Tahiti Travel Guide

Tahiti Vacations

Slip away to Tahiti and the Society Islands and discover the soft lilting rhythms that have captivated artists, poets, and travelers on a Tahiti vacation. From our Tahiti hotels, sail out and stroll the sands of a motu or lounge over water in a luxury bungalow. In Papeete, you’ll find a modern, bustling port, with shopping ranging from black pearl boutiques to island handicrafts to the latest in French fashions. Sip a drink and people-watch at a sidewalk cafe, or savor the delicate flavors of French cuisine. On Moorea, jagged peaks, deep valleys, cascading waterfalls and breathtaking bays make a stunning backdrop for your tropical adventure. Bora Bora has been called the most beautiful island in the world. Its lagoon, a haven for watersports, ranges from palest turquoise to deepest blue. Paradise found! Search for great vacation ideas.

French Polynesian Islands to Visit

Tahiti

Crowned by a circle of majestic peaks, Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia, towers over the ocean like a proud and royal Queen. The mountainous interior is adorned with mystical valleys, clear streams, and high waterfalls. Most of the island’s population resides near the shore, leaving the interior of the island feeling almost untouched and ancient, despite such proximity to the bustling capital of Papeete. Papeete, meaning “water basket,” was once a gathering place where Tahitians came to fill their calabashes with fresh water. Now, Papeete, the touchstone of this island nation, boasts world-class resorts, spas, fine dining and unique restaurants, nightclubs, vibrant markets, museums, pearl shops, and boutiques.

Moorea

Moorea rises magically out of the ocean like a cathedral. High, sharp, inspiring green spires, crowned by clouds. Poetic threads of waterfalls tumble down fern-softened cliffs. Peaceful meadows flanked by pinnacles of emerald green will renew your belief in the majesty of nature, and Moorea’s bright blue lagoon will bring to life the South Seas idyll of your dreams. Pastel-painted houses, surrounded by gardens of hibiscus and birds of paradise, circle the island in a necklace of happy, simple villages that will elevate your senses and remind you that this is what life is all about. La vie heureuse, as they say in Tahiti, a happy life. One of the most memorable locations in The Islands of Tahiti, Moorea’s beauty is unforgettable.

Raiatea

The heartbeat of The Islands of Tahiti emanates from a special place in Raiatea, the sacred Taputapuatea marae. The expansion of Polynesians throughout the Pacific began on Raiatea from this exact site. After offering blessings through sacred ceremonies and celebrations, outriggers with original settlers ventured north to Hawaii and west to New Zealand. Raiatea, meaning “faraway heaven” and “sky with soft light,” was first named Havai’i as is considered the homeland of the ancient Polynesians. Recognized as the most sacred island in the region, the green-carpeted mountains rise to the cloud-capped peak of the celebrated Mt. Temehani.

Bora Bora

Romance. It rises from the velvet blues of the deep water up through the softer hues of the lagoon and into the air that surrounds Bora Bora. Its touch on the sea breeze tingles the skin. And its power fills each beat of the heart. A brief 50-minute flight from The Islands of Tahiti or Moorea, Bora Bora, with a lagoon resembling an artist’s palette of bright blues and greens, is love at first sight. Romantics from around the world celebrate this island where the lush tropical slopes and valleys of Mount Otemanu blossom with hibiscus, while palm-covered motu circle the illuminated lagoon like a delicate necklace.

Perfect white-sand beaches give way to azure waters where tropical-colored fish animate the coral gardens and giant manta rays glide leisurely past. This could easily be defined as the center of the romantic universe, where luxury resorts and spas dot the island with overwater bungalows, thatched-roof villas and a fabled ambiance. Simply put, Bora Bora is one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

Maupiti

There are places in The Islands of Tahiti where you can indulge in five-star, brand name resorts, and there are places where you can immerse yourself into the ebb and flow of daily life, experiencing this island nation like a local. If you’re looking for a place where the brand names are sand, sea, sun, time and tide, the Maupiti will wrap you in her arms and gently indulge you like a member of the family.

