A Comprehensive Guide to the Tahiti-French Polynesia

Introduction

Tahiti is part of the Eastern Group of Society Islands in French Polynesia. It has two distinct regions. The larger north-western region is the Tahiti Nui, with the south-eastern part named Tahiti. The seclusion, picturesque beaches, and tropical climate make Tahiti a dream come through for holiday-goers. 

What Is Tahiti-French Polynesia Best Known For?

Dance

The renowned Tahitian dance is a major export of the Island. They call the traditional dance ote’a, where participants stand in rows and make unique figures. The signature rhythmic hip movements and grass skirts are reminiscent of the Hawaiian hula.

Black pearls

Tahitian black pearls come from black-lipped oysters cultivated around French Polynesia. The oysters are famous for their enormous size. An authentic Tahitian black pearl is rare, with most coming in shades of grey and brown.





Tattoos

In Tahiti, tattoos are indicators of personality and identity. Locals sport tattoos, displaying body art on their forearms. For males, each tattoo is a symbol of courage and proof of manhood.

Jungle Tours

A tour through the jungles of Tahiti is an excellent choice for thrill-seekers. Explore Tahiti’s rainforests and appreciate nature at its finest.

Surfing

Tahiti’s waters are famous for big-wave surfing. Even experienced surfers recognise the challenge of the ferocious waves. Teahupoo holds the title of the world’s most dangerous break. It owes that title to the force and size of its waves. The sharp reef does little to dampen the challenge. Spectators can take a sightseeing tour to Teahupoo.

French Polynesian cuisine

Even though on the outskirts of France, Tahiti’s cuisine still has French traces. Several meals come with sauces and even French names. Poisson cru is the signature dish of Tahiti. It is an alternate version of the fish ceviche, with Tahitian ingredients.

Mountains

Tahiti’s volcanic Island boasts lofty mountain peaks and dense interiors. The hills are symbolic and played a part in creating Polynesia’s ancient culture.

Polynesian culture and art

 

 

 

Polynesian culture has prospered under French influence. Enjoy the vibrant Tahitian culture, from the music to local food.

Waterfalls

 

Tahiti has several wonders of nature, including waterfalls which litter the valleys. Take a hike to see the waterfalls. The Three Waterfalls (Les Trois Cascades) is a popular choice with its impressive falls. They call it the Faarumai Waterfalls.

Blowholes

The North-eastern coastline of Tahiti Nui boasts the Arahoho Blowhole. Decades of coastal erosion from the rushing waves resulted in this natural phenomenon. Several blowholes dot the coastline, but Arahoho is the largest.  Watch the blowhole spray sea water from an opening high on the rocks with each swell.

Lagoons

French Polynesia is famous for its spectacular lagoons. The over-water bungalows of Moorea and Bora Bora are a popular choice for visitors. Enjoy the scenic views around the turquoise sea. 

Flora

Several plants and exotic flowers grow in the mineral-rich tropical soil of French Polynesia. The flora ranges from hibiscus to orchids, roses and birds-of-paradise. Tahitians wear and present flowers as ornamental accessories.  Floral decoration has deep roots in Polynesian culture. The Polynesian national emblem is the Tahitian gardenia (Tiare). The signature scent of the Island is monoï oil. It is an ingredient in a range of local products such as cosmetics, lotions, and soaps. The fragrance is a blend of coconut oil and the Tiare flower. They use it in Tahitian spas for its hydrating qualities, promoting smooth and healthy skin.

 

Fauna

French Polynesia’s bird population numbers over 100 species among its Islands. Coastal birds such as terns, boobies and tropic-birds roost on land but get their food from the lagoon. A natural aviary in Tikehau called Bird Island hosts the largest cluster of seabirds.

Where Should You Visit in Tahiti-French Polynesia?

Explore these must-see holiday spots in Tahiti-French Polynesia.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Notre-Dame is the oldest Tahitian Catholic church. The cathedral is a staple of colonial architecture with subtle local influences. Old colonial structures such as Notre-Dame once populated Tahiti. True to the Tahitian spirit, the church stores its Holy Water in a clamshell.

Pointe Venus

See the lighthouse and black sand beach of Pointe Venus in Northern Tahiti. Its name comes from the visit of Captain Cook in 1769 to watch Venus pass across the sun.

The Pink Sandbanks of Fakarava

Visit Fakarava’s pink sandbanks and browse through its many attractions. Reach the sandbanks by boat and see sandbars blooming in several rose shades. The territory is a hot-spot for residents and holiday-goers coming for picnics on weekends.

Rangiroa

Visit Fakarava’s pink sandbanks and browse through its many attractions. Reach the sandbanks by boat and see sandbars blooming in several rose shades. The territory is a hot-spot for residents and holiday-goers coming for picnics on weekends.

Nuku Hiva

Explore the stunning backdrop and magical waterfalls such as Hakaui (the world’s third highest waterfall).

Huahine Natural Aquarium

See more of the Pacific Ocean’s marine life in the Huahine Natural Aquarium. You can watch them or get in the water for a more intimate experience. 

The Rurutu Caves

The Rurutu cliffs and caves in the Austral Islands Archipelago are mythical places. There were once burial sites, but now serve as watch-posts for observing humpback whales. The Pacific giants visit the region every year to breed.

The Bora Bora Lagoon

The Island of Bora Bora is a jewel of French Polynesia. Locals call it the Pearl of the Pacific because of its coral reef that acts as the lagoon’s backdrop. It is a popular choice for visitors entering French Polynesia.

Over-water bungalows

A trip to Tahiti is incomplete if you have not seen the over-water bungalows. Bora Bora and Moorea are famous destinations in French Polynesia for their ocean huts.

