A French Polynesian holiday represents the essence of the tropical getaway: pristine waters, palm trees and isolated bungalows. And there’s no more picturesque or breathtaking a destination than Tahiti. The island is the largest in French Polynesia and is a territory of the French Republic.
As far as tropical destinations go, Tahiti is one of the most popular in the world – not surprising considering how often the island’s beauty is invoked in Hollywood films! For those who need no more convincing, here are five of the best destinations to experience during your time in Tahiti.
Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia and in its downtown precinct, Vaiete Square can be found. Situated by the water, the square is the home to “roulottes” – restaurants offering every type of cuisine for the curious traveller. Prices are low, so it’s easy to taste a range of local dishes, often with ukulele-bearing musicians playing traditional music to complete the atmosphere.
The Marae temples were erected by ancient Polynesians for worshipping their gods. These temples are sites of great historic significance, used for important events in local history. Their beauty stems from their ancient majesty and they are a must-see visitors to Tahiti.
The Mara’a Grotto is a swimming experience like no other. Tropical gardens grow above rocks which overhang the water and underwater caverns ripe for exploration run deep. Secret spots and a mini waterfall are all sheltered by the rock, waiting to be found.
Tahiti is famous for its black sand beaches, Lafayette being one of the most popular. Unlike the traditional tropical beach image, the sand is fine, black and smooth to the touch. Being one of the most famous destinations on the island, there is ample accommodation located nearby.
Black Pearl Museum
The black pearl museum is a must for anybody wishing to dive deeper into Tahitian culture. The pearls are prized around the world for their beauty, but the museum unravels their magnificent history, with all the associated philosophy and religion. The museum is located in Papeete and is surrounded pearl merchants, for beautiful souvenirs.These destinations barely scratch the surface of what a Tahiti holiday has to offer. The island is bursting with food, culture and sights, all waiting to be discovered.
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Situated in French Polynesia, about 17 kilometres north-west of Tahiti, is Moorea. Moorea is an island paradise where gorgeous, green mountains and clear, blue waters set the backdrop for a cache of fascinating and culturally enriching activities. The best way to reach the island is via ferry from Tahiti, it will only take 45 minutes.
There are lots of fun activities to indulge in while on this beautiful island – here are some of our favourites:
Snorkelling in Moorea is very popular and various snorkelling safaris are easy to come by. You’ll find a range of gigantic coral and diverse, beautiful marine life to explore in Moorea’s waters, all with high visibility. Sting Ray Paradise is also worth a visit, where you’ll be able to snorkel and watch guides hand-feed a family of stingrays!
Moorea entices the world’s surf community every year and surfing holidays in this region are common. While the north coast of the island is ideal for more experienced surfers, beginners should be able to find surfing lessons and less challenging spots on both Moorea and Tahiti. If you are unsure of where to look, enquiring with your resort or accommodation staff is a good place to start.
Tranquil horse rides are also popular in Moorea. You can ride the mountain trails or opt for a lagoon or beachside trot. Ranch Opunohu Valley offers rides on Marquesan ponies, which are perfect for riders with little to no riding experience.
If you love a spot of shopping or just want to take home some reminders of your Tahiti-Moorean holiday, shopping here is plentiful and diverse. You’ll be able to buy authentic Tahitian handmade souvenirs, like a pareu – a traditional Polynesian sarong – and other treasures, such as Tahitian pearls, artworks, crafts and clothes. You will also find that Moorea’s shopping areas are often surrounded by traditional and western cafes and restaurants, so that you can relax after your shopping travels.
Swimming with dolphins
Established to provide education about Moorea’s environment and to protect its marine life, the Moorea Dolphin Centre is perfect for any visitor who wants to interact and swim with dolphins or even have a go at training them! You will find the Dolphin Centre situated in the grounds of the Intercontinental Moorea Resort & Spa.
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The island of Bora Bora is a beautiful hotspot located less than an hour’s flight from Tahiti (Papeete) and is one of the world’s most blissful and romantic destinations. If you think Bora Bora is only about beach relaxing and sunset dinners, however, think again – there are lots of fun activities to keep you entertained here, whether you decide to visit for a few hours or a few days.
Meet sharks and sting-rays
One of the most popular things to do in Bora Bora is to get close to the friendly marine life. Embarking on a shark and sting-ray feeding tour is guaranteed to add some excitement to your Tahiti holiday. You’ll head out on a boat with a local guide and have the opportunity to swim and snorkel while your guide hand-feeds sharks and sting-rays. Some of them will even come close enough for you to touch! If you wish to swim with other sharks, rays, turtles and fish, the Lagoonarium on Bora Bora is also a great option (and is much bigger than the one on Tahiti).
Enjoy a 4WD tour
Four-wheel drive tours are also easily accessible on Bora Bora and will give you the chance to get off the beaten track and explore even more of Bora Bora’s natural surroundings. Many of the roads will also take you through the history of the island’s involvement in World War II and there are many old war artefacts to be discovered as well. Pristine beaches and scenic, sunset views are also one of the biggest highlights of a 4WD tour, so make sure you bring your camera and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy each stop on the tour.
Go island hiking
If you prefer to discover Bora Bora on foot, you’ll also find there are many hiking trails that will take you into some of the more remote areas of the island. You can choose to take a guided hike into the Valley of the Kings, head out on the Track of the Past or climb Mount Pahia. All of the trails offer a beautiful hiking journey with many amazing vistas to complement your Tahiti holiday.
Fall in love with pearls
Bora Bora is world famous for its South Sea pearls and the best place to get a good look at them is at the Bora Pearl Company Farm. If you want to learn about how pearls form, try your hand at pearl diving or create and purchase a beautiful piece of jewellery to take home (or give to someone special) the Bora Pearl Company is definitely a must-visit. You’ll also find many pearls and pearl items for sale at the local markets and in boutique jewellery shops.
Bora Bora has the perfect mix of calm, clear waters and colourful marine life, making it ideal for kayaking. Kayaks can be easily hired (just check with your resort) and a kayaking excursions means you can get away from the shoreline and explore the tropical waters further out.