Every island in French Polynesia has a lot to offer, but we believe Moorea offers the perfect combination of mountains full of exotic vegetation and unusual blue and turquoise waters. An island that captivated us for its great beauty. We invite you to read our experiences in Moorea French Polynesia 1st Chapter.
Sunrise in French Polynesia!… We are going to Moorea
We are tired despite our nap, we go to bed later than we think, it is 10pm. We are practically falling asleep at normal hours. Despite this, that does not prevent me from waking up at 4 a.m., not even the light of day appears, I start talking to my mother in Latin America via WhatsApp. For once it is later for them than for us.
This is how time passes until the light of day appears, I see the sunrise, and the birds are activated. A beauty!! It’s good for us that it’s daylight here so early.
At 5:00 we are both awake and active, we have time to get dressed and wait for breakfast using our terrace. Until 6 am they do not work. We go down earlier, we walk a bit and the time is up.
We think we will be the first but there are already others who suffer from the time change and are active at this time. Breakfast is a dream, tropical decor, flowers and leaves galore to decorate the fruit plates that are already quite colorful on their own.
The IHG breakfast is super varied, there are Asian dishes, French jewelry, fruits in quantity, coffee as you like, cold dishes (salads, fish, cheeses …), and hot dishes (the classic eggs, omelets…). We have a so-called continental breakfast that does not include hot dishes, but with what we have we have plenty.
It is not very necessary to extra pay for the American breakfast that includes omelettes and other hot dishes. But as they say, that is up to the consumer!
After breakfast, at the pool, or rather the Lagoonarium, we were so pleased with this place that we repeat. The day is clear, the weather is exceptional. We can see Moorea clearly on the horizon.
So we spent the morning between the lagoonarium and the pool with a sandy bottom, beautiful. The hotel really is to recommend. It gives you an excellent introduction to Polynesia.
Little by little it is 11am, they are coming for our bags. We check out and sit in the lobby to wait for Tepu.
In less than an hour, we are already at the airport registering. They had said that they were very flexible with suitcases, but nevertheless, they tell us that to fly between Moorea and Bora Bora we should only have two suitcases to check-in and small things to carry in the cabin. However, they accept the carry-on, and we tell ourselves that in Moorea we will put it inside one of the large suitcases.
To move between the islands in French Polynesia there is only one solution by plane, it is done with Air Tahiti who has the monopoly. It works with individual routes or pass that include several islands. The further and the more islands, the more expensive the pass is. But overall it is quite interesting.
Do you want to know more interesting information to organize your trip?
Read my article Tips to plan a trip to French Polynesia
The flight to Moorea is ridiculously short, when the plane takes off they already tell you to prepare for landing. We took this flight because it was part of the plane pass we bought.
After 10 minutes, we are already at the Moorea airport, we are greeted by a great bustle, packages passing in front of us, people in all directions. Right away we see someone holding a board with our names on it, we go to him, he quickly draws a line over our names and tells us to go to a booth that is just to our right.
There they take our vouchers and give us the schedule of the excursions. Verify the excursions in which you are registered and see that they correspond to the paid ones, we had been signed up for another, we realized because the girl had told us that the bus left at that time, and it seemed strange, we asked her if the 4 × 4 was taken elsewhere later, and he tells us, they have the tour of Moorea by bus… .ey, noo, no, that’s not what we paid, it’s the 4 × 4 excursion. The girl made the correction immediately apologizing for the mistake.
Both the transport and this excursion we did with Moorea Explorer and it went very well. For those less planned or thirsty for more adventures, there you can hire this or other excursions hot.
The Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort
When we left, the minibus that would take us to the hotel was already waiting for us. The journey is very short, we quickly arrive at the hotel, the Ia Ora Sofitel, before passing through the Belvedere that we would see the next day. The hotel is very nice, the lobby a bit dark, a mixture of modern and the occasional memory of Polynesian architecture. It is less scenic than the Tahiti intercontinental, but very pretty.
We were somewhat disappointed in the reception, they make you sit down to check in, we did not have the flower necklace, and you must fill out a form, and wait while they give you a fruit juice. At the same time, they give you a refreshing washcloth whose smell of humidity seemed less refreshing to us. Very good intention but the smell of humidity stuck to our noses.
