We stayed at the Moore Pearl in mid-August 2009 and it could not have been better. From the moment we walked into the open-air lobby until the van came to take us back to the Moorea airport, the staff was very friendly, helpful, and hospitable.
Arriving at the Pearl (about 7:30 AM) was everything we had expected from pictures and then some. There were palm trees all around the driveway with a ten-foot Tiki statue standing guard. The lobby, like almost everything on the island, is open-air with several wicker seating arrangements, an activities desk, and a Tahitian pearl shop (Tahia Collins). The reception staff was very friendly and immediately offered us ice water with lime and a cool, wet towel, which was much appreciated. We completed the check-in paperwork and when I went back to the reception desk we received our first surprise…
…we had been upgraded! And not just any upgrade, we had been upgraded to a premium overwater bungalow, the cream of the crop! Our travel package we booked was originally for a standard beach bungalow, so while I was hoping we would be upgraded since I had been hearing tourism was down in the area, I never anticipated we would be bumped to the POWB. The receptionist who was helping us get checked in, Isabelle, said that they had upgraded us because we were staying at the Pearl for as long as we were (8 days, 7 nights). This made sense to me since so often in the area travelers tend to break up their trips to three or four nights each in Moorea and Bora Bora.
To make matters all the better, Isabelle also told our room was ready – at 8 AM (check-in isn’t officially until 2 PM) – and she escorted us past the resort’s two restaurants and the pool, and onto the boardwalk to our first home as married couple (Room 419).
II. The Room:
She walked us through the room and pointed our the key features – shower with amenities, two-tiered balcony with an outdoor shower, king-size bed, a smaller day bed, and glass coffee table with a glass window below it to look down to the water below. All of the furniture in the room was a deep color wood with light linens. For that matter, most everything in the resort is the same stain of wood, which I thought added a feel of luxury on top of the obvious tropical feel. The room had a lot to offer without feeling overcrowded!
Our first night, housekeeping came to the door with a chilled bottle of champagne as a welcoming gift. And the second night, they came again with a bag from the Tahia Collins store in the lobby. Inside the bag was a single Tahitian pear and a note that said we could keep the pearl as a gift or bring it to the shop and trade it in to be put toward a different purchase…talk about thoughtful! Not to mention that each day – sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the evening – housekeeping would decorate our room with tropical flowers and leave small cards telling stories and legends of the islands.
III. The Pearl Grounds:
The resort grounds are well thought out and the attention to detail is obvious. The walkway to and from the lobby is flanked by the bar on one side and the regular restaurant on the other. There isn’t a bad table in the restaurant for a view as most of the tables are oriented to face the resort grounds – infinity pool, beach, and overwater bungalows). Behind the regular restaurant is the hotel’s gourmet restaurant, which is only open for dinner.
The infinity pool is quite large with about 20 beach chairs surrounding it. Finding empty chairs was not usually a problem, but there were a couple times when a few more would have been better. The water in the pool was usually pretty chilly and we couldn’t figure out if this was due to the evening breezes and cooler temperatures, the rain showers we got periodically the first couple days of our stay, or something else. In any event, a cool swim was a nice respite from the hot sun. Connected to the pool is a jetted tub. At first I thought it was a great idea to have a hot tub to use during the cooler evenings, but when we tested the water it was the same temperature as the pool water. So, they must intend for it to be used during the day, which could still be a relaxing way to beat the heat.
During a couple afternoons, the groundskeepers were putting assembling a new outdoor hut for towels, kayak paddles, and snorkel gear. But, by no means was this a distraction and I’m sure it will fit in much better than the vinyl tent they set up daily.
This was my first tropical trip (other than Florida’s Gulf coast), so any snorkeling was good snorkeling to me. With that said the reviews comparing the island’s other larger resorts (Hilton, Sofitel, and Intercontinental) probably do have better snorkeling as their lagoon water was shallower than that of the Pearl. However, the Pearl does have a very good array of marine life around its coral – both in the shallower part between the beach and OWBs and in the deeper part past the OWBs. As mentioned in other reviews, there is a 30-35 foot drop off right past the row of premium OWBs and this is where we saw the broadest size and color spectrum of fish (including an eel one evening). And since the water is deeper here, it is not quite as clear as the shallower water, but it by no means cloudy or murky.
We did not go to the Pearl’s gourmet restaurant, so I cannot provide my two cents there. What we called the regular restaurant was very good in our opinion. We had the meal plan, which provided free breakfast buffet and two free courses at dinner (drinks are also not included at dinner). While Isabelle was introducing us to the Pearl after check-in, she told us that if on any day we wanted to eat outside of the resort we could trade our meal plan and have lunch included instead of dinner. I didn’t know this going in and was a great option to have without just forfeiting a meal altogether. It also allowed us to get out and try several of the island’s most-talked-about restaurants without feeling guilty about it.
The breakfast buffet including many American breakfast basics: cereal, eggs made to order, pancakes, bacon, sausage, and hash browns. There were also several pastries, a half dozen jams and spreads, fresh fruit, cheeses, and fresh fruit juice. We thought it would be impossible for anyone to find something they didn’t like. However, we don’t think it would be worth paying ~$30-35 for it without the meal plan.
