All my life I’d heard about Tahiti and Bora Bora. Until recently, that is. A few years ago, a friend went on a French Polynesian cruise and hated it—can you believe it?! There was one notable exception, however: Mo’orea. My friend said she’d skip the islands entirely, except for that one; that one, she’d go back to as soon as she could. Why? It’s beautiful.
Have you heard of Mo’orea before now? I’m about to give you 10 reasons why you should consider visiting this gorgeous island in the South Pacific. Here are the best 10 things to do!
10. Go Kayaking in the Lagoon
Steve and I were able to rent a tandem kayak (included in our hotel stay!), and it was a fun way to see the world below the surface. The lagoon where we were was huge, so we could have been out there for hours! It’s also the best way to get views of the shore.
9. Try Out Stand-up Paddle Boarding
This is one of my favorite things to do on the water! Even better: It was included in our hotel rate! I think they’re so much fun, and even though I fell off twice (don’t bring your phone with you unless it’s waterproof!), I still had a great time! You can see more on a paddle board because you’re standing up (as opposed to a kayak), and while it’s a challenge, it’s not hard to get the hang of it. Enjoy!
8. Drive All the Way Around
Most of the sites, hotels, and activities on Mo’orea are on the north side of the island. However, you’ll be remiss if you skip the 34-mile drive all the way around. I highly recommend renting a car for your trip anyway, so you can see the most and see it at your own pace. You’ll have views of the mountains everywhere, but the view will always be changing. It’s a beautiful drive, and an easy one, too!
Essential info: Your Guide to Renting a Car on Tahiti and Mo’orea
7. Dine Seaside
Almost every restaurant is open-air, but not all of them have such epic views! At least once while you’re on the island, plan to eat with a view of the ocean. Our favorites were Pure at the Sofitel, Snack Mahana, and Mo’orea Beach Cafe, but there are certainly others with such views! Don’t skip this!
Keep eating: The Best Places to Eat on Mo’orea
6. Take a Look at the Ta’otara Lookout
Even if you’re not staying in one of the overwater bungalows, you should really get the view from here! You can see the Sofitel’s bungalows below, as well as that crystal clear water and Tahiti looming in the distance. You may even see one of the ferries sailing between the two islands while you’re here. There are several parking spaces on the side of the road, but you can also run, walk, or bike up here, especially if you’re staying at the Sofitel, just a half mile down the hill.
5. Hike Up to Fa’aro’a (Magic Mountain)
We did not get to do a lot of hiking on Mo’orea simply because we visited during the rainy season. Flash floods, mud, and slipping on sheer mountainsides were not on our “must do” list. The hike up to Fa’aro’a, or Magic Mountain, however, is paved! It’s relatively safe, even if you get a little rained on. It’s steep, though, so be prepared to sweat!
You’ll pay 200 CFP (about $2 USD) at the fruit stand and gift shop in the parking area, and from there, it’s about a mile up (and a mile down!). When you come back, however, you’ll get to sample the fruit stand’s fresh fruit and homemade jams. And if you feel like a treat (as we did), you’ll also want to order a fresh-squeezed juice or smoothie, too!
4. Drive Up to the Belvedere Lookout
Non-hikers, rejoice! There is a winding road to the top of this lookout so that you can see both of Mo’orea’s bays and the mountain between them. If you or someone you’re traveling with gets car sick, bring some motion sickness medicine. Try to do this on a clear day, but don’t be discouraged if it’s a bit overcast. We still got a great view, even with clouds in the sky!
More here: What to Know Before You Visit Mo’orea
3. Go Pearl Shopping
Mo’orea has the most pearl shops of any of the Islands of Tahiti! You’ll find them in every price range, but you’ll want to know what you’re looking at before you make a purchase. Tahitian pearls are unique in their range of colors, so there are infinite options to find (or create!) something you love that’s truly one of a kind. I could have perused the local shops all day, every day of our trip!
2. Go Snorkeling
Mo’orea has some of the clearest water in the world, and some of the friendliest fish! I’ll admit that I’m not a great swimmer, and I’m terrified of drowning, but snorkeling here was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever done. The coral is every color of the rainbow, and the fish are, too. It was fun to see the fish hiding in the coral, swimming all around us, and just going about their day. Once I got the hang of it, I wanted to spend every possible moment with my face in that turquoise water! I’m willing to bet you will, too.
BYOS (Bring Your Own Snorkel): 5 Things You Forgot to Pack for French Polynesia
1. Stay in an Overwater Bungalow
This experience was 100% worth it. If you know me at all, you know I can stretch a penny till you can see through it. We found a deal on a Superior Overwater Bungalow at the Sofitel Kia Ora, and while it’s still the most we have ever paid for a hotel room, we have epic memories with no regrets. We snorkeled off our own deck, got to experience tropical rains in a unique way, got the best views, and saw fish swimming right below us through the window in the floor. It’s an experience I would never trade for something cheaper.
Get all the details: What It’s Like to Stay at the Sofitel Mo’orea in French Polynesia
Want more tips to plan your trip to paradise? Check out my dedicated French Polynesia Page!
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