What are the five best things to see and do in Moorea?

Nicole Griffith

However active or inactive you wish to be, you'll find plenty of things to do in Moorea. While there are endless opportunities for rest and relaxation, Moorea can also appeal to your adventurous side. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best things to see and do in Moorea.
 
1. Climb Magic Mountain and Belvedere Point. The best view is from the top — and since getting there is half the experience, we recommend a guided ATV or 4x4 Jeep Safari tour. You'll explore the island's lush interior, pass through fragrant pineapple plantations and enjoy amazing panoramic views. Magic Mountain is located along the exterior and therefore boasts stunning views of the lagoon, while Belvedere Lookout is located toward the center of the island and offers breathtaking views of both Cook's Bay and Opunohu Bay.
 
2. Explore the lagoon by Jet Ski. One of the most exciting ways to see Moorea is to circle the island on a guided Jet Ski excursion. You'll get better acquainted with the lagoon and also get a feel for the overall landscape of the island. Some tours even include snorkeling stops, giving you the chance to explore Moorea from below the surface.
 
3. Go dolphin and whale watching. Marine biologist Dr. Michael Poole leads an excellent ecotour in Moorea. He and his research team will take you by boat to the best spots around the island for both dolphin and whale encounters. You'll also learn more about these magnificent creatures along the way. Although whale season is only from August to October, you can see dolphins all year long.
 
4. Snorkel and feed the stingrays. One of the more popular activities in Moorea is a lagoon cruise and ray feeding. You'll go snorkeling at various stops around the island and also have the chance to swim with stingrays. Your helpful guide will teach you how to feed these friendly creatures, allowing you to interact with them as little or as much as your comfort level allows.  
 
5. Go parasailing. This is an exhilarating way to get an amazing sky-high view of Moorea. You'll go parasailing over your choice of the lagoon, the reef, Cook's Bay or Opunohu Bay. Once you're up, you may never want to come down.

  • On August 16, 2012
    Nicole Griffith answered the question: Nicole Griffith

    What are the most romantic spots in Moorea?

    Since Moorea is one of the world's most popular honeymoon destinations, the island exudes romance. If you're planning to visit for your honeymoon or anniversary, here are some ways to ensure that your getaway is as romantic as possible.
     
    For the ultimate in seclusion, stay in an overwater bungalow. These luxurious villas are completely detached from the other surrounding bungalows and feature their own private decks, meaning you'll have complete privacy during your stay. You can even have breakfast delivered via outrigger canoe if you'd rather not leave your room in the morning.
     
    Have a romantic dinner on the beach or dine at one of Moorea's more intimate restaurants. Depending on where you stay, you can request a private dinner on the sand and enjoy a quiet, uninterrupted evening at the resort. We also recommend making a reservation at K Restaurant at the Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort. With an intimate dining room and amazing candlelit crystal centerpieces, it offers one of the most romantic dining experiences on the island. Or visit Te Honu Iti, a local French restaurant that overlooks Cook’s Bay, one of the most alluring coves — it’s surrounded by towering, lush mountains — in all of Polynesia.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Nicole Griffith answered the question: Nicole Griffith

    What is the best thing to bring home from Moorea?

    The best thing to bring home from a trip to Moorea is something that will stay with you forever. To commemorate this trip of a lifetime, you may feel inspired to get an authentic Tahitian tattoo. If so, the best local spot is Moorea Tattoo, located between Tiki Village and Painapo Beach. The owner, James Samuela, is a native Tahitian whose ancestors were among the first tattoo artists in Tahiti. Today, he's one of the last few artists in French Polynesia who still practices traditional Polynesian tattoo. His artwork is truly one of a kind, and he'll design a tattoo that best compliments your body and your personality. Just make sure to schedule an appointment ahead of time.
     
    If body art is not your style, the other must-have item is a Tahitian black pearl. For the best selection of pearls, visit Tahia Collins near Le Petit Village or any of the Robert Wan boutiques. There's a location at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa, and also another one at the InterContinental Moorea Resort and Spa.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Nicole Griffith answered the question: Nicole Griffith

    What are the five best Moorea food experiences?

    An area with a long history as a center of vanilla production, easy access to fresh seafood and a prominent French influence, The Society Islands are a place where you’ll find a unique and surprisingly sophisticated food scene. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best food experiences in Moorea.
     
