MooreaMoorea is an island in the Society Islands archipelago, a few kilometers off the northwest coast of Tahiti.
- Cook's Bay
- Opunohu Bay
Mosquitoes can be a problem away from the coast.
There are only a few banks on Moorea, and they are in the more populated villages. All banks are closed on Sundays. You can make currency exchanges at the major hotels, but at a lower rate. Plan accordingly.
Air Tahiti - flights are about 15 minutes long, and run back and forth several times a day. Be careful if you get airsick. The planes are small and fly at a low altitude so if there is any rough weather you will feel it the whole ride over.
By car or mopedAs the island is administratively a part of France, the roads are surprisingly good. The 62-km main road around the island is all paved and quite wide. The speed limit varies from 30-60 km/h.
You can rent a moped for a day for about US$50 and drive it around the island in a few hours without fear of death. If you don't know how to ride one, take it slow or you will get hurt.
There are car rental agencies at the ferry terminal (Avis and Europcar). A tiny Renault 108 will cost 8000 F (francs) per day, tax and unlimited kilometers included (Jan 2019). The basic insurance has a 100,000 F deductible.
Gas/petrol costs 140 F/litre (Jan 2019).
You can drive around the entire island in a few hours at a leisurely pace with time to stop and admire the view. Plan for more time to take advantage of the spectacular public beaches. Driving in a counterclockwise direction makes it easier to pull off the road when there is adequate space at the side. It may sound like obvious advice, but don't stop on the road
– it's dangerous.
After the ferry arrives, one bus leaves from the ferry terminal in each direction around the island (clockwise and counterclockwise). The fare is 300 F.
Hitching works with the usual caveats and risks.
Belvedere LookoutYou can see sacred Mt. Rotui, Cook's Bay, and Opunohu Bay. There's also the ruins of an ancient temple along the road to Belvedere Lookup.
WaterfallsThere are several scattered around the island. None are very big. All require some hiking. Some you are supposed to pay a few dollars to see although there may or may not be anybody around to accept payment.
Jus de Fruits de MooreaThe pineapple juice factory and distillery. Free tours of the factory floor have been discontinued, but the gift shop remains open along with the free sample of various liqueurs.
The Tropical GardenA shop selling fresh fruit juice (500 F), jams, vanilla, souvenirs, and clothes, set in a garden with a beautiful view of Opunohu Bay. It's up a steep and narrow road off the main road, and is well signed. On Friday and Saturday (only), they sell a Polynesia lunch from 11:30 to 14:00 for 1500 F including grilled fish, raw fish, taro, plantain, bananas, coconut bread, manioc and fruit juice.
SnorkelingYou can rent or buy snorkeling stuff but do yourself a favor and bring your own. Just about anywhere in the lagoon is pretty decent. The channel between Motu Fareone and Motu Tiahura off the northwest point is particularly nice. You can swim out to it from the beach but it's a long swim and there are strong currents in this area. Otherwise hire a boat. A good tour to take is Hiro's Tour from Club Bali. It is a reasonable price and you get to do a feeding with sharks, stingrays and also a picnic on a motu.
SurfingReef breaks mostly, not a good place for beginners.
HikingThere is a pretty extensive trail network on Moorea. Bring bug spray and lots of water because it's hot and humid and buggy. It also tends to be muddy.
4x4 off-road tourThese are guided tours of Moorea's amazing interior. Trips will vary based on the tour company you choose. Most trips are about 4 hours in length and will travel to four distinct locations. Some of the locations visited are listed in the previous section. This is an easy method for visiting multiple locations in a short period of time.
Horseback ridingThis is a great way to see the beautiful interior of the island. Your guide will pick fresh fruits from trees and pineapples from the ground for you to eat when you reach the high lookout point. Wear jeans and good shoes.
Tiki VillageInstead of paying for your hotel's Tahitian buffet and show, spend the money and go to the Tiki Village for a much better dinner and show. You will be shown around a replica of a traditional Tahitian village, educated about the local Polynesians' way of life, served a buffet dinner, white and red wine included, then entertained by a talented 60-person troup of dancers, singers, and musicians. Transportation and tickets arranged by your hotel activities desk.
Moorea Storeaddress: B.P. I380/98729 Papetoai/MooreaThe Moorea Store offers many things from souvenirs, to lotions to Black Pearls. Xavier and his Partner own the store and are very friendly and helpful. Xavier had the best prices for black pearls than anywhere we visited in Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora. He was very grateful for our business and gave us many items as gifts, even a beautiful black pearl to be made as a ring. This store is across the road and to the right of the Intercontinental Resort and Spa. Tuatini Activities is also operated by Xavier and his wife Taina, they provide sunset cruises, private tours, Motu transfers with picnic, motu rental, fare rental, wedding and glass-bottom boat. Tel +689 74 32 50 and email Irioa@mail.pf
- Poisson cru is the way to go. Food trucks (roulottes) are also present though not like in Papeete.
- Dairy products - Milk is not pasteurized and thus cheeses and yogurts are more flavorful.
- Across the road from the ferry station is a pizza place well worth a visit. It's run by a French couple that speaks no English, but the menu has English explanations and the ham and pineapple are highly recommended.
- There are also great pizza places just up the road from Club Bali and the Moorea Pearl Resort. Both are reasonably priced and you will get your money's worth.
