Welcome to French Polynesia; the land of steep green peaks and calm turquoise lagoons teaming with tropical fish, rays, and sharks. The biggest island, Tahiti, is composed of two extinct volcanoes and is the location of the international airport. After flying from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tahiti (PPT) on a bumpy 8.5-hour flight with Air Tahiti Nui, we stepped off of the plane and were greeted with warm humid air and calming island music. Our first planned stop in paradise would soon begin with 5 days in Moorea.
Moorea is located just 20km from Papeete and it can be accessed by 15-minute flight or 30-minute ferry. Since we are island hopping and found a flight from PPT-MOZ-BOB-PPT less expensive than a roundtrip from PPT-BOB, we opted to fly. There were about 4.5 hours to kill between our arrival in Papeete and our departure to Moorea, so we checked our bags and opted to go for a walk outside. There wasn’t a lot to see outside the airport aside from the locals heading to work, selling fresh fish and flowers, and filling up at the petrol stations. We did enjoy the friendly locals that honked and waived us the shaka sign. ? Is everyone in Tahiti friendly, or could it be the novelty of my blonde hair?
Day 1 of 5 days in Moorea
After our brisk 15-minute flight, we were transported by private transfer to the Hilton Moorea. We were greeted with flower leis, fresh pineapple juice, and finally, we settled into our Garden View Pool Villa. We spent our first day lounging by the pool sipping piña coladas and kayaking around the lagoon. Saturday and Wednesday evenings the hotel offers Polynesian night with an international buffet and traditional music, dancing, and fire dancing.
Day 2 of 5 days in Moorea
We started off day 2 by renting a car from the hotel and driving up to Mt. Belvedere Lookout. The views from the lookout were impressive, covering the entire north central coast of Moorea from Opunohu Bay to Cook’s Bay.
We proceeded to hike 5 miles to the end of the Three Coconuts trailhead (3 Cocotiers according to the sign) and back. Most of the views along the way were similar to that of the Mt. Belvedere lookout, but we were rewarded for our efforts with an amazing 360-degree view of the island from the peak. The slippery trail was lined with lush vegetation, trees with sprawling roots, and even a bamboo forest mid-hike.
Upon return to the hotel, we upgraded to a panoramic overwater bungalow and proceeded to sunbathe and snorkel the rest of the afternoon. The coral and fish immediately below our villa were beautiful and we watched the most amazing sunset.
We had crepes for dinner at the Creperie overwater restaurant and watched some black tip sharks circle around under the dock lights.
Day 3 of 5 days in Moorea
The Hilton offers a pair of tennis courts and a fitness center at the resort. We took advantage of some cloud cover and started our day with some tennis. Next up was snorkeling. Our neighbors suggested taking some dinner rolls from the breakfast buffet and feeding the fish. Rolls in hand, we went snorkeling, and it was quite a treat to have the fish come to us. It turns out, we learned later, that bread is not the best diet for the tropical fish, so it might be better to ask for fish food in the future! We enjoyed a nice dinner at the steakhouse and were serenaded by live island music while we ate.
Day 4 of 5 days in Moorea
We planned day 4 for renting electric bicycles and touring the island. Unfortunately, we did not book in advance, and there were no bikes available. Instead, we went paddleboarding around the lagoon and did quite a bit more snorkeling. The best part about the lagoon is the snorkeling!
Many of the restaurants on Moorea offer to pick you up from your hotel for dinner service. We read some great reviews on Rudy’s restaurant, and they picked us up for a nice dinner away from the resort. The food was very good and the service was excellent. The prices weren’t too much different than the Hilton, but it was nice to have a new menu!
Day 5 of 5 days in Moorea
Finally, we got to rent electric bicycles and tour the island. We meant to stop at the beaches on the northwest corner of the island, but the road was a bit off of the water, and we missed the signs completely. Lesson learned: plage means beach! We visited a small church, got a brief shower from a passing storm, and ended up biking around the entire island. The road around Moorea is about 40 miles long. Most of the shops and restaurants are on the northern side of the island, but the views from the west and south sides are very beautiful. We made quick stops at the Intercontinental and Sofitel hotels to check out the other options for accommodations, and both properties seemed quite nice. The Intercontinental features a sea turtle conservancy and dolphin area. The Sofitel offers a long soft white sand beach and beautiful views of Tahiti. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Sofitel before finishing our bike tour. Despite applying sunblock every 80 minutes all day, we still ended up quite burnt!
We wrapped up our time in Moorea with a traditional Polynesian massage at the Hilton Spa. With long flowing movements combining hands and elbows and island scented oils, the Moorea massage was the perfect ending to our luxurious stay.
5 Days in Moorea – Where to Stay
We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa. The hotel was well maintained and service was very efficient and friendly.
We received several Hilton Diamond status perks including:
- Full American breakfast daily
- 15% off of massage treatments at the spa
- A welcome bottle of Champagne
- 2 welcome rum cocktails
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Daily minibar refreshments: 1 large bottle of water, 2 cans each of coke, coke light, and local beer (Hinano Tahiti)
- 1-category room upgrade
As I mentioned earlier we chose to upgrade our room for part of our stay. We originally booked with Hilton honors points in the basic room. We were able to upgrade to overwater villa for 4 nights of our 5-night stay for $750 total. I find that it is usually best to inquire about upgrades at check-in because the rates can be better last minute and they are willing to put you in a room that they have a low likelihood of selling. The Hilton does not guarantee last minute availability, but if you’re willing to take the risk, you can save a lot of money. After asking about several room types and options, we ended up in a great overwater villa and were very happy.
5 days in Moorea – Tips:
- Mauruuru means Thank you.
- ‘Ia ora na (pronounced: your ahh nah) means Hello and Good Morning.
- Plage means beach.
- Wear plenty of sunblock even if the UV index is low.
- Wear plenty of bug spray too.
- Book a basic room and ask about upgrades upon arrival to save money.
- Take a taxi back to the airport to save money. The hotel charges 1600 per person for a shared shuttle, but the taxis are 3000 total.
- Reuse your water bottles by filling up with free filtered water in the fitness center.
- Check out Mahogany, Rudys, and other off-site restaurants that offer complimentary shuttles for dinner time.
- Consider applying for the Amex Hilton Honors Ascend or Aspire Card to earn extra points and reap the benefits of Hilton Honors Gold status (like free breakfast and room upgrades) on your stay.
Moorea is a beautiful and friendly island with easy access to the airport and other services of the main island of Tahiti. The visitors vary in age, but most common are honeymooners which can give the resort a fun young vibe. Our 5 days in Moorea were truly magical.
Up next on our tour of paradise is Bora Bora. Subscribe to future posts including the next piece, 5 days in Bora Bora.
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