The Ultimate Moorea Travel Guide
The beautiful island of Moorea is just a 30 minute ferry ride away from Tahiti. The entire island is surrounded by a reef, creating the calmest and clearest turquoise water filled with fish and colorful coral. Moorea is one of ‘the Society Islands’, a group of French Polynesian islands, and is tropical, lush, and known for its snorkeling, diving, and laid-back lifestyle. Moorea is a great family-friendly and group-friendly French Polynesia destination option compared to the the celebrity-hot-spot (and generally much more expensive) Bora Bora.
The beauty of Moorea comes from its eight majestic mountain peaks that rise from its crystal-clear turquoise lagoon, just off the western coast of Tahiti. The island is roughly shaped like a heart from overhead; and in the theme of love and romance, Moorea is one of the top honeymoon destinations in French Polynesia – second only to Bora Bora.
Where to stay in Moorea:
The Hilton Moorea
Luxe overwater bungalows and gorgeous views that will take your breath away, a great alternative to Bora Bora resorts, without the Bora Bora price tag
How do you get to the Hilton Moorea?
To get to Moorea from the Tahiti airport, you take a $25 taxi to the port, and then take a 30-minute ferry over to Moorea ($25 a person). It’s super easy to get over to Moorea and it’s definitely a plus that it is located only a boat ride from Tahiti and not a flight like Bora Bora. If you are flying in or ferrying in, know that it’s not easy to get taxis on Moorea – you have to book transportation ahead of time – the largest transfer company on Moorea is Albert Tours. They will happily arrange your roundtrip transfer to/from airport and/or ferry, and it’s about $10-$15.
How much does a one week stay at the Hilton Moorea cost exactly, with food, drinks, travel, transportation, all factored in?
How do you get around Moorea? How much is transportation?
Transportation to the ferry from the airport is $25, plus the ferry from Tahiti to Moorea is $25 round trip per person, plus a transfer to the hotel (about $10/person, which you must book ahead of time). You also might choose to rent a motorbike or a car for a couple of the days (which I definitely recommend to explore the island), which is around $55 a day for a scooter. If you don’t you’ll likely have taxi costs that are equal to that, so about $200 in transportation total.
What overwater bungalow should you book at the Hilton Moorea?
We stayed in a King Overwater bungalow, and this was our view. It was GORGEOUS! It’s not deep enough to dive, but there’s a HUGE reef everywhere right outside of your bungalow, meaning you start seeing a bunch of fish right away (and even under your room through the glass bottom part of the bungalow floor!)
I also loved that we could paddle-board and kayak around the lagoon! (Complimentary for resort guests).
How much does food cost in Moorea?
Food on Mo’orea is more reasonable in Moorea than on Bora Bora, especially because it’s easy to eat in town, and you have tons of great options available. We absolutely loved Le Lezard Jean, and had our best meal in all of French Polynesia there – for only $75 for both of us without booze (with wine, a total of around $120). Another great find is Allo Pizza, which is a casual pizza restaurant on the side of the street that makes great pizza – a great way to have an affordable meal in Moorea. At the resort, the prices are decently reasonable – like $30 for an entree vs $50+ in Bora Bora, and we LOVED the creperie Toatea at the Hilton for dinner. So good and you can see sharks swim by!
The all-in cost of a one week vacation in Moorea
*These prices are in USD, based off of October 2020, search your exact dates here.
The least expensive overwater bungalow at the Hilton Moorea goes for about $750, with more premium ones getting up to $900 a night. For less, you can stay on land in one of their land villas – which have their own pool and aren’t half bad! But I definitely recommend the overwater bungalow if you can swing it!
With flights, transportation, food and drink, and some activities, for a week in Moorea staying in an overwater bungalow you are looking at about $750 x 6 nights for accommodation, around $1200 for flights (less than Bora Bora, because one less flight), $200 for transportation, $150×6 on average for food and drink, and $500 for activities. It comes out to about $8000 cost for a week long stay in Moorea in an overwater bungalow.
The Best things to do in Moorea:
Snorkeling with whales in Mo’orea!
There are only a few places in the world where you are able to swim with and observe humpback whales in their natural habitat!!! And Moorea is one of them. So if you’re lucky enough to be traveling to French Polynesia between July and October, you are going to be there in PRIME whale watching season, and you must do it! The angelic humpback whales are here during this time of year breeding and birthing their calves (!!!). Your tour will spend the day whale watching, and if the It’s not uncommon during this time of year to see a mother and a calf together, and to see them swimming in the water is just magical.
I especially like these whale tours because their philosophy and ethic is to observe the animals with respect and passion, with no stress on them at all and to merely observe them and not cause any change in natural behavior. If all conditions are right, and the animals accept you, you’ll have the opportunity of a lifetime to get in and swim with the humpback whales in Moorea! We did and it was so, so beautiful.