BaguetteThe local bread. Make a sandwich with meat, cheese, etc. Nothing fancy. Very portable. Along with a beer, this makes for good eats on the beach.
You will be charged an additional 60 F deposit fee when purchasing Hinano bottles larger than 355 ml (12 oz). You can redeem your deposit at any location that sells Hinano. The larger bottles are sent back to the Hinano brewery for reuse/refill.
Tabu is another local beer, only available in 355-ml bottles and slightly more expensive compared to a 355-ml bottle of Hinano. Tabu is better tempered to the Tahitian heat. Unlike Hinano, Tabu is very drinkable at all temperatures: cold, slightly chilled, or room temperature.
BudgetThere are only 3 really cheap places on Moorea and they are all nearby at the northwest corner of the island. Well there are a couple other cheap places that aren't on the beach and where you might get carried away by the mosquitoes.
VAI Moorea Budget Bungalowphone: +689 774859address: Tiahura, HaapitiThe bungalow is clean, has a new bed, big fridge, small cooking oven, a TV, a shower, a toilet and is 2 m from the water and your own private beach.
Moorea Campingphone: +689 56-14-47address: Tiahura, HaapitiCheap and right on the beach. It's a nice beach too, good sand, in the lagoon, palm trees, the whole megilla. Great reef snorkeling. Nice grounds with trees and flowers. Tent camping is available, as are dorm style, and motel style rooms. Kitchen facilities. Shared bathrooms, cold water (you won't want hot water anyway). Very basic accommodations, bring your own soap, TP, etc. No mosquitoes. Very social. Definitely the backpacker spot.
address: Tiahura, HaapitiThe other cheap place. Definitely second best beach-wise, and definitely cleaner than Moorea Camping.
phone: +1-888-222-5406 (from USA)address: Cooks BayMotel rooms and overwater bungalows. Very scenic location. There is only a small artificial beach here. The water is fine for swimming, warm and deep. It's not very good snorkeling though, it's not so clear and there isn't much coral. Good snorkeling can be found nearby though. There is a decent restaurant and a pool. Rooms are in good condition and have AC and some have kitchenette. Within walking distance there's only one other restaurant (Italian) and a small bodega. There's no night life. If you get an over-water bungalow, beware of the one closest to the road, it's not over very much water and it's quite close to the road. Friendly staff, decent poisson cru.
Pensionsaddress: Various locations along the main highwayMeaning "boarding house" in French, these are very small no frills lodging facilities. Typically less than 10 rooms or bungalows. Family operated along with a few extra employees. Accommodations will vary among the different pensions. Highly discouraged by travel agents as travel agents do not receive any percentage of the booking fees. Traveler's must book their room directly with the pension. Contact info is very difficult to find. And what little information is available on the internet is not the most reliable. Traveler opinions about pensions will vary. But most will agree that their stay was very personalized and a memorable experience.
SplurgeThere are some really fancy hotels and resorts here although no super-resorts like on Tahiti. Club-med used to have an outfit here but it's abandoned now.
Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & SpaOne of the top-rated resorts on the island and frequented by honeymooners. All rooms are bungalows, either "garden" or overwater. The lagoon around the resort are rife with coral & sea-life, making for terrific snorkeling.
The Moorea Pearl Resort & SpaThis is the cheapest of the high-end resorts. Room types range from motel rooms to overwater bungalows. The views, along with the beach, are not spectacularly and thus the most you should splurge on is the garden bungalow. This redort has more than 80 rooms, and crowds will frequent the common areas. Mainly the pool, bar, and restaurant areas. The resort guest list is a mix of families and couples only. Snorkeling at the resort's beach is not very good. The big buffet dinners are Wednesday and Saturday nights. Wednesday (about US$63 + service fees per person) with song and dance by a local dance troupe. The Saturday buffet (US$76 + service fees per person) concludes with a fire dance. Better non-entertainment dining options are available within walking distance of the resort for half the price. Within walking distance of the resort is a small village. Exit the resort to the main road, turn right, and proceed for five minutes. You will arrive at a market, bank, snack bar, and a pizza restaurant. Exit the resort to the main road, this time turn left, and proceed for ten minutes, and you will arrive at another market with better prices and greater selection. There's also a neighboring Japanese and seafood restaurants as well.
The Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach ResortQuite pricey (more than US$700 for 2 people in overwater bungalow) but is a pristine, beautiful resort with fantastic staff and facilities. They had the best bungalows we saw on the islands. Reefs and coral were not as spectacular off the bungalows as they were at Le Meridien on Tahiti, but Ia Ora's has the bonus of having individual stairways to the water at each bungalow, a big plus.
The Intercontinental Resort and Spa MooreaAlso lovely and has overwater bungalows, but they were built on sand/rock instead of on docks over the water, so they are only a little over the water. However, they offer the best variety of activities. It is under construction.
Perhaps due to its lack of reliable public transportation and its outrageously expensive taxi fares, Moorea has a serious drunk-driving problem (with both tourists and locals equally guilty). Take particular care when walking or cycling the island's only paved road after dark; it gets pitch-black and can be quite dangerous away from the main villages (where you'll also be more tempted to walk or cycle in the middle of the road due to the amount of broken glass on the shoulders).