They gave us the key and told us that a great guy would accompany us in a golf cart to our bungalow. What a thrill our first bungalow of the trip. It was in the gardens, we had booked one night in the garden and then three nights in a bungalow in front of the beach.
Entering the bungalow we had a certain disappointment, or at least I had a certain disappointment in our room. The bungalow lacked some maintenance, the air conditioning had been changed or moved and the mark of the previous fixation remained. The bathroom window let the wind through because it was broken at the edge, the air conditioning did not want to work properly, the bathroom door did not close properly.
In summary we thought, but and everything about you arrived in paradise, and where is the magnificent hotel? We went to the reception to complain about the air conditioning, we could not imagine spending the night without air in that heat.
Our lovely girl at the reception (it’s ironic) looks at us with what are they doing here? We explain the problem to him, he says that he will send someone and hopefully, he sends someone who does the fastest inspection on earth, and the very kind reception tells us that he does not understand what the problem is, that everything works wonderfully.
We explain again, we give him the list of maintenance details of the bungalow and we ask him if we can go directly to the beach bungalow. Nooo, everything is busy … we feel or that they treat us badly or that they take us for crazy … we did not understand much if it was one or the other … the arrival in Moorea begins to feel strange, despite the beautiful gardens and the beach that around us.
Back at our ‘perfect’ bungalow, according to the reception, we tell ourselves that it will be for one night and that we will try not to cloud our trip. Upon arriving at the bungalow, a French girl comes to talk to us and tells us that she has learned that something is wrong with our room, that it is best if we change one because otherwise we will have a bad taste throughout our stay (how right was she in his words!).
He was going to show us a bungalow and I don’t know with what magic words he understood what I had initially asked for during the check-in, a garden bungalow not far from the beach … it wasn’t that complicated! The bungalow was perfect, you could see the difference in maintenance, it was perfect. And the terrace overlooking the beach in the background, what more could we ask for?
Now if we felt that they treated us like kings and according to the financial effort we made. We didn’t want any great frills, just that the room was clean and well-maintained. Besides to avoid being moving from one place to another, the girl told us that we would stay there for the entire stay because it was the same rate that we had paid. Great!.
We appropriate the bungalow as if it were our home, we feel very comfortable. We really appreciated the effort to want to satisfy the client, which this French girl showed that she was responsible for something, we did not retain her name, what a shame! At that point, we kicked off 4 fabulous days in Moorea.
We changed immediately and went to enjoy the beach, the good thing about Polynesia is that you don’t need a lot of sun to bathe, the water is always at the perfect temperature and it is always warm (or sometimes a little less pleasant!).
On the beach we enjoy snorkeling without problems, there are coral potatoes everywhere, and they are full of colorful little fish. Bathing on the other side of the beach, in front of the hotel pool, we see our first leopard stripe. What a thrill he was moving!
Moorea 4 × 4 Tour: between bays and magical mountains
We get up early, today there is an excursion, our first organized excursion with Moorea Explorer. After having breakfast, feeding the infinity of fish that come to the dock, and getting ready, we go to the lobby to wait for our tour. When we get to the lobby, they are already waiting for us. There will be only 3 of us on the excursion, almost a private excursion. It’s the two of us and a Canadian guy from a tour operator.
Our guides are great, Moana is super friendly and tells us about everything during the excursion, as there are very few of us, we can talk in quantity with him, and ask him questions about a bit of everything, and go beyond the classic tour. We like to converse with local people, there is no better trip than that. First stop: the belvedere. We see our hotel from above and the magnificent beach in front of it. We take the respective photos and continue our way along the coast.
Moana explained to us during the stop at the belvedere what our itinerary would be. It will be a day full of things.
Cook’s Bay and Pineapple Fields
From the Belvedere we go without making new stops to Cook’s Bay, which seems to be not the real one, but a mistake, of which there are several versions. In Moorea they also call it the Bay of Pao Pao.
The landscape is surreal, imposing mountains that rise directly from the water. The water of the bay like a mirror, reflects the green of the mountains. Simply magnificent. Almost finishing our stop another group arrives, we say that they are less fortunate than ours, because they are like 10. We are happy to have our semi-private tour.