    1. Crépes. The Toatea Bar at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa is the best place to indulge in a delicious French crépe while taking in the scenery of the island. This little bar and restaurant is perfectly situated over the water, so you may even get the chance to watch as they feed the reef sharks below you.
     
    2. Have breakfast delivered by outrigger canoe. Stay in an overwater bungalow at one of the island’s resorts and have room service delivered right to your own private deck. The hotel staff will arrive in a traditional outrigger canoe, bringing with them a delicious island breakfast consisting of fresh fruit, French pastries and more. Imagine waking up to a gorgeous sunrise, diving off your deck for a quick morning dip and then enjoying breakfast from the comfort of your own room.
     
    3. Poisson cru. In French, this literally means "raw fish," but this local delicacy is much more appetizing than it sounds. Poisson cru is a refreshing island specialty made from raw tuna. The fish is marinated in lime juice and mixed with a blend of diced vegetables and coconut milk. Often served in a coconut shell, its flavor defines the essence of French Polynesia. We recommend The Blue Pineapple and Snack Coco D'isle for some of the best poisson cru on the island.
     
    4. Experience a motu picnic. Choose an afternoon excursion that includes lunch on a small, secluded islet or motu, and you'll enjoy a fun Tahitian barbecue on the beach. Lunch will include a range of traditional Polynesian foods such as exotic fruit and salads, grilled chicken, fresh fish and often an ice-cold Hinano beer. You'll even have the chance to watch and learn while they make the island's signature dish, poisson cru.
     
    5. Enjoy dinner on the beach. Depending on where you stay, your hotel can usually arrange a private, romantic dinner for you and your partner on the beach. It's the perfect setting to watch the sunset, sink your toes into the sand and enjoy a quiet evening in solitude with your own waitstaff to serve you. You'll feel as though you've escaped to a private island without ever leaving the resort.
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  • On August 16, 2012
    Nicole Griffith answered the question: Nicole Griffith

    Where is the best nightlife in Moorea?

    As a laidback and somewhat underdeveloped island, Moorea is not a destination for lively nightlife. Instead, plan to spend your evenings exploring the island’s French-influenced restaurants or having a quiet nightcap at your hotel’s bar. Many of the larger resorts offer some sort of Polynesian night, with the requisite dance show. InterContinental Resort Moorea offers a theme night dinner with scores of tables set up on the beach, local dishes and lively dance and fire shows.  If you'd rather get away from the hotel for a night, visit Moorea's Tiki Village and enjoy a live performance from some of the best local musicians and fire dancers on the island.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Nicole Griffith answered the question: Nicole Griffith

    What is the best way to see Moorea in one day?

    The best way to appreciate Moorea is to spend a full day exploring the entire island — from the turquoise lagoon to the sandy shores and all the way to the top of the Magic Mountain and Belvedere Point. There are many different ways to do this, including helicopter rides, hiking excursions and guided tours.
     
    We think the best way to see Moorea in one day is a combination ATV and catamaran tour, which will allow you the chance to explore the island by both land and sea. There is a great excursion offered by Moorea Mahana Tours that devotes the first portion of the day to exploring Opunohu Bay on board a cata jet (a small catamaran that seats one to two people), followed by an ATV tour of Opunohu Valley. After exploring the island's lush mountains and pineapple plantations, you'll get back on the water and stop for a chance to get up close and personal with stingrays. The full-day excursion includes a picnic lunch on a small, secluded island where you'll learn how to make the island's traditional dish, poisson cru, a local take on ceviche.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in Moorea?

    Moorea is a great place to fulfill your dream of staying in a luxurious overwater bungalow—rates at Moorea’s more casual-mid-range resorts are often lower than at the ultra-luxury resorts on nearby Bora Bora. Plus, the island has some of the most gorgeous natural surroundings in the world, so the resorts here need very little to establish their idyllic ambience. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best places to stay in Moorea.
     
    1. Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa. This family-friendly resort is centrally located between Moorea's two gorgeous bays. Its spacious thatched-roof bungalows, which are clean and streamlined with Polynesian prints and updated bathrooms, lie scattered throughout exotic flower gardens or suspended over the lagoon.
     
