International Vacations | Travel

Passport to Tahiti | A Guide to 7 Nights in Moorea

January 22, 2023

The trip we’ve been dreaming of! We’ve always said Tahiti was high on our travel bucket list, but knew we wanted to save it for our honeymoon. Literally the day after reserving our wedding venue, we booked our honeymoon to Moorea!

We opted to use Costco Travel! I know what you’re thinking — Costco has travel?! They sure do! It was our first time using it and it was a great value given that it’s well known Tahiti is a very pricy trip. It also took the pressure off of planning flights and accommodations while we were busy planning the wedding.

Will I use Costco Travel again? Definitely. But I don’t think I need all the included food which kept us at the resort. If you’ve ever read any of my other travel guides you know we like to explore the places we visit by going off the beaten path to find the best local food or hiking to discover an epic waterfall.

This trip was different. It was pure relaxation. So much so, that we actually got a little restless. We’re both busy bodies and doing nothing only suits us for about half a day. But, we were coming down from a lot of events. Besides our wedding we tragically lost our beloved dog Havana the day before the wedding. So we were a pile of emotions and being somewhat disconnected was good for us.

Packing Tips:

  • Order your foreign currency ahead of time, in Tahiti it’s the Pacific franc, or XPF
  • Pack yourself a float from Target that you can leave on the trip
  • Take a book (or digital copy)
  • I bought these watershoes for this trip and it was helpful for me because it can me rocky in some places

Day 1 | First day in Paradise

After a long flight from LAX we landed in Papeete, where we were shuttled to the ferry dock. We had time before the ferry was set to arrive so we could either walk about 10 minutes to the Papeete Market for breakfast or pay the overpriced fee of the ferry’s cafe. If you know us, you can already predict we walked to the market. We’re so glad we did because the food was authentic and a fraction of the price.

After, we took the ferry for about 30 minutes from Tahiti to the small island of Moorea. While on the windy ride over we saw whales and a sea turtle as we approached the exotic island we had been dreaming of. It looked like every picture we had seen. Bright blue waters, overwater hut resorts, and lush green foliage.

Upon arriving to our hotel, the Hilton Moorea, we dropped our bags and changed in the lobby restroom. The rooms were not ready and we had lunch reservations at Coco Beach. We were lucky to snag a spot at this small restaurant that is only reached by boat a week before because it books months in advance. It’s on a motu, a small islet with powder sand and amazing views. I booked the reservation with the boat, which is a cute small Tahitian style canoe (with motor). We sat seaside to enjoy bowls of Tahitian Possion Cru, which is like ceviche but in coconut milk. We wanted to try the grilled octupus but they were sold out for the day. So if you can get an earlier reservation, I would try to.

We stayed after lunch on the motu to walk on the sand bar, where we quickly saw our first of many stingrays. We also walked around the beach to enjoy the crystal clear water.

After, we went back to check in to our room, an overwater bungalow! This was the big splurge of the trip, we typically don’t care about where we stay but this was a MUST on this trip. And it was easy with Costco Travel, they booked it all AND it included daily breakfast and three course meals for both of us.

The Costco voucher says it’s not valid at the dinner buffets, but the hotel said that was not true. So the first night we tried to the buffet as it happens three times a week and has a show. Our first night was the “green” theme which also included a Tahitian dance show. We decided we wouldn’t do a buffer any other nights because it’s not our style of eating, but it was nice to see the show on the first night. After eating too much we were ready to rest in our overwater suite where we could watch sharks swim under our room through the glass bottom.

Day 2 | Driving the heart shaped island of Moorea

Excited to start the day we filled up at the breakfast buffet, which was a surprising spread. We expected pastries and fruit, but there was also a variety of egg dishes, an omelette station with a chef ready to prepare eggs your way, and an array of pancakes, meats, and wonderful tropical juices.

We were eager to explore the island so we rented a car for 8 hours from the concierge. The island is VERY small and easy to drive. There is only one road that wraps around the whole island. We headed east, our first stop was one of the few public beaches called Tiahura Beach. It’s a small beach but the sand is so soft and you can see the two motu’s where Coco Beach is located and many tour groups go when they book the stingray and sharks tour with lunch.

