French Polynesia, a territory as vast as Europe, opens up an extraordinary journey for you. Tahiti, Bora Bora, Rangiroa, and other hidden paradises are waiting for you in Polynesia.
Islands not to be missed in Polynesia
Polynesia consists of 118 borehole islands divided into five archipelagos. For those who decide to visit the French islands for the first time, there will certainly be a dilemma which one to choose. Of course, everyone will find something to their liking (beaches, excursions, diving, Polynesian culture, etc.), but each island has its local flavor. Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of the main islands of Polynesia.
The island of Tahiti is a must for anyone traveling to French Polynesia, as it is where the international airport is located. Being the most populous island in the archipelago (184,000 inhabitants out of 280,000 in the whole of Polynesia), you will find everything you can wish for. In the city of Papeete, to be more precise, there are bars, restaurants, markets, and shops of all kinds. Make the most of it, because you won’t have the same opportunities on other islands!
Lovers of hiking and nature will be delighted with the discovery of Tahiti. If you like to swim in waterfalls, you will find your Eden here. Adventurers can climb Aoraki, the third highest mountain on the island (2066 meters).
You will also find several beaches in Tahiti (especially in Punta Venus), but you will like the more beautiful sandy areas on the other islands. And for those who love surfing, you will find the legendary place Teahupu!
No wonder Bora Bora is called the “pearl of the Pacific Ocean”. If you want to fully enjoy its beauty, take a boat and go to one of the “motu”, small islands of coral sand that form an atoll surrounding the main island. It is on these “motu” that you will find the most beautiful beaches of Bora Bora.
During a boat trip, you can enjoy a fantastic view of the lagoon. The almost fluorescent color of the water will certainly enchant you! With the ukulele sounds of the crew members as the soundtrack, you will realize that you may have reached Eden!
Even snorkeling enthusiasts will enjoy Bora Bora with a large number of stingrays and sharks living in the lagoon. For those who are a little more sporty, you can also ride a bike around the island and stop at observation decks and beaches along the way.
Maupiti is an island in Polynesia, located west of Bora Bora. Smaller in size than its neighbor and much less popular among tourists, Maupiti is called “little Bora Bora” because it resembles Bora Bora 40 years ago. Undoubtedly, Maupiti managed to preserve its beauty and authenticity. There are no large luxury hotels on this small island with a circumference of 10 km, which has only 1230 inhabitants.
Once in Maupiti, head to the top of the island to admire the incredible view of its lagoon and the corals that makeup it. In just a 45-minute walk you will reach the top of Mount Teurafaatiu at an altitude of 380 meters. For those who want to relax, there is a beautiful Teresa beach, in the western part of the island.
Unlike other Polynesian islands, which are evaluated by sight, Tahaa opens primarily through the sense of smell. The aromas of vanilla and coconut are in the air of this magical place! There are many vanilla plantations on the island. It is believed that only on this small island 80% of all Polynesian vanilla is produced.
If the smell of vanilla will cause you euphoria, then coconut shavings soaked in the streets will charm you no less. Polynesians love coconut oil and attribute to it all possible benefits (cholesterol control, digestive relief, mosquito repellent, etc.).
Moorea is a neighbor of Tahiti. In just 30 minutes by ferry, you can avoid Tahitian traffic (because yes, there can be a lot of cars in Papeete) and reach the tranquil Moorea. Amateur swimmers will be satisfied on this island because there are high-quality beaches here. In addition to the public beach of Temae, you can go snorkeling on the beach of the hotel “Les Tipaniers”. For those looking for a little more adventure, Moorea offers great mountain hikes into the heart of the island.
Raiatea is defined as a “sacred island” due to the presence of “marae Taputapuatea”, an important archaeological site that played a symbolic role in Polynesian culture. Many consider it the most important in all of French Polynesia. If you are athletic enough, you can go to the heart of the island to see the 3 waterfalls, or climb the Temehani plateau and maybe see the “tiare apetahi”, the island’s local flower.
