The biggest island in French Polynesia is less well-known than it deserves to be. Explore the luxuriant interior, majestic mountains, waterfalls and deep mysterious valleys. Discover the island’s rich cultural heritage and eventful history. Enjoy fine food, traditional entertainment, shopping, beautiful beaches and watersports of all kinds. Take time to get to know Tahiti.
A round island tour
You can either take a guided tour or rent a car and follow our suggested itinerary. Start with a look around the capital, Papeete and its cathedral and colorful market.
Then head for the museum of Tahiti et des îles. After your visit, go to the beach at PK18 to admire the view over Moorea and have a refreshing swim in the lagoon. Continue with a visit to the marae Ta’ata and marae Arahurahu, where you can feel the famous Polynesian mana. Don’t miss the Mara’a cave, where you can cool off before visiting the botanical garden close by.
If you like surfing, stop at PK0 on the peninsula, Tahiti Iti. The road comes to an end here anyway, and you can watch the surfers testing their skills on the mythical wave at Teahupoo, one of the most impressive waves in the world.
On the way back to Papeete on the wilder east coast, you’ll pass luxuriant velleys and magnificent waterfalls. Stop off at the historical Trou du souffleur blowhole, before heading to Venus Point. On the way, you can admire the surfers, just a few meters from the road. As the day comes to and end, take a stroll along the beach and admire the magnificent sunset.
Right in the center of Papeete, the market is an emblematic site. A vast, bubbling and colorful place where you can find all the gastronomic richness and diversity of The Islands of Tahiti. From fruit and vegetables, fresh fish and traditional dishes such as poisson cru, to firi firi doughnuts and fresh coconut juice in the snackbars. There are also stalls selling every type of Polynesian craftwork, from wooden sculptures to pareos. A visit to Papeete market is an immersion in the daily life of the inhabitants of Tahiti. On Sunday mornings you can buy everything you need for a traditional ma’a Tahiti (Tahitian meal). But you have to get up early – the market opens at 3,00am on Sundays!
The best way to explore the peninsula is by boat. Start with the legendary wave at Teahupoo, where surfing champions from all over the world gather each year to test their skills against ‘jaws’. Continue on to Fenua ‘Aihere (Bushland), a preserved natural site which is only accessible from the sea. Go ashore for a stroll through the dense vegetation and when you cross the forest of mape (Tahitian chestnut), you’ll come to an idyllic spot, perfect for a swim and a picnic. After lunch, you can explore the caves and waterfalls in this little corner of paradise. From August to October you might also be lucky enough to spot some humpback whales.
The island’s interior
For lovers of nature, Tahiti has a multitude of hiking trails suitable for all levels. We always recommend that you use the services of a professional guide. Not only will he ensure that you don’t get lost, he will also share with you some of the island’s fascinating tales and legends. As you pass through the forests, valleys and canyons, you’ll visit archeological remains and other vestiges of an ancient culture, giving an insight into the daily life of the early Polynesians. Hiking up some of the slopes, you’ll be able to enjoy truly magnificent views over the island and the ocean beyond.
There are numerous diving centers operating in the warm waters of Tahiti. Each one offers a variety of possibilities to suit all levels of diver. The dives take place next to dropoffs, where the fauna and flora is at its most diverse and concentrated. There are several sites where ships have been scuppered voluntarily to attract tropical fish and other species. In the White Valley, which is named after the white sand on the seabed, you can spend a magical moment swimming among the sharks.
If diving doesn’t appeal to you, take a 4×4 excursion on land, it’s an excellent way to discover Tahiti. You take the Traversière (cross-island road), which leads through lush vegetation to the center of the island. On the way the scenery is magnificent with waterfalls, valleys and majestic mountains. At lunchtime, you stop at the Relais de la Maroto, where the views are as superb as the food. After lunch, take a refreshing dip in the nearby river. Then it’s back on the trail to discover more beautiful sights and archeological sites.
Get a bird’s eye view
The surface area of Tahiti is 646 km2, so there’s a lot to see from up above. Thrill-seekers can take a free-fall parachute jump accompanied by professionals and admire the spectacular views as they descend for over five minutes. Not quite as high, but just as thrilling, a tandem paraglide with an instrutor holding the reins, leaves you free to enjoy the scenery from above. If you prefer flying rather than controlled falling, then you can take a helicopter flight for 30 minutes to discover the ups and downs of the mountains and the curving contours of Tahiti’s coastline.
Outrigger sailing canoe
For a sporting activity that is also part of Tahitian culture, spend a day on a traditional outrigger sailing canoe. Once the only means of getting from island to island, the ancient Polynesians had to navigate without the benefit of electronic equipment. During this day on the lagoon, you’ll learn some of the methods that they used to find their way around the vast Pacific Ocean.
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Go a little further
See our suggested itineraries
Let yourself be seduced by our holiday offers, where you’ll discover French Polynesia through its people, its wild nature, its priceless art of living and its islands with crystal-clear waters. Take advantage of a privileged location !
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