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Explore the different islands to visit in Tahiti

Tahiti

Posted by on 27 Apr 2021 , in Islands

Bora Bora 

After a 50-minute flight from Tahiti, you will find the stunning island of Bora Bora which features the world’s most beautiful lagoon.

There are a dozen different shades of blue in Bora Bora’s lagoon and you can relax away the day trying to spot them all! Your first glimpses of the stunning colours of the Bora Bora lagoon are on arrival at the Motu Mute airport which is located on a motu, a small sandy islet. The majority of hotels and resorts are built on motus in the lagoon surrounding the main island, with Mount Otemanu peak as its centrepiece.

Bora Bora is synonymous with romance and is home to the iconic Overwater Bungalows. The vast choice of resorts, all as spectacular as the next, makes it the perfect honeymoon destination.

We love Bora Bora because it is the epitome of paradise. The colours of the lagoon are even more stunning than you see in photos and the lagoon is warm, crystal clear and totally mesmerising. There are a range of activities on offer in Bora Bora including shark & ray feeding, jet skiing, quad bike adventures and the fascinating island tour where you will discover the island’s World War II history.

Bora Bora will suit those travellers looking for a paradise setting with the luxury of resort amenities. There is a varied level of accommodation on offer however the hotel landscape is mainly composed of expansive luxury resorts. The turquoise lagoon is simply breathtaking and you will find relaxing all day is actually quite tiring! Bora Bora truly is a paradise.

Here's a few of our favourite things to do in Bora Bora!

  • Stay in an overwater bungalow and watch the fish life through the glass!
  • Visit Matira Beach with its turquoise shallow waters and white sand
  • Drop in for a drink at the famous, sandy- bottomed Bloody Marys Restaurant
  • Have your breakfast delivered in a canoe to your overwater bungalow
  • Take a snorkelling trip to the Coral Garden to witness an amazing abundance of fish
  • Hire a bike in the main village of Vaitape and discover the roadside snack bars and trinket shops
  • Take a jet-ski tour around the island – one of the best ways to see the blues of Bora Bora’s lagoon
  • Enjoy a romantic beach dinner
  • Take a 4WD tour of the main island and learn about Bora Bora’s WW2 history
  • Snorkel or dive with the lemon sharks, outside of the Bora Bora reef
Hungry? Here’s some of our favourite places to eat in Bora Bora!
  • Bora Bora Yacht Club – The restaurant is located in the Yacht Club. It is open for lunch and dinner and offers a chilled-out atmosphere with an open air deck setting with fabulous views across the lagoon.
  • Sushi Take – located at The St Regis Bora Bora Resort there is nothing more to say other than this is the BEST sushi in French Polynesia!
  • Bloody Mary’s – Offers a fresh fish menu but rather than dining here we prefer to pop in for a drink at this iconic sandy floored restaurant.
  • The St James – Fine dining. This restaurant overlooks the lagoon and provides a picturesque setting. It is a mainly seafood menu, cooked French style. There is also a lagoon-side bar from which you can enjoy a pre-dinner drink. A great place to spot the rays!

Moorea 

A few minutes flight from Tahiti, or just 30 mins on the ferry, lies Tahiti’s sister island, Moorea.

Cook’s and Oponohu bays are surrounded by the lush green heights of striking mountain peaks and hidden craters of pineapple plantations. The island’s lagoon waters are crystal-clear and home to the famous shark and ray feeding demonstrations. Moorea is known as the activities island and offers a full range of water and land based activities from horse riding to Quad bike riding, from snorkelling to jet skiing, from massage to hiking... it is all on offer in Moorea!

We love Moorea because of its relaxed vibe. Moorea offers a more authentic feel than the more built up island of Tahiti or the more tourism driven island of Bora Bora. You don’t feel overrun here and you can sample the typical and relaxed way of island life. Moorea’s lagoon waters are simply stunning and its breathtaking mountain peaks add to the allure.

Moorea will suit most travellers as it offers a diverse range of holiday styles. Moorea can offer a touch of class with its luxurious overwater bungalows and resorts or appeal to those looking for a simpler more casual holiday with a range of small hotels and pensions. Moorea is perfect for those who want stay put and enjoy the resort splendours or for those also wanting to be more active and explore the island’s wonders through the large range of land and water based activities on offer.

Here's some of our favourite things to do in Moorea!

