The island of Tahiti is probably, by name, the most famous in French Polynesia. It is also the most overlooked. Many people only visit as a jumping off point to begin their exploration of Bora Bora and the Society Islands.

While I certainly recommend you visit those islands, it’s a shame to dismiss Tahiti. There is so much this beautiful island has to offer. Everyone who visits French Polynesia will pass through. Why not take a couple of nights and explore a little further?

Here are some reasons why you should give Tahiti a little extra time.

Explore the mountainous interior of Tahiti

Getting to Tahiti

There are several ways to plan flights to Tahiti from the UK. You can fly long haul to Tahiti from Tokyo, Auckland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Easter Island. More locally you can connect from Hawaii, Rarotonga and New Caledonia. This means it’s really easy to include Tahiti in a round the world holiday.

Where to stay

The island of Tahiti is split into 2 areas, Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti. ‘Nui’ means large and ‘iti’ means little, explaining the two different sized areas of the islands. The majority of hotels are near Papeete (the capital). This is home to French Polynesia’s international airport and is located on the western shores of the island.

Rather than staying in the middle of town, I’d recommend that you stay a bit further down the coast, where a lot of bigger hotels can be found.

View from the Manava Suites Tahiti | Travel Nation

Manava Suite Resort Tahiti

The Manava Suites is a lovely hotel, with great views from the infinity pool over to Moorea. It really makes you realise how close the two islands are. The pool area is so welcoming - it’s the biggest one on the island. With a swim up bar it’s perfect for a day of relaxation and swimming.

The rooms are spacious and light – I’d suggest you plump for the Lagoon Studio rather than a standard room as the price difference is tiny and enjoying a drink on your balcony overlooking the ocean is worth it.

If you’re looking for a fun afternoon, I recommend their ‘donut boats’. These are floating barbecues with seats around them. Stock up on some food and float out into the lagoon to enjoy your afternoon of delicious fun!

Intercontinental Tahiti Pool | Credit: Intercontinental Hotels

InterContinental Resort Tahiti

The InterContinental Resort Tahiti is one of only two hotels on the island that have overwater bungalows. As well as Tahiti, there are also two Intercontinental hotels in Bora Bora. This means there are great combination offers, if you choose to stay in both hotels. If you’re looking for a holiday enjoying this luxury room type every night, then combining this hotel with Bora Bora works well.

The overwater bungalows are gorgeous with stylish décor and enviable views towards the green peaks of Moorea. There is a fantastic Tahitian style restaurant that serves up local and fusion cuisine. Some nights of the week you can enjoy a Polynesian show, either a demonstration of Marquesan dancing or the story of Huahine’s Island’s legends.

Things to do

Tahiti Helicopter tour

Experiencing a helicopter flight over the island of Tahiti was one of the highlights of my trip. It really made me realise how much this island has to offer.

Flying along the coast I could see all the hotels and local houses. Within a few minutes the helicopter swept around the east coast. Suddenly, we were up amongst the towering green mountains of the interior. It felt like I was flying through the Jurassic Park set. Surrounded by lush forest, tall waterfalls gushing down the rocks and rivers below me rushing through the trees.

I would highly recommend a heli tour. Even if you arrive early into Tahiti, you could head off for the morning to explore by helicopter. Then just return to the airport for your flight out to Bora Bora or the Tuamotus in the afternoon. We can book this for you – just ask!

Explore the lush green interior of French Polynesia | Travel Nation

Moana Explorer Tahiti

Looking for a peaceful afternoon? There’s no better way to pass the time than by heading out on a tour with Moana Explorer Tahiti. You’ll sail around the coastline of the island aboard a traditional canoe. It’s powered only by the wind and your paddle.

With no motor on the boat this method of travel is serene and relaxing, and you’ll find yourself slowly letting go of your troubles. It’s fascinating to learn from your guide how ancient Polynesian’s sailed their canoes and explored the Pacific.

Sailing on the Moana Explorer in Tahiti | Credit: Tahiti Tourisme

Tetiaroa tour

The pristine island of Tetiaroa is home to The Brando, a unique eco-hotel situated on the beautiful atoll. Just a 15-minute flight from Tahiti, the untouched island was once the holiday destination for Tahitian royalty. After Marlon Brando bought in the 1960’s, it has retained its VIP status.

Glitterati from across the world come to holiday here, attracted by the privacy, luxury and eco-credentials. You might think it’s exclusivity makes it unattainable to visit unless you’re a guest, but happily, that’s not the case.

Every Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday you can get up early and head off into the ocean. You’ll sail for 3.5 hours to reach this heavenly island. Arriving at 9 am you’ll have a tour of the bird island to see red-footed boobies and great frigate birds. Spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach or snorkelling in the crystalline water. This is truly paradise on earth.

Tetiaroa lagoon | Travel Nation

Surfing on black sand beaches

French Polynesia is famous for it’s beautiful white sand. The island of Tahiti, however, also boasts some spectacular black sand beaches.

One of the most famous surf breaks in the world is Teahupoo, on the south coast of the island. This spectacular wave is only suitable for experienced surfers, so be careful if you enter the water here. It’s a great spot to watch these athletes make some incredible moves.

Looking for somewhere a bit more low key to learn to surf? Plage de Taharuu on the south coast is perfect. Small waves, loads of space to find a spot on the sand and a little café to enjoy some lunch. If you’re not up for surfing, head to Plage de Toaroto where you can enjoy some fantastic snorkelling.

Surf the teahupoo wave in Tahiti | Travel Nation

Inspired to visit Tahiti?

I hope this has shown you why it is worth staying a couple of nights on the island of Tahiti. The lush green interior and the peaceful lagoon is a wonderful place to start or finish your holiday to French Polynesia.

If you would like to plan a trip to Tahiti and French Polynesia, give us a call on +44 1273320580 or request a quote. We are experts in planning tailor-made holidays and round the world flights, so we can work together with you until we’ve created your perfect trip.

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