Unforgettable Things to Do in Tahiti

Unforgettable Things to Do in Tahiti

Tahiti is the largest of the islands that make up French Polynesia, a set of 118 volcanic and coral islands and atolls located in the South Pacific Ocean. Of all the islands, Tahiti is the economic, cultural, and political center of French Polynesia. Located halfway between Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia, the island is divided into Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti. Tahiti Nui is the bigger of the two and is located in the northwestern part of the island. It is also home to three extinct volcanic mountains, including Mount Orohena, the tallest in French Polynesia. Tahiti Iti is a smaller southwest sister island still connected to the main island. The Little Tahiti is only accessible by boat and is more remote and tranquil. It is also home to the legendary surfing spot of Teahupoo.

No matter where you travel within the island, one thing is sure, you will be amazed by its beauty. Tahiti is known for its black and white sand beaches, blue lagoons, stunning lush jungles, volcanic mountains, gorgeous coral reefs, beautiful waterfalls, and abundant undersea wildlife. The landscapes blend perfectly with the friendly Tahitian culture known for its history and traditions, including the mythical concept of mana. It is also famous for its pearl farming, vanilla plantations, dance culture, and ancient ruins. 

But, before we get into our guide of things to do in Tahiti, let’s look at some key information that you need to know before you go: 

  • American travelers do not need a visa if entering as a tourist.
  • The currency in Tahiti is the CFP Franc. Automated teller machines (ATMs) can be found throughout the island. 
  • French is the official language; however, English is widely spoken in many tourist areas. 
  • The Tahitian alphabet consists only of 13 letters: the vowels a, e, i, o, u, and the consonants f, h, m, n, p, r, t, and v.
  • Tahiti and the other islands in French Politeness span 4 million square km, covering an area as large as Europe. 
  • The idea of an overwater bungalow was invented in Tahiti in the 1960s 
  • If you are looking for unique things to do in French Polynesia, then why not look into chartering a yacht in Tahiti? A yacht allows you to explore the beautiful Leeward islands and discover each one’s unique offering, including Raiatea the Sacred Island, Taha’a the Vanilla Island, Huahine the Majestic Island, and the mythical island of Bora Bora.  ​​
  • Tahitians are considered among the most genuinely friendly people in the world. 
  • The small island of Motu Tapu is not only known as the best place in the world to relax, but it is the most photographed isle in the South Pacific. 
  • The best fast food in Tahiti is casse-croûte, mouth-watering meat and salad sandwich housed in a freshly-made baguette. 
  • Make sure you take the time to visit the capital city (Papeete). If you are hungry, make sure to test out the various foods sold at the ‘Roulottes'  (food trucks) of Papeete. 
  • Most of the world’s black pearls are produced around the island of Tahiti. 

How to Get to & Around the Islands 

Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by thousands of miles of open water, Tahiti is a remote location. But that doesn’t mean that this beautiful tropical island is not easy to get to. Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia and is home to the Faa’a International Airport, also known as the Tahiti International Airport, located a few miles from Papeete. This central hub of French Polynesia can easily be reached with direct flights (or with some stop-overs) from most international locations. 

Once you arrive, there are many different ways to explore Tahiti and the other French Polynesian islands. The best way to get around Tahiti is by taxi or rental car, as the island does not have much of a public transport system. Also, there is no Uber or Lyft on the island. Tahiti is often seen as a transit island and the jumping-off point to many other islands within French Polynesia. Air Tahiti, the local airline, has daily flights to 48 islands, including Bora Bora, Raiatea (access point to Taha’a), and Huahine. However, if you want to take the more scenic route, chartering a yacht in Tahiti is the perfect option. 

The year-round trade winds and the consistent climate make the French Polynesian island the perfect sailing destination. Have you ever thought about chartering a yacht in Tahiti? A charter vacation in Tahiti perfectly combines the exclusive quality and service and the unforgettable atmosphere of a tropical cruise. Cruise from island to island unearthing each of their unique charms—dine at some of the best restaurants in Papeete, explore Taha’a, also known as vanilla island, visit god’s cradle in Raiatea or stay in a floating hut in Bora Bora—there is plenty to do on the islands at the end of the Earth. Learn more about chartering a yacht in Tahiti here [include a link to your services]

Best Time to Visit 

French Polynesia, which includes Tahiti, has a tropical climate, which means they can be visited all year round. There are two main seasons during the year and the equivalent to fall and spring between them. The rainy season is wet and hot (85 – 95 F), and runs from November to April. The dry season, which is the ‘winter’, is cooler (78 – 85 F) and windier. It runs from May to September. ‘Fall’ is April & May and ‘Spring’ is September & October. These are probably the best months to come sailing.

Tahiti peak season starts in May and goes to about September. During this time, the weather is balmy and sits comfortably in the highs 60s to mid-80s Fahrenheit. However, peak ​​season also means big crowds, as Tahiti sees its highest number of tourists on the islands during these months. Around September-October (the tail’s end of the dry season) prices and crowds tend to drop. The dry season is from May to October, while November is the start of the wet season. Rainfall also means humidity, with December being the most humid time of the year. In general, the months from November to March have the most rain. In addition, the risk of hurricanes in French Polynesia is particularly high from December to April. 

