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Mo'orea French Polynesia: A Budget Edition Part 1

Cover Image for Mo'orea French Polynesia: A Budget Edition Part 1

Hey everyone! Lauren here to tell you about our time on the island of Mo’orea in French Polynesia. This was not a typical backpacker destination, but during my trip planning stage while I was looking into cheap ways to get to New Zealand, I read that flying to French Polynesia and then to New Zealand was a cost effective way to see the islands.

I also read that the Scuba diving was good and after I stumbled upon a cheap flight to Tahiti, we booked it! It was actually the first flight we booked out of our entire trip!

Finally to the Island

I was so excited to be headed to Mo’orea that I convinced Gerrod we should sit on the top of the boat to get a good outdoor view of the island during our 30-45 minute ferry ride. This resulted in a sunburn. But the views were beautiful!

To the Airbnb We Go

We originally intended to walk to our Airbnb from the ferry terminal, but after getting off we realized there was no good way to walk. So we found ourselves a taxi, and our driver helped us find our Airbnb and even talked to our host Melody on the phone since we weren’t sure of how to get in when we finally arrived. The 10 minute taxi ride cost 2000 Franc, which is quite expensive.

There was no one home except our host’s very cute dogs. Luckily we figured out where our room was through the Airbnb message feature, and soon our host’s boyfriend was home to show us where the bathroom was and properly introduce us to the dogs and our home for the next 8 nights.

Lauren with the Airbnb pup

Trying to Find Food: Biking Through Rain

Our Airbnb provided bicycles to get around the island, but after Gerrod and I hopped on the bikes to find food after settling in we quickly realized that they were nowhere near nice road bikes. We headed towards the closest restaurant I could find on Google, and very soon after leaving it started pouring rain. The road also turned to be a very long uphill, which is when we realized both of our tires were kind of flat.

Riding uphill, with flat tires, through a downpour of rain isn’t very enjoyable. We ended up walking our bikes to the top of the hill, where there was the Toatea lookout. It kind of stopped raining, which resulted in beautiful views of the foggy island and turquoise blue water. We could even see the fancy over-the-water bungalows at the Sofitel Mo’orea Resort.

The restaurant ended up not existing, so we kept riding eventually stumbling on a golf course restaurant. Lunch there cost 4000 Francs, which is quite a lot so Gerrod and I decided to buy groceries at a store near the ferry terminal before heading back to our Airbnb. We bought snacks, breakfast, and dinner supplies which cost us almost half of the cost of one meal! After we got home, we found a bike pump, which greatly improved the bike ride comfort level.

Booking Scuba and Temae Beach

The next day after making breakfast and waiting for the rain to stop, we headed to a dive shop to book some Scuba diving! We went with a company called Mo’orea Blue Diving , which was based at Hotel Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea. We booked a dive for the next day, which I will talk about in another post since I think our dive experience deserves its own post. The woman at the dive shop also told us about a wonderful shortcut through the Sofitel resort so that we could skip the giant hill when we biked! Woo!

Mo’orea Blue Diving Map

Gerrod after getting pooped on by a bird

After booking our dives, we headed to Temae Beach. Temae Beach is a public beach next to the Sofitel resort. When we arrived at the beach, we started to chain up our bikes and prepare to snorkel when it started down pouring.

Gerrod and I hid under a tree, and made some sandwiches for lunch. After the rain slowed down, we decided to snorkel even though we weren’t sure the rain was done. The water was very warm, and there was some lovely shallow coral between the beach and the resort! We watched some of the fish before getting out to relax on the beach. Soon after relaxing we headed back to our Airbnb to make dinner and hang out with the dogs and finally meet our Airbnb host.

Lagoonarium

A guy on our dive, suggested going to a place called Lagoonarium for good snorkeling, so the day after we dove, Gerrod and I headed out on our bikes! So far it had rained almost every time we got on our bikes, but thankfully the rain held off this time. The Lagoonarium is located on a very small island called "Motu Ahi" in the middle of the lagoon on the east coast of Moorea. After we arrived at the boat dock for the Lagoonarium, we paid the 3900 Franc per person fee and waited for our boat to take us across to the tiny island. The Lagoonarium is located on a very small island called "Motu Ahi" in the middle of the lagoon on the east coast of Moorea.