  • Enjoy a freshly squeezed pineapple juice picked straight from the plantation
  • Feed the reef sharks in the lagoon and experience a “kiss” from a sting ray!
  • Taste a tiare flower flavoured ice cream at the Agricultural College
  • Wind your way up to the Belvedere lookout for magnificent views of the mountains, bays and lagoon
  • Cycle around the island and discover your own private piece of paradise …it’s only 60km!
  • Surf at Haapiti - one of the world’s most consistent breaks
  • Have a close encounter with the Dolphins at the InterContinental Resort
  • Go on a Motu picnic and learn how to make the famous Tahitian raw fish – poisson cru!
  • Take a horse ride through the pineapple plantations and majestic valleys
  • Play a round of golf at the lagoon side Moorea Pearl Green Golf course

Hungry? Here are some of our favourite places to eat in Moorea!

  • Snack Mahana– located just down the road from the InterContinental Resort this place is always packed with locals and tourists alike! Offering fresh fish served in a variety of styles as well as steak, chicken and other “roulotte” type dishes. This little snack restaurant is a gem and is perfect for lunch given its gorgeous outdoor lagoon side setting – but we recommend you book a table or you may miss out!
  • Hilton Overwater Creperie – this is a fabulous evening dining option as it is uniquely situated over the water amongst the overwater bungalows of the Hilton Resort. Open to non-hotel guests, it offers reasonably priced sweet & savoury crepes and is also a perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink. A bonus is the many reef sharks that are attracted to the lights and gather in the lagoon beneath - a unique view to accompany dinner!
  • Les Tipaniers – Located within the grounds of the Les Tipaniers hotel, this little restaurant is best at lunchtime to maximise its stunning lagoon-side position. This is a simple open air snack restaurant offering a varied menu to suit most lunchtime desires. Inexpensive and relaxed.
  • Hibiscus –Located lagoon side within the Hotel Hibiscus, this is a great pizza option for lunch or dinner. Inexpensive and delicious wood fire pizzas are on offer as well as a comprehensive a la carte menu.
  • Te Honu Iti - Offering a varied menu, this little restaurant offers free transfers from most hotels. Taking advantage of its lagoon-side location, it attracts the local marine life with sting rays often cruising the lagoon waters beneath.

Tahiti

Tahiti is the largest of the 118 islands and atolls that comprise French Polynesia and flights to Tahiti arrive into its international airport, Faa’a.

About 70% of the population of French Polynesia reside on the island of Tahiti and of those, about 75% reside in Papeete or its suburbs. Papeete is the capital city and the commercial hub of French Polynesia. It has a colourful market offering local food, hand-made crafts and souvenirs as well as a range of pearl shops, bars and restaurants.

Tahiti is composed of two parts, Tahiti Nui or Big Tahiti and Tahiti Iti or Little Tahiti also affectionately known to locals as the Presqu’ile. These two islands parts are linked by a narrow strip of land, the isthmus of Taravao.

We love that there is so much more to Tahiti than just Papeete and the island can be a destination in itself, not just a quick stop transit island. To make the most of this island you need to get away from the main hub of Papeete and head along the coast road, be it east or west, you will end up back in the same spot as there is only one road! Tahiti is an island of hidden treasures and along the way you will discover a stunning lagoon, the black sand beaches of the east coast, majestic valley hikes and stunning volcanic peaks of the inner island, botanic gardens and turquoise waters of the west coast, rich archaeological sites, lookouts, swimming spots, picnic areas and the list goes on!

Tahiti will suit those travellers looking to experience both city conveniences & island beauty and is ideal for those willing to get out and about and discover a road less taken. The island is the perfect base to also explore Moorea given she is just a quick ferry ride across the lagoon.

Tahiti offers large hotel accommodation, smaller budget hotels and family run pensions, with the latter mainly being outside of Papeete, along the coast of the island.

Top things to do on the island of Tahiti!

  • Eat at the local food vans, Roulottes, located at the waterfront in downtown Papeete.
  • Venture down the stunning west coast to Teahupoo and see THE wave.
  • Mix with the locals in the Paofai Gardens and watch the local Vaa’a canoeists training in the lagoon.
  • Enjoy a sunset cocktail at the Pink Coconut bar at Marina Taina with gorgeous views across to Morea.
  • Take a hike in the Papeeno valley and discover hidden waterfalls and breathtaking views.
  • Visit the museum of Tahiti and discover Polynesia’s mythical past.
  • Hire a car and drive around the island – there’s only one road so you can’t get lost!
  • Visit Taravao plateau on the Presque Ile - called Little Normandy due to its unique microclimate.
  • Wake up early to witness the locals selling their fresh fish and vegetables at the Papeete central market … then stick around to do some souvenir shopping of your own!
  • Browse the many Pearl shops of Papeete and find your own precious Tahitian Black Pearl.

Feeling hungry? Here’s some of our favourite places to grab a bite!

