Everything You Need to Know About Tahiti & Her Islands
Mention Tahiti, and most people envision life on dreamy, secluded beaches, swaying palm trees, and the odd coconut. And they aren't wrong! One hundred eighteen islands and atolls comprise French Polynesia (otherwise known as the Islands of Tahiti). Tahiti lies halfway between LA and Sydney, Australia. This postcard-perfect destination is more accessible than many people realize and one that offers so much more than a place to honeymoon. Wondering which islands in Tahiti are best for your trip? I will run through the most popular islands of Tahiti, so you will know which to pick. And I will reveal everything you need to know about Tahiti and its islands.
The Island of Tahiti
Best for Polynesian Culture
No matter which island you have picked, you'll start your adventure by flying into Faa'a International Airport (PPT) on the main island of Tahiti. Home to the vibrant capital of Papeete, it is divided into two parts: the more prominent Tahiti Nui and the smaller Tahiti Iti. You will want to visit the Pearl & Gauguin Museums and the Botanical Garden. Most locals live on the island, so the public market is the perfect place to pick up souvenirs. Snorkel the picturesque lagoon and take a 4x4 trip into the island's interior to visit epic waterfalls and lush valleys.
Best for Unparalleled Luxury
Tetiaroa is also known as Marlon Brando's private island; it is a retreat fit for royalty. (Presidents and royalty have called the resort home!) It was a playground for A-Listers; this atoll was the summer residence for Tahiti's former chiefs. The Brando is an eco-friendly, ultra-luxurious resort. Superior service and complete privacy are available in Tetiaroa.
Best for Romance
When people think of French Polynesia, it's Bora Bora that springs to mind. Couples dream of isolated and romantic overwater bungalows and secluded beaches. But Bora Bora is more than a postcard-worthy romantic getaway. The island itself is a volcano, set in a magnificent lagoon enclosed by gleaming white sand beaches. The lagoon teems with marine life that begs for exploration, or you can wander through the main town of Viatape.
Best for Communing with Nature
It's easy to see why Huahine is known as the Garden Island. Thick tropical jungles cover much of the island and banana groves, watermelon fields, and coconut plantations. Huahine is a mere 40-minute flight from Tahiti and is two islands connected by a small bridge: Huahine Nui in the north and Huahine Iti in the south. You will have your pick of white sand beaches, and you will find spectacular diving and snorkeling, kite surfing, and hiking.
Best for Watersports
Moorea is one of the best honeymoon spots in Tahiti. Many artisans call it home, leading to the nickname of the Island of Artists. Moorea is perfect for watersports; everything from paddleboarding, canoeing, and kite surfing are excellent thanks to the prevailing trade winds. Diving is also exceptional in the calm waters of the marine-rich lagoon.
Best for Seclusion
It's tough not to fall in love with the Pink Sand Island or Tikehua. The tiny atoll consists of numerous white and pink sand beaches perfect for getting lost. Tikehau is home to a lagoon formed by a ring of coral, so the snorkeling is superb. Bird Island is a small islet and a natural aviary for diverse colonies of nesting sea birds, including the unique Blue Footed Booby.
Best for Relaxation
Taha'a is only accessible by a boat ride from Raiatea — but you won't want to miss it. Known as the Vanilla Island, Taha'a grows the vast majority of all vanilla produced in French Polynesia. Take a trip to Vallee de la Vanille farm to see how the fragrant spice is grown and buy some to take home with you. In addition to learning all about vanilla, Taha's offers a quiet spot to relax on a beautiful stretch of shore.
Best for Sailing and Fishing
Raiatea, the Sacred Island, is the second-largest island in French Polynesia next to Tahiti. Raiatea shares its lagoon with Taha'a, meaning if you visit one, you should hop over to the other. If you want to see Tahiti's islands by sea, Raiatea is the perfect spot for you. It is home to numerous sailboat and yacht charter companies. Raiatea's large, shielded lagoon makes it one of the best sailing, deep-sea fishing, and SCUBA spots.
Best for Diving
Rangiroa, known as the Endless Sky, is one of the largest atolls globally and the largest in Tahiti. The lagoon is a diver's paradise and is so large that it could consume the island of Tahiti in one gulp! World-class dive sites overflow. The snorkeling is phenomenal, and you can explore the 200 surrounding Motus on a secluded afternoon. Interestingly enough, Rangiroa also has its vineyard and winery.
Travel Facts about Tahiti & Her Islands
Location: French Polynesia (an autonomous nation of France) lies in the middle of the South Pacific, about eight hours by air from LA. The islands spread over two million square miles.
Best Time to Go: Sunshine is abundant in Tahiti; you will find temperatures of about 80 degrees (for both water and air) year-round. They have two main seasons, summer and winter. The best time to visit is during the dry winter months of May to October. The summer months (November to April) are often humid, with sporadic rain showers (typically afternoon and overnight). Tahiti offers a lovely climate year-round.
Getting There: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the main gateway for Tahiti. If you are staying on the Island of Tahiti, you will not have to go further. You can reach Moorea by high-speed ferry. If you are staying on any island other than the Island of Tahiti or Moorea, you will need to take an additional flight from Papeete to your final destination. Honolulu also offers direct flights to Tahiti on a Hawaiian Airlines flight.
Tahiti Prices: Tahiti is a pricey destination for several reasons. All food (except fresh seafood and tropical fruit) is shipped from France - making food costly. Upgrade to an all-inclusive package if possible. Bora Bora and Taha'a resorts are the most expensive. Accommodations are also expensive. You can forgo the overwater bungalow to save money. If you aren't happy without being overwater, you can split your stay between a beachfront villa and an overwater.
Required Travel Documents: If you are staying less than 90 days and are a US or Canadian citizen, a passport is the only requirement. Are you going to be in Tahiti for more than 90 days? You will need a Visa.
Currency: French Polynesia's currency is the French Pacific Franc (XPF). You can exchange money at your bank, the airport, or your resort. Credit cards are widely accepted, and Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora offer ATMs. Resorts and some vendors will take US dollars.
Language: Tahitian and French are the official languages, but most hotel staff speak English, so do the employees of the shops and tour companies.
Voltage: You will find 220 volts plugs in Tahiti, so bring an adapter and power converter.
Immunizations: US residents don't require any vaccines, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to make sure your tetanus is updated. It would help if you packed lots of bug spray; Tahiti has a good number of insects.
Tahiti is a fantastic destination, and it should be on your bucket list. This blog is everything you need to know about Tahiti & its islands.