One of the most common misconceptions about Tahiti is how large the country actually is. In fact, the proper name for this beautiful destination is The Islands of Tahiti and it’s not just one island in French Polynesia, but 118! Each of the islands offers up unique experiences, from hiking to surfing to culture. B+B’s very own Kelly Fordham came back from her Island hopping adventures with a tan and stories to tell.
Tahiti is home to the world’s heaviest waves off the coast of Teahupoʻo. The village on the south-west coast of the island is the location of numerous surfing competitions and on any average day you’ll definitely catch some thrill seekers shredding on the glassy blue.
Pro Tip: Book your trip between April and October if you want to see these massive waves at their largest.
Visit a Marae
Maraes are a cornerstone of Tahitian culture. They are ancient open-air sanctuaries that at one time hosted the most important events from the worship of the gods, peace treaties, celebrations of war, and the launch of voyages to distant lands. The district of Maeva on Huahine Island has the largest collection of Marae in French Polynesia.
Pro Tip: Visit the Marae Taputapuatea on Raiatea. It is one of the most important in French Polynesian culture and is currently being considered for the World Heritage List.
Poisson cru is one of the signature dishes of The Islands of Tahiti. Sometimes referred to as Tahitian Salad, the dish features fresh tuna (likely caught that morning) marinated in coconut milk, a little bit of lime, and fresh vegetables. Combine that with a bottle of Hinano, the local Tahitian beer, for the perfect addition to lunch on a hot day.
Pro Tip: Each Tahitian has their own spin on poisson cru. For a true study in the cuisine of the islands, be sure to try this dish every chance you get.
Reef Drift in the Tiputa Pass
The atoll of Rangiroa has two passes that allow entry to its lagoon. The Tiputa Pass is known for it incredible reefs. Set up a reef dive with a local scuba shop, drift through the pass, and witness a myriad of ocean life from lemon sharks to manta rays to trigger fish.
Pro Tip: Stay at the Hotel Maitai Rangiora and set up a reef dive with Top Dive, located on site. They offer tours to visit the pass just before sunset to see dolphins playing before they retreat to the ocean for the night.
Les Roulottes are Tahitian food trucks that can be found on most islands. Place Vaiete (located in Papeete, the capital of Tahiti) is the largest and most popular site where these food trucks gather. Offering everything from Chinese food to steak frites to crepes, the Roulottes are a favorite dinner stop for locals and tourists alike. Come hungry so you can try a bit of everything.
Pro Tip: Head to Place Vaiete just before sundown to catch a breath-taking sunset and grab a table before the crowds come.
The Maitai Lapita Village, a hotel on the Huahine Island, is surrounded by an ancient archaeological site where the Island’s ancestors, the Lapita people, once lived. The hotel lobby features a museum showcasing artifacts found on the site. The hotel owner, Peter Owen, enlisted the help of archeologist Mark Eddowes when building the hotel to ensure the properties relics and history were preserved.
Pro Tip: Book a guided tour of the island through Peter’s tour service, Huahine Land Safari, and learn about its many secrets and legends, like the sacred blue-eyed eels that live in the river. The islanders believe these eels keep the fresh water clean and their presence means it’s safe to drink.
Tikehau Island is an oval-shaped atoll, considered to be one of the most beautiful in Polynesia. The island is known for its exotic pink sand beaches and the abundance of sea life that makes it a must for scuba divers and snorkelers.
Pro Tip: Stay at the Ninamu resort on Tikehau, located on a private motu (tiny islets that make up an atoll – learn more here) and nestled between the lagoon and the ocean. Property-owner and Billabong Surf Pro team member, Chris and his team are available to guide guests to the best parts of the Tikehau Lagoon.
Lagoon Tour of Bora Bora
One of the best ways to take in the beauty of Bora Bora is through a lagoon tour. You can take a private or group tour and see the entire lagoon surrounding the island. The water is a color blue that seems unreal and you’ll get the perfect landscape view of the jagged point of Mount Otemanu, an ancient volcano with a height of 2,385 feet. Along the way, your guide will stop to let you snorkel, feed sharks and rays, and have a delicious motu picnic made by the locals.
Pro Tip: Take a tour with Lagoon Services. Their guides are the most knowledgeable and know all of the hidden secrets, plus they will even play the ukulele while driving the boat with their feet! We suggest asking for DiDi – trust us!
Private Island Living
Vahine Island Private Resort is a resort is on a private, 23-acre motu with its own coconut grove, coral gardens, and stunning views of Bora Bora. Vahine Island features only three overwater bungalows and six beachfront suites, welcoming just a handful of guests at a time and giving the resort an intimate feel.
Pro Tip: Ask for the “Cast Away Picnic” experience where you take a small motor boat to the surrounding motus for a private lunch and some incredible snorkeling.