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French Polynesia is home to some of the most heart-stoppingly beautiful island paradise destinations. Among them, Tahiti and Moorea are always visitor favorites. Unfortunately, figuring out how to get to Moorea and what to visit can be stressful. Within this post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to plan the perfect day trip to Moorea from Tahiti’s capital, Papeete based on my first-hand experience!

Is It Worth It to Day Trip to Moorea?

If you are staying on the big island of Tahiti for a week or simply have an extra day to fill with activities, taking a day trip to Moorea is an absolute must!

Moorea, located a mere 10 miles away from the big island of Tahiti, is one of the most popular islands within French Polynesia.

A picture of the swaying palm trees at Temae public beach. The famous overwater bungalows can be seen in the background with the mountains framing them.
Temae Beach | Credit: Sol G.

Newlyweds, recent graduates, and beach lovers alike flock to Moorea to swim in its crystal blue waters, relax on pristine white sand beaches, and see the diverse underwater life up close.

Furthermore, the island’s proximity to Tahiti makes it both cheap and easy to visit. Therefore, if you are staying in Tahiti, it is 100% worth taking a day trip to Moorea!

NOTE: The correct way to pronounce Moorea is: Mo-or-re-uh. Don’t be like me, who pronounced it as More-aye-ah until a local had the heart to correct me

How to Get to Moorea, French Polynesia

To get to Moorea from Papeete, there are two main modes of transportation: by flight or by ferry.

Flight to Moorea

The first option is to take a direct 15-minute flight with Air Tahiti from Fa’a’ International Airport in Papeete to Moorea’s airport.

While the 15-minute flight time may be attractive and tempting, I can assure you that your actual travel time will take much longer.

You will have to get to the airport, pass through security, and go through the entire boarding and deplaning process. All of this adds at least an extra hour, if not more, of travel time.

If that is not enough to dissuade you from flying, prices for flights from Papeete to Moorea range anywhere from $75 – $600, depending on your flight route and travel demand.

Ferry to Moorea

The cheaper option and in my opinion, the better option, is to take a ferry to Moorea from Papeete. Two companies provide ferry transport to Moorea: Aremiti and Terevau.

Aremiti Ferry

The Aremiti Ferry operates with two different ferries: the Aremiti Ferry 2 and the Aremiti 6.

Between the two, Aremiti Ferry 2 can provide transport for cars and passengers, while the Aremiti 6 only transports passengers.

Depending on the day and season, Aremiti Ferries run between Tahiti and Moorea 7-12 times a day. Be sure to check the weekly schedule to find a time that fits best with your itinerary.

A table displaying Aremiti's schedule for departure from Tahiti and going to Moorea. Be sure to check the schedule when planning your day trip to Moorea.
Sample schedule from Aremiti website

Aremiti Ferry Cost

In terms of fare prices, a one-way ticket on the Aremiti Ferry costs $14 USD for an adult, ~$12 USD for a senior, and $8 USD for a child.

If you are bringing a rental car to the island, you will have to purchase a ticket for your vehicle in addition to a passenger ticket. Prices will vary depending on the size of your car.

NOTE: Tickets are valid for an entire year past the date of purchase. They can be bought online or in person at the ticket counter.

Terevau Ferry

Your other option is to take the Terevau Ferry. This ferry also supports passenger and vehicle transport on the majority of its trips.

Depending on the day and season, they run trips 4 – 7 times a day. Remember to check their weekly schedule as times may vary from what is posted below.

Sample schedule from the website

Terevau Ferry Cost

Compared to Aremiti, fare prices on Terevau are just a tad bit cheaper. A one-way ticket for an adult is about $12 USD, while tickets for children cost $6 USD.

Tickets for transporting a vehicle will differ depending on the type and size of your vehicle.

NOTE: Tickets for transport with Terevau remain valid for 6 months after the date of purchase. You can buy tickets online or in person.

Which to Take: Aremiti or Terevau?

To be completely honest, there is not much of a difference between the two companies.