Located 195 miles (315 km) northwest of the island of Tahiti and 25 miles (40 km) West of Bora Bora, Maupiti is a tiny island (7 miles / 11 square kilometers), secluded and authentic. Whether you fly from Papeete or take the boat from Bora Bora, Maupiti will immediately seduce with its splendor and quiet pace of life. Magnificent sceneries, endless white sandy beaches both on the island and the motu, legendary rocky peaks and ancient marae all blend nicely with the friendly and smiling style of the islanders.

Huahine

Huahine casts a spell over you from the moment you arrive. Only a 40-minute flight from the island of Tahiti, the enchanted Huahine, with its lush forests, untamed landscape and quaint villages, is one of Tahiti’s best-kept secrets, a place where you can live like a local. A deep, crystal-clear lagoon surrounds the two islands that comprise Huahine, while magnificent bays and white-sand beaches add drama to the experience. Relatively unchanged by the modern world, Huahine offers the slower, more tranquil pace of old Polynesia. With only eight small villages scattered across the island, the few residents welcome visitors with great kindness. Not surprisingly, this fertile world offers a rich soil providing the local farmers a bountiful harvest of vanilla, melons and bananas.

Taha’a

Life slows on the island of Taha’a in The Islands of Tahiti. This quiet island will sweep you away into the traditional, tranquil life of the Tahitians. The flower-shaped island’s simple beauty comes in soft mountains, surrounded by tiny motu with bright, white-sand beaches. Vanilla-scented air wafts on breezes that flow down the hillsides from numerous vanilla farms, and these soft aromas ride the ocean breezes announcing the soul of the island long before you even see it on the horizon.

Rangiroa

Surrounding one of the world’s greatest destinations for scuba diving, the 240 islets string together in the ocean for more than 110 miles (177 km), completely encircling a deep lagoon. This is Rangiroa, a place that is simply beyond human imagination. Also the world’s second largest atoll, Rangiroa is a place where land and sea form an unexpected truce. The beautiful loop of islands is surrounded by different kinds of ocean: Moana-tea (Peaceful Ocean), which defines the lagoon, and Moana-uri (Wild Ocean), where whales, manta rays, dolphins and sharks put on a show for the lucky few who come to experience their world. Back on land, the main villages of Avatoru and Tiputa offer the visitor a unique look at the South Pacific. Along the few roads that exist, you’ll encounter coral churches, craft centers, local restaurants and boulangerie, along with a few tiny shops operated by locals. Wine lovers can also enjoy wine tasting at the Dominique Auroy Estate nestled within a coconut grove, which produces three grape varieties, and black pearl farms, which dot the lagoon.

Travel Tips

Currency

  • The local currency is the Pacific Franc, CFP or XPF. It is linked to the Euro. $1 is about 90 CFP.
  • Credit cards are widely accepted in the most touristy islands and travelers should advise their banks that they will be overseas and make sure their card will work there.
  • Travelers cheques can be used but are not accepted everywhere. High fees apply in banks and resorts to change them.
  • US dollars are accepted in some stores but the exchange rate will not be the greatest.
  • Currency exchange services are available from banks and resorts. Fees apply.
  • ATMs are available at the Faa’a International Airport as well as banks in Papeete and the most touristy islands and areas.
  • We recommend that visitors travel with a bit of cash as a precaution

Weather

  • The islands have tropical weather and are blessed with a lot of sunshine and enough rain to keep mountains and valleys lush and green.
  • Average temperature is about 80°F throughout the year, both air and water.
  • Summer runs from November to April.
  • The “Tahitian winter” or cooler season is from May to October.
  • There is no cyclone season in French Polynesia

What to Bring

  • Pack light, comfortable clothes
  • Reef shoes
  • Lots of sunscreen and after sun lotion
  • Insect repellent
  • Any prescription medicine
  • Adapter for electronic appliances (the islands have 220 volts and French plugs – most resorts have 110 volts for small appliances such as razor)

Nightlife

  • In the islands, the locals’ daily schedule starts with sunrise and ends at sunset. There is not much happening as far as nightlife.
  • It is not Vegas, Ibiza or Mexico.
  • Most night clubs are located on the main island of Tahiti.
  • Some of the resorts’ offer live band performances at their bars and pool areas.
  • Local dance troupes perform in hotels to give the travelers an insight into Tahitian music, dances and songs.
  • Visitors do not travel to Tahiti for the nightlife but for the pristine, breathtaking beauty and majesty of the islands, the kindness and warmth of its inhabitants, the authenticity and serenity that can be found each day in what many call “paradise”.

