French Polynesia – Detailed Travel Guide

French Polynesia

Deep Dive into the Infinite Blue Lagoons of French Polynesia!

Lose yourself in the mystical offerings of nature as you explore French Polynesia

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Dotted with small islands, French Polynesia is a paradise for water lovers. Blue skies meet the dazzling waves, the soil is fertile and everything else is simply great.

This is a sweet getaway from the hustle & bustle of your daily life; it’s everything your heart desires.

The best time to visit French Polynesia is during the cooler, dry season, from May to October before the cyclones.

Couple in French Polynesia
Couple enjoying the beach in French Polynesia.

Check out our article on the Most Instagrammable Places in French Polynesia

Things to do in French Polynesia

Somewhere between California and Australia, French Polynesia is an untainted haven. It’s a diverse culmination of 118 small islands spread across thousands of miles of the ocean—a place that brings you close to nature.

From basking in the sun to the calm ocean waves washing your feet, there’s so much to do here.

Exploration aside, there are so many things to do in French Polynesia.

Sit back as we take you through the many things this paradise has to offer!

1. Island Hopping is a Must!

Raiatea Island
Raiatea Island

When exploring the various islands via Air Tahiti, a window seat is crucial.

The view from the skies is so heavenly and mesmerising, you’ll regret missing out on this dreamy view of the islands!

You can visit these small islands by road as well, so you need to rent a car or a scooter as you prepare to hit the road!

Hire a Fun Private Electric Car on Bora Bora

You must not fail to explore the stunning coastline of Tahiti Nui and that of its enchanting sister island, Moorea—these beautiful twin bays that give this island a heart shape will leave you mesmerised.

Take a Moorea 4×4 Safari Tour

You can also visit the ancient temples of Huahine or simply enjoy Raiatea, the southern part of the island.

Moorea - French Polynesia
Moorea – French Polynesia

2. Ride the Teahupoo’s Surf Waves

Teahupoo Wave
Teahupoo Wave in Tahiti

Home to one of the world’s biggest waves, Teahupoo is a surfers’ dream!

Its offshore coral reef ring causes a huge swell that drives the waves so high.

You don’t need to be a surfer to enjoy this area, as its calm and shimmering clear waters provide the perfect backdrop for you to bask in the sun.

With the infinite lagoons meeting the endless blue skies, the view is a treat to the eyes. Whether you choose to surf away against the splashing waves or just appreciate the wonders of this place, you can’t go wrong.

Surfing - French Polynesia
Surfing In French Polynesia

Book a Half Day Tahiti Peninsula and Teahupoo Boat Tour

3. Take on an Underwater Adventure at Rangiroa!

Rangiroa atoll

Love the rush of adrenaline? There are plenty of water activities for you to enjoy. Still, there’s more to Rangiroa than just plunge pools and white coral sand.

Soothe your senses as you float in the blue waters or enjoy the thrill as you take a deep dive in the ocean. From snorkeling and kayaking to scuba diving, this place has something for everyone!

Snorkelling in French Polynesia

Rangiroa is one of the largest atolls in the world. It is a layer of coral formed on the peak of an extinct underwater volcano, thathas now become an island attracting tourists from all over the world.

Book Snorkelling framed in the legendary Tiputa Pass

4. Go Hiking!


Don’t forget to pack a pair of comfortable shoes when planning your visit to French Polynesia as these high volcanic islands are the perfect place to hike and explore—you may need a guide to assist your trail, for safety

Venture into Mount Aoraki in Tahiti, the peak of Moorea, you just might come across the rarest flower in Raiatea or discover a secret beach in Hiva-Oa.

Book yourself on Moorea Three Coconuts Trail Guided Hike

This will be the perfect workout for your mind and body!

Nuku Hiva
Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia

Where to Eat?

A trip to French Polynesia is a treat in every sense, and there are some incredibly exotic food experiences you should try.

Don’t forgot to try the Fresh Baguette’s in French Polynesia

Give you tastebuds an experience of a lifetime as you indulge your soul in some Poisson cru, Tahiti’s signature fish dish.

There are so many places and dining rooms offering delicacies in the streets of Tahiti, Moorea, and the islands nearby.

