If you’re pressed for time (perhaps you’re island hopping) and you only have 1 day to spend on Moorea, spend the day with Moorea Miti Tours! This was one of the top highlights of our trip! The outrigger is so pretty and very steady. Moorea Miti limits the number of passengers on their tours to keep them intimate. We felt exceptionally cared for because of the small size of our group. The boat also felt spacious and comfortable. We saw boats jam packed with people and were so glad to have chosen Moorea Miti. Our hosts were Wilfred and Torea. Wilfred’s personality, joy, music, and knowledge made this tour so memorable. He is a Tahitian native, through and through and told us a lot about the traditions, food and medicine that has been passed down from his family for generations. We stopped in both bays to take in the views and learn about the history of them. We were the first boat to arrive at Stingray World, so we had plenty of time to interact with the stingrays and have photos taken with the black tip reef sharks. Our boat took off to the coral garden just as all the other tour boats were arriving.
The snorkeling between the two motus (tiny islands) was wondrous! Lunch at the motu was amazing, with our feet in the water and fish and stingrays swimming all about us. Wilfred made fresh Poisson Cru (national dish of Tahiti) right in front of us. He is constantly singing and playing Ukulele (which I saw no other tour operators doing). Torea, his first mate also played Ukulele and sang- an amazing harmonies. The music had everyone smiling the entire time. Torea was behind the scenes the whole time working hard- he cooked a delightful variety of food for us while we were snorkeling. Water activities make you hungry! Wilfred made my son a great hat out of coconut palm that he wore the whole trip and took home. We never felt rushed or on a schedule at all. Wilfred took the time to answer all our questions and make conversation with us. He made us feel like long time friends. He took pictures of us all (with the rays and sharks) in the water, which was a very nice bonus. We’ve done many tours in many places over the years, but this one rates very high up on a short list of favorites! If you are going to Moorea, pre-book this tour ahead of time to make sure your dates are available!
#2 Hike or 4×4 up to the Belvedere, Route de Ananas and Magic Mountain
If you only do water activities in Moorea, you get just half the story of the island’s history and magnificence. To truly appreciate the island’s abundance you must do a land tour! A hike into the lush jungle to see ancient temples and dwellings will transport you back into time. The flora and fauna grow untamed and wild, like it did centuries ago. The eerie looking mape trees are speckled with green moss, and look like they came out of another realm. Stopping to see the pineapple fields is a must! The Queen Pineapples of Moorea taste like candy- and you can see them in all their splendor, in row upon row of silvery green stalks.
Climbing to higher elevation will give you a better understanding of the lay of the land. Seeing the different colors of the ocean from up high gave us a new appreciation of Moorea’s sheltered reefs. Hike or off-road up to the peak of Belvedere Mountain and you’ll get a majestic view of Opunohu Bay, Mt. Rotui, and Cook’s Bay. Magic Mountain is a fun, windy, steep hike or 4×4 ride up, and offers a stupendous view of Opunohu Bay and the West side of the island. You will see fruit trees all along the way and a special greeting, just before you make the ascent to the top. You can certainly do all these land tours on your own, with a little planning. If you want more of a thrill, or don’t have a car rental, I recommend Safari Mario Tours– which will take you to all the sites mentioned, and a few more in half a day. Pre-book this tour here! You’ll have the rest of the day to snorkel or relax on the same beaches you just saw from above!
#2.5 Rotui Juice Factory
Ok, I’m cheating a little. A bonus side excursion while you are near the Belvedere, is to check out the juice factory where you can tour the factory and taste free samples! of alcohol! and juice! We went 3 times. Not just for the free booze and juice, but because it’s actually the cheapest place to get Rotui juice (the BEST juice) and Tahiti drink (tastes like a rum punch) on the island. Load up on Banana Vanilla juice, it’s sooooo good mixed with Tahiti drink. Be sure to check hours before you go, they are closed on Sunday.
Lagoonarium is set on a tiny island that reminded us of the story of Swiss Family Robinson, complete with dogs! My advice is to set out early and be the first to board the boat at 8am. The feeding shows take place at 11:30am and 2pm. Our friendly and funny host picked us up by the tiny shack on the beach and we set off to our own private island. My family were literally the only ones on the boat! We had the whole motu to ourselves for awhile. Three happy and lazy island dogs came to greet us when we arrived. We were shown the facilities which were contained in a large land marooned ship. There is a self catering kitchenette (where you can make yourself coffee, cocoa, and tea), and bathroom and shower. I loved all the shell curtains hanging from the dwellings- they made a pleasant tinkling sound when stirred by the breeze. Our guide assigned us a charming little hut in the middle of the island. We were free to snorkel and relax until the feedings took place.