From Cook’s Bay, we go into the island to see the pineapple fields, we pass some streams. We stop to listen to the explanation about how they plant pineapples and how they harvest them. There is a relaxing silence, it is hot and the earth seems to perspire. We complain because the sky is super clear and nothing better for this visit.
From here we go to the center of the volcano that originated Moorea. The place is stunning, from here you can see the island in a 360 ° turn from a single point. The center of the volcano is a mini valley surrounded by all the peaks of the island. You can see the mountain that has a little hole, and the mountain where the belvedere where we will go later. Our guide explains to us that The Revolt of the Bounty was filmed there and I think of those people in a remote time arriving in that lost paradise.
We make our way to the Belvedere in the mountain, crossing more pineapple fields everywhere. The landscapes vary, but that enchanting and magical green is always omnipresent.
Opunohu Valley: Belvedere of the Bays, and visit to the Agricultural Land
As we climb the mountain, the temperature changes, the air becomes cooler, and it almost feels cold, if cold, what a strange thing there. We reached the top, and what you see is a spectacle, the day gives us a clear view with only high clouds, and a shining sun.
We could easily see the two bays with the mountain that separates them in the middle. Everything super sharp thanks to the clarity of the air. The blue of the Pacific contrasts with the intense green of the mountains. I stay awhile alone to contemplate the landscape and listen to the silence (it sounds strange but that’s what I did) after taking some photos. This moment and that of the magic mountain will be that: magic.
After the Belvedere we went down to the Lycée Agricole de Moorea for a jam tasting and a toilettes break. We are not much of this type of consumer visits, but jams really conquer us and we ended up buying the one in Pamplemouse, excellent, it was a discovery. Grapefruit from French Polynesia is truly unique and exquisite.
The sky is covered a bit and we fear that the magic mountain will be covered. Then we understand that the weather in Polynesia is as difficult to predict as the future, everything changes, and in the Pacific, everything changes every 10 minutes.
The Magic Mountain
We head towards the magic mountain, when we reach a place that looks like the entrance of something, we come across another 4 × 4. The girl gives instructions to our guide, we do not understand much what is explained, not because they speak French, but because we do not understand the idea.
Then we understand that they told themselves that there was no one on the road. A car can hardly pass, now when two meet face to face with no idea how to do it, and at that moment even though he asked me the question, I didn’t want to know.
The route is narrow and winding. The more you climb, the more the slope increase, and the more it becomes difficult. Sometimes even scary, you feel that if the brake leaves us there will not be many options, except prayers. Thus we arrive at a slightly larger space, and our guide gives us instructions: now it is their turn to climb a few minutes on foot. He will stay in the 4 × 4, the other guide who never talks come up with us.
Goood, the view above is amazing, you can see the entire bay, with the colors that vary according to the depth of the water in the lagoon. There is no one upstairs, we are alone. We thank God that the sky is clear, that the light is wonderful and we can see for miles.
All the scare of the climb is worth it for this view. We saw it in so many photos, but everything falls short with the feeling of being there, of breathing the air that comes from the Pacific, the intense sun that burns the skin, the ukulele music that is felt in the distance from some house, the ships circulating in the bay. I will treasure this moment forever.
We take hundreds of photos, of videos, we record it in our minds. Then we have to go down on foot, and honestly I am already worried about the descent in 4 × 4. I ask Moana to take us slowly. Actually the descent was calm and faster than the climb, I think we did not go down the same place.
Now we have something soft, less adventurous, we are going to taste liquors … yujuuu !! Let’s go to the Tahiti Juice Factory. Where we have found our best friend: the Tahiti Drink. We tried several versions but we are captivated by the original. We bought one because we tell ourselves that it must be great to help yourself to one for the night in the bungalow. In the same business we buy tea flavored with passion fruit.
There were other things that I would have liked to buy but the prices are somewhat high. This is how our day ends. It’s really fantastic !!.
They return us to our hotel, around three we are already back. It’s hot, we just think about putting on a bathing suit and taking a bath on the beach. As fast as we think we do. The water seems to always wait for you at the same temperature. I have bathed in the Caribbean countless times and nothing compared to this, the temperature is always perfect.
