French Polynesia - Tahiti
French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France, comprises more than 100 islands in the South Pacific, stretching for more than 2,000km. Divided into the Austral, Gambier, Marquesas, Society and Tuamotu archipelagos, they’re known for their coral-fringed lagoons and over-the-water bungalow hotels. Island features include white- and black-sand beaches, mountains, rugged backcountry and towering waterfalls.
Here, in The Islands of Tahiti, you will find the freedom and remoteness to reconnect with your loved ones and reconnect with our pristine natural world. Whether you come here for relaxation or to explore, you will feel the life force flow through everything, we call it Mana.
Reconnect, revive and rediscover
From colourful reefs to dramatic mountains, secluded beaches and welcoming culture, you will find what you need to revive your senses and rediscover your spirit of adventure.
The Tahitian Islands
Located in the South Pacific Ocean, The Islands of Tahiti are a mythical destination. The mention of Tahiti calls to mind visions of an idyllic island paradise and once you visit, you’ll discover that your imagination isn’t too off the mark. Secluded, tropical and lush, these islands are a universe where dreams meet reality. Read on to learn more about each of the unique islands of French Polynesia. Check out our interactive map of Tahiti’s islands, and discover which the 118 islands of best suits your vacation dreams.
The Society Islands include the country’s main and largest island, Tahiti, her enchanting sister island, Moorea, Marlon Brando’s Tetiaroa paradise atoll, and multiple other world-class islands in between. No one can forget perhaps the most famous of the Society Islands, Bora Bora, known for its blue lagoon surrounded by coral reefs. These windward islands are a vacationer’s tropical dream!
Where is Tahiti, the remote paradise? Crowned by a circle of majestic peaks, the Island of Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia, towers over the South Pacific ocean like a proud and royal Queen. The mountainous interior of Tahiti Island is adorned with mystical valleys, clear streams, and high waterfalls. Most of the island’s population resides near the shore, leaving the interior of the island feeling almost untouched and ancient, despite such proximity to the bustling capital of Papeete. Papeete, meaning “water basket,” was once a gathering place where Tahitians came to fill their calabashes with fresh water. Now, Papeete, the touchstone of this island nation, boasts world-class Tahiti resorts, hotels, spas, fine dining and unique restaurants, nightclubs, vibrant markets, museums, pearl shops, and boutiques.
Tahiti… Just the word…
The world’s definition of paradise.
Top Reasons to Visit Tahiti
A Lively Culture
The largest and most lively of The Islands of Tahiti, known simply as Tahiti, lives at the pace of Tahitian culture, music and dance. Attend an enchanting Tahitian dance show called ‘ori Tahiti, or visit a contemporary art exhibition, an unusual play, or a traditional or modern concert in Papeete. Tahiti – and especially Papeete, Tahiti – provide the opportunity to discover artistic expression of all kinds.
An Authentic Tahitian Experience
Tahiti is also famous for its hospitality and sweet, relaxed atmosphere where everyone is welcome. The first thing visitors will notice is that the spontaneous and sincere friendliness of Tahitians is hard to match. Here, people smile all the time and often take the time to share a piece of advice, information, a map of Tahiti, or a story. Visitors will instantly feel comfortable living at the pace of Tahitian island life.
Tahiti Nature and Activities
As you travel throughout the islands of French Polynesia and the Tahitian Islands, the island of Tahiti slowly unveils its beauty. It can be explored in many different ways: black sand beaches on the East coast, white sand beaches on the West coast, diving, beginner’s and legendary surf spots, mountainous peaks within desert lush valleys, at a luxurious Tahiti resort, or the historic site of Papeete’s colorful market and, oh, so much more.
Some places you can feel. They cast their spell on you immediately. This is Tetiaroa.
A haven for birds, sea turtles and all kinds of marine life, Tetiaroa is treasured among Tahitians who know it as a sacred place. So sacred, that at one time the coconut-dotted white sand beaches and crystalline lagoon of this uninhabited atoll was an exclusive getaway for Tahitian royalty. It’s not surprising that actor Marlon Brando fell under its spell during the filming of “Mutiny on the Bounty” in 1960 and later went on to become its owner. Now you can follow in the wake of kings and Hollywood royalty with a quick 15-minute private charter from Tahiti or Moorea.
Among the islets, Tahuna Iti, the Birds’ Island, is a national reserve for seabirds, frigates, sterns, phaetons (straw tails), brown gannets and other petrels.
Teti’aroa Island’s Royal Past
The atoll of Teti’aroa was a special place for Polynesian royalty in French Polynesia. The island was a place they could enjoy themselves with music, dance, fishing, celebration and deep relaxation. While Tahiti’s young chiefs (ma’ohi) engaged in archery tournaments and sharpened their fighting skills, the princesses (arii vahine) relaxed in the deep shadows of the coconut trees. Teti’aroa was the sacred pleasure garden of the Tahitian high chiefs.
