French Polynesia Travel Guide


French Polynesia & Tahiti Holidays – Tours & Adventure Travel Guide

PureTravel Says
“French Polynesia is made up of several groups of islands. Tahiti is the largest atoll as well as being the most populated. Other islands include Bora Bora, Tupai and Ahe. This guide focuses mainly on Tahiti.

Besides the ideal beachside activities, Tahiti offers much sightseeing and cultural enlightenment. It’s a fascinating holiday destination for a laid-back atmosphere and a host of interesting sights. Shop the Central Market, walk the boulevard Pomare along the waterfront in Papeete or visit the ancient temples of Polynesia. Your holiday will be full of things to do even on such a small island. Seaside you’ll find water activities and lots of sun. To the east of the island you can see the famous black sand beaches and marvel at the views at Point Venus. Go around the whole island on a 73-mile tour to see museums, historic sites and ruins. A wealth of beauty awaits you in Tahiti.”

French Polynesia & Tahiti Holiday Highlights

Culture – Visiting the ancient temples and the museums highlighting all that’s historic on Tahiti makes for a perfect tropic island getaway for those who love to explore the past of our wonderful world. See places that were inhabited over 100 years ago, and the restored structures of scared buildings. View archaeological sites and wander the museums commemorating the brave and fearless. There’s a lot to learn and you can add to your store of knowledge of the world in Tahiti.

Sightseeing – As you tour the island, you will concentrate on the capital city, Papeete, for some great sightseeing. The main attraction is the public market. At Le Marché you will love the wares being sold, the array of many items you won’t want to pass up. You’ll also want to get out to the outlying areas to take in the other island sights and sounds. The exhibits in some of the museums and the waterfalls dropping into clear pools; all will take your attention and capture your love of Tahiti.

Nightlife – For those of you who like to spend their evenings with a bit of relaxation, Tahiti will accommodate you. There are plenty of fun activities to put on your agenda. Watch Tahitian dancing or drink Hinano beer in the pubs. Enjoy lively discotheques. It’s all there for you.

Trekking – With beautiful hiking trails, a trek through Tahiti can be a dreamy adventure. Trek across the island on the Papenoo Valley route, or walk up to the top of the famous Mount Aorai. Be ready for some tropical rains, and don’t spend the night as they can become very cold and damp. Sometime permits are required, so be sure to check. But whether going it alone or hiring on a guide, you’ll love a trekking holiday in Tahiti.

Water Sports - Incredible water sports await you in Tahiti, from scuba diving to windsurfing. You can enjoy the sea surrounding this South Pacific utopia on your Tahitian holiday, and lie on the white beaches between adventures. Have you ever tried kite surfing? You can give it a try here on Tahiti.

When To Go

A good time to visit Tahiti on your holiday is between April and October, when it’s drier and cooler. Always temperate, Tahiti is cooled by the lovely sea breezes.

Top Tips

  • When in Papeete, remember that bathing suits and shorts are not considered acceptable dress.
  • You can see traditional dancing in most hotels, but if you want to dance your Western style, check out the tourist centers.
  • The US two-pin plugs are used in Tahiti – 110 or 220 volts AC.

French Polynesia & Tahiti Holidays In Focus

Culture
Marae are ancient open-air temples that were used as meeting places for ceremonies centuries ago. There are many on and around Tahiti, and you can visit a restored one called Arahurahu Marae on this fabulous island. Kept like a museum, the stone pens show where pigs were penned before their sacrifice to the gods. In July each year there are the Heiva Nui celebrations here where old ceremonies are re-enacted.

See the La Maison de James Norman Hall. This museum is dedicated to a man who lived in Tahiti to write. He was shot down when an army pilot in France, then moved here in 1920 to write of his experiences. Movies were made from his books. Stocked with his typewriter, his original manuscripts and many heirlooms, this house is one not to miss. One of his grandsons will provide a tour of James Norman Hall’s gravesite. When you go to Point Venus, you will be seeing a sandy peninsula where Captain Bligh landed in 1769 and observed the planet Venus crossing the sun.