After we arrived, we were greeted and shown to our own private hut for the day and told about the guided fish feedings at 11:30am and 2pm. There was also kayaks that we could use, and a main building with free tea and coffee!

Gerrod enjoying the hut at Lagoonarium

Lauren at the beach at Lagoonarium

Fish Feeding Time

Gerrod and I arrived around 11am, so we hopped in the water and snorkeled around the designated area until feeding time. The feeding started with our masks off near shore. The man working at the Lagoonarium fed bread to the all the fish until there was a huge swarm near us. He had smaller bait fish that he was feeding to sting rays. They were swimming right up to him, and he even guided them to swim up against us! The sting rays would slide against us and were so slimy.

We then put our masks on and looked into the water near the shore. There were tons of fish and even a bunch of smaller black tip reef sharks. He led the rays to us again so we could see them swim under the water, and had them rub against us again.

We then progressed to deeper water to end the feeding before getting free time to snorkel, kayak, or relax on the beach. I would have photos of all of this, except I took my waterproof camera a little deeper than recommended on our dives the day before and it jammed and broke! (temporarily...the lens was stuck and after shaking it and repeatedly messing with it for a weeks, it magically started working again).

Snorkeling

The snorkeling was amazing! There was coral everywhere, tons of giant clams, and fish and black tipped reef sharks were swimming all around us. After snorkeling for awhile we went to our hut for our gourmet peanut butter sandwich lunch. Our guide also brought us a delicious salad to enjoy!

Lunch and Kayaking

After our lunch, we enjoyed the ocean views until it started sprinkling a bit. We decided to make the most of it and went kayaking. Gerrod’s kayak was not very nice, so after kayaking around I decided to snorkel and let Gerrod use my kayak. We eventually started playing around having Gerrod tow me on the kayak while I snorkeling in the water.

Kayaking off the coast of Mo'orea near Lagoonarium

Second Feeding and Back to Airbnb

The 2nd feeding was very similar to the first, and was still a magical experience. After the 2nd feeding, we snorkeled a bit and swam through a small underwater tunnel on the reef. Not too long after, Gerrod and I headed back to shore to go back to our Airbnb. There was a total downpour on our ride back, but we pushed through the rain and even stopped at the grocery store on our way back!

Polynesian Feast and Show

We asked our Airbnb where would be a good place to go to get a traditional Polynesian feast on the island. To our surprise they told us one of the resorts! So Gerrod and I stopped at the Hotel Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort and discovered that they do a feast with a show on Sunday nights.

After a relaxing day spent sleeping in and stopping by Temae Beach yet again for some snorkeling, we cleaned ourselves up and headed out on our bikes to the Sofitel.

The dinner started at 6:30pm, and was very expensive (8800 Francs per person, which is nearly 80 USD). There were long buffet tables with an assortment of foods set out, and a live performance on the patio. The performance was hard to see from the table. It was raining outside which meant it was difficult to find a place to watch the performers without blocking someone else’s view of the show.

Gerrod and Lauren with the resort performers

Gerrod and I both agree that the food was just okay. We have both had better fish meals, and it was nothing spectacular. There were a few things that were very tasty, including some tasty mussels and pig roast. The desserts were the best part, including fresh fruit ice cream and homemade crepes. The meal was incredibly filling at least, but we both felt it was not worth the expense. Even just a glass of water cost an additional 770 Francs which is a little more than 7 USD!

We did both feel fancy after spending our time riding our bikes around and not having any air conditioning. The show was also very good despite being hard to view properly! Our ride back was through the dark during quite heavy rain. I strapped my flashlight to my bike and Gerrod had a headlamp. Probably not the safest bike ride but we made it!

Our Airbnb host’s boyfriend has lived on the island his entire life and offered to drive us around the island for the day! Since we got to see so much we decided that we could not fit it all into this one post, so stay tuned for part 2!

Until next time!

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