Tahiti is the main island. As French Polynesia’s largest and most populated island, Tahiti offers the greatest diversity of things to see and do – from underwater spear fishing to dance lessons (learn the traditional ‘tamure’!), Tahiti has you covered.
Water activities around Tahiti
SCUBA diving and snorkeling: There are plentiful diving opportunities around Tahiti for both beginning and advanced divers. There are drop-offs, cave and wreck dives available, and more than a half-dozen operators, including French Polynesia’s biggest dedicated dive shop.
Surfing: Arguably, French Polynesia’s best surfing is found at Teahupoo off of Tahiti Iti, which features massive barrel roll waves and a Billabong Pro surf competition in May. The winter months offer the harshest waves, which are also found at Papara, Taapuna Pass and Papenoo.
Additional water activities: Around Tahiti it is also possible to participate in deep sea fishing, sailing, canoeing, windsurfing and other sports.
Shopping: Tahiti, Papeete in particular, boasts the best shopping for forgotten sunscreen, film and other items as well as traditional French Polynesian crafts and keepsakes, such as monoi oil, pareu (sarongs) and Tiki carvings. Additionally, it provides the greatest diversity of black pearls. The best places to shop include Le Marché, the daily market, and the modern Vaima Center.
Land activities on Tahiti
Museums: Tahiti also features many of the French Polynesia’s museums, such as the Pearl Museum – a must visit for anyone interested in picking up the island’s famed jewelry product – and the main Gauguin Museum, which chronicles the painter’s life in the Marquesas, with plentiful memorabilia. Additionally, the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands (Musee de Tahiti et ses Isles) does an excellent job of explaining the history of the region and its people.
Golfing: The only golf course in the islands is located in Tahiti, 20 miles outside of Papeete. The par 72, Oliver Breaud International Golf Course was formerly a cotton plantation and also includes a driving range, pool and tennis course.
Outdoor attractions: Papeete boasts a number of parks, gardens and beaches. Bougainville Park, named after the French explorer who introduced Tahiti to Europe, and Point Venus, the landing site of Captain Cook and home to French Polynesia’s only lighthouse, are two key places to visit.
Hiking: There are a number of hiking options into Tahiti’s interior and up one of its famous mountains, Mt. Aorai. Visit lava tubes, peer through grottos and swim in clear spring pools throughout Tahiti. Additionally, visitors can stop for waterfalls, valleys and amazing views at dozens of places along the 71-mile road circling the island.
Historical sites: To appreciate Tahiti’s written history, visit the home and museum of James Norman Hall, the co-author of Mutiny on the Bounty. You can also pay respects at the Tomb of Queen Pomare V and the Tahitian Royal Family, and gaze at the ruins of the Marae Arahurahu.
Air activities above Tahiti
Helicopters and Charter Flights: Scenic flights and helicopter rides above the lush valleys and peaks of Tahiti are available.