French Polynesia – Destination Highlights & Things to Do

Island Tours

There is no better way to gain a sense of everyday Tahitian life and experience the culture of French Polynesia, than passing through the small villages on a circle-island tour. As nearly every island has a coastal road following the lagoon shores, you can either drive around the island by rental car or take a guided bus tour. Explore the island interiors on a 4WD safari, a guided nature hike, bike riding or horseback riding.

Snorkeling & Diving

The Islands of Tahiti offer world-class snorkeling and diving. Both experienced and beginner divers and snorkelers will be amazed by the crystal-clear waters and the density of marine life.

With hundreds of dive sites throughout the islands, divers can choose from the amazing drift dives, oceanic drop-offs, sunken ships, and lagoon dives with infinite marine life. For certified experienced divers, the Tuamotu atolls will offer the most amazing adventures. Rangiroa and Fakarava more especially, are rated among the best dive sites in the world.

Shark & Ray Feeding

This excursion is one of the most thrilling and popular experiences and can be enjoyed on most of the islands. It will be a unique opportunity to come up, close and personal with black-tip sharks and graceful rays that can be seen frequently in the Tahitian lagoons. Non-swimmers may enjoy this exciting scene from the boat.

Tahitian Cultured Pearls

The world-renowned iridescent luster of Mother Nature’s most perfect gem can only be created in the Tahitian warm lagoons. Commonly known around the world as Black Pearls, Tahitian Cultured Pearls in fact come in all different sizes, shapes and colors. Travelers can visit a pearl farm in the Tuamotu Archipelago or in Taha’a, also known as the vanilla island, where some local families have found perfect shelters to produce these beautiful gems, symbols of hope and love.

Polynesian Spas

Tahiti is a world-class spa destination and many resorts offer their own version of pampering and rejuvenating. Surrounded by a backdrop of natural beauty and floral fragrances, there is no better setting for relaxation. Enjoy fresh-flower baths, invigorating rain showers, body scrubs made from vanilla grains, massages above the lagoon or body wrap with banana tree leaves.

Sailing

With so many islands, so many lagoons, sailing has become a delightful way to discover the islands. Sailing boats or catamarans can be rented bare or crewed, and itineraries designed “à la carte”. They give you the freedom to explore at your own pace and stop wherever you want.

Tahitian Wedding Ceremony

The Islands of Tahiti are symbol of romance and sensuality. A Tahitian Wedding Ceremony is a beautiful way to reaffirm your love for one another, whether you are on your honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary. These ceremonies come in all different ways, from the most intimate version to the most extravagant one. On the beach, on a private “motu” islet, at sunset, with Tahitian music and dances or without, resorts will help you create the perfect celebration and everlasting memories.

Since 2010, weddings have become legally binding for U.S. and Canadian citizens! Visit our wedding section of the website for more information.

Motu Picnic

A “motu” is a tiny islet delicately resting on the lagoon. Soft sand, coconut palms and crystal-clear lagoon, welcome to the most amazing restaurant in the world! Here, lunch is served on the beach or in the lagoon. An absolute must-try is the local specialty, “poisson cru”, a delicious salad of raw tuna and vegetables marinated with coconut milk and lime juice. And in the islands, coconut milk is squeezed right before your eyes! Can’t get fresher than this!

Skydiving & Parasailing

With their palette of million blues, lush mountains and valleys, and golden shores, the islands from the air are simply breathtaking. Take it nice and easy with parasailing or go for the thrill of tandem skydiving!

Tahiti Hotels

Bora Bora HotelsHuahine HotelsMoorea HotelsRangiroa HotelsTaha’a HotelsTahiti (island) HotelsTikehau Hotels

Tahiti Activities

Things to Do in Tahiti

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