Must-See French Polynesian Islands
July 18, 2023
You’ve dreamed of it. Relaxing in an overwater bungalow as the sea life dances under the glass floor. You’ve envisioned the vast volcanic wilderness surrounding you and thought how nice it would be to see the view from the top. Now is the time to make your dreams a reality. The French Polynesian islands are a magical place, made up of 118 islands and atolls and five archipelagos—there is so much to explore. Our travel experts have been all around French Polynesia and have comprised a list of the must-see stops on your next trip.
If you plan a trip to French Polynesia, it’s likely that you will spend time in the capital of Tahiti, the international arrival city of Papeete. This is the primary launching point for visiting many of the outer island locations. One of the most incredible things about Tahiti is its culture. Tahitians are excellent craftspeople and celebrate their heritage through art and cultural events. Some of the world’s most beautiful and meaningful tattoos can be seen on the locals, and the artisans that create them are amongst the best in the world. Tahiti is rich in history as well as great local cuisine. Let’s not forgot visiting one of the world’s most famous surf spots Teahupoo. A few days on the main island will give you a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the destination and have you ready to explore some of our favorite Tahiti destinations.
What’s more fantastic than a heart-shaped island? The aerial view of Moorea is enough for your jaw to drop, but what lies on the land and in the surrounding sea will truly inspire you. It’s the second most popular honeymoon destination on the islands, and at just 11 miles by ferry or a short plane ride from Tahiti, it is a unique location that is also accessible for most travelers. It’s a destination perfect for couples, families, and friends too! Moorea boasts some of the best activities available on the islands ranging from paddleboarding to kayaking and diving—take a catamaran tour and snorkel to see underwater Tikis. Swimming with the local sharks and stingrays is a must-do. On land, try out the ATV tours, 4 WD tours, hiking, and the great local restaurants on offer. Renting a car for a day can allow for some self-guided exploring as well.
Around an hour’s flight from Tahiti or Moorea lies Bora Bora. It’s a spot for total relaxation and getting away from it all. Though other travelers will be on the island, you won’t feel inundated with tourism. You might even be able to enjoy some destinations totally alone with your travel companion. Like most of French Polynesia, you can find lots of water activities. Bora Bora’s waters are famous for displaying 50 shades of blue, and a coral barrier reef surrounds the island. With its high visibility, it’s no wonder divers flock here for the magical lagoon and sea life.
Just a 3-hour flight from the capital city of Papeete, Tahiti, a vast, remote paradise awaits in the Marquesa Islands group. Based on statistics from Tahiti Tourism, less than 1% of the total number of visitors that travel to Tahiti make it north to this unique destination.
Culture and family are the center of life in the Marquesas. Nuku Hiva is the largest island in the Marquesas, a lush and stunning remote destination. Spend a few days here to fully immerse yourself in the exquisite landscape and witness the breathtaking Vaipo waterfall, one of the highest in Polynesia at 1,148 ft. Take a hike through the Hakaui Valley to experience this magnificent scenery or explore the rich cultural and historical landmarks of Taiohae Village. This is one of the most remote destinations on earth and a place any adventure traveler will not want to miss.
Known as the “Vanilla Island,” Taha’a grows almost 80% of the vanilla produced in French Polynesia. Visitors can explore the plantations and enjoy the local cuisine sourced right from their vanilla. To get to this location, one must go from Tahiti to the island of Raiatea and then take a boat to Le Taha’a. Its remoteness only enhances the stunning coral reef just waiting to be explored.
Le Taha’a By Pearl Resorts is the only resort situated in Taha’a. This resort is the first of the Relais & Chateaux network on the islands of Tahiti. From here, you can enjoy expansive views across the lagoon all of the way to Bora Bora. The food here is remarkable. With three on-site restaurants, you can enjoy food at the main restaurant, Hawaiki Nui, enjoy al-fresco dining at Titiraina, or enjoy a 5-star experience at the gourmet restaurant, The Tapairua. No matter where you go, you’ll find something sensational and unique to this island.
Tetiaroa (The Brando Resort)
Home to The Brando Resort—one of the world’s most sustainable luxury resorts—Tetiaroa is leased by Marlon Brando. This destination is for the discerning and environmentally conscious traveler is a quick 20-minute private flight from Tahiti. Here, you can take tours to discover the bird species and barrier reefs, take a kayak around the pristine waters, learn about archaeology, and so much more. This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime destination and is perfect for any special occasion that you would like to celebrate with your companions.
If you are considering traveling to French Polynesia, our team of travel designers would be thrilled to create the perfect trip for you. Our experts have visited the most popular and remote destinations ripe for adventure. Contact our team today to see how we can build an itinerary for you!