Aremiti is more flexible in terms of scheduling because it offers up to 12 different times to choose from. Meanwhile, Terevau only offers up to 7 different times.

That said, Terevau tickets are a little bit cheaper than tickets with Aremiti. So, if you’re traveling to the islands on a tight budget, this may be the better option.

My friends and I selected Aremiti because the times fit our schedule better. But, both of them are perfectly reliable forms of transport.

A picture of my friend and I sitting on the ferry that is taking us from Tahiti to Moorea for our day trip.

Similarly, ferry companies require no reservation for a specific time slot unless you are transporting across with a vehicle.

Furthermore, there is no arranged seating. They both run on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is usually lots of seating, so don’t feel pressured to arrive hours before departure.

I would recommend arriving 30 minutes early to make sure you can get settled with ease.

Depending on the ferry company you selected, the ferry ride between the two islands takes about 35-45 minutes.

The view of the ferry port in Moorea

Do You Need a Car in Moorea?

The short answer is no, but it certainly makes exploring easier. A fun fact about French Polynesia is that Lyft and Uber are not available on the islands. It’s kinda surprising — I know!

Couple this with their public transport situation not being the most unreliable… yah you can see where I’m going with this.

You’ll want to rent a car if you have the time and means to. My advice is to obtain a rental car from Tahiti if you can since it’s more expensive and a huge hassle to do this from Moorea.

A picture of the loading dock where all the cars that have been transported to Moorea exit the ferry.
Leaving the carport on the ferry

I suggest booking a rental car from one of the companies stationed at the airport (PPT). This will allow you to immediately use your rental car upon arrival in French Polynesia, or you can pick up the rental car on your way to the Papeete Ferry Terminal.

Be sure to book your car reservation as soon as possible because supply is limited and demand can be very high. My friends and I used Hertz, and we had no issues.

If you don’t have a rental car…

In the event you aren’t able to get a rental car or simply don’t want to, I highly suggest opting to take a guided tour to see Moorea’s best sites. Here are the 2 tours I strongly recommend taking for the best possible stress-free experience!

This full-day tour of Moorea has excellent reviews and takes you to many of the places I also recommend below

A picture of the coastline that can be seen from a lookout point in Moorea!

RATING: 5/5 275+ 5-star reviews! | LENGTH OF TOUR: 7 hours

The Enjoy Moorea Day Tour includes:

  • Admiring the incredible panoramic views from Magic Mountain
  • Seeing Moorea from Belvedere Lookout (the highest viewpoint in Moorea)
  • Touring a Vanilla Plantation at Moorea Tropical Garden
  • Enjoying a Traditional French Polynesian meal at Temae Beach
  • Drinking local beers, tropical juices, and punch
  • Free time to swim around or stroll along Temae Beach
  • An easy 15-minute hike to Afareaitu waterfall
  • Airbnb, vacation home, hotel, or ferry pick-up & drop-off

The Enjoy Moorea Day Tour is one of the highest-rated tours of Moorea that allows you to intimately explore the island with a knowledgeable local.

You get the best of both worlds by seeing the most popular tourist attractions but also get to explore the lesser-known hidden gems. Plus, the team is super friendly and does an excellent job communicating with you so you always know what to expect.

So, if you’re looking for a day trip to Moorea that is completely hassle-free and well worth the money, I recommend this awesome tour!

“Pierre is a 5th generation resident of Moorea and is proud to share the best of his island home. We saw all we had hoped – Belvedere, Magic Mountain, pineapple plantations in the caldera, and the amazing waterfall. His homemade poison cru was a fun lunch experience. This was by far the best way to experience the best of Moorea! Highly recommend this tour.”

= Diane (see more reviews)

Check rates & availability for this amazing full-day tour of Moorea!

Want to go snorkeling?

For those visiting French Polynesia for the first time, you may not know that Moorea is one of the best places in all of French Polynesia to go snorkeling! That’s right, you can swim with black-tip sharks, sting rays, all kinds of fish, and so much more!

If exploring the island by water rather than by land sounds like something you would love to do, I highly recommend…

This extremely popular and top-rated snorkeling tour in Moorea that includes a Tahitian food cooking class and a barbecue lunch!