We ate lunch at the Pearl three times. There are about a dozen item to choose from on the lunch menu – a couple salads, 4-5 entrées, and 4-5 sandwiches. Each time we ate there we only had the sandwiches, which were above average. We had a chicken, mozzarella, and tomato Panini; a ham, mozzarella, and tomato Panini; and a cheeseburger. All three came with fries which were better than we were expecting (not that they’re difficult to make). Lunches would have been ~4500 CFP for sandwiches and drinks if we didn’t have the meal plan.
We also ate dinner three times at the Pearl. Two of the nights were buffet: a Mediterranean buffet and a seafood buffet. The Mediterranean buffet (Mondays) had a couple salads, fresh pasta with four sauce choices, baked white fish, tomato gazpacho, breads, and a handful of desserts from which to choose. The seafood buffet (Wednesdays) also had a couple salads, poisson cru, BBQ pork, a couple varieties of grilled fish, rice, and a couple choices of dessert. We agreed that the Mediterranean buffet was better than the seafood buffet.
Our regular, sit-down dinner was very good. Since our meal plan covered two courses, we decided to have entrées and desserts and to skip appetizers (this worked out fine since none of them were particularly appealing to us anyway). We had Thai mahi mahi with lemongrass and rice and the tuna steak with a coconut and wasabi sauce with rice and vegetables. Both meals were very good and the chef’s presentation was very nice and colorful. For dessert, we each had three scoops of ice cream (get vanilla ice cream every chance you get…it’s made with fresh vanilla from the island).
The one downside to the meals at the Pearl are the cats that roam the restaurant looking for dropped food and tourists to feed them (there is also a dog at breakfast). This wouldn’t have been a big deal, but my wife is allergic to them.
OUTSIDE THE PEARL
We went on three excursions during our week. First was Albert’s ATV tour (12,000 CFP – 3 hours for two and the ATV) through the inner island. We went to Belvedere Lookout, the agricultural school, and Magic Mountain. Our tour guide was fantastic – all along the way telling us about the island, the people, and how they use the resources of the island. We overheard some of the other tours at Belvedere and at a hut we stopped at to try homemade jams and juices and felt very lucky to have the tour guide we did. He was full of fun facts and outside-the-box tidbits that it didn’t seem like the other tours were getting.
We also went on Albert’s Lagoon Tour (14,000 CFP – 6 hours for two and lunch). We had a good idea of what to expect as we had read other trip reports, but it was very fun to be around the rays and sharks. Our tour guide, Siki, was also great and very funny. After feeding the rays and sharks, we went to a motu across from the Intercontinental where we had a Tahitian lunch, poisson cru demonstration, and a coconut demonstration. This was a great tour and while it takes most of the day, it was worth every penny (or CFP).
Finally, we went on Dr. Poole’s Dolphin and Whale Watching excursion (15,600 CFP – about 3 hours for two). He is very informative and easy to listen to. He said he has a 95% success rate of seeing dolphins on his tours and a 90% success rate of seeing whales when they are in the area (Jul-Oct). We did see two species of dolphins a couple locations, but no whales. And, unfortunately, my wife got sea sick about half way through the tour, so that put a bit of a damper on our experience. Nevertheless, it was very enjoyable.
Even though we had the meal plan we were still able to venture out to five of Moorea’s restaurants. It would be hard to put them in order of our favorites since they were all very good, so I’ll list them in the order we went to them:
Rudy’s – This is in Maharepa, the town just down the road from the Pearl. Rudy’s was a great first impression of Moorea’s restaurants. Rudy (I assume) picked us up at the Pearl and took us to his restaurant; he was very friendly in the van and throughout the meal. My wife had parrot fish stuffed with crab and topped with a light cream sauce with rice and green beans. I had slow-roasted beef marinated in burgundy wine and topped with a dark Bordeaux sauce with fettuccini and green beans. Each entrée also came with a piece of Tahitian bread fruit, which was pretty good, but didn’t taste like anything familiar. We also each had a glass of wine. 6400 CFP total.
Le Sud - We wanted to go to L’Ananas Bleu (The Blue Pineapple), but were told their credit card machine wasn’t working that day. So, we elected to go to Le Sud, which is across the street from the market in Maharepa. We each had a ham and gruyere pizza and a large Hinano (Hinanos came in regular (37 cL) and large (50 cL) bottles). The pizza was simple, but excellent! Everything on it was fresh and the Hinanos really hit the spot. 4600 CFP total.
Le Mahogany - Mahogany is located about a mile east of the Pearl. We thought about walking, but decided opted for the pick-up since we didn’t want to walk along the side of the road at dark. It is a simple restaurant – as most are on the island – but we both had very good meals. Again, we each had a glass of wine. My wife had scallops and shrimp in a butter cream sauce over French bread with green beans. I had mahi mahi with a coconut sauce and rice. For dessert, my wife had an apple tart with vanilla ice cream…once again the ice cream stole the show of her dessert! But, my dessert stole the show for the whole meal…I had what my wife called “pineapple surprise.” It was a half pineapple (cut length-wise) that was cored. Inside the pineapple shell was the fruit that had been cut into chunks with coconut ice cream, rum, and whipped cream. I probably could have eaten three more! 8760 CFP total.
