Welcome to the magical island of Moorea, French Polynesia! Located just a quick thirty minute ferry ride from Tahiti, Moorea has skyrocketed in popularity and is one of the most visited islands for travelers making the journey out this way. While it may be known “Tahiti’s little sister,” this list of things do in Moorea is not little at all. After spending a full-week exploring this slice of paradise, I’ve fallen completely in love with just about everything Moorea has to offer.
Known for it’s mesmerizing and rugged landscape, pristine white sand beaches, delectable cuisine, rich marine biodiversity, stunning sunsets, and welcoming Polynesian culture – there certainly is a little something for everyone on Moorea.
I’ve put together a list of what I think are the best Moorea attractions, favorite food experiences, fun tours and a whole lot more in this guide! While I had a full week on the island and my Moorea itinerary was jam-packed, it’ll be quite difficult to do everything on this list. I hope you find this Moorea travel guide useful, and enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them!
1) Moana Lagoon Snorkeling & Lunch Tour
First things first, this was by far my FAVORITE DAY during my week on Moorea, and if I could only choose one thing to do – it’s this day-trip!
The first stop is a snorkeling spot where you’ll get the chance to get up close and personal with black tip sharks, sting rays, and tons of fish. I’ve never been surrounded by so many sharks before, and while it was a tad bit nerve-wracking at first, they’re pretty chill and aren’t known to be dangerous. The sting rays are incredibly beautiful, and you can even touch them lightly to feel their smooth skin while they effortlessly glide past you.
On the second stop we visited a beautiful coral garden that had some of the best reefs I’ve ever seen during a snorkeling trip. It’s also a common spot for turtle spotting (we saw quite a few on our trip).
The third and final spot was lunch at Coco Beach Restaurant, which is a on private island just off the coast of Moorea. This was easily one of the best meals I’ve had in French Polynesia, and it cannot be missed (but more on that later).
My group of friends and I booked a private tour with Corallina Tours, and I can’t recommend them enough! The owner of the company is named Maui, and he’s an absolute legend who definitely helped us make the most of our time on Moorea.
2) ATV Tour Through The Island
You simply can’t leave Moorea without exploring the island’s lush green landscape, pineapple fields, and various viewpoints – and there’s no better way to do that then on an ATV Tour.
Many of the paths on Moorea are really narrow and only accessible by ATV, and cruising through them is an adventure all on its own. You’ll get to visit iconic viewpoints like Belvedere Lookout and Magic Mountain, as well as drive through the island’s pineapple crops, and end the tour with a local jam tasting/ fresh pineapple juice.
ATV tours are quite popular all over French Polynesia, but Moorea is definitely one of the best places to do do this! I actually did this tour on a rainy day and it was still a highlight of my trip, as the rain just added to the jungle vibes.
There are a tons of different companies that offer this excursion, but I ended up going with Albert Tours and had a great time! The guide was super friendly, knowledgeable, and was always there to help with photo opportunities.
3) Kayaking & Snorkeling Right Off the Coast
One of the reasons why I fell in love with Moorea so hard is that the snorkeling just a few minute’s swim off the beaches were spectacular. I don’t think a single day passed where we didn’t grab our gear and enjoy a quick snorkel!
There are some beautiful reefs and tons of marine life, and it’s a great way to get some exercise for an hour or two each day. We had rented a beachfront Airbnb near Maharepa, and that entire coastline has an awesome reef worth exploring.
4) Manutea Tahiti – Rotui Juice Factory & Distillery | Rum Tasting
Manutea Tahiti is one of the main distilleries for dozens of different delicious Tahitian Rums, juices, and drinks. Perfectly located in the iconic Cook’s Bay, you have to visit this place for one of the free rum tasting experiences.
Now, let me warn you – this rum tasting is no joke. I was fortunate enough to do be able to do this twice during my time on Moorea, and both times left the tasting room with quite a good buzz! They’ll give you pretty large samples of around 8-10 different products of theirs, and give you a description on each one.
