A Perfect Day at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon and Spa, French Polynesia

moorea main gingerbread

Spending a week in an overwater bungalow is a surreal experience. Our yard was the Pacific Ocean, a giant aquarium we could explore at any time. 

over water bungalows moorea

Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa is located 20 minutes from Moorea Airport on the Northern side of the island between Cook’s Bay and Ōpūnohu Bay. Our taxi driver recommended Moorea Beach Cafe to the East of our resort and Holy Steak House to the West.

5:30am: Wake up and make espresso 

‘Ia ora na! We set our alarms for 5:30am every morning to wake up, make espresso, and be on our deck in time for the sunrise. Our overwater bungalow had a complimentary espresso machine with espresso pods and mini fridge stocked with Coke, Diet Coke, bottled water, and Hinanos refilled every day.

drinking coffee at sunrise

6:15am: Watch the sunrise 

The water was calm, and it was quiet…except for the roosters. At the end bungalow we had a weak WiFi signal, but couldn’t escape the crowing. Wrapped in our Hilton robes, sipping espresso from our tiny mugs, we sat and waited for the first ray of sunlight. There wasn’t a chance we were missing that view. 

sunrise over the ocean

moorea sunrise over the ocean

over water bungalows sunrise

7:00am: Breakfast at Arii Vahine Restaurant

We loved looking for fish during our walks to shore. The water was so clear we didn’t even need to be in the water to see a variety of fish, sea cucumbers, Eagle Rays, Stingrays, Black Tip Reef Sharks, and even an eel one afternoon. 

over water walk way

beach in moorea

The breakfast buffets were lavish with crepes, French toast, pastries, pancakes, rice, bacon, made to order omelets, fish, vegetables, fruit, cereal, a salad bar, a sandwich bar, juices, and more. Sunday mornings live music accompanies the buffet.

black bird

Traveling Gingerbread Tip: Sign up for the Hilton Honors Reward Program. As Honor members we both received free breakfast the duration of our stay (a daily savings of $50 per person).

8:00am: Back to the overwater bungalow

One afternoon, we saw the tail of a Humpback Whale just beyond the reef from our overwater bungalow. Being the end bungalow, we were next to the overlook and considered it as an extension of our home. It was a great location to watch the sunset, drink champagne as we searched the lagoon for Stingrays, and laugh with those attempting paddle boarding for the first time.

me on the dock

overlook at moorea

us on bungalow deck

mitch through coffee table
Our bungalow had a glass coffee table above a glass floor that provided us with entertainment for an embarrassingly long time. There’s Mitch swimming under our bungalow.

Traveling Gingerbread Tip: We packed a bottle of rum, sake, and vodka in our checked luggage and used the complimentary Cokes in the mini fridge as a mixer. We also brought a bluetooth speaker and listened to music (at a level not to disturb our neighbors) as we swam and enjoyed drinks on the dock. We packed 2 inflatable rafts to float around the lagoon, but never took them out of the suitcase. 

9:00am: Snorkeling

Due to the clear water and amount of coral in Mo’orea, we agree this was our best snorkeling experience so far. We were so buoyant in the water we snorkeled for hours. We didn’t need an underwater camera to capture pictures of sea life, but with one we were able to get some amazing photos. We identified some of the fish to the best of our abilities.

vegabond butterflyfish
Checkerboard Wrasse Fish (pictured left) Vegabond Butterflyfish (pictured right)

snorkeling in moorea

fish snorkeling
Scissor Tail Sergeant and Sixbar Wrasse
butterfly fish
Convict Tang Fish (pictured left) Ornate Butterfly Fish (pictured right)
our favorite fish in moorea
Picasso Triggerfish (pictured left) and Sixbar Wrasse (pictured right)
orange striped triggerfish in moorea
Moorish Idol (pictured left), Orange Striped Triggerfish (pictured center), Teardrop Butterflyfish (pictured right)

Traveling Gingerbread Tip: Bring your own snorkel gear. We purchased 2 masks online for about $12 each and brought them in our suitcase. We didn’t have to rent gear from the activities desk each time we wanted to snorkel, the mouthpieces were only used by us, and we knew our masks were reliable and wouldn’t malfunction in the middle of swimming along a Humpback Whale. 

12:00pm: Paddle boarding or kayaking

Complimentary snorkeling equipment, kayaks, and paddle boards were available to use in 1 hour intervals. We took advantage of a lack of interest in kayaks and a flexible return time due to overcast weather and paddled to the nearly public beach, Ta’ahiamanu, in the Ōpūnohu Bay. We spent some time on the beach and searched for new fish in the coral on our return trip.

paddle boarding

public beach moorea

2:00pm: Lunch at Rotui Grill & Bar

Daily events are scheduled such as cooking classes, basket weaving, coconut opening demonstrations, making traditional headdress, and more near the Rotui Grill & Bar. Arriving a little late, we occupied a nearby hammock to learn some traditional cooking methods before going for a swim in the pool.

hammock in moorea

Hilton Pool Moorea

3:30pm: Schedule Massages at the Spa

We sampled oils and scrubs and sipped chilled tea while waiting for our massages. Based on the hotels we researched, massages were more affordable in Mo’orea than Bora Bora. We had no issues with availability scheduling only a couple days in advance.

moorea spa

Traveling Gingerbread Tip: Request the sauna and steam room in advance and arrive early to take advantage of the additional amenities before a spa treatment. We were unaware these amenities were available beforehand and learned by reading the last page of the spa book waiting in the lobby.

4:00pm: Happy hour at Eimeo Bar and watch the sunset

Eimeo Bar offers buy one cocktail get the second free happy hour daily from 4:00pm – 7:00pm. It is the perfect location to watch the sunset and enjoy complimentary yuca and taro root chips. We recommend the mini brochette de tomate et mozzarella and calamars à la Romaine from the tapas menu.

cocktails at sunset in moorea

7:00pm: Dinner at Holy Steak House

Perched among the trees overlooking the lagoon, Holy Steak House would be the perfect place for a sunset dinner. Taking advantage of the complimentary shuttle, our reservations were later in the evening. There was plenty of outdoor seating, a large selection of wine, vegetarian options, fish, burgers, and sides in addition to steak. 

holy steak house moorea

9:30pm: Dessert at Toatea Creperie & Bar

Most evenings around 9:00pm Black Tip Reef Sharks and Stingrays can be found swimming in the waters below the Toatea Creperie & Bar located among the overwater bungalows. There is a full menu in addition to sweet and savory crepes. 

crepe bar moorea

10:00pm: Goodnight

We fell asleep to the sound of the ocean and the crows of the roosters with our 5:30am alarms set giving us enough time to pack a day bag, watch the sunrise, and eat breakfast before exploring the island of Mo’orea. Taoto maita’i.

sunset in moorea.


September 2019

Author: The Traveling Gingerbread

The Traveling Gingerbread is a place for us to share budget travel tips for people with full time jobs, fun facts, itineraries, and where to find the best craft beer. We have been traveling together since 2013. Living and working full-time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we travel as much as our vacation days and finances allow. We cram each adventure with activities, tours, experiences, and local breweries. We can't walk by an Irish pub without stopping in for a pint of Guinness. In 2019, we brewed our first beer and were hooked, although, we have no intentions of brewing more than small batches. We'll continue our self appointed roles of professional testers and creating craft beer trails.

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