Snorkeling with Sharks & Rays in Moorea
Some argue that the sharks and rays snorkeling in Moorea is even better than in Bora Bora! The wildlife is EVERYWHERE in Moorea – there is amazing snorkeling everywhere you look, even right outside your bungalow!
Shop for the beautiful and rare Tahitian Pearls in Moorea
We loved shopping around the island for Tahitian pearls, and loved Moana Pearls in Moorea – which had a great selection and beautiful designs and settings. They also did a great job at teaching us all about the Tahitian Pearls, and what to look for. These stunning dark pearls can only be found in French Polynesia, and are very sought after for their rarity as well as their gorgeous coloring – especially the beautiful eggplant and peacock colors. The gorgeous kaleidoscope of colors you find in Tahitian pearls are entirely natural, unlike freshwater pearls which are dyed while farming.
In general, the more round, and perfect the pearl, the more expensive. Also the more beautiful the color (like eggplant and peacock colors), the more expensive.
Photo by KalinasPerles.com
Jet ski in Moorea (and stop to snorkel with sharks and rays!)
Jet-skiing is a must while you’re in Moorea! This tour is FAB!
Where to eat in Moorea
Toatea creperie at the Hilton – this creperie is delicious!! You’ll see sharks swimming by during dinner, which is awesome, and the food is so so good. Definitely save room for the dessert crepes – yum.
Le Lezard Jaune – I would have gone to this place every single night of our vacation in Moorea if I could have. Le Lezard Jaune was my favorite meal in all of French Polynesia – I felt like I was having dinner in Paris mixed with an island dinner, aka the ideal combination. We loved this restaurant, and the people who run it. It is also open air, which is great.
Moorea Beach Cafe & Wood Oven Pizzeria
This little yacht club was SO cute. This beach club is where the boats anchor when they sail into Moorea, and the sunset views from here are amazing.
Te Honu Iti in Cook’s Bay
Here you can watch the stingrays and sometimes even sharks over lunch or dinner! They also offer a free shuttle from the Hilton.
Where not to eat in Moorea: RUDY’S.
Do not eat at Rudy’s. I walked out of dinner here. I’m sure in non-COVID times, this is a fine restaurant, but the management here is making a conscious decision to put many lives at risk by not taking ANY precautions for COVID-19. The restaurant features zero open windows, no sanitizer available, nothing. There wasn’t even any soap in the bathrooms! They have a patio area they CLEARLY could use to seat people outside, but they make a conscious decision not to. When I asked the owner kindly if he could open a window, he refused (the seats were clearly as tight together as ever, and no changes had been made for the pandemic). I told him that’s not good because of COVID and he replied “Oh we don’t have that here”. Sure, maybe you don’t right now, but you have 40 people sitting in a crowded restaurant, all from different countries, and some of whom haven’t taken their second COVID test. It was so unbelievably irresponsible, and so opposite to how I felt EVERYWHERE else traveling in Bora Bora during the pandemic, that I couldn’t stand for it. We left and walked a mile down the road to Allo Pizza, a much better decision. I couldn’t believe how rude and insensitive Rudy’s owner was, and I can’t help but feel like if Moorea gets a spike of COVID – it will 100% be their fault – seeing as it is one of the most popular restaurants for tourists.
Other FAQs about Traveling to Moorea
Should I go to Bora Bora or Moorea?
This question totally depends on you and your travel personality! I personally love BOTH places so much, but they are very different vacations to me. If you’ve been to Hawaii, Bora Bora is more like Maui – resortey, pristine, perfect, and Moorea is more like Kauai – rugged, less refined, more lush, and majestically beautiful. The underwater wildlife is also EVERYWHERE in Moorea, compared to Bora Bora.
What is the difference between Moorea and Bora Bora?
Both islands have a different feel and vibe, and one of the main differences is when staying on Bora Bora you are on a disconnected atoll – or private island located off of the main island of Bora Bora, on Moorea, in comparison, you are on the main island, so it’s easy to try fun restaurants in town, explore the town, go shopping, walking, etc, directly from the resort.
How long should you stay in Moorea?
Personally, I think about 4-6 nights is the optimal amount of time to travel to Moorea. It’s enough to feel totally relaxed, while still having time to see and do a lot! But do as many nights as you can!
Ways to cut costs on a trip to Bora Bora
Use credit card points for your trip!
We used mostly credit card points from our Chase Rewards Sapphire Card for our Bora Bora trip (the hotels and the flights), which was so awesome to basically only have to worry about the food and drinks!
Pack some of your own wine
Each person is allowed to fly with 2 L of liquor or wine for a trip to French Polynesia – so definitely take advantage of that! I always pack wine in my checked bag – it’s a great excuse to break out some of my favorite wines, and I always remember and always associate them with the trips I drink them on – which I love! We packed 6 bottles of our own wine, and drank them with sunset in our bungalows!
Also be sure to use these wine sleeves so the bottles don’t break in your bag! I reuse them over and over.