Tikehau with a population of only 529 people is an oasis of peace and complete relaxation. We came here not because of the beaches (although there are beautiful coral beaches), but because of the seabed. Like many islands of the Tuamotus archipelago, Tikehau makes diving enthusiasts dream. Here the corals are completely untouched, the visibility is endless, and there are a lot of huge fish!
Rangiroa is an ideal place for scuba diving enthusiasts. Tiputa Pass, in particular, is known worldwide for the quality of scuba diving. If we see a big fish in Tikehau, here we see a huge one!
As soon as you jump into the water, you will be accompanied by flocks of tuna, barracudas, rays, sharks, and even dolphins! These creatures are very curious and like to present their bellies to divers to be stroked. Here you will not conduct dives in search of pelagic fauna, they will meet you in huge numbers!
Where is French Polynesia located?
French Polynesia is located in the center of the South Pacific Ocean and occupies an area the size of the European continent. This Pacific region is a 5-hour flight from New Zealand, the closest reference point for the Polynesian Islands.
How to get to Polynesia?
The capital of French Polynesia is the city of Papeete, which is located on the island of Tahiti, where all international flights arrive. However, it should be noted that in fact, the planes do not land in Papeete, but in Faaa.
From Europe, the easiest way to get to Polynesia is with Air Tahiti Nui, an airline operating flights from Paris and an airline operating inter-island flights under the Air Tahiti brand.
In particular, this is a 12-hour flight from Paris to Los Angeles and another 8 hours to Papeete, not counting the time of stops on the way. It is very important to choose the right airline and ticket type because it is a long flight and it is important to have enough legroom during the flight.
When to go to Polynesia?
The climate of French Polynesia is characterized by two distinct seasons, one cold and dry, and the other hot and humid. The hot and rainy season lasts from November to April, and the dry season lasts from May to October. The temperature is very good all year round, and low temperatures always mean a minimum of more than 20 C.
So, when we talk about two different seasons, the most noticeable difference is rain, because when it gets a little warmer, tropical storms form. The difference in season is very insignificant: we can conclude that summer in Polynesia is all year round.
What to eat in French Polynesia?
Logically, since the islands of Polynesia are very isolated from the rest of the world, everything is expensive, especially fresh food. Some fruits are produced here, such as pineapple or mango, which are very good, but as for meat, only a little chicken and pork; the rest of the meat, such as beef, is imported from New Zealand.
Most traditional Polynesian foods are closely related to the foods they consumed in the past, such as coconut and fish. It is very common to find traditional fish and coconut milk dishes, such as a typical dish that is always recommended to try, Poisson-cru.
But there is another part of the cuisine associated with immigration, especially in China, since the Chinese were the first major source of immigration, so it is very often possible to see the influence of this culture on food. For example, in the central Papeete market in Tahiti, there is an area with many stalls with Chinese food with combined dishes of rice with chicken or beef and vegetables in sauce. It is also very curious how the inhabitants have adapted French customs, especially concerning bread. Very often you can see “baguettes” filled with something, for example, meat sandwiches in sauce with French fries.
And if you like “food vans”, then you’re in luck! There are markets filled with such vans where you can taste various dishes of Tahitian cuisine. Try coconut bread – a real delicacy that is prepared in all corners of Polynesia.
How much does the food cost?
To give you an idea of prices in Polynesia, a mug of beer near the Papeete market costs about 8 euros; a combined Chinese rice dish at the same market costs 7 euros, and if you add a soft drink, another 1 euro. Lunch in a decent hotel restaurant, two dishes plus a drink, will cost you about 30-40 euros per person.
Hotels in Polynesia
The hotels in French Polynesia are incredible. It was here that the first hotels with wooden bungalows built above the water were born, in which everyone dreamed at least once that they could spend the night there. This type of accommodation is undoubtedly the most popular because it has a staircase that you can go down directly to the sea. With this type of the bungalow, you can enjoy incredible sunrises and sunsets.
Only the best resorts in Polynesia have this type of accommodation, but others offer you beach huts or some of them are located in amazing locations, so there are many options. If you are on several islands, we recommend that you change the type of hotel, and not just choose the same option.