When Heather & Jesse asked about an October honeymoon to French Polynesia and Tahiti, we knew exactly what would fit them best! We planned an incredible two-week adventure that had a little bit of everything. From relaxing on the beach to a bucket list snorkeling experience to a private overwater bungalow! Here’s their in-depth review of their Tahitian Honeymoon!
We arrived at Papeete, Tahiti fresh off our destination wedding in South Carolina. And were simultaneously exhausted and excited for our upcoming Tahiti adventure. We arrived at the Hilton hotel well ahead of our check-in time (and ahead of cocktail hour). So, we grabbed some coffees and sat outside by the pool. The pool area at the Hilton is very nice – clean, well-appointed, and beautiful. We spent most of the second day in a private two-person chair at the pool, overlooking the ocean. The restaurant at the hotel was delicious, for dinner and breakfast. And the service at the hotel in general was outstanding. Our two-night stay at the Hilton in Tahiti was a great way to ease into the trip.
Next on our agenda was a ferry transfer from Tahiti to Moorea for a 6-night stay at the Hilton Moorea in a private bungalow. Moorea’s green mountains and cliffs are stunning, as are the clear waters that surround it.
It’s worth pointing out that on transfer days, you usually end up with some time to kill before check-in. We used this time to plan some outings with the concierge and lounge by the pool with a drink. While waiting, the staff also taught Jesse how to husk and open a coconut!
Once we checked in, we found our bungalow was a little weathered and not quite as pristine as the Hilton hotel on Papeete, Tahiti, but it was very private with our own little pool. This first night we took advantage of one of the local restaurants that run shuttles to the hotel and had a nice authentic Moorea dinner.
On our second day, we took an off-road truck tour to visit some of the tourist highlights of the island. Our local guide Patrick was outstanding. We went up the very steep road to Magic Mountain, which has great views, then on to the pearl shop and Juice factory for some tasty rums and fruit drinks.
Patrick then took us to Belvedere lookout, which is exceptional, and pointed out the variety of fruit and nut trees that grow everywhere. He then showed us the remains of a religious temple and taught us some of the histories of the island natives, which was very moving. We then went to the pineapple fields in the interior of the caldera. Being in there reminded us of a green version of Zion national park.
For dinner, we ate at the creperie which is an overwater at the hotel and it was outstanding.
The trailhead was about 5 miles from the hotel so we arranged for E-bikes with the concierge and rode these to the trailhead, which was a blast! The hike was about a 5-mile hike through the jungle, past several of the religious temple remains, and up a moderate hill to the Col des Trois Pinus lookout point.
The lookout not only has beautiful views of Moorea’s two bays below and the high peaks above, but it also has a wooden swing affixed to the trees! The return part of the loop took us back through the pineapple fields that we had seen the previous day.
This bike & hike day was one of the highlights of the trip for us.
This night we took a shuttle to Rudy’s restaurant, which was our favorite dining of the entire trip. Classic, French style of cooking, geared toward local ingredients (the Parrotfish was amazing). Rudy’s was so good we went back two nights later!
The next day we lounged on the beach all day at the resort, a welcome day of relaxation. The service and amenities were again outstanding. Great snorkeling is available right from the hotel’s beachfront, and the pool is steps away as well. The staff regularly checks in for drinks or food, without being intrusive.
For dinner we did the buffet and Polynesian show, which we found to be a little underwhelming in terms of the food and the show.
The following day we had arranged for a private ocean snorkeling tour with Moorea Ocean Adventures. Neither of us knew really what to expect and we certainly couldn’t have anticipated how this day went. The crew consisted of the captain, and wildlife specialist, and a professional photographer who happened to be on board doing some work for the company. When we got on board, they were incredibly welcoming and tried to get a real feel for how adventurous we were. They asked what sea life we wanted to see, and we said we were game for anything.
They asked, “would you like to swim with humpback whales?”… ummm, yes!!
Apparently, French Polynesia is one of only 3 places in the world you can do this, and we just happened to be in the right time window for it.
So we set out chasing humpbacks and listening for their calls for an hour or so until we finally got in the water near a whale that was “singing” non-stop. Seeing the whale underwater within about 50 feet of us was absolutely surreal; a totally unique experience. The photographer captured an amazing photo from our outing that he shared with us.
After the whales, we went and swam with sea turtles, which was also incredible but seemed to pale in comparison.
We are overjoyed that Ann recommended this tour; it was worth every penny spent on it and then some!
The next morning we did a run/hike up Rotui (the trailhead is very close to the hotel), which rises very steep and provides great views of the hotel and ocean. The trail is rather rugged and a guide was recommended to go all the way up, so we cut the hike short.
