Moorea travel diary

I don't know exactly when, but several years ago, I decided that I needed to do something big for my 40th birthday, and that something was a trip to Bora Bora, which I'd always wanted to visit. Really, I just wanted to stay in one of those overwater bungalows and wake up every morning and jump right into that warm, aquamarine water. For years, I'd invite everyone who showed even the slightest amount of interst on my trip (which I referred to as #BoraBora2018), so when it came time to actually plan it, I think 20 or 30 people were initially on the invite. Of course, not everyone could make it—we ended up with eight people, which was the perfect number—and after some research, I discovered Bora Bora was rather expensive and I felt uncomfortable asking everybody to spend that much money to celebrate my birthday, so we made some slight modifications to the plan, electing to spend a week all together in Moorea, another island in French Polynesia (my boyfriend and I then went on to Bora Bora, just the two of us, but more on that later). The trip was everything I had hoped for and more. Here's everything we did, saw, ate, and more.

Getting to Moorea
To go anywhere in French Polynesia, first you have to fly into the island of Tahiti, and Air France and Air Tahiti Nui are the two airlines that fly there, via LAX. (United and a new low-cost carrier will reportedly start flying there in the fall from SFO.) You can then take Air Tahiti to any of the other islands, or if you're going to Moorea, you can take the Aremiti ferry, which is a short taxi ride from the airport. The ferry ride is about a half hour, there's a snack bar, and if you go in the morning, it's calm and gorgeous.

Where to stay
There are four major resorts on Moorea—the Hilton, the Intercontinental, the Sofitel, and the Manava—but since we had a big group, we chose to rent a villa. We ended up at the Poerani Moorea, which is owned by a lovely French couple, Stèphane and Franck; it's a main three-bedroom house and three one- or two-bedroom cottages, all of which can be rented out independently. The Poerani was beautifully landscaped, centrally located, and, most importantly, right on the water, which was where we spent most of our time. There was plenty of space for our group, and the house has snorkeling equipment, kayaks, and bikes, plus three dogs and two cats, so we were all very entertained. I'd definitely recommend staying there if you want a more authentic experience—tell them I sent you!

What to do
We spent most of our time floating around in the water, but we also did two tours. The first was of the island, with a very entertaining Frenchman named Francky Franck. He took us to Cook's Bay, to a juice factory, to a botanical garden, to a pineapple plantation, and up to Magic Mountain (not the theme park) all the course of several hours. The tour was incredibly informative and also filled with slightly dirty French humor—we all had a blast.

Another highlight was our trip to the Tiki Village. They make you schlepp through a bunch of presentations on Polynesian life (these are explained very slowly, in both French and English), but then you get dinner, which was tasty, and a Polynesian dance show, which was really entertaining and nothing like going to a luau in Hawaii. Pretty much everyone in the group got pulled into participate at some point, which made the experience all the more memorable.

We also took a day-long boat trip with Moorea Miti Tours, which was awesome. We saw a huge school of dolphins swimming in the bay, we swam with stingrays (!) and sharks (!!), then we ate lunch on a private island. Our captain, Wilhelm, was a Polynesian renaissance man—he drove the boat, played the ukelele, showed us how to shave coconuts, wove hats out of palm fronds, and showed us the medicinal plants on the island. And did I mention we swam with sharks?

Where to eat
Since our villa had a huge kitchen, we cooked breakfast every morning, but we definitely did our share of eating out too. The food has a definite French influence, and we had escargots at almost every dinner, which made me incredibly happy. Believe it or not, we had incredible pizza from Allo Pizza; the Manava Beach resort had a great happy hour (we also had incredible massages at the spa there); and we also ate at Le Mahogany (which was right near our rental), Moorea Beach Café, and my favorite, Rudy's. The fantastic thing about the restaurants here is that most of them will pick you up and drop you off, so no drinking (or biking) and driving! That and the food is fantastic, especially if you love seafood.

What else
The people in French Polynesia were so incredibly kind, and the landscape was even more beautiful than Hawaii. The weather was a bit on the humid side—and apparently it had been raining for three weeks straight before we got there—but it's supposedly much more temperate in the winter (the northern hemisphere's summer). Also, the sunsets are incredible. I mean...

Coming next week: part two, my Bora Bora travel diary!


Laura B said...

Oh my gosh this trip looks divine! My hubby and I were just talking about planning a big trip for our 15th anniversary in a couple of years. We definitely need some time away! I will have to keep this in mind!

Straight A Style said...

How gorgeous! The water is so pretty.

Amy Ann
Straight A Style

Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom said...

Such a beautiful place! The water is so clear. We just went to Mexico for my 40th last summer and I had a blast. It looks like the flight to get there is a little more complicated, but so worth it for the views and atmosphere!


Claire Justine said...

What an amazing trip. It has been years since I travel anywhere abroad. I can not wait to start travelling again.

Thanks so much for sharing your post with us at The Wednesday Link Up. Have a great weekend and we hope to see you soon.