The Marlon Brando Island
Captivated by the Polynesian way of life, Marlon Brando vowed to find a way to own this piece of paradise and accomplished his dream in 1967 of leasing Teti’aroa. Brando visited Teti’aroa whenever he could, often spending months at a time on the island. Brando even went so far as to design the so-called Tetiaroa Village Hotel, consisting of an airstrip and a few rustic cottages for visitors searching for an adventure. Now you can follow in the wake of kings and Hollywood royalty with a quick 15-minute private charter from Tahiti or Bora Bora.
Top Reasons to Visit Tetiaroa Island
An Unforgettable Atoll, A Stone’s Throw Away From Tahiti
With limited ways to get to this island, the best method is to join a weekend cruise departing from Papeete to access this fragile but preserved island, which serves as a bird sanctuary. The island is looking to be granted a special status of a natural reserve in order to regulate access and promote best practices for a sustainable and responsible approach of excursions.
Tetiaroa – A Bird Sanctuary
Tetiaroa shelters one of the largest colony of birds in The Islands of Tahiti. White terns, brown boobies, frigate birds, red-tailed tropic birds and the amazing great crested birds – whose colony is the only one in the Windward Islands – all coexist in Tetiaroa. Birds come to breed in this uninhabited haven, and their environment has to be respected and preserved in all possible ways.
The Brando: A New High-End Eco-Hotel
Launched in 2014 on Motu Onetahi, The Brando Restort is operated by Pacific Beachcomber and is setting new standards for luxury accommodations in The Islands of Tahiti. It is unique in all respects and relies entirely on renewable energy with solar panels and coconut oil. Seawater air conditioning (SWAC) is a key element by producing cold air with ocean water from 3,150 ft. deep (960 meters). Nearly invisible from the sea, the 35 villas are beautifully integrated with the magnificent landscape.
A scientific research eco-station is contributing to the research, conversation and education related to Tetiaroa and its incredible biodiversity. A desalination plant will provide the resort with fresh water, while rainwater is collected from the technical area buildings. The resort is confident that it will soon obtain LEED platinum certification, the highest accolade of this most respected program for assessing the environmental impact of new constructions. The other islets remain undeveloped and are serving as a field for scientific observation and data collection.
In addition to the ecological features of the Brando Resort, guests get to experience a high level of luxury. The Varua Te Ora Polynesian Spa is a unique haven of serenity. Bob’s Bar offers food and drink with exceptional lagoon and ocean views.
Moorea rises magically out of the ocean like a cathedral. High, sharp, inspiring green spires crowned by clouds. Poetic threads of waterfalls tumble down fern-softened cliffs. Peaceful meadows flanked by pinnacles of emerald green will renew your belief in the majesty of nature, and Moorea’s bright blue lagoon will bring to life the South Seas idyll of your dreams and Moorea vacation. Pastel-painted houses, surrounded by gardens of hibiscus and birds of paradise, circle the island in a necklace of happy, simple villages that will elevate your senses and remind you that this is what life is all about. La vie heureuse, as they say in Tahiti, a happy life. One of the most memorable locations in The Islands of Tahiti, Moorea’s beauty is unforgettable.
Where is Moorea Located?
Moorea is a part of the Society Islands. Moorea is located 11 miles Northwest of the island of Tahiti. Moorea is accessible by ferry or short plane ride from Papeete. While maintaining a small island feel and bigger than life personality, a Moorea vacation is ideal for any couple or family at any of its small island overwater bungalows or international resorts.
Top Reasons to Visit Moorea: It’s A Natural Playground
Nestled in the quiet Lagoon, Moorea with its diverse coral reefs, and annual trade winds from April to October, allow for a variety of activities, from outrigger canoeing to paddle boarding, kiteboarding, water skiing and even surfing around some of the passes. Moorea, one of the 114 Islands of French Polynesia, is a haven for divers who instantly fall in love with the varied coral reef ecosystem and the colorful mix of marine life. While scuba diving or snorkeling, you might encounter stingrays, sharks and marine turtles in a clear lagoon sparkling with different shades of blue. On the mountainside of Moorea’s sharp landscape eight summits featuring a magnificent ancient volcanic crater which has now become a lush valley. It is the perfect area for hiking, horseback riding, quad biking or four-wheeling to explore the natural beauty Moorea has to offer.
Top things to do in the island of Moorea:
Experience an overwater bungalow.
Have an authentic Tahitian experience at Tiki Village
Play in the white sandy beaches of Moorea
Snorkel the coral reefs off the island of Moorea
Adventure in the lush valley’s of the Moorea hills – perfect for hiking, riding, quading or biking
The French Polynesian Charm And Ambiance
Colorful, flowered and radiant, the island of Moorea is a pleasure for all the senses. Stroll luxuriously between gardens and white sand beaches, myriad flowers and pineapple plantations or watch fishermen on their outrigger canoe or to listen to the sound of the ‘ukulele sitting under a purau tree (Hibiscus tiliaceus). You’ll relish these magical moments and this unmatched world of enchantment that Moorea has to offer.
