Located in the South Pacific, just a 30-minute ferry ride from Tahiti is the beautiful island of Moorea (also spelled Mo’orea).
Renowned for its white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters, the island has become a popular summer vacation spot. Not to mention, the water is filled with fish and colorful coral.
There are also many hiking trails winding through the island’s verdant mountains, as well as many scenic spots. As such, Moorea is both an ideal place for relaxation and an epic island adventure.
Moorea is a great family-friendly and group-friendly French Polynesian destination compared to the celebrity hotspot, Bora Bora. It is also generally less expensive. And more easily accessible than the beautiful atoll Fakarava.
While Moorea is most certainly a must-visit, reaching the island can be tricky for first-time travelers.
To ensure your journey is as relaxed as the destination, we have compiled the ultimate Moorea French Polynesia travel guide.
Where is Moorea Island and How to Get There
Moorea, along with Huahine, Raiatea, Taha’a, Bora Bora, and Tahiti, makes up the Society Islands in French Polynesia.
Moorea is located 11 miles northwest of Tahiti and is accessible by ferry or a short plane ride from the island’s capital, Papeete.
There are several ferries running between Papette Tahiti and Moorea. Some carry automobiles while others carry passengers only.
Ferry rides cost around $15 USD per person, one way.
Flights from Tahiti to Moorea only take 15 minutes; however, a two-way ticket costs around $100 USD for an adult.
There´s no real reason to take the flight between the two islands except if you want to enjoy the view from the window.
Many opt to travel to Moorea via ferry as it is cheaper, more comfortable and only takes an additional 15 minutes.
Best Time to Visit Moorea, Tahiti
As Moorea lies near the equator, temperatures do not vary much throughout the year. The only variation is with the rainfall, as well as the rates you can expect to pay.
The low season lasts from November to the end of April, with December to March being the wettest months. It is also more humid, and cloud coverage tends to be more persistent.
While there is a bit more rainfall, it is often interspersed with periods of sunshine. Many people prefer the low season as the island is less crowded and prices are lower.
The high season in the area extends from the beginning of May to the end of October. During these months, temperatures are a bit cooler, and the humidity is a bit lower.
Rainfall is far less frequent, but you can still expect an afternoon cloud burst or two each week.
Although weather conditions are more favorable, you can expect two to three times more tourists, as well as higher prices.
Generally, the weather in French Polynesia is warm and pleasant, so there is no real bad time to visit. Each time of year has its positives and negatives.
The best time to visit will depend on what you prefer.
Top Things to Do on Moorea Island, French Polynesia
With its beautiful ocean and lush green landscapes, there is plenty to discover on Moorea island. From amazing animal encounters to breathtaking viewpoints, here are some of the best things to do in Moorea.
Explore the Waters of Moorea Island, Tahiti
The Moorea Lagoon boasts crystal waters and is home to biodiverse marine life. A unique way to explore the waters of Moorea is on a snorkeling and diving tour around the crystal clear water here that´s protected by coral reefs, which surround the island.
Dive into the water and swim alongside grey reef sharks, pink whip rays, dolphins, and humpback whales.
Another fun way to discover the island’s vibrant and lively coral reef is from a transparent kayak. This is a fun activity to do as a couple, with your family, or with friends.
To get the most out of your experience, join a transparent kayak tour. With your guide, paddle across the lagoon, snorkel among the sea turtles and rays and learn about French Polynesian culture.
You can also explore areas you may not have found had you simply rented a kayak without a guide.
Swim With Humbpack Whales around Moorea
Moorea is often considered to be one of the best and most accessible places in the world to swim with Humpback Whales during its migration south to Antarctica.
The Humpback whales visit these waters around September and October before they head south. In comparison, I have also swum with humpback whales outside the tiny Island of Moheli in East Africa.
However, in Moheli, you will be able to swim around with the whales on your own, while here in French Polynesia, there will be a few boats around here.