We decided to rent a car this day to tour the perimeter of the island. Other than some souvenir shopping, this was a bust. There’s really not much else to do or see via car, so we recommend against this.
Moorea Overall Thoughts
Some favorite foods and drink from our stay on Moorea: poisson cru, parrotfish at Rudy’s, mahi galette at the creperie, and always croissants at breakfast.
A few overall thoughts to share about the Hilton Moorea: On the positive side, the location is absolutely beautiful, the staff is very welcoming and attentive, there are a ton of great outings that the concierge will help book, the grounds are very clean, and the island itself is very friendly and welcoming and safe.
On the negative side, the bungalows are a little weathered – in fact, our air conditioner broke on a couple of occasions. The staff was very responsive in temporarily fixing it, but it was an inconvenience. Additionally, the furniture around the pool and beach was dated, there was a fair amount of bird droppings on the grounds, the workout facilities were underwhelming, and the food at the hotel was good, but not up to the quality of the Hilton Papeete, or the Taha’a resort still to come.
Taha’a Pearl Resort & Overwater Bungalow
The next day was our plane-plane-boat transfer day to Taha’a for four nights in an overwater bungalow at Taha’a Pearl Resorts. We first flew from Moorea back to Tahiti, where we had a long delay. This was really the only bummer of the trip, having to wait in the Papeete airport for a couple extra hours for our flight to Raitea.
When we finally did get to Raitea it was dark and we still had a boat ride to Taha’a Pearl Resorts, but as soon as we landed we got treated so well! The resort staff was there to get our bags and load us onto the boat which was so charming. We were then greeted on the dock at the resort and it was immediately clear that this resort was a step up.
Our overwater bungalow was like something out of a magazine (or Instagram…). Private, incredible views and a window in the floor to watch the fish and rays.
Our first full day on Taha’a it was POURING. So Heather booked a massage that was amazing. And we decided to book an excursion – a truck tour of the main island – for the next day since the weather looked a little ominous.
We took advantage of happy hour and then a buffet dinner and show. This time the buffet and show exceeded expectations and the fire dance was very impressive.
When we woke up to clear skies we were a little bummed that we weren’t just laying on the beach. But the truck tour ended up being totally worth it. We were the only two on the truck with our lovely and charming guide Sylvie. First stop was the Pari Pari distillery, which was fascinating and full of good smells and tastes. The next stop was the Iaorana Pearl Farm which was such an incredible experience. A transplant from New Zealand took a TON of time to explain to us the process of raising the oysters and how they form the famous black pearls. Truly a unique and highly recommended stop.
Sylvie then took us all around the island and showed us how to open coconuts before bringing us to the vanilla farm. There we learned about the processing of the famous vanilla beans. The smells here were incredible too and we left with an armful of vanilla products. On the return leg of the tour, it just so happened that the big outrigger canoe race was passing by Taha’a. So we got to enjoy the celebration that accompanies that race.
We bid farewell to Sylvie and headed back to the resort for dinner. We only ate at the main restaurant at the hotel, which was excellent, but we both wished we had a little more variety. There is a second, fancier restaurant that is by reservation only and books fast. We recommend looking into that well in advance.
We spent the rest of our time on Taha’a at the resort on the beach, in the coral gardens, or just relaxing at our bungalow. This stay was really luxurious and beautiful and we loved the remoteness and privacy of Taha’a.
The resort sits on its own little island but has everything you need for a multi-night stay. The grounds are immaculate and quite large. There are multiple little private nooks and comfy sitting areas. The pool is spectacular. And right next to it is a lunch restaurant where you can have your feet in the sand.
All the little details – from an exceptional workout room to modern outdoor furniture, to ponchos and umbrellas provided when raining, to the friendliness of the staff when they ride by on their bicycles – put this resort over the top.
Finally, we boarded the boat from Taha’a Pearl Resort to return to Raitea Airport. Then from there a flight to Papeete airport. We had about a 6-hour layover in Tahiti before our overnight flight back to Los Angeles. So…we went for one more adventure and took a taxi back to our original stop of the Hilton Papeete hotel. Having one final excellent meal and bottle of wine, sitting by the pool, under the night sky, reveling our trip in French Polynesia. This was a much more enjoyable way to pass the time, rather than sitting in the airport!
Why use a Travel Agent for a Honeymoon in Tahiti?
Booking this trip with Ann was such a pleasant and stress-reducing experience. All of her recommendations were excellent, and her knowledge of Tahiti and attention to detail with the itinerary was on point. The island transfers and outing vouchers would be difficult to handle for a first-time visitor to Tahiti on their own, but Ann’s thorough day-by-day break down, information and preparation for us made this once in a lifetime experience seamless.