  • The Roulottes – these mobile food vans are scattered across the island and offer cheap, simple local cuisine such as steak & chips, raw fish, cooked fish of all sorts and a range of Chinese dishes. Outside and open air, you will sit side by side with the locals. Concentrated on the waterfront in downtown Papeete and open ‘till late – this is a must do experience in Tahiti!
  • Le Cocos – a stylish, fine dining restaurant located lagoon front just outside of Papeete on the west coast. French & Polynesian infusion cuisine, stunningly presented dishes, this restaurant is a gastronomic treat!
  • Le Lotus – This is the fine dining restaurant of the InterContinental Tahiti Resort, located over the water. International cuisine offering dishes from a Michelin star chef.
  • L’O à la bouche – French Cuisine. Hidden in an alleyway in downtown Papeete this restaurant is a must if you’re downtown and looking for fabulous cuisine, highlighting local and French ingredients. The restaurant is very popular amongst the Papeete office workers at lunchtime, creating a bustling atmosphere.
  • Blue Banana – Brasserie style food with a large menu choice. Located just outside of Papeete in Punaauia on the west coast. The restaurant has a fabulous waterfront location and is a great place to dine at lunchtime in order to maximise the stunning views across to Moorea.
  • Casa Bianca – Italian & Pizza Restaurant. Immensely popular with locals on the weekend, this relaxed open air restaurant is located at the Marina Taina, just outside of Papeete in Punaauia on the west coast, and offers occasional live music. Always a crowd pleaser your wallet will thank you with a range of well priced menu options like pizzas, pasta, steak and local fish dishes. Great option for families.
  • Pink Coconut - Bar & Brasserie style food. Located waterfront at Marina Taina just outside of Papeete in Punaauia on the west coast, this is a great spot to enjoy a drink and a magical Tahitian sunset at happy hour!
  • The Royal Tahitian – Bar & local dishes. Located waterfront on the east coast, on the outskirts of downtown Papeete, this restaurant and bar is popular with locals. Friday and Saturday nights often offer live music and the venue is a chilled out place to enjoy a drink and sunset views.
  • La Terrace - Snack & local dishes. Located in downtown Papeete, you will find a range of well-priced basic dishes from grilled fish or steak to local dishes. A good lunchtime option.
  • Oasis at Vaima – Snack & local dishes. Located in downtown Papeete, this is the perfect place for a quick beverage refreshment or you will find a range of well-priced basic dishes from sandwiches to grilled fish or steak & chips to local dishes. A good lunchtime option.
  • The Retro – Bar & Brasserie style food. Located on the marina side of downtown Papeete this bar is open early ‘till late making it the perfect spot to chill out and enjoy a drink anytime of the day! You will find an extensive menu of burgers, fish, local dishes and other basic snack type options.
  • The 3 Brasseurs – Bar & Micro-Brewery. Located downtown just opposite the Roulottes, this is a great spot to grab a pre-dinner drink and people watch. We recommend you try a beer from their extensive menu brewed on site!

Fakarava

Fakarava is the second largest atoll in French Polynesia, located 450 km from Tahiti and takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach by plane. Like her big sister, Rangiroa, this atoll is famous for its exceptional dive sites, especially the north pass, which at 800m is the widest in Polynesia.

The island offers a range of small, family run pensions scattered across the vast lagoon with the majority of the population centred around the village of Rotoava in the north of the atoll and about 4km from the airport. The atoll draws most of its income from pearl farming.

There is neither bank nor ATM on the atoll so it’s best to take cash when visiting. Fakarava is a biosphere reserve of UNESCO and home to a diverse range of flora and fauna including rare crustaceans.

We love the natural, untouched beauty of the Fakarava atoll and you can’t go past the wooden tables erected in the warm lagoon waters – a perfect place to enjoy a cooling refreshment, feet in the lagoon! If you’re keen to pedal then try the 40km paved road that was constructed to welcome a visit by French President Jacques Chirac … who never actually ended up coming! It’s a quirky and unique attribute of Fakarava!

Fakarava will suit those travellers looking for a rustic & remote getaway to a pristine lagoon. Divers will enjoy the particularly diverse ecosystem with schools of barracudas, turtles, oceanic sharks and dolphins appearing all year. A highlight from July to October is the Manta Rays!

Hiva Oa

Located about 1,184 km northeast of Tahiti, flights to Hiva Oa take about 3 hours and 20 minutes from Tahiti. The island is famous for being the final resting place of the French painter Paul Gauguin and the Belgian singer and poet Jacques Brel. Located on the side of the Calvary cemetery, with views across the bay below, the graves are a pilgrimage for many visitors to this remote island.