So is French Polynesia is a much easier option with better boats and service, making it an option for people of all ages.
Set Out on a Jet Ski Adventure
A jet ski tour is another fun way to get to know more about Moorea and its jagged volcanic mountains, sandy beaches, and gorgeous bays.
On a solo or twin jet ski, head out to explore the beautiful Opunohu Bay and Cook’s Bay. Both bays are truly stunning as they sit surrounded by lush green, jagged mountains.
The tranquil Opunohu Bay is a favorite amongst locals and tourists looking for a less developed stretch of sand.
On your adventure, expect to see a wide variety of marine life, including sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, dolphins, and whales.
Take a 4×4 Around Moorea
Discover Moorea’s volcanic peaks, crystal waters, and verdant hillsides on an adventurous 4×4 safari tour. 4WD vehicles are a great way to explore Moorea as it enables you to access remote parts of the island.
Common attractions included in these tours are the Magic Mountain, Belvedere Lookout, and the pineapple plantations.
Guided tours generally last between three to four hours. With your guide, learn about Moorea’s history and culture, as well as modern-day life on the Polynesian island.
You can also expect to sample a variety of local flavors found in jams, juices, and pineapple-derived alcohol.
Another fun way to explore these Moorea attractions is on an ATV tour. From a solo or twin ATV, enjoy the mountain scenery while discovering more about the island.
Tackle One of Moorea’s Hiking Trails
Moorea is a truly beautiful island and boasts some of the most spectacular views. While many lookouts on the island can be accessed via a 4×4 or ATV, some can only be reached on foot.
Moorea is home to a plethora of exciting hiking trails that will bring you to some of the most breathtaking viewpoints.
Some noteworthy trails worth exploring include Mount Rotui, Magic Mountain, Three Pines Pass, Three Coconuts Pass, and Afareaitu Waterfalls.
When hiking in Moorea, be sure to pack accordingly. The tropical climate, humidity, and heat can affect even the most seasoned hikers.
As such, be sure to pack in reef-friendly sunscreen, snacks, and plenty of water.
A rainy jacket and waterproof backpack are also recommended in the case of a sudden downpour.
Hit Up the Best Beaches in Moorea, French Polynesia
Moorea is fringed with pristine white-sand beaches, both public and private. Each beach brings its own charm. Some are ideal for soaking up the sun, while others offer unique encounters with the island’s aquatic fauna.
Below are some of Moorea’s best beaches.
Temae is one of the most popular beaches in Moorea, located in the northeast part of the island. Here, the sandy shore sits before crystal clear waters and is bordered by rows of coconut and palm trees.
The water at Tamae is not deep, making it an ideal spot for families with kids.
Ta’ahiamanu Beach is a golden sand beach located on the tip of Opunohu Bay. The lagoon here is calm, and the water is often dotted with various sailboats.
The marine life is also very active, so you may encounter stingrays, turtles, and plenty of multicolored fish.
Ta’ahiamanu is popular with locals on weekends and holidays. To avoid the crowds, it is best to visit this spot during the week or arrive early to grab a good spot.
Situated along the west coast of Moorea is Tiahura. The beach was once the site for a resort but was inaugurated as a public beach in 2017. Open from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, the site offers visitors a beautiful white-sand beach, a relaxation area, and other amenities.
Snorkeling is popular here as the waters are calm and shallow. The sandbeds and reefs near the shore are home to living corals and sea anemones, in which one can sometimes spot orange-fin clownfish.
Hilton Hotel Private Beach
Many hotels and resorts found on Moorea offer their guests beautiful private beaches. Most often, the general public does not have access to these beaches.
However, some places provide access to those who visit the on-site restaurant or bar. Some hotels also sell day passes.
For $95 USD, one can access the Hilton Hotel’s private beach, as well as make use of snorkeling and kayaking equipment. Following some fun in the sun, head poolside for refreshing cocktails or French Polynesian beer and other tasty snacks.