After an hour at the beach it started to rain so we continued on the road. We pulled over a few times to take in the views and stopped at the other public beach, Temae for lunch. There was a food truck there called Le Spot 64 where we ordered a poke bowl and french baguette sandwich. It reminded us a bit of meals we had in Maui.

After making it around Cook’s Bay we went back to the hotel. There wasn’t all that much to stop at but it was a pleasant drive.

We went back to rest and kayak for the remainder of the day. We made a reservation to eat at Arii Vahine that night, the hotels a la carte menu restaurants. It’s located where the breakfast buffet and theme buffets are on night they aren’t hosting those. I recommend the sea scallop appetizer, it’s big enough to be an entree.

Day 3 | Whale, Dolphins, and more Tour & Tiki Village Cultural Center

We booked a half day whale and dolphins tour directly with our hotel. It’s one of the “must-do’s” especially because we were there during humpback whale season. We had wanted to book the tour that included lunch on a motu, but they said they didn’t have enough people to fill one of those so we had to do the half day without it.

The start of the trip take you out to the edge of the reef until there’s an out to open water to see the whales. It wasn’t until then that I realized why there are no waves, it’s because all the over water hut resorts are within the protected reef that’s far out. The open water part was too much for my lower lever of swimming, but the guides do take those willing to jump into the water with whales.

While I stayed safely aboard, Henri took to the open blue water. We saw a calf swimming next to its’ mom. And about 10 minutes later the dad swam right under the group H was swimming with. We could hear them clear as day too, it was unreal!

That’s not a ghost, it’s a humpback whale!

The only bad part about staying on the boat was the boat rocks a lot with its small size and open waters, but the crew was ready in case matters got worse for me. They were kind to keep asking how I was doing. I wish I would have taken a Dramamine before, I completely forgot!

After we went back into the break past Cook’s Bay where there are many spinner dolphins, which we were told only grow to 1.6 meters, or about 5 feet. They looked so small and swam in a huge pod! But you’re not allowed to swim with them. However, our next stop was a popular swimming excursions. Swimming with sharks and rays. These sharks are black tip reef sharks, known to be used to humans the locals say “they’re like dogs because they have no predators.”

Mentally, I so wanted to concur my fear of sharks. But, when approaching the lagoon I say a stingray climbing a girls back, which I had no idea they did and it freaked me out. Our guide also brought some raw chicken into the water to chum the water. So I stayed calmly in the boat while my new husband jumped right in. Check out my Instagram highlights for videos!

All the time in the sun (and seasickness) made us ready to relax at the bungalow once we returned around 12:30. We ordered a pizza “to-go” from the grill for lunch to eat on the balcony over the water.

We had dinner at 6:30 at the Grill since we were getting picked up at 7:30 for the Tiki Village Culture Center. It’s listed at the #4 thing to do in Moorea, now that we’ve been I am not sure there’s much to do on the island so its high ranking might be for that reason. It was nice to get out of the resort though, and the Tiki Village will pick you up and drop off at the hotel complimentary with the tickets, you just coordinate with the concierge.

While the show felt a bit campy and a lot of the kids in the show looked young it was fun. There is clearly one man who is the ring leader and he was so fun to watch! He actually brought my up during the show to participate and while it’s normally out of my comfort zone it was fun to be silly and shake my hips a bit. It was neat to see the costumes, hear the music, and of course, watch all they can do with fire!

Day 4 | Rest and Rain in Moorea

We saw rain on the forecast starting in the late morning. So we got up earlier walk to the breakfast buffet for our daily fare of tea, coffee, pastries and eggs. After we each grabbed a paddle board and much to Henri’s surprise, I didn’t fall! Another couple watching from their bungalow as we passed said “I made it look easy,” and pointed a stingray swimming by. That only helped my gloating as I was determined not to fall! After, H went snorkeling while I enjoyed my float. That was cut quickly once the wind picked up and the rain began to pour. You can see the storm lurking behind us in the last photo of the gallery below.