My group of friends and I always laugh about how we love their business model, because they get you semi-drunk from their amazing rum tasting, and let you loose in their gift shop (which is fantastic place to buy some souvenirs/gifts).
5) French Polynesia Food Tour Experience
If you’re just arriving into French Polynesia, or are a foodie looking to learn more about the cuisine here, then I’d recommend trying out a Moorea Food Tour.
One of the things I realized after spending 3-weeks in the Islands of Tahiti is that it’s absolutely a foodie’s paradise! It’s such a unique blend of Tahitian, Chinese, and French cuisine – and I loved learning and sampling so much on this food tour.
We visited around 8 or 9 different establishments and island favorites on the private food tour, and it was great to have a better understanding of the local food culture. I was fortunate enough to meet the owner of the company Heimata, and his passion for his tours really shows. (If you don’t end up doing this tour while on Moorea, they also offer a food tour on Tahiti.)
6) Scuba Diving
For those that are scuba-certified (or are looking to get their certification), the diving here on Moorea is truly spectacular! French Polynesia is easily one of the top destinations in the world for scuba-diving, and my one dive in Moorea was my favorite from my entire 3-week trip.
I went with the company Nemo’z Diving Center Moorea, and did the TAO TOI dive site (which is just a short 5-10 minute boat ride) just off the coast. The reef was insanely colorful, and we got to see a ton of turtles and unique fish I had never seen before.
7) Rent a Car & Drive Around The Island
Moorea is a relatively small, and you can drive around the entire island in about an hour (without any stops). It’s a well-maintained 62km drive around the island, and you’ll be blessed with a bunch of gorgeous views of the beaches and island landscape.
It’s a terrific way to see the island, as well as have the freedom to visit a ton of other places on this list of things to do in Moorea.
Be sure to stop at one of the roadside fruit stalls for some delicious local fruits and refreshing fresh coconut water!
8) Stay at an Overwater Bungalow
French Polynesia is famous for their iconic and luxurious overwater villas.
While most people flock to Bora Bora for this bucket-list accommodation experience, you can also do this in Moorea (often at a much cheaper price). There are three main options to choose from:
- Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort
- Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa
- Hotel Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea
No matter which you choose (if its in your budget), I’m sure you’ll have an incredible stay! I didn’t get the chance to stay in one during my visit, but for my next visit I’m hoping to stay at the Sofitel.
9) Enjoy a Feast at Coco Beach Moorea
So I already touched on this restaurant above (see #1), but if you decide not to do a snorkeling day-trip that includes a lunch stop Coco Beach, you still NEED to make your way out there for a meal.
It truly is one of the best meals I’ve had in French Polynesia, and just visiting the island is worth it! Offering stunning views of Moorea and pristine turqouise waters, it’s an absolute-must visit!
10) Try Poisson Cru at Snack Mahana
“Poisson Cru” is the national dish of French Polynesia, and you’ll find it on nearly every menu you come across while traveling here. Made up of raw fish, citrus juices, raw vegetables, and coconut milk – it’s a Tahitian treat that never disappoints.
I can’t even begin to think about how many different times I tried this dish while exploring the Islands of Tahiti, but the Poisson Cru at Snack Mahana was easily one of my favorites.
Snack Mahana is a local favorite in Moorea, and they don’t take reservations. While from the front it looks like a modest little restaurant, once you enter you’ll see it’s a pretty large ocean-front restaurant with gorgeous views. Whether you’re looking for lunch or dinner, this place certainly will not disappoint.
11) Spend a Night in a Jungle Retreat with Pool
If you’re looking for a unique accommodation experience while in Moorea, then journey into the “jungle” and check in for a night or two at the Village Temanoha.
Founded by two French brothers who both live and work on the property, this is a charming retreat that is perfect for adventure-seekers.
While there were a lot of mosquitos out there, taking a swim in the pool at sunset and looking out at the massive Moorea landscape through coconut trees is an experience I’ll never forget. I’d only really recommend this place though if you have at least a week on the island, as it’s quite secluded, and wouldn’t be too comfortable for a long stay.