A Source Of Polynesian Inspiration
Many artists live on the island of Moorea. Painters, carvers, jewelers and Polynesian tattoo artists have settled down on this island and take their time to capture the island’s beauty and serenity and find the inspiration to create their art.
Huahine casts a spell over you from the moment you arrive. Only a 40-minute flight from the island of Tahiti, the enchanted Huahine, with its lush forests, untamed landscape and quaint villages can feel like the Garden of Eden. Huahine is one of The Islands of Tahiti’s best-kept secrets, a place where you can live like a local. A deep, crystal-clear lagoon surrounds the two islands that comprise Huahine, while magnificent bays and white sand beaches add drama to the experience.
Relatively unchanged by the modern world, Huahine Island offers the slower, more tranquil pace of old French Polynesia. With only eight small villages scattered across the island, the few residents welcome visitors with great kindness. Not surprisingly, this fertile world offers a rich soil providing the local farmers a bountiful harvest of vanilla, melons and bananas.
Top Reasons to Visit Huahine
Charm Meets Seclusion
Also commonly referred to as the “secret island,” the “authentic island” and the “secluded island,” many charming adjectives come to mind when mentioning Huahine, and for obvious reasons. The island is a delicious cocktail of Polynesian sceneries and ambiance. Find natural beauty, experience intense encounters with the population, explore the infinite possibilities for adventure and relaxation, alike. Huahine is an island “to live,” an island “to feel.” The famous local singer and painter Bobby Holcomb has chosen this small piece of land where joy and smiles are always around.
Huahine Nui, Huahine Iti And Mārō’ē Bay
Huahine is made up of two main islands that are surrounded by several motu. Huahine Nui (Big Huahine) lies to the north, Huahine Iti (Little Huahine) to the south and Mārō’ē Bay resting between the two islands. A bridge between the islands connects the islands’ eight villages.
Huahine’s Cultural History And Legacy
The village of Maeva, northeast of Fare, is located close to the largest of the two lagoons, called Fa’una Nui. The village is famous for its fish farming techniques that use V-shaped stone fish traps, an ancestral legacy that is still used today.
Maeva is also home to another French Polynesian cultural site: Marae of Maeva and The Fare Pōte’e Maeva Huahine. Spaces dedicated to social and religious ancient Polynesian ceremonial activities are known as Marae. The site protects the rich history of a marae with an adjacent educational museum set up under a fare pōte’e next door. A fare pōte’e is a house where local knowledge, sacred traditions and rituals were taught and used to exhibit objects and other remnants found during the various archeological digs, including paddles and axe blades, fish teeth, pendants, pestles and tattoo combs.
Things To Do On Huahine
After learning about the history of the South Pacific, Society Islands and Polynesians, take advantage of the many things to do on Huahine. It’s easy to fill up your trip itinerary with adventure and sightseeing on Huahine. A hike to the summit of Mount Pohue Rahi leads you through a wilderness abundant with wildflowers and pine trees and, of course, stunning views from the summit. (Look closely to see Bora Bora off in the distance.) Take an unforgettable sunset beach horseback ride with your traveling companions. Savor the aromas of a Tahitian vanilla plantation tour. Ride through the lush vegetation on a 4×4 off-road tour.
Sacred Blue-Eyed Eels
One of Huahine’s most famous attractions can be seen from a bridge that crosses a stream in the village of Faie. From the bridge, you’ll be able to see the Sacred Blue Eyed Eels, deemed sacred by local mythology. The Polynesian long-finned freshwater eels have incredibly blue eyes that almost glow in the water and range in size from four to six feet in length. The eels are quite accustomed to being hand-fed mackerel from guides and tourists on a daily basis.
Water Activities On Huahine
Water activities abound around Huahine island. The simplest thing is to savor the beautiful white sand Huahine beaches. The beach along Avea Bay near Hotel Le Mahana is a gorgeous stretch of white sand, lined with coconut palms on the southern tip of Huahine Iti. For surfers, the Fitii break on the western shores of Huahine Nui has consistent waves. Jet skis are a great way to explore the lagoon’s vast stretches. Snorkeling is ideal for exploring the underwater world of reef walls, fish caves and coral gardens. Stay above the water and enjoy an outrigger canoe adventure.
You don’t have to get wet to enjoy the marine life of Huahine. Go deep-sea fishing, take a lagoon boat tour, visit a pearl farm or experience a French Polynesian sunset aboard a sailboat.
How To Get To Huahine
Most Huahine travel begins with a flight to the Huahine airport. The island’s airport is located on the north shore of Huahine Nui. Air Tahiti services the island with regular flights from nearby islands Bora Bora, Moorea and Raiatea plus Papeete. There’s no shortage of ways to travel around Huahine. Choices include taxis, public transit, rental car, bicycle, motorboats and sailboats.
