These are your need-to-know basics for French Polynesia, from where to stay and what to do. It’s time to make your dream island fantasy a reality.
The Islands of Tahiti are stunning and make choosing a destination difficult! The main island of Tahiti is the one you’ll fly into, and many Kiwis choose to stay there in one of an incredible range of resorts. Just 17 kilometres away is Moorea, easily reached by ferry or plane. Perhaps the most famous island is honeymoon favourite Bora Bora, everyone's paradise fantasy. Beyond wait the lesser known but equally gorgeous islands: Raiatea, Taha’a (Society Islands), Tikehau, Rangiroa (Tuamotus), Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou (Marquesas) and Rurutu (Australs) are all becoming popular with Kiwis.
Here are some of our favourite things to do once you've arrived in paradise.
1 | Go to La Plage Vaiava.
With champagne sand and a blue lagoon you'll want to dive straight into.
2 | Picnic at Venus Point.
Poking its black sand spit out into Matavai Bay, Venus Point is an idyllic spot for a picnic. The water is almost always calm, so go and stick your toes in.
3 | Take a 4WD excursion.
Explore the greenest parts of the island in a Jeep. Learn about fascinating archaeological sites with a local guide, while bounding through lush vegetation and staring at beautiful blue views.
4 | Shop for French food.
Fine French delis will entice you in with shelves of gourmet food and wine. Being of French origin, even the supermarkets (such as Carrefour) are packed to the rafters with good food. If you're doing a substantial, pantry-sized shop, Tahiti's largest supermarket is at Punaauia, just steps from the marina.
5 | Visit Papeete Market.
Food, colour and crafts — clearly the magical formula at this two-story emporium. Find locally grown produce, authentic gifts, gregarious vendors and a small cafe serving refreshments upstairs.
6 | Find the food trucks.
Les Roulottes' food trucks front the harbour and dish out everything from Tahitian poisson cru (raw fish in coconut milk) to fresh seafood and wafer-thin French crepes.
7 | Dine casually.
La Casa Bianca serves affordable pizza, pasta and fantastic Tahitian dishes.
8 | Dine exceptionally well.
If you love old-school French dining, Chez Loula & Remy is a family-run establishment in Taravao. They're a family who have mastered the simple flavours (and pleasures) of grilled meat and seafood.
Le Lotus sits inside the Intercontinental Resort Tahiti and is upmarket yet relaxed. The food is a refined fusion of French and Polynesian.
We also like Le Coco's Restaurant. Fringing the waterfront and featuring not one but three international menus. The elaborate cuisine and Tahitian views make the experience exceptional.
9 | Day trip to Tetiaroa Atoll.
Join a day tour and sail to Tetiaroa Island. Depart from Papeete Marina for a full 12-hours of sailing, snorkelling, bird watching and bathing. You'll have plenty of time to relax on the motu, with both breakfast and lunch included.
10 | Save the Tahitian coral.
In order for future generations to enjoy the beauty of French Polynesia, help re-build dwindling coral in Moorea Island by adopting a piece of it. Local 'Coral Gardeners' will replant and maintain your section, and send you a certificate to prove it’s yours.
11 | Grab a snorkel.
With the help of a Tahitian guide, paddle into the shallows for a dalliance with stingrays and reef sharks.
12 | Say yes to traditional Tahitian pampering.
You're in the land of papaya, coconut and the Tiare flower (as well as a land of luxury) so enjoy five-star spa treatments every day of the week.
Taurumi massage, is as synonymous with Tahiti as a croissant is to France, so don’t miss out. Your masseuse will use traditional Monoï Oil (a blend of Tiare flowers and coconut oil) to soothe away your stresses.
13 | Find a sunset.
Pop a bottle of bubbles, lie back and watch the sun turn the sea into a painter’s palette of purple, orange and gold.