Moorea… The Better Island than Tahiti

The Island of Moorea, truly one of the most visually stunning places I’ve seen, let alone been to in person. Eight massive, jungle covered peaks extend out of the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Coral reefs wrap around the entire island, creating turquoise blue lagoons that surround the beaches on this paradise. Sharks and turtles navigate in and out of the lagoons, across their homes within healthy coral reefs. And if it wasn’t already amazing enough, you could stay in a bungalow on the water, for $100 a night! Too good to be true? As much as it seems like it, I promise you it’s very real. Thankfully, a friend of ours told us to spend more time on Moorea than Tahiti, and that was the best piece of advice we could’ve ever been told before this trip! And after a short ferry ride across the 10 miles of ocean from the main island of Tahiti, paradise is truly found. 

Lodging & Bungalows

Beyond some of the roadside experiences that captured our trip, I cannot express how amazing the places we stayed were. Ironically, they were all the exact same small cabin/huts hosted by a local, like Pension Motu Iti, but just on different parts of the island since we bounced around every two days. No frills, a bed, bathroom, and usually an incredible view. All of them were a short walk to the beach or to the ocean, but the best one, hands-down, was this place that sat right on the lagoon! Maybe because there was no air-conditioning, or the fact you have to sleep with a bug net, but places like this only cost around $100 USD a night! Far better deal than those $1K/night bungalows over the water. Lucky for us, all of the places we stayed were so close to the water, a beach, or even on top of the water. 

SCUBA Diving

One of the most memorable experiences on this trip, were the four dives that we got to do on the Island of Moorea. Taking a speedboat out from one of the dive centers, we headed out to the ocean, beyond the reef, and dropped into an entirely different world than I’ve ever seen while diving. It was a lush coral reef, healthy as can be, filled with hard coral and small fish blanketing the reef. But we didn’t come for the coral, we came for the Black Tip Reef Sharks and the Turtles! Throughout the dives, we saw countless Sharks swimming all around us, curious at first to us intruders, they slowly began to ignore us and go about their business as if we weren’t there. The sharks, mixed with the turtles swimming alongside of them, will be an image I will never forget. Of course, diving is also about meeting new people that have also traveled halfway around the world to come here as well. Getting to share that experience with a couple from Germany, the UK, France, and of course other Americans, are always just as interesting. Not to mention the incredible stories that the dive masters have to share too!

The two dive operators we went through this trip were Moorea Blue Diving and Scubapiti. The first dive operator left out of a fancy resort, and had it’s office as one of the huts over the water and an equally rad boat to take us out in. The group here was a bit larger, but still less than 12 total (including dive masters), and were all multi-lingual to talk with each and everyone of the divers. Overall, great experience, and they knew all the best spots on the reef, especially where to find the big turtles that were resting. Scubapiti on the other-hand, was a small outfit, working out a a small shack on the beach of a resort. And the day we booked, had only 2 other divers. So our guide/captain/dive master, took us out in the boat acting as a 1-man crew. This dive was way more intimate, getting to know not only the other two german divers, but our guide really well. He told us stories about growing up in Tahiti as well as how he married a woman from Oregon and has been to the states a few times. Both days out were incredible in their own ways, and very much recommend both dive operators.

ATV Tours

On one of the days, where we had nothing planned, we scrambled last minute to book an ATV tour and found an opening within the same hour with ATV Moorea Tours. So we joined the group of French couples and got to see the interior of Moorea in a way that our rental car simply couldn’t compete. Flying down the roads and trails, beneath the pinnacles that pierce the skies, across the farm fields growing the most exotic fruits and food, around the slopes that are covered in pineapples, and eventually to an incredible lookout point to see both bays on Moorea between the three fingers. We learned about how Captain Cook “discovered” the island as well as the trade school that kids come to Moorea to learn how to farm. The wildest part was a quick detour we took to a shallow river, where our ATV guide cracked open a can of tuna into the river to bring in all these massive river monsters. Well, I guess monsters might be pushing it, but they were 3-6ft long, freshwater eels that have grown accustomed to being fed by humans. A dozen of them came to the riverbank, munching away on the tuna floating downstream, and even let us touch their slimy bodies. It just reinforced what we already knew, this place is more beautiful, wilder, and we’ve never seen anything like it before.

The Food

With fish being so accessible to everyone, we were never far from some of the best seafood we’ve ever had. And we did our best to have seafood every single day, especially Poke. Even though we ran into some language barriers on Tahiti, Moorea was much more accustomed to dealing with English speaking tourists and we definitely benefited from that. No matter where we went, especially the grocery store, we found some of the best sushi, seafood, and french baguettes. The seafood was reasonably priced, especially for how delicious it was, but the bread, in some ares, cost less than a quarter for a 3ft long, freshly baked, piece of heaven. It seems like if you have to be taken over by a country from Europe, at least they got incredible cuisine out of it. The only downside we saw with the restaurants on Moorea, was that they were open on their own time, and closed rather early into the evening. The locals were truly on island time, which isn’t too bad, just means you can’t wait around to eat dinner whenever you want. That is, unless you want to be stuck shelling out $$$ to eat at the fancy resorts with the over-water bungalows that cater to the western tourist.


Even though I’ve touched on the beauty of Moorea from what I’ve written about so far, it really does take seeing it with your own eyes to really appreciate. The jagged peaks, everywhere you look, from any point on the island, are breathtaking. The sunsets here, far off below the horizon of the Pacific, light up the skies here in a way I’ve never seen. The mountains, ocean, and the sky all seem to catch fire, and the added effect of the perpetual smoke coming from the trash fires all over the island, blanket Moorea in a haze that makes it seem magical. Sure, parts of Hawaii and Thailand are amazingly beautiful, but not every square inch. And on Moorea, every foot, mile, and acre of that island is out of a dreamscape. Especially when palm trees grow like wildflowers on the island so it’s hard not to think you’re in paradise when you see them.

Overall, getting to, staying on, and exploring Moorea was an amazing time. I wish I had the chance to go surfing out at the edge of the lagoon, but surfboard rentals were far and few inTahiti, let alone on Moorea. Getting the ferry over from Tahiti was super easy, and the the schedules run very consistently. Driving around the island was a piece of cake, simply because there is very little traffic. And honestly, best tip I can share is to find lodging that has kayaks that you can take out whenever you want to explore the lagoon. Those days out in the water were fantastic, and something we never wanted to end, especially when we could drop an anchor off the kayak and go snorkeling. That was the time we got to see a sting ray swimming along the sandy bottom. And despite the long, 10 hour flight from the west coast, this trip was completely worth it, and I’d spend every moment on Moorea if we could do it again. 

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