French Polynesia Vacation Destinations
Maeva (welcome) will be the first Tahitian phrase you hear since almost all Tahiti travel itineraries begin here on the main island, which is part of the popular Society Islands group. While Bora Bora, Taha’a or even the Marquesas may beckon, French Polynesia’s gateway – where a fragrant lei greeting awaits at Faa’a International Airport after a comfortable eight-hour nonstop from Los Angeles – is a Tahiti destination that should not be overlooked. Most visitors spend a night or two, enough time to experience the sights, and perhaps even a taste, of Tahiti’s surprisingly lively and modern capital, Papeete, and for a circle-island tour showcasing lush volcanic landscape and stunning beaches.
A must-see is Le Marche, Papeete’s colorful 150-year-old market, where local life and tourism intersect as Tahitians shop for fresh fish, vegetables and flowers while visitors peruse aisles of souvenir pareus, frangipani-scented soaps, shell jewelry and beautiful black pearls. Another popular spot at sunset is Vai`ete Square adjacent to the port, where several dozen roulottes (food trucks) roll into place and sell fresh vanilla crepes, grilled mahi-mahi and an international menu of aromatic snacks – again, an opportunity to observe and share in local Tahitian life.
Driving a short distance from Papeete changes everything, so the best way to appreciate Tahiti’s natural beauty is a half-day circle-island tour (included in many Islands in the Sun itineraries). Highlights of the 71-mile drive include Point Venus, the black-sand beach where Captain James Cook and his crew observed the transit of Venus in 1769; the historic home (now a museum) of James Norman Hall, who co-authored “Mutiny on the Bounty”; the Three Waterfalls of Fa’arumai, one of which is easily viewed after a short walk while the other two require a bit of hiking; and the Arahoho Blow Hole, where plumes of sea water billow up against volcanic cliffs.
Other indulgences include relaxing poolside or at the spa and trying water sports such as stand-up paddle boarding or outrigger canoeing. And when night falls, the stirring rhythms of Tahitian drums (and Tahitian hips) will be inspiration for the romance that lies ahead on other islands.
Popular Sightseeing and Tours
Ask and our experts at Islands in the Sun can help you with a range of Tahiti excursions and sightseeing needs.
Circle Island Tour
The Circle island tour offers the best possible opportunity to see the natural beauty and history of Tahiti. From the comfort of an air-conditioned mini-van with professional English speaking guide, you shall circle the 80 mile road around Tahiti Nui the larger part of the island. Stops include; One Tree Hill, Point Venus, Blowhole, Paul Gauguin. Tour operates daily.
4WD Mountain Safari
This half-day adventure gives you the opportunity to explore the lush interior of Tahiti. Take a fun 4-wheel drive tour into the crater that originally formed Tahiti over a million years ago. Stop at One Tree Hill and then take a short drive along the scenic east coast to the Papenoo Valley where you turn inland to begin your adventure filled with deep valleys, thick rainforests, beautiful large waterfalls and lakes. Full-day adventure with picnic lunch also available.
Downtown Papeete and Le Marché
Papeete and Le Marché, a colorful and exciting marketplace to experience a taste of Tahiti’s culture and people. Here you can shop for pareos, handicrafts and black pearls or browse boutiques.
Moorea Day Tour with Lagoon Excursion and Motu Picnic
Spend the day exploring, swimming and snorkeling in the turquoise lagoon of Moorea. You will have the opportunity to swim and feed the fish and rays or simply relax on a motu (islet) while the crew prepares a delicious picnic lunch. Includes all transfers, including ferry to/from Moorea.