After an entire year (and four months to be exact) of wedding planning and preparation, I couldn’t have been more excited about our long awaited Honeymoon to French Polynesia. I have a love affair with travel, I can’t get enough! So when Josh and I were trying to figure out where to spend our Honeymoon our list got a little bit on the exotic side to say the least. We could go to Italy- but May was maybe not the best time of year, the weather can be somewhat volatile during that time of year… We started to think tropical and that led us to- Bali!- but boy is Bali meant for an adventurer at heart. Don’t get me wrong, I love to go adventuring, but when envisioning a honeymoon I see a lot of downtime laying on a beach and a lot of cocktails and not as much trekking through the jungle. We buckled down and did our research and it became so blatantly obvious… French Polynesia was it!! It had everything we envisioned a honeymoon to have, adventure, relaxation, romance, the beach, and of course I have to mention the hut sweet huts sitting out over the water, you know the ones that look like they belong on a screensaver.
Our first stop while in French Polynesia was to an island called Mo’rea, known for its scenic nature trails, and coves and cays, making it the perfect stop before heading to beautiful Bora Bora. We took a ferry from Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia where we flew in to from LA, and headed off to the island. Mo’rea is known more for excursions and activities than an island like Bora Bora which is more centered on relaxing and laying low.
We decided to stay at the Hilton Mo’orea Lagoon Resort & Spa in an over water bungalow. The resort was beautiful; it honestly looked like everything I dreamed Tahiti would be. The staff was so friendly and the resort was able to set up all kinds of activities through the front desk.
Josh and I lived together for a over a year before we got married, so it didn’t necessarily make sense for us to register for your typical household items, we already had a blender and we definitely had a pretty impressive wine glass collection! We decided to use the website Traveler’s Joy, a honeymoon registry site that helps put money towards couple’s honeymoon expenses, such as dinners, excursions, spa days, and any other miscellaneous travel expenses.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a prissy princess who is afraid to get a little mud on her sneakers, but when Josh mentioned ATV riding, I was on the “mediocre” side of the thrilled scale. I pictured ATV riding to be really intense, the thought of maneuvering my own ATV bike intimidated me, and it seemed to be dangerous. For reference, I always envision the absolute worst case scenario, but I’m working on it… I can now eat my words because I was amazed at how much fun I had on this excursion! We didn’t end up riding on your typical ATV, but instead rode a “quad.” A quad could best be described as a mini jeep. We saw so many incredible views of the island via quad, views you would really miss out on if you just stayed at the resort, which is saying a lot because the memory of our resort view was enough to keep me churning and burning for weeks at work after our trip. We saw views from the very top of Magic Mountain- which was truly magical! My very favorite part of the tour though was driving through miles of beautiful pineapple plantations. The baby pineapple blooms were pink, I felt my heart pitter-patter when I saw the tiny intricate blooms, yes these are the kinds of things I get excited over. Overall the ATV tour was an incredible experience, I’m so glad I got out of my comfort zone and gave it a try!
The wonderful part about the Hilton Mo’orea is that you honestly don’t even need to sign up for a snorkeling excursion, the resort provides masks and snorkels that you can rent for free. We would just jump off of our room’s dock and snorkel around the resort which is surrounded by stunning coral reefs and crazy marine wildlife. Jumping in is not always necessary though, one morning while drinking coffee, Josh and I saw a sting ray swim right below our dock, it was surreal!
Yes, you read that correctly, we went skydiving on our honeymoon! I’ll write a more extensive post on this soon explain what it was like, and why everybody needs to try it. Trust me; this is coming from the number one scaredy cat in the world! But yes, this was an incredible honeymoon activity, and one that I will never forget! The tip I would leave you with if you are wanting to try skydiving while in Tahiti is to jump with Skydive Tahiti. They were extremely professional and really put me at ease, which is very impressive considering the anxiety I was experiencing over the entire ordeal, ha! They have two locations in French Polynesia, one in Mo’orea where we jumped and one in Bora Bora. I would recommend jumping at the Mo’orea location since it is about $1,000 cheaper!
My favorite meal while on Mo’orea didn’t come from a physical restaurant; it was actually one we ate while sitting on the back deck of our over water bungalow. While on the pricey side, the traditional Tahitian breakfast canoe was such a fun experience. An outrigger bedecked with flowers sailed out to our hut filled with fruits, pastries, juices, and of course “ia ota ( ee-ah oh-tah)” the classic Tahitian dish of raw fish coated in coconut milk. The two men steering the boat brought the meal right up to our balcony and set everything up on our balcony table. Then they took me for a spin in the boat around the resort waters, pointing out colorful fish and beautiful clam shells.
Snack Mahana was recommended to us by many of the locals on the island. I think when looking for restaurant recommendations, locals are the best resource because chances are they have tried all options available and have a better idea of what is good, and they are also less likely to steer you to super touristy spots and more likely to share local hidden gems. This spot is actually located in somebodies backyard, which made the experience all the more charming. We sat at a table that overlooked the ocean and sipped ros and ate delicious seafood. It was a very laid back spot with great food, you can’t go wrong!
The cuisine in Tahiti is so interesting to me, one part Polynesian the other part French, it is called French Polynesia after all! I found it so funny that breakfast would include Ia Ota (a local raw fish ceviche) and baguettes with chocolate pastries, not your typical combination of food! It’s no surprise then that crepes are a huge part of Tahitian cuisine. Toatea Crepes is a late night dinner spot located at the Hilton Mo’orea resort, sitting out over the water. They light up the water at night so you have a great view of the dun dun dah, sharks, which are pretty fun to watch while eating dinner! I used to think that crepes only involved Nutella and bananas, but this spot has a crazy amount of savory crepe options.
Arii Vahine is the Hilton Mo’orea’s own restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Every Wednesday and Saturday evening the Arii Vahine serves a dinner buffet alongside a traditional Polynesian dance show. The show is a blast and the Saturday night seafood buffet is amazing. Keep in mind though the buffet can be pricey and resort guests are welcome to view the show even if they did not pay for the buffet.
Our time spent in Mo’orea felt like a Polynesian dream, if you have the time while traveling to French Polynesia I absolutely think you must see it!