Teahupo’o

Tahiti’s waves reach their peak in the winter months between May and October. Teahupo’o ranks as the most dangerous surf break in the world. It is the perfect challenge for experienced surfers.

Manihi Pearl Farms

Manihi is in the Tuamotu Islands, away from the city centre. It is the home of the oldest Tahitian pearl farm since 1965. The lagoon has several farms that offer a unique experience for visitors. Visit the farms and see the work and effort that goes into harvesting precious pearls.

La Plage de Maui (Maui’s Beach)

La Plage de Maui gets its name from Hawaii. One of the few white sand coastlines in Tahiti Nui, Maui’s Beach lies on the Island’s south coast. The adjoining lagoon is perfect for snorkelers and swimmers to enjoy the surreal Polynesian atmosphere.



Tikehau’s Beaches

The lagoon is in the Tuamotu Islands, enclosed in reef islets (motu) of pink and white sand. It forms a natural pool opening across the Tuheiva pass. Dive into the diversity and abundance of the lagoon’s aquatic life. Swim with the sea turtles, dolphins, eagle rays, tuna, barracudas, and grey sharks.

What are the best Restaurants in Tahiti-French Polynesia?

O Belvédère (Pīra'e, French Polynesia)

The O Belvédère has incredible views of Moorea and the Pacific Ocean. It is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner in full view of the Tahitian sunset.

Le Lotus (Intercontinental Tahiti Resort and Spa, PK7,5, Faaa 98702, French Polynesia)

Le Lotus sits within the Intercontinental Tahiti Resort and Spa. The building overlooks the sea and has a vibrant environment. Enjoy the candlelit setting, piano music, gorgeous view, and excellent French Polynesian cuisine.

Café Maeva (Pape'ete, French Polynesia)

The Café Maeva offers delicious meals, pastries, smoothies and French coffee. Find the Café on the second floor of Le Marché shopping centre in Pape’ete.

Tahitian Cuisine

You will find an abundance of seafood in Tahiti. No surprise there. Fresh seafood, organic veggies and tropical fruits complement the culinary abilities of Tahiti’s international chefs. Tahiti’s cuisine is a blend of gourmet flavours made with local produce. The marketplace is in Pape’ete, Le Marché. It is the major source of fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables, vanilla and varieties of fish. Besides floral arrangements and food, local artists sell wood carvings, Tahitian fabrics and woven baskets. Across the Le Marché, you will find the seaside boulevard known as Vai'ete Square. It is the home of the Island’s well-known food trucks called Les Roulottes. The square opens at night to offer a variety of cheap meals. Snack on French crepes, pizza, steak sandwiches, pommes frites, fresh fish and Chinese food. Tahiti’s signature dish is the raw fish, Poisson cru. The meal is tender, sweet, exotic, and refreshing. It has raw tuna soaked in lime juice and mixed with coconut and dried vegetables.Explore these restaurant choices in Tahiti-French Polynesia.

Best Places to Stay in Tahiti-French Polynesia

Vanira Lodge (Teahupo’o, 98735 Teahupo’o, French Polynesia)

The Vanira Lodge is in the popular surfing region of Teahupo’o.

Intercontinental Tahiti Resort & Spa (Pointe Tahiti, Faaa, 98702 Faaa, French Polynesia)

The Intercontinental Tahiti Resort and Spa is the ideal accommodation choice for your Polynesian holiday. It has a picturesque garden setting, with volcanic peaks visible on the horizon.

Farehau Guesthouse (Cité De L'Air, 98702 Faaa, French Polynesia)

Farehau is a 15-minute-drive from Pape’ete’s shops and restaurants. The guesthouse provides a shared kitchen and an open-air dining space.

Villa Ninamu Pearl (Quartier Sage, 98718 Punaauia, French Polynesia)

The Villa Ninamu Pearl in Punaauia offers a pool, view of the sea, garden, bar and free WiFi! Units in the Bed & Breakfast come equipped with a washing machine and kitchen. Guests enjoy a buffet breakfast at the Villa Ninamu Pearl.

Things to do in Tahiti-French Polynesia

Stay in an Over-Water Bungalow in Bora Bora

The gorgeous beaches of Bora Bora have streams of green and blue. These streams have coral gardens playing host to varieties of colourful fish. Book your place at one of the over-water bungalows to enjoy nature at its best.

Visit Huahine in French Polynesia

Huahine is a 40-minute flight away from Tahiti. It has an enchanting landscape with dense forests and charming villages.

Shop at the Pape’ete market

The market in Tahiti’s capital is a prime location to enjoy the purity of Polynesian culture. Browse through and select tropical fruits, monoï oil and mother-of-pearl accessories.

Go Diving in Marquesas

Marquesas is the perfect location for divers to explore marine life. See the impressive array of sharks, dolphins, manta rays and schools of fish. The aquatic life thrives in Marquesas because of few visitors.

Experience the Serenity of Tikehau

The Island of Tikehau is home to Tahitians descended from fishermen. Locals call it the home of the quiet world. Seafood is the major source of sustenance on Tikehau. Experience the surreal life of a castaway on the Island.

Visit Gambier Islands

Mangareva is famous for its 19th century religious culture. From 1840 to 1970, Islanders and missionaries built lots of religious structures on the Island. The structures spread across the Gambier Archipelago Islands.

Go Whale Watching in the Austral Islands

The Austral Islands are famous for its caves and cliffs. Its ancient sites offer the perfect vantage point to see the humpback whales.

Visit Tahiti-French Polynesia

There is more to Tahiti than the over-water bungalows of Bora Bora and Moorea. From the stunning volcanic backdrop outlining Moorea, to Tahitian dancing, the Islands boast diversity and a vibrant culture. It’s easy to see why this slice of paradise finds its way into many bucket lists. Visit Tahiti-French Polynesia and marvel at nature’s excellence!