With its majestic mountains and turquoise lagoon, Moorea is an island that every tourist to French Polynesia should visit.
Moorea is the most accessible island from Tahiti, because it’s only a 30 minute ferry ride away. The island offers a multitude of activities, both on land and at sea. Vast bays and endless beaches to visit, lagoon excursions, hiking trails, historic sites and lots, lots more. Here is our suggested itinerary for a four day visit to Moorea.
Moorea island tour
A tour round the island will give you an idea of its unspoiled beauty. Rent a car, motor scooter, bike or e-bike and set off. You can go clockwise or anti-clockwise and the 40 miles coastal road will bring you back to your starting point. Stop from time to time for a dip in the warm sea on one of Moorea’s innumerable white sandy beaches. Have a refreshing fruit juice at the Moorea Tropical Garden and admire the glorious view. Leave the coastal road to climb to the scenic viewpoint at Opunohu, from where you have views over mount Rotui, ‘Opunohu Bay and Cook Bay.
On your way down from the Belvedere, take a short walk to visit one of the island’s marae. A little further on, you’ll come to the ‘Opunohu Agricultural College where you can buy some delicious home-made ice cream. The south of the island is less developed than the north, with lush vegetation. At the end of the afternoon, go to the southwest coast , for the best views of the glorious sunset.
A dive in the warm clear water
Moorea is one of the best islands in French Polynesia for observing sea turtles, manta rays and inoffensive blacktip sharks. You can scuba dive to various sites to explore the magnificent coral reef, often in the company of impressive lemon sharks. Tipanier Beach is ideal for snorkeling among manta rays and blacktip sharks, but you need a kayak to get there.
If you go for a day’s excursion on the lagoon, you’re sure to spend time among the sea turtles – they are everywhere in Moorea’s lagoon. Temae Beach, with beautiful coral outcrops is perfect for swimming or snorkeling. For a completely different experience, try snorkeling at night. Redfish, sea cucumbers and shellfish of all varieties are not the same when seen by lamplight in a dark sea.
A day on the lagoon
Take a day’s excursion to explore the lagoon. Swim with manta rays and inoffensive blacktip sharks before stopping at a motu for a picnic of traditional Polynesian dishes. After lunch, stretch out on the soft white sand in the shade of a coconut tree and let the sound of the waves lapping on the shore rock you to sleep for a while.
For an authentic Polynesian experience, go for a tour of the lagoon on a traditional outrigger sailing canoe and enjoy the glorious sunset at the end of the day.
If you’re feeling energetic, hire a glass-bottomed kayak to explore the coral gardens and admire the tropical fish. In the mating season, from July to November, you can go on a whale watching excursion. Make sure you book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Moorea by foot
There are many hiking trails through the hills and valleys of Moorea. Some can be completed in an hour or two, others will take you the whole day. Most of the trails are clearly marked and generally lead to scenic viewpoints. We always recommend that you use the services of a local guide.
The most difficult trail, but the one with the best views over the mountains, is the one to the pierced mountain. You should definitely be accompanied by a local guide on this hike, which takes about 5 hours. It is quite steep in parts and is only really suitable for experienced hikers.
An easier trail is the one to the magic mountain, which only takes about an hour. It crosses through private land and there is a fee to pay, but the views over the lagoon are sublime.
The hike to three coconut tree pass is the best known trail on the island. This easy hike takes about 3 hours and is suitable for all the family. From the same starting point, there is another trail to three pines pass. It offers superb views all the way.
Moorea by quad ATV or e-bike
If you’re feeling too weary to go hiking, rent an e-bike and set off to explore the immense pineapple plantations on the island. Moorea is known as ‘pineapple island’ and you’ll soon discover why. There are specially cleared tracks that lead you through the fields without damaging the crops.
Another option, perhaps with some added thrills, is to rent a quad ATV. Head for the Rotui pineapple juice factory at the foot of the mountain with the same name. Stop for some fresh fruit juice and sample some of their other products. A four-wheel drive safari will take you into the heart of the island, where the tropical vegetation is thick and the views are splendid.
Moorea from the sky
Get a bird’s eye view of the mountains, bays and beaches of Moorea from the cockpit of a helicopter. Don’t forget your camera! Or why not be a daredevil and take a parachute jump? A tandem jump with your instructor will give you the chance to appreciate the superb views on your way down.
Culture and tradition
Learn more about the culture and traditions of The Islands of Tahiti with a visit to Tiki Village. Different workshops give lessons in cooking, traditional music, pareo painting, ‘ori Tahiti dance and the fabrication of garlands and crowns of flowers. There are also performances of traditional music and dancing several evenings per week. You can find out more and make a reservation on their website.
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