When all is said and done, I am very glad that we went to this island. Not even Kauai matches Moorea’s beauty and people. There are two main ways to get to Moorea: fly or take the ferry. We took the ferry boat from Tahiti and were pleasantly surprised. The ship was large, with tons of seating both inside and out, and the ride gave us the opportunity to see a different side of both of the islands while getting some great pictures and paying ¼ of the cost of a flight. On the way out, we flew to Bora Bora and found the Moorea airport to be very small (what did you expect), with one runway, and still under construction. We also saw stray animals in the airport, like dogs and chickens (are you getting a clear picture yet?). Your luggage is actually weighed in front of you, and you are charged for all over-weight items. Again, open seating applies on these flights.
Once we got to Moorea, we were met by Albert Tours (who was booked for us by the Sheraton Tahiti, and subsequently, we booked our 4X4 trip with Albert once we arrived in Moorea). He was excellent, spoke perfect English, told us about the island culture, and even stopped at the local supermarket and allowed us to go shopping for water and such—at no extra charge. Thankfully, the hotel agreed to empty our mini bar at no extra charge, as well. Unlike Bora Bora, there is not one main city. That being said, shopping seems scarce because it is very spread out. If you go to Tahiti at all during your trip, I would get all of your shopping done there, as it is cheaper and a lot more convenient. Water shoes are MUST on this island. I don’t care where you stay or what kind of accommodations you choose—buy water shoes at home and bring them with you. They will make a huge difference in your trip, because it will allow you to enjoy everything. There is coral everywhere here, and near the hotels, most of the water is fairly shallow. If you step on it, you are going to cut yourself—sometimes badly—and why, when it’s so easy to prevent?
The water, the fish, and the coral are all delightful and very inviting, and it’s one of the main reasons you come to this island. Taxis, though available, are costly here. If you want to see the island, take the 4X4 tour or a circle-line bus tour. There is no reason to rent a car in advance for the length of your stay either. If you should decide when you arrive that you want a car for the day, that is a different story, and it’s easy to get through your concierge. If you rent a car for the full stay, I think you will be disappointed simply for the money you are wasting because of the lack of a need for it. If you should choose to rent a car and not book a tour, take a drive up to Belvedere Point. This is also a great island to rent bikes on, though it’s not cheap. For dinner, if you should leave your resort (and I suggest that you do), all of the restaurants offer a shuttle service. Some charge, but the fee is nominal compared to the cost of a cab.
If you are looking for nightlife, go somewhere else. The Polynesian islands are all about being one with the surroundings, the culture, and the person you are with. If you are interested in getting a tattoo and have been waiting to get one done, Tahitians take tattooing very seriously (since most of their tattoos symbolized their village or family). Typically their tattoos are done in black, but color may be requested. Pack film, suntan lotion, and bug spray; it is VERY expensive here if you run out, and you will need them all often. I would also recommend buying a disposable underwater camera—there are some great shots to be had while snorkeling. Keep in mind that just about everything, minus the fruit/veggies and black pearls, are imports, which means you will pay more—a lot more. That said, pack smart and think ahead.