Getting to Moorea
Getting to French Polynesia isn’t quite as easy as you might assume, as only a few airlines actually fly into the area, and all of those that do use Tahiti as their base. Moorea Island is practically in the shadow of Tahiti Island so you’ve actually got a few options, unlike most of the rest in the large island group, where a flight is the only practical way of getting there.
There’s a good chance that you are heading for one of the finest resorts in the South Pacific, as the Moorea overwater bungalow hotels are all world-class properties. There are actually more overwater bungalows off of Bora Bora, but those take a bit longer to reach, so many honeymoon couples in particular like to book their first few nights in Moorea and then fly from there to Bora Bora or one of the other South Pacific islands.
Getting to Moorea Island
So the first step and thing you need to figure out is how to get to Tahiti. The short version of that answer is that you’ll almost certainly be flying there from Los Angeles, even if you are starting in Europe. But once you arrange your flight to Tahiti, what next? Well, part of that depends on your exact schedule. If you are going to stay on Tahiti itself, perhaps in one of the overwater bungalow resorts on Tahiti, then you’ll almost certainly want to take the ferry, which leaves right out of the main marina in the capital city of Pape’ete.
However, if you are going straight on to your resort on Moorea then your best bet is to fly directly there from the Tahiti Airport. If you are tempted to spend a few hours touring around Tahiti itself and then taking the ferry to Moorea, it’s not really worth it. Moorea itself is actually more beautiful of an island, and Pape’ete, sad to say, is a bit grimy and not all that interesting anyway. It’s totally fine for a quick visit if you are already staying on the island, but it’s not really worth going out of your way to see otherwise.
Flights to Moorea
As mentioned above, you’ll almost certainly fly from Los Angeles to Tahiti, probably on Air Tahiti Nui, which is the long-haul national carrier of French Polynesia. Once there you’ll change to a smaller prop plane on Air Tahiti, which is actually a totally different airline from the long-haul one. You can usually buy both separate tickets from an online travel agency, but you are going to want to look at the schedule closely.
Air Tahiti schedule
Four flights a day most of the year, first flight leaving Tahiti at 7:15am and last flight leaving at 17:15 (5:15pm). Around the December holidays there can be 5 flights some days and 3 flights other days.
The problem is that most, but not all, flights from Los Angeles arrive late in the evening, which means that many visitors will have about an 8-hour layover before their morning flight. Most people opt to get a hotel room for that wait, but unfortunately there are no budget hotels near the airport so many end up checking into an expensive resort for just 5 or 6 hours of sleep.
The flights only take 15 minutes, and you can buy tickets on the spot many times, costing around US$100 round-trip for adults and less for children. If the plane doesn’t work you can always take a taxi a short distance into Pape’ete and then take a ferry from there.
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Ferries to Moorea
There are two companies running ferries between Tahiti and Moorea, with journey times ranging from 30 to 60 minutes. Some carry automobiles (mostly Moorea locals who’ve come to shop), and others carry passengers only. The ferries cost about US$12 per person, each way, so they are far cheaper than the flights, more comfortable, and they only take a little longer.
- First ferry: Around 06:00 each day
- Last ferry: Around 17:30 each day
Unfortunately, ferries don’t operate in the dark, so if your Tahiti flight lands after about 16:00 then you’ll be spending the night on the island.