    2. InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa. Tucked between the island's two mountains, this family-friendly resort has  cheerful and spacious rooms centered around a garden, the beach or as overwater villas. Home to the popular Moorea Dolphin Center and Sea Turtle Clinic, this resort has also become a sanctuary for the island's most precious marine life.
     
    3. Hotel Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort. Situated on one of the island's best white sand beaches, this resort is located close to the airport and ferry dock. The rooms and bungalows boast a sleek, modern décor, providing you with a private, stylish haven to call your own.
     
    4. Moorea Pearl Resort and Spa. The charming Moorea Pearl Resort and Spa maintains a boutique hotel feel with just 95 rooms and bungalows decorated in traditional island style and featuring thatched roofs. Located just ten minutes from the airport and fifteen minutes from the ferry dock, it's one of the most conveniently located hotels on the island.
     
    5. Legends Resort Moorea. Unlike other Polynesian resorts that hug the shoreline or extend onto it with overwater bungalows, Legends Resort Moorea is tucked away on a secluded hillside and delivers incredible views of the island. It offers large villas with multiple rooms, fully equipped kitchens and private jacuzzis, making it especially appealing for families.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Nicole Griffith answered the question: Nicole Griffith

    Where is the best shopping in Moorea?

    Moorea boasts a variety of great little shops and boutiques where you can find a selection of authentic Polynesian goods and handcrafts. While the resorts typically have their own gift shops, you'll want to venture away from the hotel to find the best shopping in Moorea.  
     
    For souvenirs, head to Le Petit Village at Hauru Point. This small shopping center features a variety of island boutiques where you can buy everything from clothing to vanilla beans. It's also a great place to purchase a Tahitian pareo, which are the colorful beach wraps you'll see some of the local women wearing. For the finest jewelry, Tahia Collins is located near the shopping center and sells beautiful Tahitian black pearls.
     
    One of the best local art boutiques is Sculpture Par Woody, located in Papetoai near the InterContinental Moorea Resort and Spa. This gallery showcases the work of artist Woody Howard, a Hawaiian native who is most famous for his large wooden sculptures. He also makes gorgeous jewelry, guitars and ukuleles. If you're lucky, you may catch him in his studio and see him in action.
     
    Finally, if you're looking for something flavorful, you'll want to visit the Fruit Juice Factory located along the shores of Cook's Bay. This is the best place to buy delicious jams and liqueurs made from the island's fresh fruits. Simply drop in for an afternoon sampling at their tasting counter and decide which flavors should make the trip home with you.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Nicole Griffith answered the question: Nicole Griffith

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Moorea?

    Moorea is one of the most family-friendly islands in French Polynesia. With a relaxed atmosphere and welcoming spirit, it is a warm and inviting destination for children of all ages and families of all sizes. Here, according to our Forbes Travel Guide editors, are the best things to do with your kids in Moorea:
     
    1. Swim with dolphins. The Moorea Dolphin Center is one of the most popular family attractions on the island. Located at the InterContinental Moorea Resort and Spa, this natural refuge is home to three bottlenose dolphins and offers a variety of family programs. The kids will interact with the dolphins and learn more about these fascinating marine mammals from their trainers.
     
    2. Snorkel and explore the lagoon. Lagoon cruises are a great way for the kids to enjoy the water. You'll stop at various points around the island and go snorkeling in safe and shallow waters. You may even get the chance to feed the stingrays. Most full-day excursions include a traditional picnic lunch on a secluded islet, or motu.
     
    3. Go on a Jeep safari. Stay on land for a day and enjoy some of the best views of Moorea. On this popular guided excursion, you'll explore the lush interior of the island, learn about different tropical plants and enjoy the view from the top of Magic Mountain and Belvedere Point.
     
    4. Rent a car and tour the island. If you're the type of family that likes to jump in the car and explore a destination at your own pace, this is the perfect way to experience Moorea. There's one main road that wraps around the island with plenty of signs marking important landmarks, so you'll have no problem finding your way. Or, if you'd like, you can also request an audio tour with GPS to help with the drive.
     