The heartbeat of The Islands of Tahiti emanates from a special place in Raiatea, the sacred Taputapuatea marae. The expansion of Polynesians throughout the Pacific began on Raiatea from this exact site. After offering blessings through sacred ceremonies and celebrations, outriggers with original settlers ventured north to Hawaii and west to New Zealand. Raiatea, meaning “faraway heaven” and “sky with soft light,” was first named Havai’i as is considered the homeland of the ancient Polynesians. Recognized as the most sacred island in the region, the green-carpeted mountains rise to the cloud-capped peak of the celebrated Mt. Temehani.
Top Reasons to Visit Raiatea, French Polynesia
The Cradle Of Polynesian Culture
Formerly named Hava’i, Raiatea is known as the gods’ cradle, hosting archeological treasures (marae, petroglyphs…) and eons of history and culture. As the first Polynesian island to be populated, Raiatea shelters the most spectacular and first international marae of the Polynesian triangle, called Taputapuatea. This is where inauguration ceremonies, political alliances and international meetings would take place in ancient times. The site was taboo and was the headquarters of religious and political powers of the Polynesian region. These days, communities of Hawaii, New Zealand and Cook Islands still meet at this pilgrimage venue, which they consider as the home of their sacred culture.
A Sailing Paradise
Raiatea is the top yachting location in The Islands of Tahiti. Most charter companies and marinas have chosen to settle around Raiatea. The island hosts a large number of moorings, bays (deep and calm) in a pristine and amazing environment (volcano craters, waterfalls). The sailing conditions are excellent. It is a pleasure cruising to the other peaceful Leeward Islands, all as beautiful inside or outside the lagoon.
A Unique Natural Heritage
Raiatea is an incredible natural source of interest for scientists and nature lovers due to its rare flora and fauna species. Mount Temehani shelters the tiare ‘apetahi (and about 30 other endemic plants), a flower found nowhere else in the world. It has become the symbol for Raiatea. This half-circle white and delicate flower only blooms at dawn.
Raiatea also shelters the only navigable river in French Polynesia. Go on an unusual outrigger canoe ride in the heart of a dense tropical forest of purau, bamboos and māpē (Inocarpus fagiferus). Legend says that the river would have been the departure point of all Polynesian migrations to Hawaii and New Zealand.
Life slows down on Taha’a island. This charming and quiet island sweeps you deep into the typical Polynesians’ easy going life. Tiny motu with luminous white sand beaches surround the flower-shaped island with a soft mountain rising from the calm waters of a lagoon.
Vanilla-scented air wafts on breezes that pour down the hillsides from the island’s many vanilla farms, and those gentle aromas ride the ocean breezes proclaiming the island’s soul long before you can see it on the horizon.
The island of Taha’a is captivating. Slanted palm trees rise above pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and overwater bungalows. Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa and Vahine Island Island Resorts & Spa are among the finest resorts in The Islands of Tahiti.
Top Reasons to Visit Taha’a Island
The Authentic Charm Of Taha’a
In Taha’a, a quiet and secluded island, time seems to have stopped. When walking along the island’s trails, travelers can discover verdant vegetation and small villages hugging the slopes. No one rushes on this relaxed island, so take the time to stop by a pearl farm or sit under a majestic old tree and savor the sweet scent of the “Vallée de la Vanille”.
Taha’a, The Vanilla Island
What makes the island of Taha’a truly remarkable is vanilla. Polynesian vanilla is known throughout the world for its unique flavor, and Taha’a is the center of production. More than 70% of all vanilla in French Polynesia comes from this island.
Taha’a vanilla plantations welcome guests to explore the island’s treasured orchid. Visitors will enjoy the sampling of vanilla tahitensis, a rare and precious vanilla that tastes like paradise. To develop the exquisite spice, a certain artistic know-how is needed. It is an ability that has been gained over time and with considerable experience. Much like cautious alchemists, experts spend several months pampering their Polynesian vanilla until the magic starts to happen.
Discovering the secrets of Polynesian vanilla in its natural environment will make you fall in love with Taha’a even more.
A Big Fish Tank
Feel like Robinson Crusoe, lying on the fine sand dotted with lovely palm trees, facing the Taha’a motu with crystal-clear water. The scenery in and out of the crystal-clear waters is perfect.
Snorkelers gravitate to the coral gardens, a narrow channel from the ocean barrier coral reef into the inner lagoon. This is the ultimate living aquarium experience!
Just a meter below the water’s surface lives a world full of all types of corals and an extensive range of fish call this reef home. Sea anemone, clownfish, octopus, moray eels, stingrays, butterflyfish and blacktip sharks are just the start.
It’s not just beautiful, it is relaxing. The current moving from the ocean to the inner lagoon does the work for you so you can concentrate on soaking up the dazzling views.