Go into town and stock up on snacks, beer, soda, and wine
Don’t pay resort prices for silly things like sodas, beer or even a little cheese plate. Besides bringing wine, you can also head into town and get some provisions, too! The grocery store has a ton of French delicacies, and it was super easy and affordable. FYI – This is much easier to get into town at Conrad and Hilton Moorea than it is at FS, however.
Consider a less expensive resort or an airbnb
One resort that makes it easy to save big is the Intercontinental Le Moana that is on the mainland of Bora Bora island. Bungalows here are more like $600-$800 a night, but where you’ll really save is on the food since it’s easy to go into town and eat in the restaurants in town.
In Moorea, you can also stay in an Airbnb and go to the resorts on a day pass (The Hilton day pass includes lunch, too! Check with them for availability on this)
What’s better Bora Bora or the Maldives?
Bora Bora and the Maldives may seem similar, but they’re actually completely different vibes. Check out this post Bora Bora vs. The Maldives – where I break down all of the differences and which one is better for YOU.
What is it like traveling to French Polynesia during COVID-19?
The process was really strict, and I’ll be honest, VERY stressful. That being said, we were able to plan our trip in only 10 days time, and get our COVID tests at My Doctor SF, who guaranteed next-day test results, and assured me they were completely compliant with French Polynesia’s strict government requirements. Flying felt extremely safe, as everyone on the plane had tested negative in the last 72 hours – so if you think about it, way safer than flying anywhere in the US right now! At the airport, you’re handed a second COVID self-test, and 4 days into our trip, we took the second (simple) COVID test, and handed it to our hotel lobby.
By the time we arrived to paradise, it was worth every stressful moment getting there. And, for the most part, I felt EXTREMELY safe in French Polynesia – especially at the private island resorts in Bora Bora, and slightly more ‘on guard’ in Moorea, since the resort is connected to the greater island, but the whole vacation still it felt WAY safer than anywhere in the USA. So much so that we extended our trip – twice!!!!!
Do you need a VISA to travel to French Polynesia from the USA?
U.S. citizens do not need a visa if entering on a regular tourist passport and staying no more than 90 days every six months. If the purpose of the trip is not tourism (work, scientific research, etc.), then you may be required to obtain a visa before arrival in French Polynesia.
Do you need any special vaccinations for French Polynesia? What are the recommended vaccines for Bora Bora?
There are no absolute requirements that will be checked at the airport, but the CDC and WHO recommend you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, and polio vaccine.
For some travelers to Bora Bora and French Polynesia, Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines are recommended. CDC recommends hep A because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in French Polynesia, regardless of where you are eating or staying. You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in French Polynesia. CDC recommends the Typhoid vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.
Dengue Fever is also risk in many parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands. There is no vaccine for this but travelers to Asia and the Pacific Islands can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. Pack your bug spray! This is what I use.
What time of year is best for visiting French Polynesia?
The best season to travel to Bora Bora is from May-October, and if you are traveling to French Polynesia in July-October you’ll catch humpback whale season in Moorea which is awesome. I went in late August/early September for 2 weeks and the weather was PERFECT! Only one rainstorm, overnight, and the rest of the time completely sunny in Bora Bora. It was windy that time of year, but we liked that because it keeps you cool. 80 and breezy is pretty much the perfect temperature that exists am I right? We got a little early morning rain in Moorea that time of year, but that’s just a rainier island. I’ve also been to French Polynesia in May/June and it was GORGEOUS that time of year, too. Less breezy, lots of sunshine.
Do you need to use a travel agent to book Bora Bora?
Definitely not! Book it yourself – you’ll find the best deals online (I always like Booking.com, Hotels.com, Skyscanner for flights, and Tripadvisor for tours)
If you do need help planning or want to bounce some ideas and questions off of an expert, I offer 1:1 trip consults, honeymoon consultations and full custom itineraries to help with that! You can learn more about those here.
What to pack for Moorea:
Cute swimwear and cover-ups, matching his-and-hers swimwear (of course), lots of sun hats, reef-safe sunscreen (FYI the Conrad has sunscreen provided, but it’s still good to have your own, too, the sun in Bora Bora is fierce!), 1 pair of sneakers for the resort gym or walking around the island (I swear by these shoes for travel, they’re sooo lightweight and comfy), sandals, for the ladies, you don’t really need heels but if you like to get dressed up, maybe one pair (I never wore mine I packed though). For the men, lots of chic resort beach button-downs like these.
You’ll also definitely need an underwater camera – all the details on what I use for my underwater photos is here (and those awesome half in/half out underwater photos you’ve seen on my Instagram)
What I wore in Moorea / French Polynesia!
Some other chic Bora Bora swimsuits I love:
in our matching Kenny Flowers cabana sets
What other questions do you guys have about Bora Bora or Moorea? Ask them in the comments!
See more related blog posts:
How to travel to Bora Bora during the pandemic
The best travel reward credit cards
The top honeymoon destinations
The best matching couple swimwear
The Ultimate Beach Vacation Packing Guide
The Best Overwater Bungalows in Bora Bora
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