Those that make the journey are rewarded with two small but informative museums about each of these famous residents. The Gauguin Museum displays copies of his work and several items related to the painter’s stay during the beginning of the 20th century.

Like all Marquesan islands, Hiva Oa’s fauna and flora are varied, exotic, and magnificent! If you’re looking for wild, untamed landscape and breathtaking scenery with rich cultural and artistic heritage, Hiva Oa is definitively an island to visit.

Huahine

Wild and enticing, Huahine is often referred to as the Garden of Eden due to its lush vegetation, abundance of tropical fruit trees, untouched beaches and idyllic secluded lagoon waters.

The island is just a 40-minute flight from Tahiti , making it the perfect island getaway. Huahine also houses some of the most extensive and best preserved archaeological remains in French Polynesia. With only eight small villages scattered around island, tourists are welcomed with a smile and genuine kindness. The island is often a port of call for passing sailboats given her luminous blue lagoon. Each October Huahine hosts the departure of Tahiti’s largest and most prestigious outrigger canoe race, the Hawaiki Nui and her population increases dramatically!

We love that there is so much to do on Huahine! You can hire a car and drive around the island, horse ride along the beach, cycle into the village centre, swim, snorkel, surf some of the best waves in Tahiti, dive, picnic on heavenly lagoon motus, visit the authentic village markets, go fishing, be baffled by the sacred blue eyed eels, discover legendary sites or simply do nothing at all and soak up the tiare scented air and watch the stunning island sunsets. All of this in a picture perfect setting!

Huahine will suit those travellers looking to connect with the Tahiti of old, where locals wave and smile when you pass them and where life moves to a slower pace. With a range of both hotels and pensions on the island, all accommodation preferences can be met and you can be as connected or as remote as you please. Huahine is quite simply a utopia!

Nuku Hiva

Nuku Hiva is the largest of the six inhabited islands that form the Marquesas archipelago.

These islands are some of the most remote islands in the world, and are very different from the Society Islands’ calm lagoons with their surrounding reefs. In Nuku Hiva sheer cliffs drop off in to the rough and wild vast ocean.

Nuku Hiva is situated 1400km from the island of Tahiti. Flights to the island take three and a half hours from Tahiti, or alternatively you can arrive by boat on the passenger/cargo vessel, the Aranui 3.

Nuku Hiva was formed by two volcanoes and is an abundance of majestic rocky shores, calm pristine bays, spectacular waterfalls, lush valleys and breathtaking basalt peaks.

Raiatea

Raiatea is the second largest island in French Polynesia and is located a quick 40 minute flight to the northeast of Tahiti island. Regarded as French Polynesia’s most sacred island, Raiatea is full of legends and was the cultural, religious and royal heart of ancient Polynesia. The legends create a mysterious and magical atmosphere in many places on the island. The ancient Marae, Taputapuatea is the largest in Polynesia.

The island is also full of natural wonders with many waterfalls, lush valleys and surrounding mountains, and Raiatea is home to one of the world’s rarest plants, the Tiare Apetahi, found high in the mountains. You will also find Tahiti’s only navigable river, the Faaroa on Raiatea. The island shares her turquoise lagoon with Taha’a allowing you to easily experience the two islands. Raiatea is the sailing hub of The Islands of Tahiti and you will find many yacht charter bases in Uturoa, the island’s main town.

We love the powerful cultural history of this island as well as her preserved natural beauty. Whilst tourism is present on the island, it is mainly small hotels and family pensions so you still have that sense of solitude.

Raiatea will suit those travellers looking for a cultural discovery as well as an accessible lagoon playground. She offers a range of both land and nautical activities. We recommend you combine a stay on Raiatea island with a stay on Taha’a, her sister island, to create the perfect beach and culture holiday!

Rangiroa

350km north east of the island of Tahiti lies the largest atoll in French Polynesia, Rangiroa. It is the second largest atoll in the world with more than 240 motus in the lagoon and is so large you can fit the entire island of Tahiti in the middle of it! Flights to Rangiroa take just an hour from Tahiti.

Rangiroa is the most visited atoll of the Tuamotu archipelago. Thanks to its infinite lagoon, Rangiroa offers a good range of water activities, from line or drag fishing, to visiting black pearl farms or fish parks. Rangiroa is not only blessed with divine beaches and a turquoise lagoon but it has a vibrant underwater world and is a mecca for the world’s divers.

Pensions are in abundance in Rangiroa and are a great way to connect to the locals and benefit from their inside knowledge of the best places to visit! If you are looking for touch of luxury then the Kia Ora Resort enjoys a breathtaking location lagoon-side including Overwater Bungalows.