How to Get to Taha’a
The charm of Taha’a begins with embracing a simpler way of reaching the island – by boat. With no airport on Taha’a island, visitors rely on shuttle boats, outrigger or even seaplanes and helicopters from neighboring Raiatea to reach their final destination. Air Tahiti is among the carriers that service the Raiatea airport. No matter how you get to Taha’a, you’ll be treated to a dramatic view of Bora Bora just a short distance away.
Modern Life on the Motus
The reef islets that surround the Taha’a lagoon, known as motus, embody everything serene about life in the South Pacific. The motus serve to protect the lagoon, provide shade under a coconut tree, provide a sandy beach to rest and provide the calm waters for overwater bungalows at an island resort and spa. Taha’a is home to a few of these motu resorts and other Taha’a hotels that epitomize Polynesian hospitality.
Romance. The island of Bora Bora rises from the velvet blues of the deep water up through the softer hues of the lagoon and into the air that surrounds the island. Its touch of the sea breeze tingles the skin. Its power fills each beat of the heart. Bora Bora is located a brief 50-minute flight from The Islands of Tahiti or Moorea. Bora Bora, with a lagoon of turquoise waters resembling an artist’s palette of bright blues and greens, will make you feel love at first sight. Romantics from around the world appreciate Bora Bora, where the lush tropical slopes and valleys of Mount Otemanu blossom with hibiscus, while palm-covered motu circle the illuminated lagoon like a delicate pearl necklace from the islands of French Polynesia.
The perfect white-sand Bora Bora beaches leading to Matira Point give way to blue waters where tropical-colored fish animate the coral gardens and giant manta rays glide leisurely past. This south pacific island could easily be defined as the center of the romantic universe, where luxury resorts and spas dot the island with overwater bungalows, thatched-roof villas, and a fabled ambiance. Simply put, Bora Bora is one of the most beautiful islands in the world.
Where Is Bora Bora Located?
Bora Bora is located on a dormant volcano island, set on one of the most beautiful and crystal-clear lagoons in the world, colored in a million shades of blue. Known for gorgeous luxury resorts and numerous adventurous activities, it is one of the northwestern islands that make up The Islands of Tahiti. The vast motu of Bora Bora’s white-sand beaches lined with coconut trees encircle the emerald lagoon that’s populated with myriad fish and multi-colored corals. The tallest point is the breathtaking Mount Otemanu at Bora Bora’s center. It’s easy to understand why this little 15 square mile island is revered as one of the most intimate and idyllic vacation destinations. Every 50 minutes, flights to Bora Bora from Papeete and Moorea are available through Air Tahiti for those looking to island-hop.
An Overwater Bora Bora Bungalow Paradise
Bora Bora’s lagoon is an underwater world that hosts manta rays, sharks, gentle Napoleon wrasses, and other marine life which will welcome you while scuba diving, helmet diving or viewing from a glass-bottom boat. There are many Bora Bora activities and opportunities to explore the lagoon, the motu, and the ocean. Options include – but aren’t limited to – fishing, cruises, jet skiing, kiteboarding, paddle boarding, outrigger canoe rides, kayaking, island tours and more. Imagine catching a delicious tuna for dinner, paddling on a stand-up paddleboard to a private motu, having a decadent and fresh seafood lunch waterside, or snorkeling up-close and personal with hundreds of colorful marine animals. Those who love an adrenaline rush can enjoy wakeboarding or tubing on the crystal waters, circling the coastline on a jet ski, or viewing the lagoon from a parasail, while those who love to lounge have a cocktail at the renowned Bloody Mary’s, or enjoy appetizers on a sunset cruise. So don’t forget about taking a four-wheeler, going for a hike or taking it all in from the air in an unforgettable helicopter tour.
Watch the vibrant sunset over a deep blue horizon while you relax on the warm white sand of Matira Beach, one of the most popular yet secluded public beaches on the island of Bora Bora. Follow the beach until Matira Point to see an other-worldly view of rolling green bluffs and tropical plants. A wonderful place to swim, Matira Beach boasts warm, shallow waters that are perfect for a leisurely day of snorkeling. Don’t miss a carefree experience where time stands still along the azure Matira Beach shoreline during your Bora Bora vacation.
What if the most romantic atoll in the world was heart-shaped and located just a few short miles from Bora Bora? Welcome to the island of “Pere,” goddess of fire and passion, a place so untouched and pristine that visiting it is a privilege.
Located 10 miles North of Bora Bora, the islet of Tupai, viewed from the sky, features a heart. It hosts a double lagoon and motu covered with coconut trees. Many birds have chosen to live on the island and sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach from November onward.
