Imagine stepping off a plane and being greeted by the vibrant hues of the South Pacific, where the scent of tropical flowers lingers in the air, and the ocean’s azure beckons with its untold mysteries. Welcome to Moorea Island, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of French Polynesia. This guide is your treasure map to an island that promises not just a getaway, but an adventure, a cultural immersion, and a chance to reconnect with nature in its purest form.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or planning your first escapade to this Polynesian paradise, prepare to embark on a journey that will captivate your senses and rejuvenate your soul.

Travelling to Moorea 

Embarking on Your Journey: The adventure to Moorea, a jewel in the heart of French Polynesia, begins the moment you decide to visit this enchanting island. Nestled just a short distance from the island of Tahiti, Moorea is a destination that effortlessly blends accessibility with a sense of remote island allure.

Getting There: Your gateway to Moorea is through Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport, a hub that connects this tropical paradise to the rest of the world. International travelers can find direct flights from major cities across the globe to Tahiti. Upon arrival, Moorea beckons just a short hop away. You have two primary options to reach the island: a quick and scenic 15-minute flight or a delightful ferry ride that offers stunning views of the ocean and the island’s dramatic silhouette. The ferry, in particular, is a popular choice for both its affordability and the opportunity it presents to immerse oneself in the breathtaking beauty of the South Pacific waters.

Navigating the Airport and Ferry Terminal: At Faa’a International Airport, you’ll find a range of services to ease your transition to island life. Currency exchange booths, tourist information centers, and car rental services are readily available. The journey to the ferry terminal is straightforward – a taxi ride or a shuttle service can take you there in no time. The ferry terminal bustles with activity, giving you a first taste of Polynesian hospitality and culture. Here, you can purchase tickets for the ferry, with multiple departures scheduled throughout the day.

Best Time to Visit: Choosing the perfect time to visit Moorea can significantly enhance your experience. The island enjoys a tropical climate year-round, but the most favorable time to visit is during the dry season, from May to October. During these months, the weather is ideal, characterized by warm days, cool nights, and minimal rainfall, perfect for outdoor adventures and beach relaxation. For those seeking a quieter experience, the shoulder months of April and November offer a peaceful retreat, with fewer tourists and a more laid-back atmosphere.

Moorea Island Travel Essentials: As you pack for Moorea, keep in mind a few essential tips. The local currency is the Pacific Franc (XPF), and while ATMs are available, carrying some cash is advisable, especially for smaller purchases and in more remote areas. French is the official language, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas, making communication relatively easy for international visitors. Entry requirements are straightforward for many travelers – a valid passport and a return ticket are typically sufficient for stays up to 90 days, but always check visa requirements based on your nationality.

Preparation and Anticipation: As you prepare for your trip, the excitement builds with the anticipation of azure waters, lush landscapes, and the warm Polynesian sun. Moorea is not just a destination; it’s an experience waiting to unfold, promising memories that will last a lifetime.

Reef shark, Moorea Island in French Polynesia
Reef shark, Moorea | @eriocean

Accommodation in Moorea

Moorea Island Resorts and Hotels: From luxurious overwater bungalows to cozy beachside hotels, Moorea offers a diverse range of accommodations to suit every taste and budget. Consider staying at one of the island’s renowned resorts, where you can wake up to breathtaking lagoon views and enjoy world-class amenities. For those seeking a more intimate experience, boutique hotels and family-run pensions offer a glimpse into the island’s warm hospitality.

Unique Stays: Moorea is not just about traditional hotel stays. Embrace the Polynesian way of life by booking a stay in an eco-friendly lodge or a private beach villa. These unique accommodations provide a more personalized experience and a chance to connect with the island’s natural beauty and culture.

Booking Tips: Accommodation can fill up quickly, especially during the peak season. Early booking is recommended to secure your preferred choice. Keep an eye out for special deals and packages that often include meals, activities, or spa services. Remember, staying longer in one place not only gives you a deeper understanding of the locale but can also be more economical.

Diving with humpback whale's, Moorea Island in French Polynesia
Diving with humpback whale’s | @moore_rachel

The Best Sightseeing in Moorea

Iconic Landmarks: Moorea’s landscape is dotted with iconic landmarks that are a testament to its natural beauty and cultural richness. The Belvedere Lookout offers a panoramic view of the island’s twin bays, Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay, and is a must-visit for any traveler. The ancient marae (temples) scattered across the island offer a glimpse into its rich Polynesian history.