A picture of a traditional French Polynesian boat resting in clear blue waters off of Moorea.

RATING: 5/5 – 1050+ 5-star reviews! | LENGTH OF TOUR: 5-6 hours

This 6-Hour Snorkeling & Lunch Tour includes:

  • Snorkeling amongst fish, friendly stingrays, and black-tip sharks
  • Learning how to make Traditional French Polynesia Poisson Cru
  • A tasty barbecue lunch with beverages on a small island
  • Visiting Cook’s Bay, also known as Opunohu Bay
  • Cruising through the stunning Moorea Lagoon
  • Learning how to open a coconut like a local
  • Use of mask, snorkels, and beach towels
  • Drop off at the hotel or ferry

This is the most popular and one of the highest-rated tours of Moorea that allows you to explore the gorgeous island by way of a boat! You’ll get to swim in the brilliant blue waters and see the diverse underwater life up close and personal.

Afterward, your professional guide will teach you the island’s culture, and traditions, and even how to prepare authentic French Polynesian poisson cru, the dish the country is most famous for!

All in all, if you’re looking for a personalized private tour that allows you to both easily and safely interact with the amazing aquatic life during your day trip, then this Moorea snorkeling tour is for you!

“As someone who has snorkled many times, this is by far the best experience you’ll get in Moorea. First of all, our guide Wilfred is one of a kind. He plays music while you’re on the boat, getting to your destination. He explains the culture, history, medical plants, and more while you’re in the boat…this was one of the best things we did here in Moorea. Book, and thank me later!”

– Maxim (See More Reviews)

Check rates & availability for this incredibly popular snorkeling tour in Moorea!

8 Things to Do During Day Trip to Moorea

If you decide to do a day trip to Moorea from Papeete on your own, you’ll want to get the most out of your one day without feeling completely exhausted at the end of your excursion. Here are my top recommendations for what to visit in your limited amount of time!

NOTE: If you are arriving in Moorea by ferry, I have listed the activities in the order that I would recommend doing them to avoid unnecessary driving time!

1. Visit Toatea Lookout

Approximately 5 minutes from the Moorea Ferry Port, is the scenic Toatea Lookout that you have likely seen in holiday travel brochures.

This observation deck overlooks the Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort’s iconic overwater bungalows! In the background, you can also see Tahiti’s dramatic shape and the striking barrier reef.

Taking a few minutes to take in the brilliant turquoise waters and appreciate the tropical landscape is the perfect way to start your day trip.

A picture of myself at Toatea lookout. It is only a couple minute drive away from the ferry port and is a must visit during your day trip to Moorea.
The incredible view from Toatea Lookout! | Credit: Sol G.

2. Snorkel at Les Tipaniers Beach

About 33 minutes from Toatea lookout is a smaller public beach, Les Tipaniers Beach.

You can access the beach by entering through Hotel Les Tipaniers. We found parking available across the street from the hotel by way of a dirt/gravel parking lot.

Although the beach is public, we were told that the hotel staff may charge you a small fee to access the beach through the hotel entrance. We managed to walk right through the hotel without running into any problems.

At this beach, you can snorkel and swim with all kinds of fish! Beware, the waters are not deep, so be mindful of not hitting the coral to avoid damaging the coral reef environment.

A picture of the marine life that I saw while snorkeling at Les Tipaniers Beach. Snorkeling is one of the best things to do in Moorea during a day trip.
Some of the sea life we saw while snorkeling at Tipaniers Beach

3. Enjoy Magic Mountain Overlook

One of the best viewpoints in Moorea is on Magic Mountain. It offers amazing panoramic views of Opunohu Bay and the nearby lagoon. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to 2-wheel drive to the lookout point.

To access this viewpoint, there are two options: you can either do a 4×4 vehicle tour or hike to the lookout.

For those interested in being led by a guide, I recommend this excellent, small-group tour that has received 600+ 5-star reviews!