Tupai Island Excursions
Tupai has no residents and, therefore, no accommodations. But, if you’re up for a few hours on a romantic, deserted island, you can take a short visit to raise a glass of champagne or celebrate your wedding surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
Things to Do on Tupai Island
Heart-shaped Tupai is one of The Island of Tahiti’s most romantic locations. A deserted island with white sand beaches, infinite shades of blue and the beauty of pristine nature makes it easy to be transported to another place with someone special. Tupai is a popular choice to be the perfect backdrop for a wedding or engagement.
Wildlife on Tupai
Tupai Island abounds with wildlife who are drawn to the lush vegetation and calm waters of the uninhabited atoll. A large coral reef encloses a shallow sandy lagoon surrounded by long, wooded motus. In November, several species of birds and sea turtles lay eggs on the beach. Humpback whales also feel particularly at home in Tupai. From August to November, the whales come to the waters around the island to give birth and nurse their babies.
Traveling to Tupai Island
As with most deserted islands, traveling to Tupai Island can be a challenge. Visitors to The Islands of Tahiti had just the ability to soar above this romantically shaped island by airplane for years. Travel to the island, and not just above it, has become easier with charter companies operating boat excursions, airplane and helicopter flights from Bora Bora. Some operators include helicopter rides that land on the island and allow passengers to disembark and experience Tupai Island for themselves. Most trips last just a few hours before returning.
There are places in The Islands of Tahiti where you can indulge in five-star, brand name resorts, and there are places where you can immerse yourself into the ebb and flow of daily life, experiencing this island nation like a local. If you’re looking for a place where the brand names are sand, sea, sun, time and tide, the Maupiti will wrap you in her arms and gently indulge you like a member of the family.
Located 195 miles (315 km) northwest of the island of Tahiti and 25 miles (40 km) West of Bora Bora, Maupiti is a tiny island (7 miles / 11 square kilometers), secluded and authentic. Maupiti will immediately seduce you with its splendor and quiet pace of life. Magnificent sceneries, endless white sandy beaches both on the island and the motu, legendary rocky peaks and ancient marae all blend nicely with the friendly and smiling style of the islanders.
Top Reasons to Visit Maupiti
A Small, Picturesque Island
The unmatched charm of Maupiti is reflected in every inhabitant and Tahitian Guesthouses where you will be introduced to the Polynesian lifestyle. Here, people mostly travel riding a bicycle or a canoe, which are marvelous ways to take your time and explore the beauties of the island. Stroll along the little road circling Maupiti or in the heart of the lagoon and enjoy every single moment of your time in The Islands of Tahiti.
The Cultural Wealth Of Maupiti
The combination of nature and mythical stories is extremely powerful on Maupiti just as it is throughout The Islands of Tahiti. Petroglyphs were carved on huge rocks in Haranae Valley while the legendary outrigger canoe of the demigod and hero, Hiro, lies in Vaitia Valley.
Motu Paeao, at the north end of the lagoon, is one of the oldest archeological sites in the Society Islands. In ancient Polynesian culture, Maupiti played a culturally prominent role, with leaders from other islands coming here for ritual purposes. Archeologists have discovered fishhooks and other artifacts dating back to about AD 850. Discoveries from this archaeological site have been an important factor in theories about the great Polynesian migration.
Views From High Above Maupiti Island
Climbing up Mount Teurafaatiu (elevation 1,250 ft. / 381 m.) offers an amazing panoramic view. The 3-hour self-guided challenging hike to the top of the volcano peak offers trekkers an unforgettable 360-degree view of the island, lagoon and motu. If you keep your eyes sharp, you’ll catch a view of Bora Bora and Raiatea in the distance and shadows of manta rays swimming in the lagoon.
Things To Do In Maupiti
Visitors to Maupiti often make it a day trip from Bora Bora. If you’re on a short schedule and looking for things to do in Maupiti, a visit to the superb and picturesque Terei’a beach should be on your list. The white sand beach with crystal clear water no more than a meter deep is as good as they get on the island. At low tide, the shallow water makes it easy to walk to Motu Auria just across the turquoise lagoon. Cliffs, caves and other local discoveries await visitors on the motu.
Manta Ray Cleaning Stations
Snorkelers in the Maupiti lagoon can spot large numbers of manta rays that gather near a “cleaning station.” Cleaning stations are where mantas come to have their skin, gills and teeth cleaned by wrasses, a much smaller fish that live throughout the lagoon in tiny scattered patches of coral. Mantas visit these cleaning stations regularly and can be seen there for hours, often standing in line for their turn. Snorkeling trips to visit the manta ray cleaning station can be arranged on the island through pensions and guesthouses.
How To Get To Maupiti
Maupiti Island is a part of the Leeward Islands, the western portion of the Society Islands, in French Polynesia. Transportation to Maupiti is available by plane or boat. Air Tahiti has regular service to Maupiti from Papeete, Bora Bora and Raiatea. Travel from cities in the United States like Los Angeles can require multiple legs and may take 24 or more hours of travel.