Natural Wonders: Moorea is a sanctuary of natural wonders. The island is encircled by a coral reef, creating a lagoon that glitters in every shade of blue and green. Spend a day exploring these crystalline waters, home to vibrant coral gardens and a myriad of marine life. On land, the lush, mountainous landscape calls for exploration. Hiking trails lead you through rainforests to breathtaking vistas, waterfalls, and hidden valleys.

Moorea Island Activities: There’s no shortage of activities in Moorea. Snorkeling and diving are among the best ways to experience the island’s underwater spectacle. For the more adventurous, jet skiing, kite surfing, and parasailing offer a thrilling perspective of the island. Cultural tours provide an immersive experience into the local way of life, including visits to pineapple farms and traditional tattoo artists.

Aerial views over Moorea Island in French Polynesia
Aerial views over Moorea | @_adamdesjardins

Things to Do in Moorea

Adventure and Recreation: For those who crave adrenaline, Moorea delivers in spades. Take a 4×4 safari tour through the heart of the island, exploring its rugged interior and hidden gems. Kayaking and paddleboarding in the calm lagoon waters offer a serene yet active way to enjoy the island’s beauty. For a truly unique experience, swim with sharks and rays in their natural habitat, a thrilling and unforgettable encounter.

Cultural Experiences: Moorea’s rich Polynesian heritage is alive and thriving. Participate in traditional Polynesian dance and music workshops, or visit the Tiki Village Cultural Center for a night of authentic entertainment and feasts. Local artisan markets are the perfect place to find handcrafted souvenirs, from carved tikis to beautiful pareos (wraparound skirts).

Day Trips and Tours: The island’s compact size makes it ideal for day trips. Explore the nearby motus (small islets) or take a boat tour around the island, stopping at secluded beaches and snorkeling spots. Guided tours are available to explore the pineapple plantations, vanilla farms, and local distilleries, offering a taste of the island’s unique flavors.

Exploring the jungle
Exploring the jungle in Moorea | @king_roberto

Dining and Cuisine

Moorea Island Dining: The culinary landscape of Moorea is as diverse as its ecosystem. The island’s cuisine is a delightful fusion of French and Polynesian flavors, with fresh seafood taking center stage. Indulge in the local specialty, poisson cru (raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk), at one of the island’s high-end restaurants or quaint beachside cafes.

Street Food and Markets: For a taste of local life, explore the bustling street food scene. The night markets and roadside stalls are a haven for foodies, offering everything from freshly grilled mahi-mahi to sweet coconut bread. These markets are not just about food; they’re a cultural experience, a place to mingle with locals and savor the island’s vibrant atmosphere.

Dining Etiquette and Tips: While dining in Moorea, a few local customs can enhance your experience. Tipping is not customary but appreciated for exceptional service. Many restaurants include service charge in the bill, so it’s always good to check. Embrace the island’s laid-back pace, especially during meal times – dining in Moorea is as much about savoring the moment as it is about the food.

Surfing in Moorea
Surfing in Moorea | @kirvanb

Moorea Vacation Tips

Travel Tips and Hacks: To make the most of your Moorea adventure, a little insider knowledge goes a long way. Renting a scooter or a bike is a great way to explore the island at your own pace. Staying connected is easy, with many cafes and hotels offering free Wi-Fi. Remember to pack reef-safe sunscreen and insect repellent to enjoy the island responsibly.

Safety and Health: Moorea is generally a safe destination, but basic precautions should be taken. Keep an eye on your belongings in crowded areas and stay informed about local weather conditions, especially when planning outdoor activities. The island’s tap water is safe to drink, but bottled water is widely available for those who prefer it.

Sustainable Travel: As a visitor to this pristine paradise, playing a part in its preservation is crucial. Opt for eco-friendly tours and accommodations, support local businesses, and be mindful of your environmental impact. Practicing ‘leave no trace’ principles during your stay ensures that Moorea remains unspoiled for future generations.

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale, Moorea | @moore_rachel

As our guide to Moorea Island comes to a close, it’s clear that this Polynesian jewel offers more than just a holiday destination – it’s a gateway to an experience that resonates with the soul. From its stunning landscapes and rich cultural tapestry to its culinary delights and adventurous activities, Moorea captivates in every aspect.

Whether you seek relaxation or adventure, cultural immersion or culinary exploration, Moorea promises an unforgettable journey. So pack your bags, bring your sense of wonder, and embark on an adventure to Moorea Island – a paradise waiting to be discovered.