Consistently voted amongst the top 10 island destinations around the world, French Polynesia is blessed to be able to offer iconic Resorts and Hotels spread across some of the world’s most memorable island holiday locations. Each group of islands within French Polynesia is unique and will provide a wholly different type of holiday experience. Here, we offer a small snippet of what to expect.
The Society Islands are the most well-known and visited island group in French Polynesia - the three most popular based on visitor numbers are Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora, however the lesser known islands of Raiatea, Taha'a, Huahine, Tupai, Maupiti, and Tetiaroa are also worthy of discovery.
The starting point for most visitors, Tahiti is the best known and largest of the islands in French Polynesia. It was formed by the eruptions of three now extinct volcanoes. Tahiti has it all - from surf and sand to culture and nightlife. The beaches, sometimes protected by a reef or lagoon, but often facing right onto the ocean, are covered with white or black sand, revealing this unusual geology. The variety of the scenery makes it an ideal place for a diversity of water and land activities. Cultural, historical and artistic treasures are in store on this dynamic and most populated island.
Linked with Tahiti by daily ferry services that cross a 17km ocean channel, this high island is much smaller than its famous neighbour. The mountains raised by volcanic activity with just the ridge-lines remaining and the caldera taking up the greater area is the perfect destination of choice for hikers and eco-tourists. Shaped somewhat in the form of a heart, cut with two deep bays, Moorea is perfect for mooring boats, from cruise liners to small catamaran. The huge lagoon is well preserved, dotted with charming motu as well as many beaches, making it an ideal place for watersports of all kinds.
The Pearl of the Pacific deserves the nickname. This member of the Society Islands, is an uplifted atoll formed by an extinct volcano, surrounded by a lagoon and fringing reef raised slightly out of the water. Lying 255km northwest of Tahiti with a total area of no more than 40km². The main island is made up of three bays that open onto the lagoon, an ideal spot for pleasure boating. Protected by its chain of coral, the island is rimmed with immaculate white sand and dotted with idyllic overwater bungalows, making the island the romantic destination that lovers dream of the world over.
Taha’a, accessible by a short ferry ride, shares a lagoon with Raiatea, which is just four kilometres away. The two mountains peering above the centre of the island, Ohiri (590 m) and Puurauti (550 m), are easily scaled on a hiking excursion. The deep bays dissect the coastline, and the coral barrier is scattered with numerous motu.
Taha’a is known worldwide for its vanilla (Vanilla taitensis) production, which earned it the nickname “Vanilla Island”. It is also well known for its many archaeological sites, hidden under dense tropical vegetation.
Amongst the largest islands in French Polynesia, Raiatea is a little over 200km from Tahiti. The small town of Uturoa, capital of the Leeward Society Islands, has a harbour that can accommodate large cruise ships.
Raiatea is also the location of UNESCO world heritage site, the Taputapuatea Marae, which is at the heart of eastern Polynesia’s ancient religion and mythology. The sacred marae is believed to be the site from where Polynesian ancient mariners set out from on their journeys to New Zealand (Aotearoa), Hawaii, and the Cook Islands.
With Huahine Nui in the north and Huahine Iti in the south you will find an enchanting island destination that delights with its slower pace - a short 35-minute flight from the island of Tahiti.
Huahine hosts the start of the annual Hawaiki Nui Va'a race each November - the world's longest and arguably most hotly contested international open-ocean canoe race that covers an energy sapping 124 kilometres between Huahine and Bora Bora. Huahine's fertile soil is the perfect location to grow vanilla, melons and bananas. The island also possesses the largest concentration of sacred Marae in the Islands of Tahiti.
The Tuamotu Island archipelago of 78 atolls is distributed across an area of 2 million square kilometres that reaches down to the Gambier Islands. This protected marine environment is populated with immense lagoons, pure virgin motu, and possesses some of the worlds best dive locations.
Rangiroa is a typical atoll of the Tuamotu Archipelago. Composed, quite classically, of a barrier reef surrounding a central depression, filled with saltwater forming the lagoon, and surrounded by several islets, called motu in Polynesia, but it is striking for the sheer size of its lagoon, making it the second largest atoll in the world. This exceptional environment has given rise to an impressive submarine fauna, giving the atoll its international reputation. Sharks, dolphins, open ocean and lagoon fish, and even whales, during the season, abound and are easily observed, especially in the Tiputa and Avatoru passes.
Tikehau is a beautiful oval-shaped atoll, with a maximum length of 27km by 19km in width and 20km² of land above water land, consisting of delicate motu (islets) bordered by beaches of fine white or pink sand. Lying 15km from Rangiroa and 340km north of Tahiti, it can be reached by a 55-minute flight Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the famous French oceanographer and explorer considered the waters surrounding the atoll to be the “most fish-filled in the world”. Tikehau has also carved itself a reputation with surfers worldwide, thanks to the perfect break, in the Tuhieva pass, the atoll’s only pass.
This UNESCO biosphere-protected atoll is the perfect getaway for anyone who wants to get off the grid. You won't find an over-water bungalow or resorts on Fakarava, the only accommodation options are Tahitian Guesthouses. What you will find is some of the most spectacular diving in the North and South Passes - which is why Fakarava is top of the destination list for divers from all over the world. Diving the 'shark wall' close to the Tamakohua South Pass and fishing in the lagoon or deep sea are popular activities. The flight duration from Tahiti to Fakarava is a 70-minutes.