islands, Travel

French Polynesia– Why Moorea is the Best Kept Secret

The middle of the ocean, completely remote. The bluest of waters surrounding you. Seeing fish below you as you sleep. All amazing things we experienced on the beautiful islands of the French Polynesia, or better known as Tahiti. Chances are you’ve heard of Bora Bora, but you probably haven’t heard of Moorea– Tahiti’s best kept secret.

Getting There

Oddly enough, we bought these tickets right before Myles got his job at SkyWest, which is unfortunate because we easily could have saved about $800/ea. However, there was a great sale going on, and we got these tickets for half the price that they normally go for. We bought them in March for my birthday, and they departed from LAX. Once Myles got his job at SkyWest, we realized we could nonrev to LA the day we were leaving, as our flight to Tahiti was overnight so we could spend the day in LA with his uncles. We ended up getting to LA in the early evening, going out to dinner and relaxing at his uncle’s house, and then heading back to the airport for our overnight flight.

We flew Air Tahiti Nui. The flight left around 11:30 p.m. and we landed at 5 a.m. Tahiti time. They served us breakfast and had good movies to choose from. If we knew Myles was going to be working for SkyWest, we could have purchased a ZED for about $300 round trip.

Day 1

We arranged to rent a car for the duration of our trip, which is rare for us. We normally avoid car rentals at all cost, but taxis were kind of rare on the islands, and if you did take one, it was expensive. I believe our rental came out to $150 for five days. However, I seem to be the only girl on earth who dates a man who doesn’t know how to drive a stick (huge argument lol) and we had to exchange our rental for an automatic, which they luckily had in stock. It cost us around $100 more, but it was still worth it.

After the hassle with the car, we went out to our Airbnb, which was in the center of downtown Tahiti. We rented this cute, centrally located one bedroom apartment. Unfortunately, the host was really wishy washy, and I tried to reach out to him several times before we arrived and then the day before our trip I called him long distance and he finally responded and confirmed my reservation. He was really nice, but I was disappointed at the poor communication. However, he did let us check in early and set our stuff down quickly, then we went to the hotel across the street for our tour.

We scheduled a full day tour with Patrick from Patrick’s Adventure Day Tours, which cost us $120 for the both of us. He picked us up at 8:30 a.m. and then we stopped to pick up a young woman and her father, and that was the entire trip, just the four of us and Patrick.

Patrick was extremely knowledgeable and kind.

He took us all around the island, explaining how the French Polynesian islands were formed, telling us about the different kinds of flowers, landscapes, everything you can imagine. We saw some of the most beautiful sights.

Even though Tahiti is warm year-round, the inner island actually got pretty chilly and it rained on and off. Part of the tour included stopping at a fresh water waterfall that had a natural slide so we could swim and go off it. It was so much fun and easily one of the best highlights of the whole trip! Patrick got an eel to get up close to us so I also got great footage of that.

The tour lasted all day, and we were exhausted from the flight. When we got back to the Airbnb, we walked to a pizza shop next door and got a pizza and ate and napped. When we woke up, we got ready for the night! During my research, I realized they like to party. Clubs and bars were open until 5 a.m. and I made sure we stayed just one block over from the main strip. We picked a club called Ute Ute to go to, mainly because they weren’t charging a cover lol. We had a good time! They upgraded us to VIP for free, gave us a couple free shots. They didn’t play a lot of music we were familiar with, but the vibe was cool. We stayed out drinking and dancing until like 3 a.m. and then went back to finally get a decent night of sleep.

Day 2

The next day, we woke up and checked out of our Airbnb and walked around. We had time to kill before our ferry so we ate McDonald’s, which Myles loves to do since the menu typically varies according to which country you’re in. The one in Tahiti had chicken wings, which was cool to try.

It was then time to take our ferry to Moorea, which was about a 45 minute ride. The total cost for round trip for the two of us and our rental car was $130. It was a smooth ride and a smooth transition to loading and unloading our car.

Moorea, in my opinion, is the French Polynesia’s best kept secret. When you think of the islands, you automatically think of Bora Bora, because that’s what’s popular. However, I’m the type of traveler that likes to do the lesser known things. I don’t care for the typical tourist places at all. I prefer the down low beauties of countries, which is why I do so much research before my trips. We could have spent another $800 for the both of us for two round trip flights from Tahiti to Bora Bora, but we chose to do Moorea, which was not only cheaper but possibly more beautiful as well.

When we got to Moorea, we immediately headed to our hotel. We booked an overwater bungalow at the Manava Beach Resort and Spa. This was by far the cheapest hotel for an overwater bungalow and was regularly priced around $700/night. However, I had a coupon with my account (you get a coupon for every 10 nights you book with them) and we got the overwater bungalow for just $550!

Upon arrival at the hotel, we were greeted with drinks and were personally escorted to our bungalow, which was a dream. It’s everything you’ve seen in pictures and videos. The room was so beautifully set up, from the bed to the bathroom. There was a part of the room with glass on the floor so we could see the water and fish right below our feet. It was something I dreamed to experience one day.

