Moorea is another gem of French Polynesia where you can easily spend 4 or 5 days exploring the island. Like the other Polynesian island, Moorea is absolutely stunning. We particularly loved the geology of this island, with high rugged volcanic peaks in the center, giving the island a very Jurassic Parc feeling. It’s surrounded by a turquoise blue lagoon with an abundance of sealife, which crashes into a shallow reef on the outside. With its tropical vegetation, spectacular viewpoints and amazing snorkelling options, Moorea is a close contender for our favourite island in French Polynesia
What to do on Moorea?
Snorkelling with rays and sharks
This is THE thing to do on Moorea. We loved it so much that we returned a couple of days in row. In the lagoon just in front of the Hotel Tipaniers you will find a sandbank where stingrays and reefsharks tend to linger around. You can rent a kayak or a little motorboat (without license) on the beach (at Tip Nautic) to go to this spot, where you can jump in the water and swim with these beautiful animals. The best time to go is either early in the morning before the crowds arrive, or around 6pm when the fishermen return from the open sea and come to this spot to clean their fish; spectacle guaranteed!
Kayak to Motu Tiahura and Motu Fareone
Contrary to most of the other Polynesian islands, Moorea is not completely surrounded by a Motu (deserted island). However, it has two small Motus just off the North West shore. You can rent a kayak on the beach next to Hotel Tipaniers (at Tip Nautic) to and head out to these tiny islets for a couple of hours. The water is even more beautiful here, and you get an amazing view on the reef. If you stay around long enough you might spot whales jumping on the horizon.
Snorkelling with whales
This is one of the things that completely blew our minds on Moorea. We were a bit hesitant at first to do this because of the steep price most tour guides ask; but the experience of swimming with whales was absolutely fantastic so we highly recommend this activity. Moorea is the last place on the planet where you are allowed to swim with these giants, so this may be last chance you get!
There are plenty of whale snorkelling tours every day, but you probably have a better chance of seeing them if you go with a little boat (with less people to frighten away the whales). The boats head out to the open ocean in the morning, looking for the whales. It often doesn’t take very long before the trained eyes of the captain spot the first huge mammals on the horizon. The boat will approach the wale and if it’s still there, he will give the signal that you can go in the water with them. The feeling you get when you swim next to these 20+ meter animals is incredibly exhilarating and scary at the same time, but a fantastic experience that we recommend to all.
This is a lookout point in the middle of the island that you can reach by car or motorbike. It offers a spectacular panoramic view on the Oponohu valley and Cook’s bay, as well as the different peaks of the island. This spot is definitely worth the detour.
Several hiking trails depart from the Belvedere Lookout point further into the island. We did the 3 coconut’s pass, which is mainly a 2,5 hour walk / climb through a forest and dense vegetation. There’s a viewpoint at the very end, but we didn’t think the hike was worth the effort.
Oponohu and Cook’s bay
We really loved these bays because they are completely different to the usual French Polynesian turquoise blue views. The water in these bays is emerald green, and the bays are surrounded by palmtrees and high mountains. You can either bike around the bay, or if you’re staying somewhere close to the bay, go kayaking here around sunset.
Where to stay?
- Hotel Les Tipaniers: this hotel has a prime location on the island, just in front of the two Motus and close to the rays and sharks snorkelling spot. The bungalows are scattered around in a beautiful garden, and give access to a small but gorgeous stretch of sand.
- Robinson Cove Villas: a great alternative to staying in a hotel. These luxury villas are amazingly equipped and located on Oponohu Bay.
How to get there?
Like most Polynesian islands Moorea has a small airport with daily flights coming in from the neighbouring islands. If you’re coming from Tahiti however, it’s more economical to take the ferry. There are two ferry companies (Aremiti and Terevau, the latter being slightly cheaper) with plenty of boats per day.
The crossing takes around 45 minutes. To get around on Moorea you can take the public bus which circles the island, or rent a car or a motorbike. Car rental companies on Moorea are quite expensive so if you want a car, you’re better off renting it on Tahiti with Eco Car Tahiti and taking it with you on the ferry.