. Don’t expect to go there on a weekend at 12:00 without a reservation….
I recommend the place to all the friends or tourists that I meet and it is clearly for me one of the things to do in Moorea. You will appreciate this good raw fish, and many other very good dishes, on the edge of the lagoon, with your feet in the sand, where a small appreciable wind is always present. Plus, the prices are very good for French Polynesia and the location.
To get there, turn right when you leave the boat, pass through the two bays and the snack bar is located at the exit of the village of Papetoai, on the sea side. You can take a look at this map.
And yes, if you decide to travel “in a postcard”, why not go and have a good cocktail on one of the beautiful hotels on the island. All hotels offer this, of course. I particularly recommend the Sofitel or Coco Beach for its location!
I think I’ve guided you in the question “what to do in Moorea”, right? It will take you a few days to do the whole thing slowly, and that’s good. For those who enjoy tourist activities, you will also be delighted with the possibility of doing many of these activities (jet ski, quad, boat trip with glass floor, water skiing, 4×4 crossing the island, discovery of the lagoon by sailboat, etc…).
To get to the island of Moorea, you will obviously have to take an international flight to Tahiti island first. This is the only point of entry (by plane) from French Polynesia. If you’re looking for a cheap way to get to Tahiti, i particularly recommend you to have a look on this great flight comparator i’ve been using since at least 10 years now. From the US, the cheapest flights are from San Francisco (600$). From Canada, you will have to flight from any major Canadian town to SF and then to SF to Papeete.
From Tahiti Island, there’s no need to fly. This will make some people laugh but people do fly with Air Tahiti even if Moorea Island is only 17 km from Tahiti Island. For the anecdote, I had the opportunity to make a “Moorea Tahiti” flight, while I was returning from the island of Bora Bora for work. The flight lasted 7 minutes at the most. It makes you smile, doesn’t it?
More simply, from Tahiti Island, two ferry companies serve Moorea Island. These are Terevau and Aremiti. Prices are almost identical and boarding is from the ferry port. You can walk from the city center. Counting:
- 1500 xpf (12€) for a one-way pedestrian fare,
- 3000 xpf (24€) for a return pedestrian trip,
- 8500 xpf approximately (70€) for a round trip by car. Please note that prices vary according to the length of the car.
- 1000 xpf extra for a scooter, 2000 xpf round trip.
Some interesting information to know to discover this earthly paradise:
- It is not necessary to book the pedestrian ticket and scooter ticket. You can buy it directly from the dock before taking the ferry,
- There are resident and tourist rates,
- It is generally strongly recommended to book the transfer by car, especially at weekends and on public holidays, at the risk that all car places on the ferry will be taken,
- The Aremiti has much more car space and is generally more seaworthy (due to its size). However, it is a little longer, about an hour,
- The Terevau has a limited number of car parking spaces. Due to its small size, the ferry moves much more at sea. However, the crossing is faster (about 40 minutes). In fact, since the end of 2019, the Aremiti 6 (new boat) shuttles between Tahiti and Moorea in 25 minutes!
- Both companies offer generally staggered schedules,
- You may consider taking one company on the outward journey and another on the return journey,
- It is possible to obtain attractive prices for pedestrian and car crossings at the tourism fair twice a year (see tips on how to travel cheaply to Polynesia).
The tour of the island is about 60 Km. It is therefore very complicated to walk around the area. Several possibilities are available:
- The bravest can rent a bike to tour the island. Count about 2000 xpf (16€) for the day,
- If you are less motivated and want to preserve the environment, you can rent electric bicycles from E-BIKE Moorea for 5000 xpf (40€) per day,
- It is possible to rent a scooter. Count about 5000 xpf (40€) for the daily rental,
- Finally, you can also rent a car from the various rental companies on the island. Count 7000/8000 xpf (60/70€) for one car.
You will find very easily on the island of Moorea all the possible types of accommodation, from the superb 5-star hotel, to the small guesthouse with a bungalow, to homestay accommodation, and even camping. This will allow everyone to choose what is most convenient for them.
For those who want to travel cheaply to French Polynesia I particularly recommend turning to:
Camping: There are 2 on the island to my knowledge (Chez Nelson / Moorea Camping) -> The guide to camping in Polynesia.
Airbnb works very well in Moorea and you will find a large number of locals that offer this possibility. You will easily find offers at 30/40€ per night, which are much cheaper than sleeping in a guesthouse.
Couchsurfing allows you to meet local people who offer a free room for one or two nights. But, something to tell you about though. The initial objective of Couchsurfing is to meet people and exchange good tips with locals etc. I see more and more requests that just focus on the free side of things. Result? no exchange, no discussion, but they sleep for free…
For the others, you will find a whole bunch of more or less expensive guesthouses on the island. Count 70 to 100€ per night for half board. Finally, for luxury lovers, those on their honeymoon, honeymooners or those looking to treat themselves, you will find a whole host of beautiful hotels to indulge yourselves during your trip (Meridian, Intercontinental, Sofitel, etc.). For your information, I wrote a complete article on honeymoons in French Polynesia. I give there some advices for itineraries and accommodations!
Here are some personal recommendations that I have tested and / or have had only good feedback! If you want to find out more, we tested the Manava Beach Resort & Spa, and here is our opinion on this beautiful high-end establishment.
Haere Mai I Te Fare
A beautiful wild and authentic place not far from the arrival of the ferry and the beach of Temae.
Fare Tokoau Moorea
A very beautiful bed and breakfast on the waterfront. Enjoy the garden and the barbecue to relax!
Located between the two main bays of the island, you will enjoy the setting on the edge of a beautiful little beach!
Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea
A wonderful beach, bungalows on stilts at affordable prices and a superb swimming pool, what more could you ask for?
Moorea Beach Lodge
Located on the west coast, the location is simply extraordinary on the edge of a beautiful beach!
InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa
A classic on the island that is nonetheless superb! You’re in for a treat!
As I mentioned earlier, when asked the question about Moorea, this is one of my first answers: eat at the Snack Mahana.
Restaurant lovers will find their heart and souls especially in the island’s major hotels. Be careful with the invoice though, which may be expensive. There are also a lot of small snacks around Moorea Island that serve dishes and sandwiches at low prices. Those who are staying in Airbnbs or camping can go shopping in one of the island’s supermarkets or in small shops that sell the essentials.
Here, I hope that this article demonstrating what is to be done in Moorea has pleased you and has made you want to discover this little piece of paradise?
Those who already know the place, do you see anything else I’ve forgotten? In any case, Moorea Island is a beautiful island to visit and you will quickly find something to do for three or four days without any problem.
See you soon,