Like any perfect vacation, while we bathe we discuss where we are going to have dinner today. We decided to go outside the hotel since dinner in it did not captivate us. We decided to go to the Moorea Beach Café, we had already read the opinions and we think it is a good choice. After the bath we go to the concierge to help us make reservations; done!!. They will pick us up at 7:00 p.m. in the hotel lobby.
Information break for Moorea : Most restaurants in Moorea can pick you up from your hotel for free, or for a ridiculous amount. It is not necessary to pay for a taxi.
We organize our aperitif before dinner, we have our super cocktail Tahiti Drink. In the bungalow we have everything we need to have a drink and some snacks that we brought, while we wait for dinner. Great to watch the afternoon fall from our terrace in the bungalow.
Previously you have to cover yourself with repellent of all kinds, and additionally put some anti-mosquitoes to burn. In our case we found one lying next to one of the restaurants and it was super useful. But we recommend that you take one from home, because if you want to enjoy the terraces it will be essential.
Our dinner at Moorea Beach was fantastic, copious, of good quality. All positive. The site is very beautiful, on the water’s edge. You can watch the sunset from there and enjoy the fish that come to enjoy what they throw from the kitchen. Dinner also allows you to see all kinds of geckos in mosquito hunting mode. You have to prepare to see these animals everywhere in French Polynesia, and especially in Moorea.
On the way back, the weather is perfect to take night photos and to see the infinity of fish that come to swim and hunt under the bungalows taking advantage of the light. At night it is possible to enjoy a great spectacle of nature, there are much more fish and they are all very active, with the lighting it is easy to contemplate them without having to be in the water.
Excursions in Moorea French Polynesia: Our first experience swimming with sharks and rays
Getting up early is customary, it comes naturally to us, the sun rises early here and everything starts very early. We do the usual, breakfast, and then we start to fix our things for our next adventure: the sharks. We have high expectations about this.
The day looks good, good! We go to the lobby and after waiting a while they come for us. Today we will be much more than yesterday’s excursion. But we will still enjoy a lot. They take us by bus to a jetty, there we get on a boat where we wait for some time, meanwhile, we take photos.
After a certain time of waiting we finally leave, they explain to us some things about the bay that we already knew from our visit the day before, but it is good to see it from the boat, much closer the mountains become more imposing. Today our visit will be in English and French. More English than French, the ship is full of Americans.
We make a stop to pick up what will be our lunch and our aperitif. And we headed towards the lagoon that we had seen the day before from the magic mountain. This one looks much shorter from the Lagoon.
The water is incredibly transparent, the colors are magical, they change depending on whether the sun is shining or setting, but it is magical. We make a stop to see the dolphins, how beautiful. The guide pretends to be surprised but I’m sure he knows very well where they were. It is a complete family, we delight in watching them do pirouettes. But we are relatively far away to allow us to take good photos or videos. Yet we grasp something.
We continue our course and finally reach where we will swim with the sharks. There the water is unusual. It looks like a swimming pool. I love the colors, just bathing there is a gift, doing it with the fish and sharks is simply indescribable.
The descent of the boat is total confusion, the guide is already down and already feeding the rays, and makes the tourists scream. The thing does not excite me more than that, I like these things but at my own pace. My husband is already downstairs and away from the hustle and bustle to make better videos because otherwise, everyone moves the sand at the bottom and in the water you see little. The water is not deep, it is possible to stand and enjoy the animals. There is enough space to enjoy the place without having to be all crowded together.
As they feed the rays, they can come over you thinking that you will feed them, so you have to avoid raising your hands so that they do not think that you have something to eat. Nor should you make sudden movements because they can be scared.
I could not touch the skin of the stripes, but if the tail, which is super rough, the texture is not super nice. I preferred sharks, seeing them swimming close to you with their unique elegance is fantastic. They seem to own the lagoon and make you see it. They don’t come close, they just swim around you and leave, unlike stingrays that are curious. Too much for my taste.
In the lagoon there are also other fish so if you manage to get away from the screaming people while the rays are raised, you will be able to enjoy a unique moment. I wish we were less, we saw that other excursions are less numerous. Next time I’ll ask how many people are in the tour group. Obviously, if you pay more, the tour is more exclusive. There is something for all tastes and budgets!!