You’ll not only ride in a 4×4 with an expert guide to the top of Magic Mountain but also get to visit several other top attractions in Moorea. Here are some highlights you can look forward to:

For example, you’ll stop by the Tropical Gardens to indulge in a bit of jam-tasting and explore their vanilla plantation, marvel at the views of Cook Bay, explore the local pineapple fields, enjoy the spectacular view from Belvedere, and learn the history of the island from your knowledgable guide!

Check rates & availability for this beloved 4×4 tour up Magic Mountain & around Moorea

The view from Magic Mountain Overlook. Moorea has several hiking short trails that are perfect for a day trip.
One of the many views from Magic Mountain Overlook.

Hiking Magic Mountain

If you choose to get your steps in for the day by hiking to the lookout point, you can park in the small parking lot on the side of the mountain for 200 xpf ($2 USD) in cash.

There is also a little stand called “Fare Tutava,” which offers the most delicious jams and juices – perfect for a quick snack! From there, you will see a hut and sign, marking the entrance to the mountain.

The entire hike is about 2 miles long and can be comfortably completed in an hour and a half! Visiting Magic Mountain overlook is truly an opportunity that should not be passed up!

NOTE: Some sections of the trail are pretty steep, so wear good shoes. Also, make sure to bring lots of water!

4. Drive to Belvedere Lookout

Next, I suggest making your way to Belvedere. This lookout offers mesmerizing views of Mount Rotui splitting Opunohu Bay and Cook’s Bay.

During your day trip, check out one of the best views in all of Moorea is Belvedere Lookout.
The iconic view of Mount Rotui from the lookout

Unlike Magic Mountain Overlook, you can easily drive with your rental car to this viewing point. Do beware, the lookout point does tend to get a bit crowded as it is a tourist hotspot with unbeatable views.

5. Eat at Moorea Tropical Garden

For lunch, I would highly recommend grabbing lunch at Moorea Tropical Garden. It takes a bit of effort to get to the location, but I promise the food and view are worth it!

You can search “Moorea Tropical Garden,” on Google Maps. From the main road, there is a sign on the right side indicating the dirt road that leads to the restaurant at the very top of the hill.

A picture of the steep hill that you have to ascend to reach Moorea Tropical Garden.
The hill that we had to climb. Notice how far ahead my two friends were and how long the hill is… | Credit: Sol G.

I would recommend parking on the side of the main road and walking to the top of the hill if you can. This is because the road is very steep and uneven. If your car does not have high ground clearance, you might damage your car.

A picture of Moorea Tropical Garden and its little souvenir shop.
The little souvenir shop
The view that you will see and can enjoy while eating breakfast or lunch at Moorea Tropical Garden.
The view from the lunch tables

The outdoor restaurant is equipped with several picnic tables, from which you can enjoy stunning views of the lush vegetation and glimmering waters. Along with its mouthwatering food and dessert options, the restaurant provides tastings of its various fresh homemade jams.

If you are looking for a special souvenir gift, these organic jams are just what you’re looking for! The original flavor combinations perfectly encapsulate the tropical profile of French Polynesia.

A picture of the Moorea Tropical Garden's friendly dog.
This dog and I became best buds!

Depending on the day, you might even befriend the restaurant’s dog as he loves to roam around to greet guests!

NOTE: To the side and behind the restaurant are some mini hiking trails. The hours of operation for the restaurant are:
Monday – Saturday: 8 am – 4 pm & Sunday: 8 am – 12 pm

6. Relax at Ta’ahiamanu (Mareto) Beach

After lunch, relax at Ta’ahiamanu Beach, which is another favorite amongst tourists!

At this public beach, you can enjoy beautiful views of Opunohu Bay, the surrounding mountain landscape, and a narrow stretch of white sand. Plus, the abundance of palm trees provides lots of shade if you want to sunbathe or take a nap.

Ta'ahiamanu Beach is a popular public beach. This beach is perfect for relaxing, sunbathing or snorkeling at during your day trip to Moorea.
The white sand and clear waters at Ta’ahiamanu Beach.
A picture of the underwater terrain at Ta'ahiamanu Beach.
Snorkeling/swimming at Ta’ahiamanu Beach in Moorea.

My favorite part of this beach was the underwater life and terrain. While snorkeling, we found that the waters were much deeper, so it was easier to move around and observe the marine life.

Speaking of which, I recommend bringing your own snorkeling gear if you plan on doing the day trip independently. This way you can snorkel anywhere you please around the island!

NOTE: Check out my little French Polynesia packing list to see all the essentials I recommend bringing on your island getaway!

7. Tour Rotui Juice Factory

If you happen to visit Moorea on a rainy day, or it just starts raining out of nowhere as it did for us, touring the Rotui Juice Factory is an awesome alternative to hiking.

The Rotui Juice Factory produces French Polynesia’s most loved fruit juice with the excess of pineapples it grows. Taking a tour allows you to see the process up close, and you’ll be happy to hear that these tours are completely free!

A picture of a pineapple plant that is near the Rotui Juice Factory.

After completing the tour, you can enjoy a lil tasting experience with the different kinds of fruit juices. They even serve a couple of tropical liquors, because it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere…right?

Lastly, be sure to check out the adorable gift shop that is filled with perfect souvenirs for loved ones.

8. Take Pictures at Tema’e Beach

One of the most picturesque white sand beaches in Moorea is Tema’e Beach.

Fortunately, it is a public beach and located only 6 minutes from the Moorea ferry port back to Papeete. Thus, it is the perfect place to kick back and relax if you are taking the ferry back to Tahiti.

A picture of my friend and I at Temae Beach doing a little photoshoot with our graduation stoles. Taking pictures of the unbelievably clear water is a great way to end you day trip to Moorea.
One degree hotter | Credit: Sol G.

My friends and I decided to do a spontaneous graduation photoshoot since we left for this trip the day after graduation from university.

In the background, you can see the beautiful overwater bungalows at the Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort and the imposing green mountains.

And if you’re looking to make some furry friends, there are also lots of adorable and friendly stray dogs on this beach to keep you company! I think spending time befriendly all the doggos was enough to make my trip to Tahiti worth it!

A picture of Temae Beach and one of its many friendly stray dogs.
I named this dog Snippy.

Where to Stay in Moorea

In the event decide you want to spend some extra time on Moorea, feel free to use this interactive map to check out the various housing options.

It will give you up-to-date prices across several booking platforms and hopefully make things a little easier

Day Trip to moorea: FAQ

How Do You Get Around Moorea Without a Car?

If you don’t want to take a tour or rent a car, it is still possible to get around Moorea. Your next best option would be to rent an e-bike. This company provides e-bikes that are good for riding 100 miles around the island and include both helmets and bike locks!

When Is the Best Time to Visit Moorea?

Rain levels vary significantly in French Polynesia, so there are certainly better times to visit the islands. To minimize your chances of having to delay or cancel your activities due to rain, try to plan your trip between May and October.

This is when the weather is best and you can spend your days surfing, hiking to hidden waterfalls, and doing all sorts of outdoor adventures!

How Much Should I Bring to French Polynesia?

While most of the world is moving towards a cashless society, paper money is still widely used in French Polynesia. I recommend bringing at least $200 USD worth of XPF, maybe more depending on how much you plan to tip.

Picture of the turquoise waters and Moorea's mountains while snorkeling at Ta'ahiamanu Beach.
Taken in the waters off of Ta’ahiamanu Beach in Moorea.

Wrap-Up: Day Trip to Moorea From Papeete

From the dazzling beaches with their luxurious overwater bungalows to the hiking trails that lead to spectacular waterfalls, French Polynesia has it all.

Thus, if you are in Tahiti and want to fill out your itinerary, I highly recommend taking a day trip to Moorea from Tahiti. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world and visiting is easier than you think!

Appreciation Note: You’ll notice that a few of the pictures in this post were taken by my friend good friend Sol! You can see more of his amazing photography here!

A picture of Kristin and the restaurant's dog at Moorea Tropical Garden.
My furry friend and I wish you the best time in French Polynesia!

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