Just 11 miles north of popular resort island Tahiti is the quieter but no less beautiful island of Moorea. This just might be the place where you can truly get away from it all. There’s plenty to do in a day here, even if all you want to do is soak up the sun’s rays on a tropical beach. Shoreline swimming and snorkeling offer some of the clearest views where you can soak in this island paradise.
On a New Zealand cruise, you might be used to more cosmopolitan stops or the hard-to-beat relaxation of honeymooner favorite Bora Bora, but Moorea takes an even slower approach. Whether you’re swimming with stingrays or hiking Magic Mountain, there’s no rush here. Rent a bike and see the entire coastline in a day. Watch a traditional fire dancing ceremony at Tiki Village. Drink from a refreshing coconut, or try breadfruit for the first time. Every moment in Moorea is a chance to live like a local.
Snorkel and swim the picturesque waters of Cook’s Bay before heading to the area’s beachy bars and restaurants. The villagers here welcome cruise passengers with open arms.
More than just a garden, the Moorea Tropical Garden offers an incredible opportunity to find fresh vanilla, organic jams, fresh juices, and ice cream. The Moorea Tropical Garden is the perfect spot to sit after an afternoon of sun and activity.
Take a couple of hours in the early morning to hike up the aptly-named Magic Mountain, where you’ll see magical views of Opunohu Bay and the Pacific below. It’s one of the best views Moorea and the surrounding area have to offer, plus it’s a good way to get active on a hike.
One of the best ways to navigate the coast of Moorea and leisurely tour the island is by bike. Ride at your own pace on two wheels, stopping for photo ops, snacks, and food along the way. Chat with friendly locals as you go.
One of the most immersive ways to experience Tahitian culture is through a trip to the Tiki Village in Moorea, where you can watch traditional Tahitian dances by incredible performers, enjoy a local meal, and sample delicacies like poi and roasted breadfruit. An evening at the Tiki Village will fill you with a new appreciation for local customs and leave you smiling.
A popular Moorea cruise excursion is to go swimming with the incredible marine life in the area, which includes sharks and stingrays, for a true adrenaline rush. Your tour operator will take you to a lagoon where the native marine life live and swim peacefully. It’s a must for the adventurous traveler.
French Polynesian food integrates fresh fish into almost every meal, and the restaurants here tend to be casual and relaxing rather than stuffy fine dining. Beachy bars and fried foods offer comfort after a long day of swimming or being out in the sun. Try poisson cru, a specialty fish dish marinated in coconut milk and lime. Local fruits are served as a way to cool down on a hot day, including breadfruit, a regional delicacy. Don’t miss the chance to try poe, a filling fruit pudding.
People native to Moorea, the Polynesians, lived in peace and relative isolation for about a thousand years until the British arrived on the island and colonized it in the 18th century. Moorea’s geographical closeness to Tahiti means it has grown in popularity as a local getaway in recent years, even as it continues to build new resorts and luxury experiences for visitors. Over the years, the growth of Moorea has been slow but steady. The island opened up to the world even more when the Moorea Airport was built in 1967. Today, you’ll hear French and Tahitian spoken while stopped on a Moorea cruise.
You’ll be tendered ashore when your Moorea cruise ship anchors in Vaiare or Cook’s Bay. Note that tiny Moorea isn’t home to a built-up, fancy cruise terminal. Instead, it’s much sleepier and relaxed, where local vendors pull up to showcase their handmade Samoan goods as they see the ships arriving.
Taxis tend to be expensive in this part of French Polynesia, and when you cruise to Moorea, be aware that bus services run but aren’t on a set schedule. Walking to sights is common, and many locals simply bike or walk to get where they’re going. In general, public transit is greatly limited.
There’s not much in the way of shopping here other than local artisans showing their items to tourists as they arrive into town. Souvenirs from French Polynesia tend to include traditional dress like the pareo and other handmade items.
French Polynesia uses the French Pacific Franc as its official currency, also known as the CFP. Many places accept credit cards, but some will require a minimum purchase to do so. Tipping isn’t the norm here, and it can be considered rude to tip, so on cruises to Moorea, don’t worry about tipping your taxi driver, bartender, or server.