It’s no secret that French Polynesia is a couple’s paradise. A laid-back lifestyle, the-freshest-you’ll-find-anywhere seafood, super-luxe accommodation and, of course, picture-perfect scenery – it all comes together here to create what is arguably the island destination that romance-seekers the world over dream of visiting. Whether it’s your first visit or you’re seasoned regulars, we’ve put together a checklist of essential experiences you need to tick off on a Tahiti getaway.
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Stay in an overwater bungalow
It’s no doubt the first thing couples think of when they hear ‘Tahiti’. And no wonder. Tahiti’s islands – especially Bora Bora – are the perfect setting for these dreamy thatched-roof bungalows perched above calm, turquoise waters. Inland, you’ll also find glamorous rainforest accommodation, but for that extra touch of luxury and seclusion that makes a Tahiti getaway feel so romantic, book yourselves a private haven just off the coast and just above the waters. Well, you only live once, right?
Hang ten on an epic surf wave
If you consider yourselves legit surfers, head to the charming coastal village of Teahupo’o on the main island of Tahiti to catch a wave. The reef break here creates gigantic swells of mind-boggling proportions, so only consider paddling out if you’ve got plenty of big surf experience.
Go swimming with sharks and stingrays
For a wildlife encounter of the thrilling kind, take part in a stingray and reef shark-feeding experience with one of the travel groups or resorts in Bora Bora and Mo’orea. You’ll be taken out to the islands’ clear-water shallows which quickly fill with these friendly sea creatures... but don’t be surprised if the rays attempt to climb up your legs like overeager dogs. It might catch you off guard at first but trust us, the underside of a stingray is one of the softest sensations you’ll ever feel, so go with it!
Take a catamaran cruise
Fun fact: Tahiti is made up of more than 100 islands, scattered across shockingly turquoise waters. The best way to see them all (or at least a few spectacular ones)? Hire a catamaran or join an organised tour and hop from one perfect slice of sand to the other, enjoying panoramic island views, invigorating sea breezes and freshly husked coconuts along the way.
Check out a local dance performance
There’s something hypnotic about traditional Tahitian dance, and watching a performance is a real privilege that’ll quickly have your own hips swaying to the beat. Part of what makes it all so special is the colourful costumes and the skilled musicians, but the genuine smiles of the joyous dancers is guaranteed to make you feel truly at home in one of the world’s most beautiful destinations.
Dive the coral reefs
With technicolour coral atolls formed nearly 10 million years ago and more than 1,000 different species of fish, Tahiti and her islands seem to have been made for diving – it’s no wonder scientists refer to the islands’ waters as ‘the richest aquarium on earth’. You’ll feel as if you’ve delved into an underwater wonderland when you spot sea turtles, bright schools of tropical fish and masses (and masses) of colourful coral.
Take a happy snap of Mount Otemanu on Bora Bora
One of Tahiti’s most iconic sights, the jagged, spear-shaped Mount Otemanu looms large, as if watching over the vibrant lagoons and palm-topped landscapes of Bora Bora, keeping it from harm. Sitting (very) pretty at 727 metres high, the remnant of an extinct volcano is the ideal backdrop for a happy snap to remember your holiday by. Sunset and sunrise make for the most magical photos, and if you’re feeling energetic, there are some great hikes around the mountain.
Try real Tahitian vanilla
One of Tahiti’s most famous exports, Tahitian vanilla is in a whole other class to the sort you get at your local supermarket. A scent and flavour that simply exudes luxury, the real deal can be found (and sampled) at farms and local markets across Tahiti. But if you’re after a little extra indulgence, treat yourselves to an authentic Polynesian massage with vanilla oils and masks.
Ride up Mo'orea's mountains on an ATV
Hire an all-terrain vehicle from one of the many companies in the islands or join a tour group for a thrilling adventure packed with incredible scenery. Adrenaline junkies will love zooming past pineapple plantations (stop and sample the produce if you get a chance) and up dirt roads to the volcanic peak of Mount Tohivea. Overlooking Mo’orea, it has some of the best views in Tahiti. Just don’t be afraid to get a little muddy...
Go hiking in Tahiti's lesser-known forests
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Tahiti was all about beaches, reefs, water and mountains, but you’ll also find pine-filled forests dotted with Tahitian chestnut trees in this tropical island paradise. To experience this unique landscape up close, get your hiking boots on and make your way to Mo’orea’s Pass of the Three Pines, which has spectacular views of Cook’s Bay. It’s a gem of a track, hidden away from the crowds – just what a reinvigorating Tahiti getaway calls for.
More cool Tahiti experiences...
While in Rangiroa If you haven’t yet had your fill of water activities, go drift snorkelling in Rangiroa’s blue lagoon. Keep an eye out for dolphins, turtles, rays, sharks and barracuda as the gentle currents carry you. Or for something a little more gourmet, visit Tahiti’s only winery. At Vin de Tahiti, the grapes are grown, harvested and vinified on the atoll, so sampling their range of whites and rosé is a great way to support the local community.
While in the Austral Islands
Between July and October, the waters surrounding the Austral Islands become the birthplace of majestic humpback whales. Time it right and book in a whale-watching trip to top off your holiday.
While in Raiatea
Go on the hunt for the Tiare Apetahi, one of the rarest flowers in the world. It only grows on Mount Temehani, so if you don’t spot this mysterious bloom you’ll at least be rewarded with mountain vistas.
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