Biking around Moorea

After a few days of relaxing on Plage Tamae’s white sandy beach and exploring the underwater world at the Lagoonarium, Dan and I set out to see the rugged and wild mountains of Moorea’s interior.

It took a lot of energy to drag ourselves away from the lure of the water. And not only because the trek up the mountain by bike was arduous in the equatorial heat, but also because it was difficult to imagine that Moorea’s above-ground wonders could compare to its underwater kaleidoscope of coral and tropical fish.

But as beautiful as Moorea is below the water, its world above sea-level is just as stunning.

The mountains of French Polynesia are perhaps the archipelago’s most defining feature. Jutting out from turquoise waters and rising steeply into the sky, the craggy green peaks form a backdrop that made us feel as though we had entered Jurassic Park.

It is possible to rent a car or join one of the numerous tour operators that lead 4×4 expeditions into the island’s untamed interior,  but Dan and I decided to explore the area by bike in order to keep within the parameters of our limited budget. We quickly found that biking around Moorea was a great–though challenging–way of getting around the island and discovering its interior.

Around Moorea by Bike

Biking around Moorea

On the morning of our third day on Moorea, Dan and I set out along the coastal ring road and stopped by a hole-in-the wall lunch spot called Chez Didier for a generous plate of Tahitian ‘Ota’ika, before visiting the first stop on our bike ride–Cook’s Bay.

The mountains of Cook’s Bay rise above the deep blue ocean like serrated shark teeth, and, as I turned the bend and caught my first glimpse of their jagged peaks, their raw and rugged beauty took my breath away.

Biking around Moorea

Cook’s Bay, Moorea

From Cook’s Bay, we cut inland into the heart of French Polynesia’s interior–across pineapple plantations and up steep, potholed roads–toward the spectacular Belvedere viewpoint.

Along the way, the unique mountain scenery created picture-perfect views in every direction.

Mountains Moorea French Polynesia

Moorea Pineapple Plantation

Mountains in Moorea

Lush Mountains in Moorea

We didn’t make it quite to the top of the mountain by bicycle.

The climb was too steep and the path too uneven for us to handle in the tropical heat with our single gear bikes, so Dan and I tethered them to a tree and continued up the road on foot until we reached the viewpoint.

From the Belvedere, we scanned our surroundings.

In three directions, we could see lush peaks soaring into the sky. In the fourth direction, the classic postcard picture of the Belvedere afforded us a view of  both Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay–a bay that is famous for being the location in which Captain Cook anchored his boat in 1777.

Moorea Belvedere French Polynesia

Opunohu Bay from the Belvedere

On our way back to our Airbnb, Dan and I decided to stop by the luxurious Hilton Resort and Spa for a refreshing and overpriced drink. We sat at the bar and pretended to fit in with the honeymooning couples, as we relished the view and tried to get every last drop out of our $17 cocktails.

But it was not long before the bar’s waitstaff shooed us away from the grounds of the resort.

I imagine that our sweat-streaked faces and muddy clothes must have given us away immediately.

Biking around Moorea to the Hilton Resort

Hilton Resort and Spa, Moorea

As we left the premises of the five star resort and hopped on our broken-down, single gear bicycles, I couldn’t help but laugh. We must have stuck out like sore thumbs amongst all the honeymooners in their designer clothes.

Sure, Dan and I may not have had the type vacation that many dream of when they gaze upon images of French Polynesia. However, by biking around Moorea and electing to stay at our modest accommodation instead of a fancy resort, we were able to soak in the views of the mountains and explore Moorea’s underwater paradise on our own terms.

Not many Americans ever make it to the remote and far-flung islands of the South Pacific because of the sky-high prices and, yet, we were able to indulge in their beauty without emptying out the contents of our wallets.

For this, we counted ourselves incredibly lucky.

Erika Bisbocci

Erika Bisbocci

Erika is an avid traveler and explorer of over seventy countries on five different continents. Since 2011, she has spent time studying Arabic in the Middle East, teaching English in Namibia and working as a flight attendant for a major US airline. When not traveling overseas, she loves exploring her own backyard in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Erika Bisbocci

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About Erika Bisbocci

Erika is an avid traveler and explorer of over seventy countries on five different continents. Since 2011, she has spent time studying Arabic in the Middle East, teaching English in Namibia and working as a flight attendant for a major US airline. When not traveling overseas, she loves exploring her own backyard in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

15 Comments

  1. Beautiful! And I love that you did it on a budget and probably had a much more enjoyable experience because of your travel style.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted…Dipping a toe into IndiaMy Profile

  2. French Polynesia is one of my favorite places! But I would probably suggest to use different kind of bikes in these mountains 🙂
    Julius @ Traveltipy recently posted…Visiting Baradla Cave in Aggtelek National Park, HungaryMy Profile

  3. Scarlett Mansfield

    Aw love this, makes me want to go!!

  4. What a dream! Hope to go there one day *.*

  5. Who would have thought the interior of Moorea is just as beautiful as its surrounding waters? I’d love to visit Moorea, but never thought of using a bike as a means of exploring the island. Thanks for the suggestion!

  6. I have always thought to myself…as nice as those resorts might seem, my boyfriend and I would get terribly bored. You can only do so much at those things…we love adventure so no matter what, I think y’all made the right decision. You got to go out and explore, see the beauty for more than just some crystal clear beach and like you said “overpriced drinks.” People need to stray away from the regular places, that’s where you really find gold! Love it!

  7. Kathryn (Boutique Travel Blog)

    That looks well worth the effort to get there. And you deserved the cocktails as reward (although I’m sure the views were reward enough). I was once refused access to a restaurant, by a rather posh marina, that was ‘full’ despite not a single person being there. I had just climbed down a rugged path down the side of a citadel and when I saw myself in the mirror I could see their point. I did rather look like I had been dragged through a hedge backwards.
    Kathryn (Boutique Travel Blog) recently posted…Top 5 reasons why you should visit Luxembourg right nowMy Profile

  8. I’ve never been to Polynesia before. It must be breathtaking with all the mountains and sea so close with each other. I do want to visit someday. Did you manage to go on a budget? Because that would be my top concern…

  9. First of all, I’ve gotta say the bike you rode is freaking adorable, despite perhaps not being ‘luxury’!! Secondly, these photos are amazing – such gorgeous views! Lastly, it’s all about the company and the quality of the time you have together – rather that the accommodation – in most cases! So I’m glad you enjoyed your trip!
    Suzannah recently posted…6 Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurants in South FloridaMy Profile

  10. This sounds like so much fun. Going to a pretty resort and just chilling is something anyone can do, so for me, I liked your way of exploring the place way nicer. More fun for sure :).

  11. Ahh Moorea is one of my favourite islands. French Polynesia is such a wonderful place for a holiday. Last time I was in Moorea I tried a four-wheel ATV tour, It was fab! But biking looks like fun too.
    Christina recently posted…InterContinental Sanctuary Cove ReviewMy Profile

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