We spent the entire day in our rooms. We drank Patron and rum on the balcony that had stairs that would lead us straight into the water if we wanted to swim. We listened to music and danced and took pictures and videos. It was a chill day. The hotel pool was also a nice sight so we took a short dip in there as well.

For dinner, we made a reservation with the hotel’s restaurant. It was buffet style with decent food but it was highly overpriced. The best part was the show with Tahitian dancers. At the end, they pull people from the audience to come up and dance with them, and one of the male dancers picked me! It was definitely a fun experience.

After dinner, we went to relax in our room and then checked out the hotel’s club. It was an okay scene packed with hotel guests, but nothing too crazy. We stayed for an hour or two before calling it a night.

Day 3

The next day, we woke up early so we could spend some more time in our room before checkout. We started by grabbing a kayak and paddling around the hotel for a little. The views were pretty and relaxing.

After kayaking, we chilled on our balcony a little longer before checking out and headed to our next Airbnb. We stayed in this one bedroom guest cottage that came with a private pool. The hosts were amazing and kept in excellent communication with us, sent detailed pictures with how to get there and even gifted us with gorgeous shell necklaces that we still have to this day.

We spent the day hanging out around the pool and drinking.

We then decided to go check out Belvedere Watch Point. We went around sunset and got an incredible view of the mountain and a nice photographer there took one of my favorite pictures of us.

Fun fact: Moorea is one of the islands the creators of Moana visited to get inspiration for the film. Visiting Belvedere reminded me so much of Te Fiti.

After the sunset, we headed back to our Airbnb and just relaxed for the night.

Day 4

My birthday! I was finally 23. We woke up early to watch the sunrise and packed a beach bag and headed to eat breakfast. On the way there, we took shots of Patron and listened to music, really enjoying each other’s company and life period. After that, we headed Temae Beach, which was right down the street from our Airbnb.

“This beach had the bluest water I’ve ever seen in my life.”

This beach was special. It had the kind of water you see when you look up pictures of Tahiti. It was so blue and clear. The actual beach was kind of rocky, so we wore water shoes for that part.

We made a reservation for dinner at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa. When we arrived, we had drinks at the bar before sitting down to eat. After that, a band came out to sing happy birthday to me and the entire restaurant joined in, it was so cute!

After dinner, we went back to our Airbnb and hung out for a little before bed. The only downside to Moorea was the lack of a nightlife. The only clubs they really had were inside the hotels, and even then, there was no way any of them would be open on a Monday night, but nonetheless, I enjoyed my entire birthday and my baby surprised me with a cake when we got back to the hotel.

Day 5

After a fun almost week-long trip on the islands of French Polynesia, our last day was finally upon us. We started the day off by waking up early to go to the beach one last time.

One of my favorite pictures of us.

We swam and tanned before heading back to our Airbnb to pack and shower before checkout time. Before we left, our hosts stopped by to gift us two beautiful shell necklaces and we drove to the ferry dock. We had a couple snacks from the shop next door until it was time to board. After the 40 minute boat ride, we parked our car and walked around the downtown area so we could get souvenirs for our family and ourselves.

Eventually the time passed by and it was finally time to turn our car in and head to the airport. It was another red-eye flight, leaving PPT at 10:30 p.m. and arriving at LAX at 9:30 a.m.

What I Would Have Done Differently

Since these were purchased months in advance, I had so much time to research and prepare for this trip. For anyone planning to go, I think staying at least a day on the the main island (Tahiti) is a must. It’s the most populated island, and the clubs are fun as was the tour. Even if you spend the day there and leave the next day, you really do have the opportunity to take in a lot of their culture and learn about the islands.

With Moorea, I really enjoyed my time in the hotel and Airbnb. Obviously, I wish I was rich at this time so I could have stayed the entire time in the hotel, but the Airbnb was cute! The private pool is what really sold me.

You may have noticed we didn’t do any excursions on Moorea either. I really wish we had, but this trip was expensive so we just didn’t have the budget to unfortunately. I met a few people on the islands who raved about certain excursions, the main ones being the Whale Swim Tour and the Jetski Tour around the island. I’ve especially heard great things about the Whale Swim Tour, and I’m so disappointed I wasn’t able to go! I’ve seen incredible pictures of swimmers who got to get really close to the whales, which migrate to Moorea during certain months of the year.

Lastly, I wish I could have seen Bora Bora. I know it’s Tahiti’s instagram destination, but it truly does seem like a beautiful place to visit. However, I don’t regret spending my time on Moorea at all. I got to experience the true way of Tahiti living. Maybe one day we’ll go back and visit Bora Bora.

All in all, Tahiti is the place to go if you’re looking for a relaxing, romantic trip. I wouldn’t expect too much of a club scene at all. It’s a place to sit back, drink and enjoy the scenery and water. To this day, it’s one of my favorite trips!

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