After this magical moment, we headed to a motu. The climate begins to change but fortunately we are leaving it behind, or it haunts us, at that time we were not very clear about it.
On the motu we enjoyed snorkeling while the organizers prepared our lunch. The motu is a kind of beautiful islet, there are many corals and we delight in the fish. A ray walks calmly, and I can see it up close more calm than when we stopped previously to feed them. We captured it in a photo without problem, the line even played with our GoPro.
Just before lunch, they explain how poisson cru is made, it is not a super elaborate dish, but it has its secrets. Lunch will be an anthology soon, but I helped myself to more than necessary. Despite being so many people, the amount of food is more than enough. It can even be repeated, I could not finish my plate, to the happiness of some kittens who were at the Motu. The super varied food: grilled fish and chicken, poisson cru, salad, rice, fruit, coconut. Beers and cocktails à volonté. We ate so much that day, we didn’t even eat dinner.
While we eat, the bad weather that we thought we had left behind begins to approach the motu, the good weather still remains on one side and we see the black clouds approaching the other, which gives a beautiful combination. He gave us just enough time to eat and do some other activity before the clouds began to pour down on us.
At that time we appreciate everything we have bought for the trip. Waterproof bags for phones and things that can’t get wet are a must. Snorkeling shirts and reef shoes too. Don’t go to Polynesia without these teams. Reef shoes are essential because no beach has fine sand, there is a lot of coral. If you are lovers of snorkeling, buy your own mask, the ones from the hotels are not bad but they have quite a few limits, they easily fog up, and sometimes the glass is somewhat scratched.
Back at the hotel, the weather had already changed. The sun had set again, we took a bath on the beach and sat down to watch the evening fall while we contemplated Tahiti in the distance, there it seems that it rains.
After a shower, we settled down quietly on our bungalow terrace to enjoy our Tahiti Drink and the snacks that we brought. So in the middle of a conversation, our balance of the day, and sending messages with photos to our families, it is time to sleep. As you can see television is never among our activities.
Today, we enjoy the Sofitel Moorea and its amazing beach
Our awakening is the usual, after breakfast we enjoy feeding the fish on the dock. The quantity and variety of fish that arrive is incredible, we even managed to see puffer fish. There are so many that we decided to snorkel early in the morning, the water is calm and crystal clear.
Let’s change, what a pity that the GoPro has not finished downloading the photos, and that we must go without it. Visibility is fantastic and we see all kinds of fish. We found a beautiful, huge anemone with a couple of ‘nemos’. Beautiful.
We have been in the water for over an hour, seeing all kinds of fish. At one point my husband starts jumping and screaming, what a scare he has given me. A clownfish was chasing him. Later we understood that this type of fish is territorial at certain times, and attacks those who approach. It is not a huge or particularly dangerous fish, but I wouldn’t want its little teeth to bite me.
Today we spend the day between the beach, the terrace of the bungalow and snorkeling. We had originally planned to kayak, but in the end I don’t remember why we didn’t. The truth was we were somewhat tired of the previous days in which we had not stopped moving.
That day we wanted to go golf but the day before we were informed that it closed. So our idea of playing golf while looking at the beautiful waters of the Pacific disappeared.
Tonight we decided to repeat at the Moorea Café, after booking we went to change and on the way back we are going to enjoy happy hour at the hotel bar. On the way we found out that that night there is a Polynesian buffet (somewhat expensive) and among other things they prepare food with the traditional oven, which in short are embers in a hole in the ground that are then covered with hot stones, leaves, cloth, and land. They leave food there all day and open it at night.
We would have liked to be there for the opening but they were late and we had to leave before the opening. They do this same thing in the Tiki Village, but we did not go because it seemed a bit touristy.
We enjoyed, however, the preparation of the poisson cru, and again a demonstration of how to open a coconut that we had already seen the day before during the excursion.
When we returned from dinner the music continued, we still enjoyed it for a good hour, the musical group was very good. The night was perfect, the very clear sky revealed a super bright moon. A certain nostalgia overcame me to know that it was our last night in Moorea and that we were leaving our huge beachfront bungalow the next day.
For the last time on this trip, we were walking at night along the beach to our bungalow. The atmosphere was magical and very romantic, I understood why this destination is the top for honeymoons.