About French Polynesia
French Polynesia (Tahiti) is considered to be the most beautiful and romantic place on Earth. These islands are located only 2 1/2 hours beyond Hawaii, and yet a world apart. An extraordinarily safe destination, the islands and people of Tahiti welcome visitors with a remarkable blend of beauty and tranquility.
Tahiti & Her Islands cover over two million square miles of the South Pacific Ocean and is comprised of 118 islands spread over five great archipelagos. The two archipelagos most sought by visitors are the Society Islands, comprised of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea and Taha'a and The Tuamotu Atolls or "Tahiti's Strand of Pearls", include the atolls of Rangiroa, Manihi, Tikehau, and Fakarava.
Each island possesses its own unique flavor and charms, from the broad lagoon of Rangiroa to the bustling marketplace of Papeete. Thanks to their geography, spectacular mountain peaks, the lush vegetation, and the clearest water anywhere, the islands of Tahiti are truly the most beautiful in the world. Many islands are crowned with jagged peaks while others appear to barely float above the breaking waves. Spread over an area as large as Western Europe, the total land mass of all the islands adds up to an area only slightly larger than the tiny state of Rhode Island.
Tahiti and her islands are a remarkable blend of new and old. Where tradition and modern comforts meet. The people of these islands are a fusion of many races and cultures defining today's Polynesian way of life. The atmosphere of French Polynesia blends French sophistication and Polynesian gaiety. French Polynesians love to laugh and sing and they approach life with a joyous spirit. A vacation to these islands warms the heart, clears the mind, rejuvenates the body, and fills you with peace. Once you visit the islands of Tahiti, you will know why so many people refer to them as the most magnificent place on Earth.
Non-stop flights from the West Coast take only 7 ½ hours.
What Makes Tahiti Unique?
Embrace the warmth of your Polynesian hosts whose love for their islands is seen through music, dance, and flowers.
Celebrate a new romance or a special anniversary in the most romantic spot on earth.
Discover how the seclusion and setting of these islands create one of the world's most desirable honeymoon destinations.
Unlike any other hotel room you've stayed in before, these traditional thatched-roof bungalows are perched above the turquoise lagoon waters. In many of the rooms, tropical fish swim below as you look through the glass floor or coffee table. With all the amenities of a first-class hotel room, here on your private balcony surrounded only by water and sky, you can enjoy both breakfast (often delivered by canoe) and the sunset (seemingly delivered by the heavens).
There is no better way to gain a sense of everyday Tahitian life than passing through the small villages on a circle-island tour. As nearly every island has a coastal road following the lagoon shores, you can either drive around the island by rental car or take a guided bus tour. Explore the island interiors on a 4x4 safari, guided nature hike, or horseback ride. Skim across the lagoons on a motorized canoe, sailboat, or powerboat. For dramatic views above the islands, take a helicopter tour.
Snorkeling & Diving
World-class snorkeling and diving in Tahiti is one of the South Pacific's best-kept secrets. Both experienced and beginner divers and snorkelers are amazed by how clear the waters are and how close they can swim to the marine life, such as the gigantic manta rays. With hundreds of dive sites throughout the islands, divers can choose from the amazing drift dives, oceanic drop-offs, sunken ships, and lagoon dives with infinite marine life.
Tahitian Black Pearls
The world-renowned iridescent luster of Mother Nature's most perfect gem can only be created in Tahiti warm lagoon waters. Commonly known around the world as Black Pearls, each Tahitian Cultured Pearl ranges in size and shape and the colors range from the darkest black to shimmering shades of green, blue, bronze, aubergine, or even pink. Tour a pearl farm on Manihi, Rangiroa, Raiatea, Huahine, Taha'a, Tikehau, and Fakarava or visit one of the many pearl shops.
Tahiti is now a world-class spa destination with many of the resorts offering new luxurious spas. Surrounded by a backdrop of natural beauty and floral fragrances, there is no better setting for relaxation. Enjoy fresh-flower baths, herbal rain showers, or even a body wrap in banana tree leaves at Hélène Spa as shown in the photo. You can also rejuvenate your romance at the spas aboard the cruise ships including the Parisian-influenced private Spa Villa for two on the m/s Paul Gauguin.
Enjoy a private or group picnic on your own motu (tiny islets in the lagoon.) Your resort or cruise ship can provide an unforgettable experience where gourmet meals are prepared and enjoyed on a table set either under a coconut tree or in the warm, shallow waters along the beach as shown here with Bora Bora Cruises.