We sat outside on the patio as long as we could, until the rain and wind was too strong. Then we opened the glass doors all the way to enjoy the views. I read my book and H watched his surf YouTube videos and explored options for surfing on Moorea.

We made cups of tea and even napped. I was getting a little restless from all the sitting around and “relaxing” I opted to use my Peloton app to do a workout in the bungalow. There was a gym, but I didn’t feel like going there when our room had the stellar views.

It was about 3:30 and we were hungry, but the only thing open was the grill. We asked if we could use our dinner voucher at an earlier time which they said of course to. So we had a linner at the grill and somehow hacked the Costco system. Which is what I said to another guest who told us “Costco package?” as we walked by after our 3 courses. While eating we also got to see a couple have a Tahitian wedding on the sand!

After dinner, we were able to grab a double kayak since some of the wind had cleared. This trip we saw a sleeping stingray!

We also tried to play tennis, but it was a short rally since the courts were a strange material and the balls weren’t bouncing well after the rain. We needed to rest up since we had a hike in the morning!

Day 5 | Hiking the 3 Coconuts Trail

We were both excited to take the morning to go on a hiking excursion and be outside. The hotel recommended that if we wanted to do the entire 3 coconuts trail it would be best to go with a guide because many tourist get lost, plus with the cost of a taxi or rental car it made more sense to do the tour.

They picked us up around 8:30 a.m. in a truck with benches in the back. Last time we rode in a car like this was in Thailand and I was so sick because it was a long drive up into the mountains where the Chiang Mai elephants were. Luckily this was a short 15-20 minute drive and I took my dramamine after the hard learned lesson on the boat tour.

The trail started at the Belvedere lookout and winded us down, up, and around to the top of the 3 coconuts trailhead. I was glad we were with a group, though they did walk a little fast for my pace of hiking. It was really muddy and I slipped 3 times on this hike, which I’m not usually that clumsy, but between the mud and vines on the ground it was a bit more of a challenge than I expected.

Once we reached the top we rested for about 20 minutes to enjoy the views, snap photos and talk to our guide. He told us about all the different shark species, his experience surfing the island, as well as big wave surfing, and warned H if he planned to surf on one of the reef breaks to watch for the aggressive types of sharks that populate the area. On the way down he told us about his life on Moorea, including hosting Airbnbs and his properties on Tahiti. He said real estate had seen an uptick on the island from people having the opportunity to work remotely.

After our hike, we returned back to the hotel to swim and relax.

We decided to try the happy hour at the hotel bar at sunset. While the view was stunning, the mojito was just okay. We happened to run into a colleague of mine who was smarter than us and bought drinks from the airport duty free to have a DIY cocktail hour on the docks of the bungalow. I’d recommend that personally.

We had dinner at the grill again since there was a buffet that night. That left only the grill or creperie as our only option. The grill had more variety, so we went there. I tried the possion cru and H went for a classic cheeseburger. Our package came with nightly three course meals which was nice, but also kept us at the hotel more than we would have liked. However, this meant we got our own dessert which I wasn’t mad about.

See everything we ate in Moorea on my Moorea Food Guide

Our waitress had a beautiful flower crown on! So I asked if I could pay her to make me the same one. Instead she connected me with Nina, another waitress who said she could make it for $20 and bring it to my room the next day. This was so much cheaper than what the concierge wanted and it was with more flowers. I anxiously awaited it the next day!

Day 6 | Hotel Day and Exploring Nearby

Our original plans for this day were to go on a clear kayak experience, which was near the motu’s where Coco Beach is. However, because of the winds they were not booking any tours, sadly. H was also looking into going surfing, but it was $400 for 2 hours. We asked some of the hotel staff if that was a fair price, they all said it was a lot. Though you need a boat to reach the break! One of the pool staff members was going to ask a local friend with a boat but his friend wasn’t taking his boat out so Henri decided against it.

