French Polynesia: Moorea
French Polynesia is made up of 118 islands. The main grouping is known as the Society Islands. The capital of Tahiti is where all the international flights land. From here it is an easy commute by plan or boat to explore the rest of the nation.
The Society Islands, like Hawaii, were formed by volcanos. The islands today range from flat atolls, whose islands have completely sunk, to the towering landscapes of Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora.
We traveled 45 minutes by ferry to the island of Moorea from Tahiti. This is a method of transportation used by tourists as well as locals. It was clean and efficiently run. Upon arrival on Moorea, we were transferred to our hotel.
Moorea is home to the original over water bungalows that make the Society Islands of Tahiti so well-known. Our group was treated to the over water bungalow experience at the Hilton Moorea, a 5-star accommodation about a 20-minute drive from the ferry.
Along with the bungalows, the Hilton Moorea has ocean view and garden-style rooms that are very well appointed. Solar panels are used here to run the electricity for hotel usage.
The most interesting experience on the property is the Crepe Restaurant, which is located on the docks near the bungalows. Each evening as the chefs prepare your food, the black-tip sharks swim in for a visit. This is a great way to see these fish, without ever getting your feet wet.
Moorea is the perfect place for your first experience in French Polynesia. It has activities both on land and in the water. We participated in a 4×4 jeep tour to a gorgeous look-out spot. When you enter the valley and look around you, it becomes apparent that you are indeed in the middle of a crater. This makes the land very fertile. Along the way, we stopped at pineapple fields, and agricultural high school to sample the preserves and an ancient site of a Marae temple. Our trip culminated with a tasting session at the pineapple distillery. If you prefer more adventure, there were ATV trips that took our route as well. Hiking is available into the mountains of Moorea.
Each winter (July – October), the humpback whales come to Moorea to mate and give birth. There are some excellent whale watching tours available here as well as opportunities to snorkel with black-tip sharks and rays. Spinner dolphins also live in these waters and sightseeing tours are available to spot them as well. For a more hands-on experience jet-ski tours are available to take you around the lagoons and out to the reefs.
Of course, diving and snorkeling are available on most islands. I am amazed at the colors and diversity of the fish you can see from your over-water bungalow, the docks and just snorkeling off the beach. Many resorts have cultivated the coral close to shore for your viewing pleasure. When you come, bring water shoes so that you don’t hurt your feet on free roaming coral.
Moorea is a quite place that would be great for families and multi-generational vacations. Tahitians come to this island for weekend getaways with their families, so you have a chance to mix with the local culture as well. It does not have much in the way of night life, except on Tahiti and is a great place to go to re-connect and un-plug from the daily grind.
Please contact me for more information on this great destination. With a little planning, we can find a trip to fit most budgets and can customize a dream vacation for you.