1. Matira Beach, Bora Bora

Perched above the sandy beaches, overlooking the endless blue ocean is Matira Beach restaurant. Furnished with fine local wood furniture, Tiki sculptures, with a red wall backdrop, this is the perfect blend of two cultures – Polynesian & Asian.

There’s no better scenery than an orange sunset with the sound of rushing waves in the background.

They also offer a wide variety of delectable sushi options, NZ meats, and seafood for you to enjoy!

2. Painapo Beach Paradise, Moorea

If traditional Tahitian food is what your heart desires, Moorea’s Painapo Beach is the place for you!

It is one of the best places to enjoy Ma’a Tahiti, a traditional buffet consisting of fish, pork, chicken and more, cooked to perfection in an underground oven. Load up and eat your heart out at this all-you-can-eat buffet because your heart will never have enough of it!

Make sure you save up some space to end your meal on a sweet note of Po’e, an incredible pudding-like dessert curated with roasted papaya or pineapple along with creamy coconut milk!

3. Les Roulottes (Food Trucks), Tahiti

Known as one of the most popular dining experiences in Tahiti, Les Roulottes, which means caravans in french, is where you come to dine under the stars in the most casual way ever.

Pull up a chair as you enjoy some comfort food like freshly grilled mahi-mahi, some classic buckwheat crêpes, or Tahitian version of chow mein.

At Hauru Point, indulge in delicious rotisserie chicken or some Tahiti’s classic Poisson cru, with your feet sunk in the grainy sand as you dine by the beach.


4. To’ata Cafés, Tahiti

Want to treat yourself to a luxurious dining experience? To’ata cafe, a little ahead of Boulevard Pomare is where you’ll find a variety of options to try!

From  Mito (Cured tuna with garlic) to Koua Ves Tee (Shrimps drizzled with olive oil, onions and fresh tomatoes), restaurants like Snack Mado will satiate all your seafood cravings with their diverse dishes.

You should also visit Chez Jimmy, the perfect spot for lunch to enjoy crisp salads, easy snacks, and some rich traditional Tahitian offerings.

The aesthetic ambience along with delicious food is everything you could ask for!

5. Les Relais de Joséphine, Rangiroa

Moments come alive on the island of Rangiroa.

In addition to being one of the Tuamotu atolls, the food in Les Relais is unlike anywhere else, with an open-air restaurant style, surrounded by classic bungalows.

The three-course dinner here is a treat to your senses. Starting with a local specialty dish, Korori, made with pearl oysters and served with green papaya gratin on the side, end your meal with a mix of Paris and Papeete.

Do not miss out on the chocolate fondant sprinkled with coconut or a rich tart with local mangoes topped with chantilly cream.

Take a Moorea Street Food Tour

Where to Shop?

If you’re a shopaholic ready to dive in and shop your heart out, there are so many things to buy in Tahiti!

Sea Shell Necklace
Sea Shell Necklace

Papeete is a shopaholic’s dream world. With the prettiest black pearls to the finest handicrafts alluring you in, the wide range of variety will tempt you into making a purchase or two. However, the prices here are a bargain compared to Moorea.

Papeete Municipal Market
Papeete Municipal Market

1. Malls & Duty-Free Stores

If you just cannot resist visiting a shopping mall then you can head for Centre Moana Nui in Punaauia. There are amazing treats, salons, snack bars, banks, and more.

There are not many options for duty-free shopping, but you can find the best deals on products like French Perfumes or chocolates.

You can find duty-free shops near the waterside of Centre Vaima, the largest duty-free shop. It’s speciality ranges from Seiko, Lorus & Cartier watches to designer perfumes, and more.

2. Black Pearls

Tahitian Black Pearls
Tahitian Black Pearls

Papeete is the hub of jewellery shops or bijouteries, offering you a huge variety of black pearls. You will be able to find them in a variety of settings.

There are some smaller stalls in Papeete Municipal Market which sell pearls, however, it would be a smarter choice to buy them from a more reputable seller for the best quality.

You’ll find most stores selling Black Pearls situated around the Centre Vaima, along with Boulevard Pomare.

You can also visit the Robert Wan Tahiti museum which carries only the best quality pearls. They are pricier and use only 18-carat gold for the setting of these pearls in jewellery. You can find Robert Wan outlets on all the main islands.