The Bora Bora to Maupiti ferry is also a great way to experience the open waters of French Polynesia. Whether you fly or take the boat from Bora Bora, Maupiti offers travelers lifelong memories of coral gardens, a wealth of culture and delicious dining options on Maupiti.
Accommodations on Maupiti reflect the island’s quiet pace of life and small-town feel. The island is home to welcoming pensions and guest houses and not five-star, big brand resorts. The modest accommodations are located throughout the island, typically housing four or five rooms and letting visitors feel more like they’re part of the family. The pensions also give an opportunity for travelers to interact with each other too.
Festivals and Events in The Islands of Tahiti
Discover Tahitian Events and Annual Festivals
The Islands of Tahiti boasts a wide variety of exciting events year-round. Many holidays and cultural events are an integral part of French Polynesian culture, like the traditional Heiva I Tahiti. Every summer this cultural event in French Polynesia lasts 2 months until July 14th, coming to a close on Bastille Day. It is preceded by a revered fire walk ceremony, Umu Ti, where one can witness a walk across hot, fiery stones in an ancient tradition. Papeete serves as a cultural center for the rest of the festival, where sports competitions, dance and food are abundant.
Don’t Miss Festivals in Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti and the Other Islands of Tahiti
Visitors who don’t want to miss the day celebrating Tahiti Tourism in September where tourists are treated to traditional crafts, shows, cuisine and more. Plan your trip in October to experience the popular canoeing race Hawaiiki Nui Va’a, that starts on the island of Huahine, and goes all the way to Raitea, Taha’a and Matira Bay on Bora Bora.
Endless Festivals And Events for Visitors and Locals
No matter what time of year you choose to plan your trip to The Islands of Tahiti, you will be able to experience the rich culture of French Polynesian festivals and events.
Cruises & Sailing in The Islands of Tahiti
Come Sail Away
To truly experience the awe of The Islands of Tahiti, nothing beats approach them from the sea. Feel the transition from the deep, untamed royal blues and rolling waves of the Pacific to the welcoming hues of a quiet, hushed lagoon. Follow the trail of flower-scented air that announces the land long before you see it. Then, watch these magical islands rise, enchanted, from the horizon. Pause to recognize the moment when you realize you’re not dreaming – these are The Islands of Tahiti.
Cruising and sailing turns to discovery in Tahitian waters where you can embark on a voyage to explore the mystical South Pacific islands and atolls. Here, the ports-of-call are uncrowded and charming, the ships are smaller and luxurious, the neon-blue waters within the lagoons are calm, and the ocean journey between the islands is short. On these voyages, each island stopover will become your next favorite idyll and unforgettable memory.
Best Tahiti Cruises
Tahiti cruises are all about discovering the Tahitian waters where you can embark on a voyage to explore these mystical South Pacific isles. Here, the ports-of-call are uncrowded and charming, the ships are smaller and luxurious, the neon-blue waters within the lagoons are calm, and the ocean journey between the islands is short. Cruises to Tahiti provide voyages where each island stopover will become your next favorite idyll and unforgettable memory.
Top Cruises to Tahiti
Paul Gauguin Cruises
The Paul Gauguin, historic and elegant 5 * ship, criss-crossed the Polynesian waters since 1998. Carrying its 332 passengers to inter-archipelago cruises, The Paul Gauguin has found the ideal recipe to satisfy them : Spacious and comfortable cabins, personalized service (2 crew members for 3 passengers), a cultural program with local flavors … and an almost unlimited range of activities And many privileges.
You haven’t seen Tahiti until you’ve seen it with Windstar Cruises. Under the billowing white sails of the 4-mastered Wind Spirit we visit one legendary Tahitian island after another. Go beyond the ordinary and experience dinner and fire dancers under the stars on a private motu dinner, swim, kayak and sail off the ship’s Watersports Platform, and chat to the Captain and the Officers on the Open Bridge. With just 148 guests, and 101 crew, spacious suites, sumptuous dining and highly personal, award-winning service, this is travel that’s 180 degrees from ordinary.
More than a means of transportation, you will live aboard an exceptional and shared adventures, learning the Polynesian lands and ancestors. As soon as you sail the Aranui 5, you will be completely immersed in Polynesian life for a 14-day adventure. This ship, baptized in December 2015, was designed to accommodate 254 passengers with 30 spacious, 40 nicely appointed standard cabins and a dormitory for 24 passengers.
Tuhaa Pae IV
An authentic cruise aboard a freight mix (freight and passengers), reliable and comfortable. Observe the embarkation and disembarkation of the freight to these remote islands for which the Tuhaa Pae IV is a real umbilical cord. He brought food and equipment and allowed the inhabitants to export their copra and their agricultural productions to the big island.
Embark on an unforgettable cruise to discover The Islands of Tahiti. Aboard a bespoke catamaran, this floating hotel offers a personalized trip voyage combining transportation, accommodations and culinary delights, as well as a wide range of activities to discover the diversity of our islands, with family, friends, and loved ones. Wake up to a new paradise every day.
