Stay longer and visit more islands, for each has unique charms and attractions. Whether you snorkel or scuba, the underwater miracle is not to be missed. Nor is the culture, the black pearl markets or the food – be it delivered by outrigger canoe or fine dining in a resort.
Stay in an overwater bungalow
The iconic image of French Polynesia is the overwater bungalow in an azure lagoon. The pictures you have seen are not photo-shopped (the water really is that blue) and a stay in a bungalow with a window in the floor is a must.
Le Marché de Papeete
The Public Market in Papeete in the heart of the city – aka Le Marché – knocks out tropical fruits and vegetables, oils and scented soaps, shell necklaces, flowers, pareos, carvings, tifaifai wall hangings and more. Open daily from 7:30am to 6:00pm (Sundays 4:00am until 9:00am).
Below the surface
The snorkelling and scuba diving are superb with reef sharks, dolphins, Napoleon fish, groupers and huge manta rays all de rigueur. Try The Aquarium to get started, The Wrecks for a sunken cargo ship and Catalina flying boat airplane and St. Etienne Drop—Off for a deep blue abyss and moray eels.
Fautaua Waterfall is the stuff of fantasy and is just outside of Papeete. Whether you drive to a vantage point or make the trek to get up close and personal, the water’s spectacular 250-metre drop from the side the mountain will deplete your memory card.
Grotto Caves of Maraa
Just across the road from the beach, the Grotto Caves of Maraa in Tahiti are cold, freshwater pools so clear you cannot judge their depth. The entrance is covered with lush ferns and a quick dip here is a refreshment you will remember.
Just because the lagoons are so stunning is no reason to eschew the islands’ interiors. There are fascinating hiking, cycling, driving and 4WD adventures to be had discovering village life, WWII relics and the ancient temples and meeting places called marae.
Les Roulottes, Papeete
The Roulottes are food vans that appear in a dedicated area by the wharf every evening. They mainly offer Tahitian and Asian cuisine but also steak, seafood, pizza, crepes and more. A fun way to sample the local tucker and a sunset at a reasonable price.
Belvedere Point lookout, Moorea
Great views of both of Moorea’s bays and adjacent (and quite challenging) hiking tracks make this a go-to part of the island. Cruise ship excursions all stop here and the lookout gets very crowded when these buses arrive.
Moorea Juice Factory
Another Moorea gem at the end of Cook’s Bay, the factory that started with pineapples now also processes grapefruit, lemon, mango, guava, pawpaw and noni into liqueurs, rums, brandies, fruit juices, crystalised fruits, chocolate and jams. Take a tour, wander around yourself or just sup the free samples.