The current is strong, so holding on to the ropes is important. There are many different paths you can take on the ropes to see the underwater world. We had a great time just snorkeling and exploring. There is a great variety of coral and fish. Even before the time of the first feeding, we noticed that more and more fish, sharks and rays were starting to congregate. When feeding time came, we had our special time petting the rays in knee deep water and then followed the guide to a deeper part of the coral gardens. He started to swim around and feed the fish and sharks. The sheer number of ocean creatures in close proximity to you is absolutely incredible! This was such a fun place to visit. We stayed for both feedings and left shortly after the last one. Lagoonarium cannot be pre-booked at the time and they only take cash. The day cost us about $39 per person (including the boat ride to and fro). This did not include food (we brought our own) but you can also buy a meal for an additional fee.
#4 Visit Temae Beach
Moorea’s largest public beach is the kind of unspoiled, idyllic beach you see in magazines. Temae Beach is located on the Northeast side of the island (past the airport) and shares is shores with the Sofitel Hotel. The beach is beautiful and big! The water is every shade of blue. You can see the island of Tahiti in the distance, and the deep blue water turning aqua as it breaks onto the reef.
The coral hubs are farther out from shore, so I suggest being a moderately strong swimmer and/or having flippers if you want to snorkel. This makes for a great swimming beach! My daughter really enjoyed practicing her strokes. This beach has public bathrooms and a few public showers by the parking lot. Bring a picnic and spend the day there. Relax, snorkel, swim or hunt for shells, but bring water shoes- the broken coral can be intense in some areas. If you are coming from the West side of the island, I suggest stopping at Golden Lake takeout counter for some to go food. The food is fresh and just about the cheapest we found on the island.
To fully immerse yourself in Tahitian Culture, spend a night out at the Tiki Village Theater. When you first arrive, you will be greeted with a rum punch (or juice for those who don’t imbibe). You can self tour the different village set ups and see some of the traditional tools and crafts in various types of dwellings. There is a pre-show and a guided tour and talk and then you will be called for dinner. We loved trying all the traditional Tahitian foods at the buffet! Their version of poi is much different than Hawaiian poi, and we much prefer the Tahitian kind. We also got to try breadfruit, which was delightful, and of course all the traditional foods that were cooked in the ground oven. I honestly just forgot to take pictures because I was too busy eating ALL THE FOODS. There was plenty of variety- enough to satisfy every taste. During dinner there is a pareo demonstration, where a Tahitian lady and gentlemen were demonstrating the 100,000 ways to wear a pareo! Why do we bother with any other piece of clothing?
Afterward, you take your seat and the dramatic show begins with lights, percussion and song. The culture and history of Polynesia is storied and troubled. Tahitian language, traditions, and practices were once outlawed throughout all of Tahiti. Much of that beautiful culture is actively being preserved and brought back by Tiki Village. The musicians, singers and dance troupe made you feel like you were in a sacred place- their voices so passionate, harmonious and resonating. The fire dancing was incredible. I’ve never seen a fire dancer spin so fast and furiously! Keep in mind that this show runs quite late- plus the time it takes to ride there and back from your location. You may want to save this evening experience for a few days after you’ve acclimated to the time change.
What’s left on my Wish List for next time? I always have a lofty wish list when planning any trip! There is just never enough time or money to do them all. I thoroughly research all my wish list experiences and make sure they have been vetted by great reviews. If you’ve experienced any of my wish list, please leave a comment and let me know what you thought!
because WATERFALLS! DO go chasing waterfalls! I really wanted to hike deep into the jungle to see magnificent waterfalls and swim in fresh island water! The jungle in Moorea is super dense and hiking trails are not well marked, so hiring a guide would make for a much safer trip. VIP Moorea offers a guided hike plus SNACKS! Everything is better with snacks. I actually contacted Yvette at Moorea VIP but unfortunately our dates did not work out! She was absolutely professional and friendly, even so and I really hope to tour with her one day.
What can be more epic than seeing humpback whales out in the wild? Swimming with them! Humpback whales come to the warm waters of Moorea to have their babies and rest between August to November. If you are lucky and the weather cooperates, you may even get to snorkel with them! I chose Moorea Moana because they seem to really care about these majestic creatures. They have a marine biologist on board to answer questions and keep passengers (and the animals) safe. This is a BUCKET LIST ITEM for sure and we hope to be able to do this one day.
Moorea Maori: Moorea Like a Local, Lagoon fishing and snorkeling
Husband would have LOVED to fish in the lagoon and catch something! Many of Moorea’s lagoons are protected; so you truly should go with a local who knows the permitted and best places to do this. The guides teach you all the best techniques and afterward you get to go to their house for lunch! How’s that for treating you like a local?