Good reasons for choosing the sailing stay
• Tahiti is the romantic destination, with your children, or in a group of friends, you can rent just one cabin or the whole of the boat according to the stay you dream of.
• Whether you like an island rather than another, visit a pearl farm or a plantation of vanilla, a valley or a day lazing … you are free! Free from your movements, your rhythm, your itinerary.
• A professional crew You can choose to rent your boat with a crew. Or just a skipper, or a skipper and a hostess who will take care of the stewardship, the kitchen and the hygiene on board. They will be your guides, will tell you the places not to be missed ashore or on the lagoon and will be able to make you share their knowledge and experiences of the culture Polynesia
• Like at the hotel! From the furnished apartment to the luxury suite, there is on a boat all the comfort of your usual holiday places and sometimes even more. The nautical charter is a floating hotel within easy reach of everyone and for everyone’s enjoyment.
• Sea sickness ? No swell, no pitching, no rolling on the Polynesian lagoons! Protected by the coral reef, in an incomparable setting, you slip aboard your boat as on a lake, safely.
• What to do on land? Our preserved islands are full of treasures and offer several excursion possibilities. Each has its own identity, its history, its possibilities of meeting people. Visit the villages, markets, historical places, museums … discover the coral garden, go hiking, golf or horse riding … or enjoy a romantic evening while dining in a large hotel in Bora Bora or Taha’a
Sailing in the islands
Floating atop the water playground of the lagoons, each ship offers unending activities for couples and families. A sample of daily activities include jetskiing, windsurfing, waterskiing, parasailing, canoeing, diving, shark feeding, and snorkeling. Hop on a glass-bottom boat to explore a lagoon or even charter your own catamaran or powerboat for the day.
Surrounded by lush-green peaks, each island welcomes exploration by 4×4 safaris to dramatic overlooks, circle-island tours stopping off at fruit-tasting shops and historic sites, independent trips for shopping or walking through the villages, or guided hiking trips into the mountains for an overview of the land and ocean.
The Polynesian islands abound in sights, sounds, and experiences found nowhere else on earth and are easily discovered by cruise or yacht charter travelers. By day, live out your South Pacific fantasy when you anchor at a tiny motu for an afternoon of relaxation and fun. Or enjoy personalized tours of the historical and cultural sites hidden on each island. By night, enjoy the best Tahitian performers for elaborate and romantic displays of music and dance.
Checklist for the Perfect Sailing Experience:
Trade winds are predictable and weak to moderate most of the year.
Inter-island sailing is short and voyages can include multiple islands and atolls.
Virtually every island and atoll has an 80ºF (27°C) neon-blue lagoon.
Lagoons are calm and protected with many anchorages.
Passes are wide, have weaker currents, and feature beacon systems.
Supplies are easily found at island markets, marinas, shops, and food stands of fisherman and farmers.
Safety is a part of the islands’ ocean culture with a permanent VHF maritime radio channel, daily meteorological reports, emergency services and medical evacuations.
Onboard a Superyacht
As the first hub for Superyachts in the South Pacific, The Islands of Tahiti offer endless cruising grounds around their 118 islands.
With 1% of land versus 99% of ocean spread over a territory as wide as the continental United States or Western Europe, both sophistication and adventure await in one of the safest places on Earth where ocean conservation has been a governmental priority for over ten years.
Cruise beautiful lagoons through the natural deep passes of the various islands, discover the friendly local people and their love for their amazing Polynesian culture, dive and snorkel world class pristine spots, enjoy the finest dining with a touch of French and Tahitian cuisine in a high end resort, indulge yourself with a local spa treatment, shop for your preferred Tahitian cultured pearls and love the barefoot luxury of a private picnic on a desert white sandy beach… The Islands of Tahiti have it all and will evoke even more unique emotions never experienced before. Feel like you are a pioneer while enjoying all the comfort you would expect while cruising on a super yacht.
The Islands of Tahiti are full of land and sea treasures. Approaching the islands by ship or sailing vessel provides a sense of freedom, reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe in search of human and cultural terrestrial discovery. Cruising among the many diverse islands and atolls is an ideal way to discover The Islands of Tahiti. Many cruise lines offer various South Pacific itineries from Papeete.
With so many options for Tahiti activities, you can do as much or as little as you like. The Islands of Tahiti, officially known as French Polynesia, possess one of the most spectacularly beautiful and diverse environments on earth. Perfect for the adventurous types interested in hikes to any of the beautiful Tahiti waterfalls.
A mixture of high volcanic islands and low-lying atolls, these specks of land – 118 islands in all – are strewn across four million square km of the South Pacific. Jump in to truly experience the ocean and try your hand at Tahiti’s scuba diving. You might be lucky enough to see some Tahiti wildlife!