Sightseeing
As you wander through the Le Marché market, you will stop to buy some flowers, fabrics or spices. You won’t be able to resist the lovely wares for sale. You’ll see vegetables, fish, fruits and other handicrafts. Chinese and European merchants share the stalls, and it’s like a carnival. Sundays are very busy days, with folks from outer areas coming in to Papeete to shop. Listen to the music during lunch, provided by a string band. Watch for some lively action when the day’s catch is brought in on the fishing boats. You must also travel to the Vaipahi and Faarumai waterfalls to see nature’s displays, not to mention the Blowhole of Arahoho. Another important stop is the Gauguin Museum where you can see the woodcarvings, sculptures and engravings of Paul Gauguin, the French artist. Buy a fabulous reproduction in the gift shop for yourself or to give to a friend. You can go right next door to then see the Harrison W. Smith Jardin Botanical Gardens. There are tropical plants here from around the world. Visit the Pearl Museum to find out everything there is to know about the famed Black Pearl. Of course, one of the best ways to see Tahiti is to drive all around the island on a tour. Take the east coast road to Taravao from Papeete and then return on the west coast.

Nightlife
Never-ending merrymaking is yours in Tahiti. After the sun goes down, you’ll find a lot of choices for joining in the fun. Most of the entertainment is Tahitian dancing. You can attend these shows mostly at the many resorts around the island. A feast is also served along with the dancing. You can book reservations for a show and dinner at many spots around Papeete. The discotheques and bars will quench your thirst in more ways than one. The strumming of guitars will accompany your bottles of beer. Around the waterfront you’ll find unique mobile diners and a great selection of restaurants.

Trekking
Cross the island of Tahiti on an adventurous trek by taking the route of Papenoo Valley to Lake Vaihiria, or scale Mount Aorai, the island’s third highest peak. Take another path that skirts the wild eastern coast, Tahiti Iti. The trails are not well marked and you have to take care not to get lost. It is best to hire a guide for your longer treks. You will love to hike along in the Orofero Valley to the south. For the names of guides and hiking clubs in Tahiti, you can check with the Manava Visitors Bureau in Papeete.

Water Sports
Whether you just enjoy swimming in the azure waters or would rather go deep below to discover incredible finds beneath the surface, Tahiti is for you. A great water holiday awaits you on these shores. Snorkeling is great fun and you’ll be able to take part in this sport at most beaches. There’s a public beach in front of the Hotel Le Royal Tahitian that is popular, or in Pirae, a little over two miles east of downtown. On the west coast you can find white sand at the PK 18.5 Plage de Publique. For a lovely clear lagoon in which to snorkel or swim, try Plage de Maui on Tahiti Iti. Visit Teuhupoo on Tahiti Iti for some world-class surfing, and make sure you stay away from those ragged reefs just offshore. If you don’t have enough experience, you will be able to take lessons here, too. You can dive off the island on the southern coast at Tahiti Nui or from Papeete to Punaauia. Take it easy and visit the Lagoonarium de Tahiti where you can view spectacular species of reef sharks or sea turtles and much more in an underwater viewing room.

Horse Riding
An additional fun activity is to go horseback riding through Tahiti, to witness the natural environment in a very relaxing way. You can arrange hour-long rides or even full day rides. Follow the trails through the lush undergrowth, listening to the calls of the birds and sometimes the crash of waves on the shores. It’s a bonus adventure on your Tahitian holiday.

Classic Itineraries

  • When going to Point Venus, take a picnic lunch so you can eat your lunch in the park around the lighthouse. There’s also a snack bar available in case you forgot something.
  • Go to Tahaa, where vanilla plantations are in abundance. You’ll smell the sweet vanilla aroma as the breezes carry it to you.
  • Be sure to see the impressive Blowhole of Arahoho where water shoots into the sky.

Geography of French Polynesia

The French Polynesia islands occupy a total land area of 4,167km2 (1,622mile2) and are spread out over 2,500,000km2 (965,255mile2) of ocean.

French Polynesia is made up of the following island groups:
- Austral Islands
- Bass Islands often considered part of the Austral Islands
- Gambier Islands often considered part of the Tuamotu Archipelago
- Marquesas Islands
- Society Islands (including Tahiti)
- Tuamotu Archipelago

The main atolls (islands) include: Ahe, Bora Bora, Hiva `Oa, Huahine, Maiao, Maupiti, Mehetia, Moorea, Nuku Hiva, Raiatea, Tahaa, Tahiti, Tetiaroa, Tubuai, and Tupai.

French is the official language although Tahitian and other Polynesian languages are also used.

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