A third agenda item from our original itinerary also didn’t happen, that was a day trip to Tetiaora. Apparently, during the time of year we went (September) it only leaves from Tahiti also due to winds. We essentially had 3 extra days since our plans shifted.

So you might have caught on by now, but there isn’t much to do in Moorea. Tahiti is VERY relaxing. So much so, that we discovered relaxing looks a little more active for us. We started the day with our usual breakfast buffet. By this point in the trip I was just having a bowl of oatmeal topped with tropical fruit and sneaking my chocolate croissant for a snack with afternoon tea.

After breakfast we grabbed paddle boards and kayaks for a lap around the lagoon. Then, Henri snorkeled while I soaked in the sun on our lower balcony with my book in hand.

We were both craving a walk so we went to the nearby Lilikoi Garden Cafe for lunch. Not that we were necessarily hungry, we just wanted to explore. It was a cute hut, that used to be owned by a Japanese chef who recently sold to a french couple. It was a charming spot to share a tropical juice of the day and some poisson cru. If you’re staying at the Hilton Moorea and don’t have a food package, walk here, the possion cru was better than at the hotel. Though the hotel was a more generous portion.

After, we continued to walk to the nearby public beach, Plage de TA’AHIAMANU. There are only two public beaches in Moorea, but they’re so nice!

Once we returned from our exploring I found Nina to pay for my flower crown and it was literally so gorgeous! From there on out, I was the most extra version of myself.

We finally were in the mood for crepes, and honestly, why did we sit on this? The crepe place was really good and the setting is fun because you’re above the water. Our room was actually only about 5 huts over, but anyone can make a reservation at this restaurant. All dinner we pointed out the sharks passing by! Check out what we ordered in my Moorea food guide.

Day 7 | Rain and a Hike (to get ice cream)

We woke up around 7 a.m. to pounding rain and some thunder, but by 11 a.m. it had started to clear. H decided to paddle board in the high winds while I watched from our bungalow and took in more sun on the overwater balcony. We were eager to see what else was in the area and heard that there was lunch at the Moorea Tropical Garden so we took a taxi over since it was getting close to closing and planned on walking back. Except the taxi wouldn’t drive up the steep hill so we had to hike up that part on our own. The views were great, but to our surprise they weren’t serving lunch! It was Wednesday and they said smoothies and ice cream only. So we enjoyed great scoops of coconut and passion fruit ice cream and enjoyed the views of the bay.

We walked back which passed the same public beach from the day before. While walking we noticed something in the water and realized it was a sharks fin! Something I’ve always wanted to see, as long as I wasn’t in the water! The walk back pleasant, you just have to be careful walking alongside the road.

When we got back we went for another swim, which was mostly me floating. The best activity! Then we washed up for happy hour and dinner. We saved our complimentary bottle of champagne to toast to our last night and have a DIY happy hour at the end of the bungalows pier. And a mini photoshoot to capture some of the stunning views of our honeymoon. It was nice to sit there until the sun went down and soak in one last sunset.

Late that evening we had dinner at the Arii Vahine restaurant to enjoy our last Costco supper in Tahiti! It was fun to toast to our honeymoon!

Day 8 | Goodbye Moorea

After the final breakfast buffet we grabbed a double kayak for a final paddle out. We soaked in the sun on the water before going back to check out of the room. And H did one last swim under the bungalow to wave through the glass floor. The bummer is we weren’t being picked up until 4 p.m. for the last ferry out. So we sat at the beach and relaxed. Though we would have loved to go over to Papeete earlier to explore some more. The hotel held our bags and had a transit room for us to use to shower before leaving. They also give everyone a goodbye lei of shells.

Once on Tahiti we killed almost 5 hours before our flight with the way the shuttle was scheduled. But, according to the locals and some tourists that left our bus to taxi over to the airport, there wasn’t much to see at that time. The market and most things were closed.

All in all, our honeymoon was a once in a lifetime trip! Was it the best vacation we’ve ever been on? Probably not, Thailand still takes the cake for us. If doing nothing while lounging in your private overwater bungalow is high on your bucket list, do it! But I would say 5 days is probably plenty in Moorea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *