Setting foot on Moorea feels like entering a postcard.
It is hard to explain the color of the water and the majesty of the forested mountains falling right into the ocean. Let alone the dreamy over-the-water bungalows we’ve all seen in movies. It is a feeling of peacefulness, slow living, set on some of the most beautiful island landscapes existing.
On Moorea, you have arrived in paradise and the fun is just beginning.
We spent a week on the island, with the goal of discovering but also living slowly. You will easily find lots more to do, but below are nice options to ally beach relaxation and adventure fun.
Related: What To Do In Tahiti With Kids
How To Get To Moorea
You have three choices to get to Moorea. You will be flying to the Papeete airport in Tahiti, and your first option is to fly from there.
Papeete – Moorea Flight
The flight, operated by Air Tahiti, is only a 10-minute hop over. You can purchase a round-trip ticket or get an inter-island package by Air Tahiti, allowing you to island hop between several islands for the duration of your trip.
Papeete – Moorea Ferries
Your second, and most economical, option, is to take a ferry between the two islands. Not only cheaper, the crossing is only 30 minutes and a wonderful way to see both islands from the sea. We would pick this option over flying, anytime again!
We sailed with the Teravau ferry. It was a little cheaper and had times that worked for us. There is a small café on board, and the cabin is air conditioned. We stayed on the deck and took in all the views!
The Aremiti ferry seems to be the biggest operation. Once you are on Moorea, the bus system (or what is left of it…) is generally based on the Aremiti schedule.
Where To Stay On Moorea
Depending on your budget and vacation style, you can go as luxury or simple as you’d like in Moorea.
Choose an over-the-water bungalow for the utmost luxury. Pick from the Sofitel, Hilton, or the Intercontinental. All three are stunning properties and you will be seeing lots of fish right from the resort.
If you decide to rent a house via Airbnb, I highly recommend staying in the Bay of Opunohu. You will be walking distance from a beautiful public beach, some of the hikes and family activities, and the Hilton Moorea, in case you are looking to experience the resort and its restaurants / activities. Stay away from the Bay of Cook. It is a very muddy bay, and while beautiful too, I wouldn’t go snorkeling there.
What To Do On Moorea With Kids
There is so much to do on Moorea with children.
You will definitely want to go to the beach and explore some water fun.
Best Beach On Moorea – Opunohu Bay
The nicest beach on Moorea happens to be the public beach on Ohanapu Bay – Public Beach Ta’Ahiamanu.
We loved laying our towels after the beach curve, to have the most beautiful backdrop of the island, with Mount Tohivea standing up tall behind us.
From the beach, grab your snorkels and spend some time watching the fish in the coral a few feet from you. For the little ones, there is plenty of fish they can see with their bare eyes right from the beach!
If you are lucky, you might even catch some rays or black-pointe sharks (they are a non-dangerous specie of shark, and you’ll be safe just watching them from the distance). As far as the rays go, we saw them, from the beach, flap their fins above the surface.
If you are looking for a longer snorkel excursion, swim all the way up to the Hilton (about 500 meters) and let the current bring you back!
Another really fun thing to do is kayaking in the bay. Be careful as the coral reefs are right beneath your kayak. But you’ll be seeing fish from above the water as you slowly paddle up and down along the beach!
The public beach is very shallow with very little waves since sheltered from the sea by the coral reef. The water there is warm and gets even warmer towards the end of the day. We thought it was the perfect beach for kids to have fun safely.
The sunsets are stunning and you’ll watch the sky turn all sorts of pinks at sundown. Make sure to stay after the sun sets for the best colors!
The Moorea Tropical Garden is right by the public beach and a steep (but short) paved hike up the mountain.
Once there, visit the small vanilla plantation.
And take a hike to the waterfall. It is a 20 / 25 minute hike a highly vegetative forest. Your feet will get wet and open hiking sandals would probably work best.
After all the excitement, come back down to the restaurant, where you will have lunch to the best views ever.
I recommend visiting on a Friday or Saturday. The Tropical Garden runs a lunch special for $15 USD. You will be served a plate full of French Polynesian specialties and a large glass of fresh juice. It might be your best (and cheapest) meal on the island!!!
Don’t forget to try the ice cream! Our favorite was the Taro ice cream!
Sea Turtle Care Center
We loved visiting the Sea Turtle Care Center at the Intercontinental Hotel. There is open access to the resort and we recommend getting there a little early to walk the grounds of this beautiful property.
The daily presentation is at 10AM and one of the staff members will teach you everything you need to know about the center and the local turtles they save and release. Additionally, there are a few resident turtles who cannot safely be released into the open ocean. You will see them being fed and interact with the carers.
The center is entirely running on donations. It is small and we loved how much everyone cared for the animals. They passed on their passion to us and we couldn’t have had a better time!
Swimming With Rays And Sharks
If your heart desires…. Book an excursion to go swim with rays and sharks right at the Intercontinental. The area is also accessible by boat or kayak, and not necessarily from the resort. Those might be some of your most wowing pictures so make sure to pack an underwater camera!
Hiking With Kids In Moorea
We hiked two mountains with the kids while in Moorea.
The Rotui hike was a true adventure. I would only recommend it to good hikers – kids and adults alike. Our children are experienced hikers and all did great, but we thought it was fairly tough and a bit dangerous at times.
If you decide to hike it (it’s a really cool hike and we all loved it!), the entrance to the hike is found from the main road, in between the Hilton’s entrance and the public beach. A very small “Rotui” sign indicates the driveway you will follow to the start of the hike, on the mountain side. You will feel like you’re entering private property and this is the way to go! GPS Coordinates here.
The experience is lots of fun and the views are beautiful.
Hiking with a child who needs to be carried is nearly impossible however. And I wouldn’t have liked hiking the Rotui with a trekking carrier…
The Magic Mountain
This is Moorea’s best-kept secret! Are you ready?
I still can’t quite believe how amazing this hike is.
The start of the Magic Mountain is between the Bay of Opunohu and the Intercontinental Resort. Note that it is located on a private property and you will be charged a small fee to enter. We spent about $7 USD for all 5 of us.
Nearly all of the hike is paved, making it much more manageable for all. It is however a steep hike at times. We walked it on a very hot January day and were thankful to have packed plenty of water.
Wear good shoes and take your time. When given the option to turn right or left – the right side is essentially a straight up shot, while the left side has slightly flatter areas, ups, and downs. Both get to the same point and the hike is a loop.
Once you get to the top, however, the show is unbelievable. You will overlook two bays and witness all shades of blues possible, with an incredible backdrop of dark, lush mountains.
Take your time up there. There is no rush to walk back down – enjoy the views.
While we did not take the time to visit the Lycée Agricole (agricultural high school), it was high on our list of things to do with kids in Moorea.
We met several people who had a great time there.
Make sure you have ample time to swim in the river near the Lycée!
Rotui Juice Factory
For a fun family experience, visit the Rotui fruit juice factory.
There, you will learn about the process to make local fruit juices, as well as alcoholic drinks, mostly made out of pineapple juice.
Lots of pineapples grow on Moorea, and the locals turned them into juice when they realized they had too much supply.
What To Do In Moorea With Kids
Once you get to Moorea, you will quickly realize that time runs slower. Even if you plan an active week, you will find yourself living just a little slower than at home.
Make sure that you take the time to relax and enjoy the Polynesian way of life. Walk down the road for a little bit and stop at fruit stands to buy fruits off of people’s backyards.
Let someone open a fresh coconut for you, drink its water, and enjoy its flesh.
Just don’t rely on the bus. We did, and never got lucky. They may or may not stop. When they do, they are typically based on the Aremiti ferry schedule. We ended up hitchhiking and calling in taxis. The ride from the ferry terminal to the Bay of Opunohu public beach costs around $35 USD, and is well worth the peace of mind!
You will have one of the most memorable times on Moorea. Make sure to enjoy it slowly. Happy memory-making!!