Coco Beach Restaurant
Located on an islet in the northeast of Moorea, Coco Beach offers a dining experience like no other. The restaurant sits at the edge of the lagoon, offering extraordinary views of the turquoise waters and lush green mountains.
In addition to a tasty meal, you will have full access to one of the most beautiful beaches in Moorea. This beach is also a popular snorkel spot as blacktip sharks and stingrays visit here in large numbers.
Tahiti Moorea – Where to Stay
Moorea is not the most inexpensive island destination in the world; French Polynesia is, in general an expensive travel destination. Where you stay will depend on your expectations and budget.
However, there´s a couple of backpacker options on Moorea, so do they book out early, so you better book them early yourself if you are traveling here on a budget.
So with every trip style in mind, here are some of the best accommodation options in Moorea.
Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa
Nestled between two bays in Moorea, the Hilton resort offers the perfect luxury experience, complete with panoramic views over the ocean.
Here, guests can choose between a range of beautifully designed bungalows. Some are set amongst exotic flowers overlooking the garden, while others are suspended above the turquoise lagoon.
Each bungalow has a private terrace or balcony.
The luxury suites feature a plunge pool or a glass-bottomed table offering a glimpse of the marine life below.
On-site is a wonderful lagoon-side restaurant, which offers a tasteful selection of local and international specialties. There are also several bars where you can enjoy a refreshing cocktail and light meal.
While the Hilton is renowned for its amazing spa, it also offers a range of fun recreational activities. These include scuba diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing, windsurfing, and fishing.
Manava Beach Resort & Spa
Located on the northeast coast of Moorea, just 10 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from the ferry dock, is the charming Manava Beach Resort & Spa. This resort offers guests a range of spacious garden rooms, beachfront suites, and romantic overwater villas.
The overwater villas and bungalows feature large sundecks and provide direct access to Moorea’s turquoise lagoon. The garden rooms feature a lovely backyard with a private plunge pool. With so many accommodation options, this resort is well-suited to both couples and families.
Amenities at the resort include a poolside bar and restaurant, dive center, and activities desk. The resort is also home to the largest infinity pool on the island, perfect for relaxation.
Moorea Island Beach Hotel
For a more budget-friendly option, the Moorea Island Beach Hotel is a great option. It is a 3-star accommodation with plenty to offer, including a private beach, a garden, and a range of spacious rooms. There are also free bike and kayak rentals, so you can explore the scenic areas surrounding the hotel.
The hotel has a spacious main area with a terrace and outdoor lounge facing the beach. There are also two solariums where you can watch the sunset over the pacific. And to start your day, head to the on-site restaurant where you can enjoy an á la carte or vegetarian breakfast.
Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort
For couples and honeymooners visiting Moorea, Sofitel Kia Ora is a popular pick. The 5-star resort sits on a picturesque white-sand beach and offers stunning views of the lagoon and Tahiti island.
The resort houses a number of elegant bungalows made from natural materials. Some bungalows are suspended above the lagoon, while others sit on the beachfront or amongst the tropical garden.
The resort’s two acclaimed restaurants provide an intimate and romantic setting with incredible views and occasional live music. At the wellness center and spa, you can choose from a diverse selection of signature treatments, including tropical body wraps and Polynesian therapy.
One of the very few backpacker-friendly budget options on Moorea has a small guest kitchen and is one of only two places on the island with dormitory accommodation options for low budget travellers. The place books out early, so be sure to book your room here early.
Start Planning Your Trip to the Island of Moorea
Tahiti’s sister island has plenty to offer to those who visit its sandy shores. Moorea is an ideal spot if you’re seeking a thrilling island adventure, as well as for those looking to simply soak up the sun and relax.
In this article, we highlighted everything you will need to know to start planning your Moorea island vacation. For more on visiting Tahiti and its neighboring islands, check out our French Polynesia Travel Guide.