This budget travel guide to Moorea, French Polynesia includes must-know tips for where to stay, how to save money, when to visit, and more!
About 20 km off the northwest coast of Tahiti lies the island of Moorea, a French Polynesian nature-lovers paradise. Commonly thought of as one of the most beautiful places on the planet, the island itself is volcanically formed, is covered in lush nature, is surrounded by an azure blue lagoon, and has some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving sites in the world.
Moorea has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, but when I decided to go I knew it would cost a pretty penny. That said, while French Polynesia in general is a bit more expensive, it is definitely doable on a budget provided you follow a few tips.
Moorea Budget Travel Guide
How to Get to Moorea
To get to Moorea, you’ll first have to fly to Papeete, Tahiti, which is the capital city and major hub of French Polynesia. If you’re coming from North America or Europe, one of the easiest ways to get to Papeete is from Los Angeles.
Once you get to Papeete, there are flights that will take you to Moorea via Air Tahiti, but I personally recommend taking the ferry, which take only marginally longer and will be less expensive.
The Aremiti ferry charges roughly $15USD each way. If you plan on taking a vehicle on this ferry, that will run you about $42 each way, not including your personal ticket, and remember to bring along your registration! The other ferry option is through the company Terevau, which costs about $11 each way.
It takes about 20 minutes to get from Papeete airport to the ferry terminal and the easiest way to get there is just grabbing a cab out front.
Is Moorea Travel Expensive? What To Budget
While Moorea is not a budget destination, you can travel here on a budget with some careful planning. The biggest thing that kept budget travelers from Tahiti in the past was the price of flights with Air Tahiti which usually cost $2,000 or more round trip. Luckily, a few more options for flights have opened up in the last few years and — if you time it right — you can find a roundtrip flight from the USA for under $1,000.
With the emergence of private vacation rentals (like Airbnb and VRBO), this has also opened up more options than the typical expensive hotels on the island. Inexpensive accommodation rentals must be booked as early as possible. There are a few places available for under $100 per night, but they are very limited.
We recommend budgeting $50-$100 per day for food if you’re eating at budget restaurants and purchasing some things at the store for breakfast, drinks and snacks.
For a budget solo traveler, plan to spend $1200 to $3,000 for a 5-7 day trip, for a budget couple’s trip, plan to spend $2,000 to $5,000 for a 5-7 day trip and for a budget family vacation, plan to spend $4,000 to $10,000 for a 5-7 day trip.
The Cheapest Times to Visit Moorea
While May through October is Moorea’s dry season and is best for beach-bum weather, it does also mean peak tourism season, meaning prices will be at their highest.
In the low season, November to April, the weather is still rather warm, but there will be humidity and precipitation to contend with. However, the prices will be somewhat lower during this season and it will be easier to nab a spot on sightseeing tours and organized group activities.
Budget Transportation on Moorea
In planning your trip to Moorea, I would recommend booking accommodation that will either give you access to free bikes or that’s within walking distance to one of the towns. As far as renting a car goes, given that you’ll be spending most of your time on the water, it doesn’t really make sense to rent a car for your whole stay.
As far as renting a car goes, it’s not really necessary and can be expensive. We rented a car for one day in order to drive around and see the island — and we walked everywhere else.
The nice thing about Moorea is that a number of restaurants include shuttle service for free with reservations, which really makes having a car for your entire visit unnecessary.
How to Save Money on Food in Moorea
Food will end up being one of your bigger daily expenses on Moorea, so it’s definitely wise to keep your spending here in check. Keep in mind that hotel restaurants are going to be ridiculously overpriced, so if breakfast isn’t included with your stay then it’s worth going into town to find a cheaper restaurant.
On my stay in Moorea, I didn’t eat at our hotel once, and instead opted to walk into town where we found it was roughly $10 per person for breakfast.
Additionally, you can save a huge amount of money on food if you either get accommodation with a kitchenette or a place near town where you have options for restaurants and grocery stores (purchasing alcohol in the grocery stores tends to be much cheaper too).
When to Splurge in Moorea
If you’re going to travel all the way to French Polynesia, then I’d recommend staying right on the water. On our trip, we wanted the traditional overwater bungalow experience, which is why we chose the Manava Beach Resort, but if staying overwater isn’t important to you, then you can save a bunch of money on accommodation.
Also, I’d recommend splurging on a few activities, such as snorkeling with Humpback whales (if you’re visiting during that season), or going scuba diving.
Budget Places to Stay in Moorea
Manava Beach Resort
If you have your heart set on staying in one of Moorea’s overwater bungalows, then Manava Beach Resort will be the least expensive option. I stayed here on my trip to Moorea and absolutely loved the snorkeling right out front. They also offer free kayak, SUP and snorkel rentals. Plus, you’re within walking distance to a number of inexpensive restaurants.
While Hotel Hibiscus was fully booked for our dates on Moorea, this was one of my top accommodation choices. While we didn’t stay here, we were able to check out this hotel during our stay and I was able to confirm that both the hotel and the beach were gorgeous. Plus, there are plenty of spots to swim right out front as well.
Another traditional overwater bungalow option, Hotel Kaveka is situated on its own private beach and features all the amenities. It should be noted that the hotel is about 11km out of the town of Maharepa, so while it’s a beautiful budget-friendly hotel, it is a little off the path if you’re looking for a walking-only stay.
Moorea Beach Lodge
Located about 33 km from Faaa, Moorea Beach Lodge features beautiful bungalows with a private beach, an on-site bar, and free use of bicycles to get around with.
Read more: Best Places to Stay in Moorea
Is Moorea Cheaper Than Bora Bora?
Due to the accessibility of Moorea, it is cheaper to visit than Bora Bora. Once you arrive in Tahiti (PPT), all you need to do is grab a taxi to the ferry dock (about a 20-minute ride) and take the ferry over to Moorea for about $30 round trip — which takes about 45-minutes. From the ferry dock in Moorea, it’s usually about $30 or less for a taxi or shuttle to your accommodation.
In order to get to Bora Bora, you’ll need to take another flight from Tahiti (PPT) and the only airline is Air Tahiti so flights are not cheap (typically about $300-$400 per person). Once you arrive in Bora Bora, most resorts will require a $100+ boat transfer. In Bora Bora, you’re usually stuck with resort restaurants because most resorts are a self-contained entity.
Moorea Packing List
Clothing: In a place as tropical and casual as Moorea, you’re going to want to bring along breathable, comfortable clothing such as sundresses and light tops. As far as footwear goes, you’ll probably only need a pair of sandals (I love Teva’s) or, if you plan on hiking, a pair of hiking shoes.