Tahiti - French Polynesia: what to do, what to see…

Follow Paul Gauguin to the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The five archipelagoes of French Polynesia contain 118 islands - 76 of them inhabited - and just as many landscapes, from volcanoes to coral reefs. The Society Islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Austral Islands, Tuamotu and Gambier are enough to inspire the most jaded traveler! Surfing, swimming, hiking, diving—find out where to begin here!

Visits you cannot miss in Tahiti and French Polynesia

• The Taipivai Waterfall on Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Archipelago
Nuku Hiva, the second island by its size with 330 kilometers of coastline, does not lack attractions: grandiose landscapes, fairy waterfalls (including Hakaui, the 3rd highest waterfall in the world), canyon, natural pools, majestic valleys and archaeological remains are countless. Must see, by boat, 4x4, on foot or on horseback!

• The beach of Pointe Venus
North of Tahiti, Pointe Venus is named after Captain Cook, who went there to observe the passage of Venus in front of the sun in 1769. With its sublime black sand beach and lighthouse, the site has become today a must for any stay in Tahiti.

• The lagoon of Bora Bora
It's hard not to fall in love with Bora Bora. The coral reef that serves as a backdrop to the lagoon of the island of Bora Bora earned it the nickname "Pearl of the Pacific". It is the most visited island of French Polynesia, because you cannot come to French Polynesia without stopping in Bora Bora ...

• The pink sand of Fakarava
Accessible only by boat, the pink sandbanks of Fakarava are located at the end of the atoll, facing Tetamanu. Curiosities of incredible beauty, the sandbars that decline shades of roses are frequented by tourists and residents of Fakarava who come to bathe and picnic on Sunday.

• Rangiroa, reef island in the Tuamotu
In Rangiroa, the second largest atoll in the world, the land and the sea are in osmosis. Over this necklace of islands in the Pacific Ocean, whales, manta rays, dolphins and sharks present an incredible spectacle. On land, the villages of Avatoru and Tiputa bear witness to slices of life in the South Pacific.

• The Rurutu Caves in the Austral Islands Archipelago
The cliffs and caves of the Austral Islands are legendary places. Former burial sites, they are now used as points of observation for humpback whales. Cetaceans get together each year off the Austral Islands from August to October to give birth. The colorful and picturesque villages are also yours to discover.

• Maupiti in the Society Islands
Located 315 kilometers north-west of Tahiti and 40 kilometers west of Bora Bora, Maupiti is a tiny (11 kilometers long) island, isolated and authentic, which attracts you at first glance, between its magnificent landscapes, white sand beaches, legendary peaks ...

• Manihi pearl farms in the Tuamotu Islands
Far from the modern world, Manihi is the cradle of the first pearl farm in Tahiti since 1965. The lagoon is still home to many farms whose visit is a unique experience. It includes the work and the time needed to create the precious jewels.

• The beaches of Tikehau in the Tuamotu Islands
The lagoon is encircled by a series of motu of white and pink sand, forming a natural swimming pool opened on the Tuheiava pass. Divers will be captivated by the beauty and abundance of marine life: eagle rays, schools of barracudas and tunas, gray sharks, sea turtles and dolphins ...

• The churches of Gambier Islands
The Gambier Islands are located 1600 kilometers southeast of Tahiti. Center of Catholicism in Polynesia, there is a large number of churches and convents remains of the 19th century. Some are still active, such as the Saint-Michel church in Rikitea where the altar is inlaid with iridescent mother-of-pearl

Essential activities in Tahiti and French Polynesia

• Falling asleep with the waves in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora
Streams of blue and green velvet lined with perfect beaches are home to schools of colorful fish in coral gardens. This is the enchanting setting for travelers from the deck of the overwater bungalow of a luxury hotel. Bora Bora, the most beautiful island in the world right? ...

• Let yourself be enchanted by the sensuality of Huahine, one of the best kept secrets of Polynesia
Only 40 minutes by plane from Tahiti, Huahine is immediately enchanting, between lush forests and picturesque villages. There are only eight villages scattered around the island; it is one of the best kept secrets of the archipelago of Tahiti and its islands. One can live there like a local, to the rhythm of the olf Polynesia…

• Bargain hunt at the Papeete market
The Capital Market is certainly one of the best places to experience Polynesian authenticity. "Mapuru a Paraïta" is the center of attraction of the city; it is animated perpetually during opening hours, every day from 6:00 to 18:00. An opportunity to stock up on local crafts such as tiare flower-flavored monoi oil or mother-of-pearl jewelry, and savor tropical fruits.

• Meet rays and dolphins during an incredible dive in the Marquesas
These islands are a paradise for divers of all levels who can discover a rich marine fauna, with an impressive number of gray sharks, hammerhead sharks and even tiger sharks ... But also dolphins, manta rays and vast schools of fish. The funds are intact because this off-the-beaten-track destination attracts a limited number of divers

• Play Robinson Crusoe at Tikehau
Here, the 500 or so Tahitians from generations of fishermen live from seafood on this island, which they call "the home of a quiet world". Enough to germinate the desire to play the Robinsons of the 21st century ...

• Spend an entire day on the beach in Bora Bora
For frequent travelers, Matira Beach in Bora Bora is one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world (Conde Nast Traveler ranking). Note that the beach is public, and there is no need to stay in a 5-star resort to rest in the sun ...

• To gather on the sacred site Marae de Taputapuatea registered with the patrimony of Unesco
On the sacred island of Raiatea, the open temple of Taputapuātea represents a thousand years of traditions of Mao'hi culture. Political, ceremonial, funeral and religious center, it is dedicated to the god Oro; it is "the place where the world of the living crosses the world of the ancestors and the gods" ...

• Live the holidays of July, Heiva i Tahiti, which celebrate the traditional Polynesian culture
A good way to soak up the Polynesian traditions is to attend the festivities of Heiva i Tahiti that takes place in July for 100 years. Tahiti welcomes the singers and dancers of the different islands who adorn themselves with their most beautiful headdresses for singing contests, music, dance and sports contests (javelin throwing, stone lifting, pirogue racing,etc). A must!

• Follow in the footsteps of the first missionaries to Gambier Islands
Mangareva is renowned for its 19th century religious heritage built in coral. The newly converted missionaries and islanders built hundreds of religious buildings between 1840 and 1970. They can be visited on the Rikitea, Akamaru, Aukena and Taravai islands of the Gambier Archipelago.

• Watch whales at the front row in Rurutu in the Austral Islands
The cliffs and caves of the Austral Islands are legendary places. These ancient funerary sites offer an ideal viewpoint to watch the humpback whales, which come to the Austral Islands from August to October of each year to give birth in the incredibly clear waters of Rurutu. Rare!

Getting to Tahiti