We love that Rangiroa’s lagoon is teeming with marine life, the diversity is astounding! It is not uncommon on a snorkelling tour in the Tiputa pass to see dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, rays, and of course schools and schools of fish!

Rangiroa will suit those travellers who love diving and snorkelling as it offers some of the best diving in the world with lagoon, pass, reef and ocean drop off dive sites. It is also a perfect destination for those seeking a turquoise lagoon a little more off the beaten track than the Society Islands.

Taha'a

Often called the Vanilla Island, Taha’a is also known as Raiatea’s sister island, as they both share the same lagoon.

Taha’a is located 230km to the west of Tahiti and flights to Taha’a actually land on Raiatea. You are then transferred by boat to the nearby island of Taha’a.

Vanilla growing is the main activity on Taha’a and wherever you go, to the top of Mount Ohiri, around the winding island road or in to secluded bays, the sweet aroma of vanilla lingers heavily in the air. Taha’a produces more than 80% of Tahiti’s world famous vanilla.

We love the picturesque sandy islet motus scattered around Taha’a’s stunning lagoon. There are an array of pensions with white sand beaches and turquoise lagoon waters lapping at their bungalows! Taha’a is also home to the stunning five star Relais & Chateau Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa.

Taha’a will suit those travellers looking for an island that has retained its authentic charm. Her attraction is her motus and the turquoise waters that surround them. The lagoon is teeming with marine life and snorkellers will revel in the clear and warm lagoon waters. Taha’a is a giant aquarium and you will delight in the abundance of fish, sharks, eels and coral on display.

Tetiaroa

Tetiaroa is located 60 km northeast of the island of Tahiti and is surrounded on all sides by the great blue expanse of the South Pacific.

Tetiaroa is completely private with its own airfield. It is accessible by a short flight of approximately 20 minutes from a private terminal at Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport. The island was purchased by Marlon Brando in 1966 and houses the luxury The Brando resort. It is surrounded by a vibrant reef that is impenetrable to marine navigation.

Tetiaroa is an atoll composed of twelve separate sandly islets, motus and is a haven for marine and birdlife.

  • Onetahi. The Brando Resort is located on the island that was once the favoured retreat of Tahitian royalty.
  • Honuea. Venture the short distance by outrigger canoe to explore white-sand beaches and a shallow, crystalline lagoon.
  • Tiaraunu. The largest of the motus with an abundance of coconut palms.
  • Tauini, Tauroa & Hiraanae. The northernmost cluster of motus are separated only by little hoa (breaks in the coral reef) and the location of lemon shark nurseries.
  • Oroatera. An island paradise with spectacular beaches and a lagoon along with a seahorse-shaped pond which spawned an ancient legend.
  • Aie. The smallest of the 12 motus.
  • Tahuna Iti & Tahuna Rahi. A sanctuary for birds such as red-breasted black frigates, phaetons, brown gannets, and other petrels.
  • Reiono. The only motu that has preserved its primitive, original rain forest. Reiono also serves as the wilderness home for Kaveu (coconut crabs).
  • Rimatuu. The first of these motus to be inhabited by Europeans, Rimatuu was once a coconut plantation islet with its own village and dock.

The highest points of all of the motus are the tops of the coconut trees!

We love the pristine waters and thriving natural habitat of Tetiaroa. It is not only home to the fabulously chic The Brando resort but it is a popular day tripping destination, with a variety of companies in Tahiti offering 1 or 2 day Catamaran trips to the island. Day trippers do not have access to the Brando resort and indeed visit distant motus away from the private resort areas.

Tetiaroa will suit those travellers staying on the island of Tahiti and looking to experience a pristine paradise atoll for the day or of course those travellers looking for the ultimate in five star luxury on offer at the private resort, The Brando.

Tikehau

Tikehau is located 300 km north east of the island of Tahiti and flights to Tikehau take just 55 minutes from Tahiti.

Tikehau is one of the most beautiful atolls in French Polynesia, it forms an almost unbroken circle, 26 kilometres across, creating a unique ecosystem and the highest concentration of fish of all the atolls. It attracts the majestic Manta Rays who come to the lagoon waters to be cleaned by the little cleaner fish!

Tikehau also had a fabulous snorkelling coral garden site as well as many fabulous dive sites where you will see reef sharks, barracudas, dolphins, sea turtles and many more species.

The pink sand beaches take in many bird colonies that have sought refuge in the small islands scattered in the lagoon, including the aptly named Island of Birds, well known for its red-footed gannets and brown noddies.

Tikehau will offer you the opportunity to enjoy the traditional Polynesian way of life, exploring the lagoon, the Island of Birds or the villages, by kayak, foot, bicycle, or sailboat.