What to Pack

Island living has influenced how people dress in Tahiti, but what exactly should you pack if you come to Tahiti? Well, make sure that you pack the essentials, some casual clothing, and maybe an extravagant piece or two for those romantic nights out underneath the stars. We recommend packing: 

  • Summer gear, including t-shirts, shorts, skirts, dresses, and comfortable shoes (including flip-flops). 
  • As it is an island destination, make sure to bring a couple of swimwear pieces. 
  • Waterproof dry bag, especially if you plan on doing a lot of water activities while on vacation.  
  • Mask & snorkel
  • Underwater camera gear, including a phone dry bag. 
  • Protection from the sun, including a hat, several sunglasses and some sunscreen.
  • A light jacket for those breeze evenings.
  • Bug Spray for those pesky critters and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun. 
  • Dramamine if you get nausea easily while on a boat. 

Things to Do in Tahiti 

The French Polynesian islands were one of the last places on Earth to be settled by humans. The region comprises 118 islands and atolls, 67 of which are inhabited. French Polynesia is divided into five groups of islands: 

  1. The Society Islands archipelago, compromising of the Windward and Leeward Islands
  2. The Tuamotu Archipelago
  3. The Gambier Islands
  4. The Marquesas Islands
  5. The Austral Islands

Tahiti, which is part of the Society Islands, is the most populous island and is home to nearly 69% of the population of French Polynesia. Papeete, located in Tahiti, is the capital of French Polynesia. So what are some things to do in Tahiti?  

Eat lots of French-influenced Food. 

In the 1800s, both British and French settlers fought for the control of Tahiti. In the end, France won, which influenced Tahiti (and French Polyenai in general) in several ways. One of those ways is food. So what is one of the best things to do in Tahiti? Eat! French influences and fresh local produce mean that you will never have to travel far to find exquisite food on the islands. Some of the best can be found in Papeete – book a table at O á la Bouche to dine in style. Why not try the local mahi-mahi or scallops. 

Take the Time to Explore Papeete 

Speaking of Papeete, travelers should take the time to explore everything that this capital city has to offer. There are many opportunities to shop, dine, and dance the night away within the city's boundaries. Take the time to explore downtown Papeete which is full of shopping, cafés, restaurants, and the Papeete Market. The Papeete Market or the Municipal Market comprises two floors full of fresh fruits, souvenirs, jewelry, various fish, gorgeous flowers, and other local products. Once your stomach starts growing, head on over to the Roulette or food trucks located at the waterfront. Open seven days, the vendors start preparing for dinner from around 6 pm, and by 7:30 pm most nights, it is in full flight. The Roulottes offer a delightful casualness and a wide selection of food. There are plenty of grills (fish/meat/poultry), selections of Chinese food, BBQs, crepes, plus the full range of popular Tahitian specialties. Note that these food trucks only take cash. Then for a special treat, head on over to Les Rêves De Lucie for fresh and delicious macaroons. 

Immerse Yourself in Nature 

French Polynesia, in general, is known for its nature and the island of Tahiti is no exception. Although much of the island’s charm lies around its coast, there is still much to explore inland. Some of the best things to do in Tahiti are exploring its lava tubes, hiking trails that lead to lookouts with sweeping views, river slides, volcanic valleys, and swimmable rock pools.

If you are a hiker, then Tahiti has a trail for you. Mount Aorai is the third highest peak in Tahiti at 2066 meters and is a challenging and slippery hike with sharp drops and breathtaking views. The Te Pari trail located on the southernmost part of Tahiti is only accessible by boat. It offers a look at what untouched Tahiti has to offer—although it is recommended to tackle this trail with an experienced guide. Then there is Fara’ura Valley, also known as the valley of the waterfalls. This particular trail is perfect for anyone looking to take hiking breaks to swim in natural pools. Last but not certainly not least is the hike to the most famous waterfall of them all, Fautaua Waterfall. It is important to note that hikers may have to obtain a permit before hiking to this waterfall that they can get at city hall in Papeete. 

If you want to explore the another (more wild) side of Tahiti, then head on to Tahiti Iti (meaning Little Tahiti) for a more untouched, remote, and serene side of the island. Some of these wild coastline areas are only accessible by boat, meaning that travelers can access secluded and deserted sea caves, mangroves, and waterfalls—just you and nature.

Explore The Underwater World

One of the best things to do in Tahiti is to explore its underwater world. ​​Tahiti is renowned for having some of the world’s best opportunities to experience marine wildlife, many of which are found in the shallow lagoons surrounding the islands of Tahiti. One of the unique things to do in Tahiti is to rent a glass kayak and discover the underwater world from above water, with a clear view below. 