12) Watch the Sunset at the Public Beach Ta’ahiamanu
Watching the sunset in Moorea each evening is obviously a must, and there are countless solid view points to choose from. One of my personal favorites though to do this though is at one of the most popular public beaches in Moorea, Ta’ahiamanu.
I drove past this countless times and was mesmerized by the long line of towering coconut trees looking out into Opunohu Bay. It’s a favorite spot for locals to come and spend the day swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing.
It’s truly stunning, and I’d recommend putting down a beach blanket, bringing along some fresh fruit & Tahitian Rum to make some cocktails, and enjoy the view of the sky changes to mesmerizing pink and orange hues.
13) Have Dinner at Rudy’s Steak & Seafood Restaurant
Another local favorite in Moorea, Rudy’s is the first restaurant my group of friends and I went to on our first night on the island. With a superb mix of French & Tahitian cuisine, as well a solid list of imported French wine – this was another incredible dining experience.
Our group ended up doing a massive “family style” order of nearly everything on the menu, and was a great way to taste as much as possible of the restaurant’s top dishes.
If you do make it to Rudy’s – be sure to try the French Onion Soup, the Parrot Fish (if available), and the Filet Mignon!
(Also, if you’re in the area and don’t have a rental car, they do offer a pick-up/drop-off service if it’s not too busy!)
14) Belvedere Lookout
Most people who visit Moorea will book some type of tour that will take you to the Belvedere Lookout (like the ATV tour mentioned, or a 4x4 excursion), but this is also accessible if you have a rental and want to drive up on your own.
It’s probably the most popular spots in all of Moorea, and offers uninterrupted sights of Cook’s Bay, Opunohu Bay, and Mt. Totui. It’s also the starting point for some of Moorea’s hiking trails for those who are looking to work up a sweat!
15) Magic Mountain Lookout
The other main viewpoint on Moorea, Magic Mountain, is not as easily accessible by rental car (and I’d highly recommend against driving up here yourself. This is another spot included on most excursions through companies on Moorea, but it’s also a widely popular to hike up to the top.
Offering incredible views of the Moorea coastline with overwater villas in the distance as well Opunohu Bay, you need to make sure this is on your Moorea itinerary!
16) Dinner & Cocktails at Moorea Beach Cafe
Another food/drink recommendation on my list would be this oceanfront establishment, the Moorea Beach Cafe. Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11:30am to 9:30pm, it’s a gorgeous venue offering delicious food, cocktails, and a fantastic sunset happy hour!
17) Tiki Village’s Polynesian Show in Moorea
During my week-long visit, this was unfortunately one of Moorea’s top tourist attractions I wasn’t able to experience for myself, but have heard from many people it’s totally worth it!
Complete with a buffet dinner and Polynesian cultural show, Tiki’s Village will give you a much deeper appreciation for all thing’s Polynesian.
The dinner + show combination is only available on Tuesdays & Friday nights from 6-10PM, and reservations are required in advance!
18) Buy Souvenir Tahitian Pearls
The Islands of Tahiti are known around the world for marvelous and unique black pearls found in their remote lagoons.
All around Moorea are you’ll notice dozens of different pearl shops, and I’d recommend walking into a few and discussing with the staff about the Tahitian pearls, and potentially bring one of the magical gems home as a souvenir.
19) Skydive over Moorea
Have you ever been skydiving before? Well, if you haven’t tried it out yet, or want to give it another go – there are fewer places in the world I can imagine as more scenic to skydive over than Moorea Island.
While it may also be one of the most expensive places to get this bucket-list adrenaline rush, it’s a memory that will never be forgotten. Contact Skydive Tahiti for questions, bookings, and availability.
20) Swim with Whales
One of the most popular times of the year to visit French Polynesia is between August to October, as it’s one the few places in the world where you can experience the wondrous and bucket-list activity of swimming with whales! While I didn’t get the chance since I visited in June, I’m already planning a return trip in 2022 for this exact reason!