The Society Islands
Best known of the island groups are the Society Islands, consisting of the Windward Group (Tahiti, Moorea, Tetiaroa) and the Leeward Group (Huahine, Raiatea/Tahaa, Maupiti and Bora Bora ). Each island is dominated by tall volcanic hills with rocky summits covered in luscious green undergrowth and surrounded by a coral reef which shelters a lagoon and exquisite white sand beaches
The Tuamotu Atolls
In contrast to the dramatic peaks of the high islands such as Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora, the low islands of the Tuamotus atolls are green rings of coral reef surrounding a turquoise lagoon. The Tuamotu Archipelago comprises 78 coral atolls, scattered over several hundred miles of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Some of the main atolls are Rangiroa, Manihi, Tikehau and Fakarava.
Colors seem brighter here and the water is incredibly clear. The beautiful interior lagoons have one or two narrow openings to the ocean where the rushing tides provide nutrients for an exuberant coral and fish life. Diving or snorkeling in these passes, with their exceptional clear waters, is an amazing experience. Local life on these atolls is simple and peaceful. In the small villages, usually located near the pass, the visitor can discover the true flavor of the Tuamotu, often participating in the daily activities of the Paumotu people.
The interior lagoons are a haven for black pearl farms, fish parks, snorkeling and scuba diving. Motorized outrigger canoes or motor boats are used by the locals to reach the distant motu islets across the lagoon, where the day is spent collecting copra and searching for colorful seashells.
French Polynesia has a broad range of accommodations ranging from world famous resorts to pleasant family owned hotels. Selecting the accommodation that is right for you will determine a lot about how you experience French Polynesia. This is especially true on the outer islands, where your hotel is most likely to be the center of your activities.
Why not try a beautiful thatched-roof bungalow built over an amazing blue lagoon? Much of the fun of coming to the islands of French Polynesia is being able to stay in thatched roof bungalows located in a tropical garden setting, on a beautiful palm-fringed beach, or over a crystal clear lagoon. For the ultimate "escape," choose a vacation that features these traditional Tahitian accommodations.
Please refer to the hotel pages of our web site for detailed information on the major accommodations on the larger islands.
Whether you are looking to relax on a white sand beach, sway in the tropical breeze on a hammock, hike the slopes of an ancient volcano, or swim in the clearest waters in the world, you can find it all in French Polynesia. Tahiti's beautiful beaches, spectacular lagoons and open ocean offer a world of opportunities to relax or explore.
You’ll also enjoy such activities as dolphin encounters, shark feeding, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, water skiing, hiking, golf, helicopter rides, horseback riding, tennis, sailing, surfing, wind surfing, hang gliding, shopping, outrigger canoeing, and para-sailing. The region is a mecca for divers who come to see the rich and abundant marine life in warm pristine waters in some of the world's most unusual diving environments. In addition, Tahiti is the birth place of surfing, and there are popular breaks at Papenoo, Punaauia, and Paea.
With the jagged beauty of the ancient volcanic mountain peaks, walkers and climbers will enjoy the high islands throughout the region, and 4WD enthusiasts can hire vehicles on many of the islands. Equestrian types can massage saddle-sores after a day’s ride across the mountains and plateaus on many of the islands.
For more information on Activities and Tours available for each island, please refer to the tours and activities sections found on the islands pages and in the travel guide section of our web site.
French Polynesia enjoys warm, tropical weather year-round. Cooled by the gentle breezes of the Pacific, the climate of these islands is sunny and pleasant. Because Tahiti and her Islands are below the Equator, the seasons are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Roughly speaking, there are two seasons: from November through May the climate is warmer and more humid, with daily temperatures of about 85 degrees F and from June through October the climate is cooler and drier with daily temperatures of about 82 degrees F. The year-round low is about 70 degrees F. Most of the rain falls during the warmer season, but there are also many lovely sunny days with refreshing trade-winds during these months. The average ocean temperature is in the low 80’s.
(please also refer to the FAQs area in the Travel Guide section of our web site for additional information)
Tahiti is in the same time zone as the Hawaiian Islands and is located south of the Equator. The islands are approximately half way between Los Angeles, California and Sydney, Australia.
Tahitian and French are the main languages spoken throughout French Polynesia. English is spoken at all major hotels and most shops and restaurants. Tahitians truly appreciate visitors who try to learn a few of their words. They enjoy helping and you can expect a big smile and hearty laugh as they teach you.
U.S. and Canadian citizens must have a valid passport good for 180 days beyond the return date from Tahiti. A return airline ticket is also required. Citizens of other countries should consult their travel agent or the French Consulate. It is the passenger’s sole responsibility to ensure that all documents needed are complete and current.