French Polynesia experiences several migrations throughout the years. From August through to October, humpback whales migrate through Tahiti and Moorea, two of the best places to swim with whales. There are also many other types of underwater wildlife that you can explore either through scuba diving or snorkeling. Swim with stingrays, sharks, and turtles while also exploring beautiful coral reefs 

Visit Tahiti’s Sister Island: Moorea 

Moorea is the perfect island for more adventurous travelers and is known for its stunning aquamarine lagoons, jutting mountains covered in lush rainforest, and friendly locals. There are so many different things to do on the island, including: 

  • Hike up Magic Mountain to enjoy one of the best views on the island.
  • Snorkel at the Lagoonarium, a quiet island off the coast of Moorea that is home to some of the most diverse marine wildlife in the world.
  • Swim with humpback whales. Get up close and personal with these gentle giants from July to November.
  • Hike to the Suit of Mount Rotui to get one of the most breathtaking, unspoiled views of Opunohu Bay and the surrounding lagoon. Warning this hike is not for beginners. 
  • Dive with Tahitian stingrays

Once you are ready to eat, sail off the coast of Moorea to Coco Beach for a beachfront restaurant with fantastic food and the best view of the lagoon. Be sure to bring your snorkel gear because you won’t want to miss swimming with the blacktip reef sharks and stingrays that encircle this small island or “motu.”

Visit the Other Society Group Islands

​​Although Bora-Bora, Raiatea, Tahaa, and Huahine are neighbors, each island has a slightly different ambiance. Yes, they have common traits, including stunning landscapes, motus, amazing lagoons, pristine white beaches, and exquisite reefs, but each has its unique charm. One island may emphasize catering to the chic, while another is known for its nature. Together, the four treasures of the Tahitian Leewards are an enchanting cruising ground for a memorable Tahiti sailing vacation. So let’s take a quick look at what each island is known for and why you should visit: 

  • Bora-Bora. Arguably the most famous island in French Polynesia, the island of Bora Bora was initially called Pora pora mai te pora, meaning created by the gods. This island group in the Leeward islands is famous for its seaside and overwater bungalows and luxury resorts. The main island of Bora Bora is surrounded by a ring of sandy coral islets called motus.
  • Raiatea. Raiatea is most often visited as the gateway to its smaller sister island, Taha'a, which shares the same lagoon. However, Raiatea has the reputation of being the cradle of Polynesian civilizations. Raiatea is also home to the UNESCO-designated historic site, Taputapuatea, one of Polynesia's oldest and largest ancient temples called a 'marae.'
  • Taha’a. Tahaa is world-famous for its vanilla production, accounting for about 80% of all Polynesian production. Pearl farming is another long tradition on the island, and visitors can learn all about it free of charge at Love Here Pearl Farm, located in Patio. However, the real treat of the island lies underneath the water. The island is home to a large variety of sea life, from sharks to clownfish; the best views are located in the shallow channel adjacent to the motu (a reef islet) of Tautau.
  • Huahine. Traditionally, Huahine was known as the 'rebel' island and was famed for its fierce warriors and resistance to change. Today, it is perhaps the most picturesque of all the Society Islands. The island equivalent to the Garden of Eden, Huahine, is an immense tropical jungle thriving with coconut plantations, vanilla orchids, banana groves, breadfruit trees, and watermelon fields. It is also a culturally preserved sanctuary with sacred temples hidden throughout dense vegetation. If you are looking for pristine, untouched natural beauty with little to no tourists around, then this island is for you. 

Chartering a Yacht in Tahiti 

As you can imagine, there are a variety of hotels, hostels, and exclusive resorts that you can stay in during your trip to Tahiti; however, let’s look at another option: chartering a yacht in Tahiti. 

A Tahiti sailing vacation offers balmy easterly trade winds averaging between 15 and 20 knots throughout the year. The island guarantees a relaxing sail every single day over calm waters. ​​Cruise beautiful lagoons, meet with the friendly local people, participate in local traditions while learning more about the Polynesian culture, dive and snorkel some of the most beautiful spots, swim with whales and sharks, eat French and Tahitian fusion cuisine, stay overnight in an overwater bungalow, shop for vanilla spices or Tahitian cultured pearls and dig your toes deep into the white sand—you can experience all of this and more when chartering a yacht in Tahiti. ​​The atolls, motus, islands, lagoons, and caves of this archipelago offer endless options for exploring by boat, making a yacht charter the ideal way to visit the region. 

Many people think that chartering a yacht is out of their price range. However, this is not necessarily true. It all depends on your needs and wants. We have a personal chef that can customize a menu based on your preferences and any food allergies or dietary restrictions that you may have. Many of our yachts are stocked with water toys like stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and a dinghy that can be used for tubing, water skiing, and wakeboarding. We also can include the option to scuba dive from the yacht. Other less common amenities still available on some yachts include an e-foil board, seabob, sea scooters, snuba, and kiteboarding. If you’d like, there is even an option to have a hot tub or jet ski on one of our bigger yachts. 

If you want to have the best experience of Tahiti, consider chartering a yacht. Let us know your dates, budget, and the number of guests. We will be happy to find you the best option and walk you through the process. A catamaran that sleeps six people and has a captain can be as low as $10K per week, but you can add meals and drinks to make it all-inclusive, starting around $15L. 

Are you ready to visit Tahiti? There are so many things to do in Tahiti, so what are you waiting for? Come visit these gorgeous islands and see them at their best while on your own private yacht.