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Top 5 must-see travel spots in The Islands of Tahiti

28 January 2022• Written by Parisa Hashempour for Tahiti Tourisme

A visit to French Polynesia’s islands and atolls has earned a rightful place atop the bucket list of many a curious wanderer. Known for its postcard-perfect scenery and the famed Tahitian waterfalls, The Islands of Tahiti are jewels overflowing with unmissable sights.

From black sand beaches to deep lagoons and rocky, volcanic outcrops, there’s a lot to do and see in the Islands of Tahiti and the surrounding area. Here, we’ve picked the most exceptional locations across The Islands of Tahiti, so stop dreaming and start planning.

1. Dive at a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Fakavara

‘Fakavara’ meaning “beautiful” or “making things superb” in Tahitian, is the name of the second-largest atoll in French Polynesia. On land, it is a place where time seems to stand still. Small villages with bursting pink bougainvillaea-lined roads, brightly coloured churches, quaint homes and boulangeries all sit beside the crystal clear waters that make up this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Home to a long list of unique endemic species, the water is a protected environment where natural resources and human development work harmoniously together with the help of research, surveillance, training and local education. Visitors can bear witness to some of the remarkable wildlife that has been preserved here, perhaps during a diving trip where gigantic coral heads, vast schools of fish and sharks can be uncovered.

2. Catch a wave at Teahupoo

There are parts of the Tahitian peninsula (Tahiti Iti) where mother nature remains untouched. With beautiful waterfalls, natural swimming pools, hidden caves and towering cliffs, most of these treasures are only accessible by boat. However, those wanting to uncover more of this sacred land can do so through the network of lush forests and caves filled with Tahitian legends and lore. For a truly off-the-beaten-track trip, head to the southernmost edge of the peninsula to Teahupoo where you can experience the toe-curlingly large waves surfed by locals first-hand. Home to swells, seabeds and roaring winds, there is no doubt that this small corner of the earth is a true surfers' paradise – so much so that Teahupoo will host the 2024 Paris Olympics surfing competitions. With limited facilities, infrequent places to stay that are only accessible by car (and plenty of rocky roads along the way) it is a spot reserved for the adventurous traveller wanting an authentic view of Polynesian life – one where locals are more occupied with agriculture than with tourism. 

3. Indulge in Bora Bora’s 5-star resorts

In Bora Bora, a Polynesian pocket of luxurious resorts with straw-roofed bungalows hover above the lagoon’s edge while giant manta rays glide leisurely underneath. Bora Bora is a world-famous spot for unwinding in comfort – perhaps clinking a glass with a loved one at one of the island's secluded hotels. But there’s much more to do on this divine island that is a perfect mixture of a slow-paced sun-and-sand holiday with action-packed adventures.

Beyond the relaxing waterfront, two mountainous peaks rear up above the land at the island’s heart. Formed from an extinct volcano, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu are covered in lush forest and make for an unforgettable hike that ends with a breathtaking view of the sparkling lagoon below. Those wanting to get back to the lagoon post-hike can try out some of the island's Jetskis, paddleboards and kayaks for the ultimate active day out. 

4. Crave the culture of the Marquesas Islands

The Marquesas feel different from the rest of French Polynesia, and that's largely due to the small population, preserved history and six of the 12 islands being completely left in their natural state. Some of the best ways to unpick what these divine islands have to offer is by taking off on a awe-inspiring hike, a relaxing horseback ride or an energy-pumping 4x4 excursion. Along the way there is a wealth of archaeological remains and tiki statues dating from pre-European times to be found, as well as staggeringly beautiful trees and exotic flora and fauna. The inhabitants of the islands have a deep rooted and fascinating culture that brings together everything from cuisine and dances to language, arts and crafts. After a day spent learning the local legends and secrets, the magic of the Marquesas can be best felt at sundown in one of the many picture-perfect bays. The Bay of the Virgins, for example, is probably one of the most beautiful bays on Earth. 

5. Spot humpback whales at Rurutu

Set across a backdrop of rugged scenery, Rurutu is an island of silent, wild beauty far from the crowds. Unlike many of the Tahitian islands, Rurutu has no lagoon which means the surrounding waters are extremely deep. This makes it the perfect spot for whale watching and is why most visitors head to the island between July and October when humpback whales come close to the shore to mate and give birth in the safety of the Austral Archipelago. Spend an evening in Rurutu watching the sun go down and taking in the abundant natural beauty for memories that last a lifetime. 

To find out more about The Islands of Tahiti, the various sights and how best to plan a trip, visit the Tahiti Tourisme website by clicking here.

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