This French Polynesian Island is a Honeymoon Paradise (& it’s not Bora Bora)

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Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort

Tahiti and Bora Bora are often considered the ultimate honeymoon destinations. But this tiny island is a true South Pacific paradise for romance.

I can’t believe it’s true but after nearly 3 months of globetrotting around the world we have finally reached the last stop on this epic honeymoon adventure. And what a last stop it is, the postcard-perfect South Pacific honeymoon paradise of French Polynesia.

An overseas collectivity of France, these 118 islands and atolls stretch lazily across the South Pacific Ocean covering more than 1,200 miles.

French Polynesia is divided into 5 island groups, the most famous of which are the Society Islands which include Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea.

And while Tahiti and Bora Bora are more familiar names to most people, Moorea has always been a particular favorite of mine. In fact, this laid-back island is a much better honeymoon choice than busy Tahiti or touristy, expensive Bora Bora.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to book through these links, I receive a small commission, which I will undoubtedly blow on more flights (it’s a vicious cycle).  All of this internet voodoo takes place at no additional cost to you. 

Moorea has all the beauty and charm of Bora Bora, without the hefty price tag. So, of course, it’s the perfect place to end this incredible honeymoon in style.

How to get to Moorea

But to reach Moorea, you have to start on the main island of Tahiti, home to the largest airport in the islands.

We land in Papeete, Tahiti a little after 10:00pm after a pleasant 5-hour flight from Auckland on Air New Zealand. Since the last ferry to Moorea runs late in the afternoon, we booked the Le Meridien Tahiti for our first night in the islands.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a mid-morning ferry over to Moorea.

Le Meridien Tahiti pool
The oasis pool at Le Meridien Tahiti

We arrive at the Le Meridien Tahiti just in time to grab a drink at the bar before it closes.

After a restful night’s sleep, we awake to the tropical paradise that is Tahiti. The Meridien has a gorgeous oasis-like sand-bottom pool so we walk down to it and along the boardwalk leading to the overwater bungalows before heading up to breakfast.

After breakfast, we pack up and take a taxi into downtown Papeete to check out the market.

Papeete’s market is always an entertaining mix of tourists shopping for souvenirs and locals shopping for fresh seafood and produce. It’s definitely the best place in the islands to buy souvenirs so we pick up a few before heading over to the ferry terminal.

Moving on to Moorea

The ferry to Moorea takes about 40 minutes and I’m not sure there’s a more stunning ferry ride anywhere in the world.

The approach to Moorea with its lush, rugged emerald peaks and sparkling turquoise lagoons is the stuff of Gauguin paintings and Michener novels. It’s completely mesmerizing and we watch in awe as the ferry docks and begins to offload its passengers.

Ferry to Moorea
Arriving in Moorea

In an effort to save money (we’d be spending a lot of while on the island), we decide to forgo the taxis and take the local bus instead.

I’ve done it once before and remember it being an easy and inexpensive way to reach the resort. Just hop on and tell the driver where you want to get off and he’ll stop there.

Arrival at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort

Since there’s just one road ringing the small island, it doesn’t take long to get to our hotel for the next 4 nights, the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort.

With some creative financing, we booked 4 nights (2 in an overwater bungalow and 2 in a garden pool bungalow) while only paying full price for one night.

We were able to use our Hilton points for the other 3 nights and then pay a little extra to upgrade to a better room than what Hilton points will buy you (which is just the basic, no-pool bungalow).

Overwater bungalow Hilton Moorea
Our overwater bungalow at the Hilton Moorea

We wanted to spend a few nights in an overwater bungalow since it’s such a big part of the Tahiti experience (and this is our honeymoon!). However, we didn’t want to pay the extravagant rates for all 4 nights. So we compromised and for the last 2 nights, we’ll move into a more affordable garden bungalow.

Luckily, even the affordable bungalows come with their own private pool!

Our overwater bungalow turns out to be just spectacular and we spend the first few hours simply gazing around in awe at the views.

Eventually, we snap out of our daze and donn swimsuits and snorkeling gear. From there, we climb down our ladder straight into the lagoon for a bit of snorkeling.

The Hilton’s lagoon is a vast, waist-deep pool of clear, aquamarine water filled with colorful coral and inquisitive tropical fish. You can spend days in this lagoon and never get bored…and that’s exactly what we plan to do for the next few days.

Moorea’s two most popular day trips are the Moorea 6-Hour Snorkeling and Lunch Shared Tour aboard a traditional outrigger canoe and the Moorea 4WD Tour Inc. Belvedere, Pineapple Farm, & Magic Mountain. I’ve done both of these on previous trips so this time, it’s all about enjoying the lagoon.

Sharks in the lagoon

That night we head to the Crepe Bar for dinner, a far less expensive option to the main restaurant.

As we walk down the boardwalk to the bar’s location over the water we notice other guests staring down into the water. Curious, we join them and discover they are watching about a half dozen black-tip sharks swimming around under the restaurant.

In the same lagoon where we just spent the afternoon snorkeling. Interesting. I’ve never seen the sharks in my previous visits and they come as a bit of a shock. But apparently, it’s a daily thing and they are drawn to the lights around the overwater restaurants at night.

So, no night swimming…noted!

Hilton Moorea Lagoon Sharks
Sharks in the hotel lagoon where we spent the day swimming

I’m not sure how I missed the sharks before but we are both a little more hesitant getting into the lagoon the next day; though we persevere nonetheless!

In my head, I can rationalize that one of the top things to do in Tahiti is to swim with sharks and rays. For example, this Ocean Wildlife Expedition: Swim With Whales, Sharks, & Rays Half-Day Boat Tour is the #1 day trip for that.

But I guess I’d prefer that activity to take place in a more controlled environment and not outside of my bungalow.

We pass the next few days sleeping late, hitting the spa, snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddle-boarding. We even survive the downgrade in rooms to our garden bungalow (the private pool isn’t bad!).

At night we watch sunsets and fire dancers and alternate between room service dinners and the Crepe Bar.

It’s a blissful 4 days and it passes all too quickly.

Before we know it, it’s time to take the ferry back to Tahiti for our final night. With an early flight out tomorrow, we had no choice but to spend our last night on Tahiti so we can make it to the airport in time.

Last night in paradise

Luckily, the Le Meridien Tahiti is a nice way to ease yourself back into reality. We were surprised with a terrific upgrade to an enormous suite with a sprawling terrace.

We spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying the pool, then watch a spectacular sunset and splurge on a romantic final night room service dinner on our terrace.

The next morning, it’s time to head to the airport for the long flight back to the US.

Tahiti Sunset Overwater bungalows
Our final sunset in paradise

Wrapping Up RTW #10 – An Epic Honeymoon Adventure

I can’t believe this incredible honeymoon has finally come to an end. (Though my husband assures me our honeymoon will never be over…yes, he’s adorable.)

It seems like just yesterday we were saying “I do” in Tuscany, watching sunsets in Santorini, gazing in wonder at the Taj Mahal in India, and crawling through tunnels along Korea’s DMZ.

And there was so, so much more in between. What an adventure this has been!

I feel a bit like I’ve run the Amazing Race three times this summer…though I got a lot more out of it than a million-dollar prize. I got the world’s most amazing husband and an exciting start to a lifetime of journeys together.

Here’s hoping our next adventure is just around the corner!


  1. Thanks for sharing; we (‘Cilla and I ) just celebrated 20 years and wish you the best. I left FB 6 weeks your Honeymoon ended. If evah in Boston…

    1. Congrats to you and Cilla, that is fantastic! 🙂

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