On the second level of the Centre Vaima, a Sibani Perles Joaillier outlet carries the jewellery line of Didier Sibani.

Didier Sibani is a renowned pioneer of the local industry. Their products are created with a European theme in mind and are available in all other Sibani outlets on the islands.

French Polynesia is the world’s number one producer of black pearls.

They are cultured by adding a small nucleus into the shell of a live oyster. This oyster further coats it with nacre, which is the same substance that lines the pearl shell. The nacre leads to the birth of dark pearls which is called “black.”

Black Pearls
Black Pearls

However, it’s actual colours range from slightly gray, white, or black with a tint of red or green. No two pearls exist that  are exactly alike. Still, it’s advisable to check your pearl in broad daylight before purchasing it.

3. Handicrafts

A large variety of seashell jewellery, rag dolls, needlework, mats, baskets and handbags are produced by local craftsmen. Tahitian women sit together and weave colourful quilts just like their grandmothers used to do.

One of the most popular items is the cotton Pareu which is worn by everyone there. It is created with a screen or block printing method by hand, in the colours of the rainbow. They often use the same materials to create other products like bedsheets and pillow covers.

Anywhere you go, you’re bound to find a Pareu, ranging from cotton tie-dyed to silk-screened and colourful quilts.

The most popular item by far is the cotton pareu, also called the wrap-around sarong, which everyone wears. Most of the cloth products are usually sold at the sidewalk; jewellery shops in the main city have a broader range of shell jewellery and other items.

Pareu French Polynesia
Pareu – French Polynesia

4. Tropical Clothing

In Tahiti, it’s common to find people wearing printed sundresses or floral shirts.

The demand for these shirts is very high, and you might be able to get one for yourself from your hotel’s boutique, but at a very high price.

However, not only can you get this  product from most stores, you can also find a good variety of latest trends.

Maohi Art store located in Fare Tony on boulevard Pomare, for example, specialises in block-printed traditional designs and houses some of the most unique designs in the entire town!

Tourist Information

1. Getting to French Polynesia

The most viable option to travel to French Polynesia is by air. Fa’a’ā International Airport (PPT) the only international airport in French Polynesia, and it is located just outside Papeete, in Tahiti, the Capital.

Fa’a’ā International Airport (PPT) is reached by only 9 Airlines, all of which offer international flights:

Air France (SkyTeam): Los Angeles – Lax, Paris – Charles De Gaulle.
Air New Zealand (Star Alliance): Auckland.
Air Tahiti: Rarotonga Cook Island.
Air Tahiti Nui: Paris – Charles De Gaulle, Tokyo – Narita, New Zealand – Auckland, Los Angeles – Lax.
Aircalin: Nouméa – New Caledonia.
French Bee: San Francisco, Paris – Orly Airport.
Hawaiian Airlines: Honolulu Hawaii.
LATAM Chile (OneWorld): Easter Island, Santiago de Chile.
United Airline (Star Alliance): San Francisco

2. Commuting

French Polynesia consists of five archipelagos, all unique in their own way.

Tahiti is the biggest of the islands, and is home to 70% of their population.

It is important to be aware of the local flights you can take while travelling within these islands.

To travel to other archipelagos, you will have to cross Tahiti first, and the flights to smaller islands are often booked months in advance.

As a result, you may have to spend a night in Tahiti before travelling to the next archipelago on your list the next morning.

3. Money

The local currency is Central Pacific Franc (CFP Franc), but Euro is widely accepted for payment in most of the hotels.

You’re also at an advantage, as Western Bank cards, Visa and MasterCards are easily accessible.

However, travelling here can be very expensive, thus, it’s advised to cut back on some less important expenses.

4. Internet

Due to its remote location, the internet here is limited. Although all guesthouses and restaurants offer free wifi, the speed can be really slow.

You can also purchase a tourist sim card which will give you limited data and minutes of local & international calls. However, beware that 4G connection can only be used in islands like Bora Bora, Tahiti, and Moorea.

Check out our review on Skyroam travel Wifi review

Useful links

For flights – Click here

For hotels – go to

For tours – go to

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