We also had lunch one day at Mahogany. You can choose from the same items they serve for dinner or from a smaller lunch menu. We decided to each get a burger and fries even though there were more traditional items on the menu. Both burgers were big, very juicy and tasted great! The fries were very good too. 3650 CFP total.
Aitos - The restaurant is unique as they boast three different types of seating: covered, beach, and overwater seating. We elected to go with the beach seating, which is on a small section of sand in front of a rock retaining wall right by the lagoon. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the lagoon as it was already dark. They have live music every Tuesday and Friday… our night was a guy who looked and sounded American who played the acoustic guitar. It was fun and added a little bit extra to the experience…oh by the way, the food was very good too! My wife had salmon with vanilla sauce, rice, and green beans. I had tuna with coconut sauce, rice, and green beans. We decided to skip dessert at the restaurant and have it back at the Pearl. 6400 CFP total.
Te Honu Iti - All of the meals we had outside of the Pearl were good, but Te Honu Iti was by far the best. The atmosphere was fantastic…the restaurant sits at the end of Cooks Bay and has spotlights that shine into the shallow water below. We had a table outside at the edge of the railing that overlooks the water and allowed us to see the half dozen rays gliding and other fish swimming through the water below us. And about half way through our meal, one of the owners came out to provide entertainment by feeding the rays and fish some of the fish leftovers from the restaurant. It was then that a reef shark came into the light to get some dinner too. On to the meal…we each had a glass of Riesling and got an appetizer of cooled smoked salmon with hot cubed potatoes and a warm broth. I wasn’t sure about the mostly raw salmon when it came out, but it was very good. Both the salmon and potatoes had a great seasoning on them and the dish had an interesting contract of warm and cold. For our entrées, Vanessa had shrimp curry with rice and vegetables…she couldn’t stop saying how good it was. I had beef tenderloin in a champagne reduction sauce with sliced, roasted potatoes and vegetables. For dessert, Vanessa had a warm chocolate cake with more fresh vanilla ice cream and I had Te Honu Iti’s signature dessert: a warm apple tart with vanilla ice cream. We splurged by getting both an appetizer and dessert, but it was well worth it. We probably would have gone back a second time if we had gone earlier in the week. 13,500 CFP total.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa nestles on the island shore, just by the village of Maharepa in an ideal location, between the majestic Cook’s Bay and the Gulf of Moorea. It’s very convenient, at just 10 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from the ferry terminal, and with boutiques, restaurants and a small shopping center close at hand. The style of the resort is a tasteful combination of the traditional and the contemporary with a powerful sense of Polynesia. There are 28 over-water bungalows built over the lagoon on piles, 8 more bungalows on the beach and 28 spread through the beautiful grounds with their own private pools and little gardens. The remaining 22 rooms and 8 duplexes of this 94-unit resort are in a small building. Whichever accommodation you choose, you will have air-conditioned comfort (the bungalows also have ceiling fans), an outside terrace, mini-bar, hairdryer, safe, flat-screen television and DVD player, I-pod dock and WiFi. From your hotel base we will be happy to arrange a full range of exciting excursions and activities and of course you can relax at the resort where you’ll enjoy one of the largest infinity pools of the island. Each bungalow has a sunny outside terrace with comfortable loungers. From the over-water ones, there is direct access to the lagoon. The premium over-water bungalows are especially well situated, close to the coral reef ledge so you can immediately swim off and discover a fascinating world of colored fish and exotic corals. Near the over-water bungalows, we have developed our own coral nursery- To’A Nui - a coral regeneration project and part of our commitment to protecting the fragile environment that surrounds us. This site encourages the proliferation of marine life whose beauty is so easily enjoyed with simple snorkeling equipment. You will find a luxurious and convivial resort on a human scale, offering a warm welcome to honeymooners,romantic couples, families, nature lovers and scuba-divers. We have two restaurants - The Mahanai - and the acclaimed gourmet restaurant - The Matiehani. The Autera’a is a perfect terrace bar for sipping your favorite beverage. Other facilities include a bar, two meeting rooms, a boutique and a full range of activities and excursions both on land and on the water. We also have a dive center, a Polynesian tattoo facility and a spa. The Manea Spa specializes in massages and treatments using traditional Polynesian methods and 100% natural products from the island’s flowers and plants, including the famous monoi oils from the coconut palm. Thespa has a hammam, Jacuzzi and the "Rumi Avai" where you can discover the pleasures of our unique aquatic massages. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Travelocity, Expedia, Booking.com, Orbitz, Hotels.com, Priceline, TripOnline SA, Agoda, getaroom.com, Hotwire, HotelQuickly and Cheap Tickets so you can book your Manava Beach Resort & Spa - Moorea reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Moorea Pearl Hotel Maharepa
- Moorea Pearl Resort And Spa
- Moorea Pearl Maharepa
- Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa
- Manava Beach Resort & Spa - Moorea French Polynesia