Moorea (Photo:GuilhermeMesquita/Shutterstock)
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Moorea

They don't call the heart-shaped Moorea "the magical island" for nothing. Dominated by spiky mountain peaks, turquoise lagoons and lush tropical foliage, Moorea is the favorite port of call in French Polynesia for many cruise passengers and crew.

About Moorea


Pro

Find Bali Hai, whether you're snorkeling from shore or driving up to a mountain vista point

Con

Expensive taxis and no public transit mean you need to take a tour or rent a car

Bottom Line

You'll never want to leave this uncrowded "magical island"


Find a Cruise to the South Pacific



It's said that the idyllic Bali Hai, the fictional island from the musical "South Pacific," was based on Moorea -- and the island looks the way you probably imagine a tropical paradise to look (even unsightly power cables are buried underground to further the paradisiacal effect). Even better is the wide, shallow lagoon that surrounds it. You can swim or snorkel right from shore, or take a short boat ride out to a secluded motu, a tiny islet.

Upscale Bora Bora may get more hype, but Moorea is a sleeper. Residents of Tahiti know all about it. They come for the weekend because it's so easy to get here, a mere 12 miles and 30 minutes on the fast ferry from Papeete. No matter when you visit, you won't find crowds or traffic jams. Only about 12,000 people call this home.

Where You're Docked

Ships anchor off the town of Vaiare on the east coast -- or in Cook's Bay or Opunohu Bay on the northern coast -- and tender passengers to makeshift villages that spring to life only when ships are in.

Good to Know

Chickens crossing the road! Moorea is sleepy and safe, and besides sunburn and mosquito bites there's little to fear. Still, practice common sense.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The local currency is the French Pacific franc. A good rule of thumb is that 100 francs equal $1 -- but you'll want to check XE.com for the latest exchange rates; a Banque de Polynesie ATM is located in Le Petit Village, the island's main shopping area.

Language

French and Tahitian are the official languages. Some locals speak English, but don't count on it. Carry an English/French dictionary or phrase book.

Shopping

In the islands, a hand-dyed pareo (the local version of a sarong) serves as a beach cover-up or a tropical dinner dress. Guys can wear them too.

Best Cocktail

On a hot day, pineapple liqueur and ginger rum go down nice and easy. Try the various fruit liquors made by the Pineapple Factory at Jus De Fruits de Moorea located in Pihaena.