“Whale watching is a regulated activity in The Islands of Tahiti and the territory authorizes professionals who specialize in these types of excursions. Always book your boat tour with an accredited tour guide who follows certain rules such as maintaining a safe distance, letting the whales approach you and never chasing or blocking their path. Swimming with these majestic creatures is a great privilege for visitors who often leave feeling somewhat transformed by the experience.
French Polynesia was classified as an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a wildlife sanctuary where, among other things, drift fishing is prohibited, earning French Polynesia top honors from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).”
21) Allo Pizza
If you’re looking for the best pizza on Moorea, then make your way over to Allo Pizza, or call them at 40-56-18-22 for delivery to your hotel/ accommodation.
They’ve got a wide variety of pizzas ranging from traditional, white cream sauce, and chef specialties – and everything I tried from them was spectacular. While I know the internet is divided on the subject, I’m personally a big fan of Hawaiian Pizza, and since Moorea is known for the pineapples, it will hit the spot!
22) Visit the Toatea View Point
Offering a stunning view of Sofitel’s overwater bungalows, a magnificent public beach lined with coconut trees, and Tahiti in the distance – this is a quick stop that you need to see while on Moorea, and a perfect photo opportunity.
23) Go Hiking & Afareaitu Waterfall
During my visit to Moorea, I didn’t have much spare time to embark on any of the island’s epic trails – but active travelers looking to get some exercise, there are definitely tons of options to choose from. If this sounds like something you’ll want to do, check out this guide on Hiking in Tahiti & Moorea for more info on popular trails like Three Coconuts Pass, Three Pines Pass, and Afareaitu Waterfall.
24) Jet Ski Tour
There’s a popular meme that went around a year ago that said, “money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does buy jet skis, and have you ever seen someone sad on a jet ski?”
Jet Ski tours are quite popular in French Polynesia (mainly in Moorea & Bora Bora), and this would be yet another amazing option to explore the coastline, as well as get up close and personal with marine life.
On this two-hour tour you’ll visit the same lagoon as the previously mentioned snorkeling trip, and get to swim with the black tip sharks and sting rays. Your local tour guide will also be on the lookout for pods of dolphins!
25) Visit the Sea Turtles at Te Mana O Te Moana
“Founded in 2004, the association Te mana o te moana acts for the protection of the Polynesian marine environment and more specifically sea turtles through actions of discovery, education and protection.”
This family-friendly and educational activity is perfect for marine-lovers, and you can take a 1.5 hour guided tour of the Sea Turtle care center which goes over the foundation’s facilities while learning all about sea turtles and Polynesian marine environment.
26) Try a Poke Bowl at the Pura Vida Food Truck
If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat while exploring the island, go find the Pura Vida Food Truck in Cook’s Bay! Serving up a mouth-watering poke bowls, fish tacos, burgers, and lots more – it’s yet another food recommendation that you will absolutely love, as well as being more budget-friendly than the more expensive eateries on the island.
27) Visit Fare Tutava For Smoothies & Jams
Since Moorea is a fruit-lover’s paradise, the make quite a wide variety of jams, marmalades, smoothies, etc. There’s a popular place called Fare Tutava (located right off the road near Opunohu Bay).
I visited this place two different times on my Moorea Food Tour as well as my ATV Tour, so if you end up booking one of those, I’m sure you’ll get to try their jam tasting and order a fresh smoothie.
But if you decide to do things on your own and not book any tours, definitely check it out as a quick pit-stop. They also have a wide variety of affordable souvenirs for purchase (which also make great gifts to bring home).
28) Stargazing & Astrophotography
Last, but certainly not least, Since French Polynesia is such a remote destination, there’s very little light pollution – making it IDEAL for getting beautiful stargazing and photos of the Milky Way Galaxy.
If you’re a photographer, be sure to bring along a travel tri-pod and wide angle lens, because some of my favorite astrophotography shots I’ve ever taken were in Moorea.
Thanks so much for reading my Moorea travel guide!
Spending one-week on this magical island was an experience I’ll never forget, and I have no doubts that you’ll love your visit if you check out as many of these recommendations! Also, be sure to watch my Instagram Story highlight reel from Moorea!