    5. Visit Tiki Village. Spend a day at Moorea's Tiki Village and experience life in a traditional Tahitian town. You'll watch as local artists make flower crowns known as heis, and also become more familiar with the art of tattooing, wood carving and fabric painting. Visits include a Polynesian dinner and dance show, which will work wonders to keep the kids entertained.
  • On August 16, 2012
    Nicole Griffith answered the question: Nicole Griffith

    What are the five best things to see and do in Moorea?

    However active or inactive you wish to be, you'll find plenty of things to do in Moorea. While there are endless opportunities for rest and relaxation, Moorea can also appeal to your adventurous side. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best things to see and do in Moorea.
     
    1. Climb Magic Mountain and Belvedere Point. The best view is from the top — and since getting there is half the experience, we recommend a guided ATV or 4x4 Jeep Safari tour. You'll explore the island's lush interior, pass through fragrant pineapple plantations and enjoy amazing panoramic views. Magic Mountain is located along the exterior and therefore boasts stunning views of the lagoon, while Belvedere Lookout is located toward the center of the island and offers breathtaking views of both Cook's Bay and Opunohu Bay.
     
    2. Explore the lagoon by Jet Ski. One of the most exciting ways to see Moorea is to circle the island on a guided Jet Ski excursion. You'll get better acquainted with the lagoon and also get a feel for the overall landscape of the island. Some tours even include snorkeling stops, giving you the chance to explore Moorea from below the surface.
     
    3. Go dolphin and whale watching. Marine biologist Dr. Michael Poole leads an excellent ecotour in Moorea. He and his research team will take you by boat to the best spots around the island for both dolphin and whale encounters. You'll also learn more about these magnificent creatures along the way. Although whale season is only from August to October, you can see dolphins all year long.
     
    4. Snorkel and feed the stingrays. One of the more popular activities in Moorea is a lagoon cruise and ray feeding. You'll go snorkeling at various stops around the island and also have the chance to swim with stingrays. Your helpful guide will teach you how to feed these friendly creatures, allowing you to interact with them as little or as much as your comfort level allows.  
     
    5. Go parasailing. This is an exhilarating way to get an amazing sky-high view of Moorea. You'll go parasailing over your choice of the lagoon, the reef, Cook's Bay or Opunohu Bay. Once you're up, you may never want to come down.
  • On July 27, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to eat in Moorea?

    The food in Moorea is a delicious fusion of French cuisine and local Polynesian flavors. While you can find appealing menus with an international bent at the resorts, you'll also want to try some of the local spots around the island. Here, according to our Forbes Travel Guide editors, are the best places to eat in Moorea:
     
    1. La Villa des Sens. Located at the Legends Resort Moorea, La Villa des Sens is one of the best fine dining restaurants on the island. It has a sophisticated atmosphere with contemporary décor and stunning lagoon views. The seafood-heavy menu features dishes enhanced with fresh local flavors (think grilled mahi with coconut milk and lime) and served alongside organic vegetables or exotic fruits.


    2. Le Mayflower. Locals proclaim Le Mayflower in Haapiti to be the best gourmet restaurant on their home island. It is most famous for its delicious house special, lobster ravioli. Other creative seafood dishes include tuna steak with tomato, basil and garlic cream sauce; shrimp flambé with cognac and pasta; and mahi-mahi with ginger and lemon sauce.
     
    3. Snack Coco D'isle. Situated in Haapiti, this local restaurant is casual dining at its best. The quaint little roadside restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxed evening with your feet in the sand. The menu features a diverse range of local specialties including pizza, kabobs, steak frites, fresh sashimi, grilled fish and burgers. The portions are generous and the prices are reasonable, giving many travelers a reason to eat there twice in one trip.
     
    4. Le Mahogany. This bistro near idyllic Cook's Bay is just as popular with the locals as it is with foreigners. The restaurant has a charming tiki-hut feel, with polished mahogany tables, colorful artwork and large windows that open up to the surrounding tropical gardens. The menu is both Chinese and French — which means you can choose from dishes as diverse as French onion soup or prawn curry.
     
    5. Te Honu Iti. Tahitian for “The Little Turtle,” this classic French restaurant offers a lovely waterfront setting near Cook's Bay with an outdoor deck and lights that illuminate the lagoon at night. Request a table near the water so you can watch as locals feed the stingrays as you dine. The menu offers classic French fare — including frog's legs and beef tenderloin with brandy sauce — as well as Polynesian-inspired dishes.