What to do in Tahiti
Tahiti, known as the Queen Island, is the largest inhabited island of 118 islands in French Polynesia. Located in the Society Island Archipelago, the island of Tahiti is the cultural and commercial hub, and considered the heart of French Polynesia.
This island was formed by two volcanos, and today explodes with natural beauty from lush valleys to high waterfalls. There’s plenty to do on the island of Tahiti from watersports, safari tours, helicopter flights, shopping, Tahitian dancing, archaeological sites, museums, and more!
You’ll feel welcomed as soon as you step off the plane, when you hear the Polynesian people say, “Maeva” meaning “welcome” in Tahitian, and greeted with a flower, traditional music and dance at the airport.
We are excited to cruise with Windstar Cruises on their MSY Wind Spirit Yacht through French Polynesia. Sharing our favorite things to do in Tahiti and other islands in the Society and Tuamotus Archipelagos.
WHAT TO DO
What does a Perfect Day in Tahiti look like?
We asked our trusted sources for some of the island’s best kept secrets – Intercontinental Tahiti Resort, Tahiti Helicopters, Marama Tours, Tahiti Tourism and made a list of their recommendations on favorite excursions around the island – cultural sites, boutiques, galleries, markets, and added a few of our own.
Create your perfect day in Tahiti and select from several ideas below!
Good to note: Tahiti is divided into two areas, Tahiti Nui (the bigger part of the island) and Tahiti Iti (the smaller one), connected by the isthmus of Taravao.
Early Morning – Noon
- Visit the Papeete Market: Hop on the local transport bus, Le Truck and ride into Papeete to shop at one of the local markets. You can buy tropical fruit – papayas, mangoes, and choose from a variety of souvenirs – woven items, vanilla products, floral leis.
- Up for an Adventure? Take a 4×4 safari tour and explore Papenoo Valley – see waterfalls, view the crater and take a swim in the Papenoo River.
- Water Sports: So many watersports to choose from – diving, kayaking, snorkeling, windsurfing.
- Helicopter Flight: Book a flight with Tahiti Helicopters, and get an aerial view of the islands – Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora – details below.
- Take a Dance Class: Put on a grass skirt, and learn the Tahitian dance, the Ori Tahiti!
- The Pool: Spot a prime lounge chair, and relax under a grass umbrella. If hungry, order poisson cru, a traditional Tahitian dish of raw tuna marinated in lime and coconut milk.
- Book a Massage or Treatment at Deep Nature Spa
- Nap in a Hammock: Unwind in a hammock, smell the tropical flowers and feel the warm Polynesian breeze.
- Shop for Tahitian Pearls: Our favorite place to find high-quality Tahitian pearls is Robert Wan.
- Visit an Art Gallery: The exhibitions at the Winkler Gallery showcase local artists work.
Sunset & Evening
- Watch the Sunset: Cruise on a catamaran through the emerald lagoon and watch the sun set behind the nearby island of Moorea.
- Grab a Bite at a Roulotte: join the locals and dine at a roulotte on the Papeete waterfront, where locals stroll the waterfront, and you might hear them singing, while playing the ukulele.
- Tahitian Performance: Don’t Miss! the weekly performance of ‘Soirée Merveilleuse’ Polynesian buffet and Tahitian dance at the Intercontinental Tahiti Resort (details below).
***Check with the Tourism Office for the Island’s Big Festivals!
Tahiti is the island where Heiva I Tahiti, a cultural festival takes place every July. There’s also one of the world’s most famous surfing events, Billabong Pro Surf Tahiti at Teahupo’o, where professional competitions are held annually.
WHERE TO STAY, SPA & DINE
Where to Stay?
Intercontinental Tahiti Resort & Spa was our home while we stayed in Tahiti, an exotic luxury resort and spa. The rooms are spacious with tropical décor and modern amenities, as well as a balcony that overlooked the lagoon.
Some photos c/o Intercontinental Tahiti Resort & Spa
Located near Papeete, just two miles from the airport, the resort is set amongst tropical gardens and landscape, with a Lagoonarium full of tropical fish and coral, two pools with a freshwater infinity pool and swim-up bar with the best views of Tahiti’s sister island, Moorea.
There are two restaurants – Te Tiare restaurant and The Lotus overwater gourmet restaurant, with traditional Polynesian dishes with a French culinary twist.
Deep Nature Spa:
Located in the resort’s tropical gardens, guests can experience Tahitian bliss at Deep Nature Spa by Algotherm. This island oasis offers relaxation for body and mind with a wide selection of beauty treatments and wellness packages.
Using premium Algotherm spa products combined with centuries-old Polynesian Hei Poa products during the traditional massages, and a steam bath and cold plunge pool. Email: email@example.com
DON’T MISS! On our list of what to do in Tahiti we had to include this cultural experience!
Friday Night at the Intercontinental Tahiti
‘Soirée Merveilleuse’ Polynesian buffet and Tahitian Dance
Fridays are an island favorite, featuring a sumptuous buffet of Polynesian specialties. For entertainment, the ‘Soirée Merveilleuse’ is performed by Hei Tahiti dance group. Popular both with guests of the hotel and local residents.
Resort Activities: At the InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa, you can enjoy an array of activities, from sports, such as tennis and volleyball, to water-based activities and cultural pursuits. There’s also a jogging track that winds through the tropical gardens, and a fitness center. There are a number of cultural demonstrations throughout the week, including:
- Handicrafts exposition
- Shell and flower necklace making
- Basket weaving
- Torch lighting at sunset
- Coconut show
- Pareo show
- Fish feeding in the Lagoonarium
- Book a reservation: firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW TO GET TO TAHITI
Air Tahiti Nui: French Polynesia begins the moment one steps aboard Air Tahiti Nui’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Poerava Business class offers each guest ample space with comfortable seats reclining to a bed along with every needed amenity (from headphones to socks to toothbrush to hand cream!)
The attendant crew is helpful at every turn, tending to every passengers comfort.
Warm scented towels served on a pearl shell and fresh tiare tahiti flowers are just some of the gracious ways Air Tahiti Nui welcomes each traveler to the islands.
Moana Premium Economy Class is the intermediate class that offers Premium comfort as well.
And with such rest en route, a new day dawns, beckoning onward to further adventures.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Some photos c/o Marama Tours
Looking for a one of the most established and leading tour companies in Tahiti? We recommend Marama Tours, founded in 1973 by Mata and Emile Cowan.
Family owned and operated full service tour operator and transport company, with one of the largest, comfortable, air-conditioned, transport fleets in Tahiti ranging from 43 seat coaches, 15 seaters, mini vans and De Luxe Sedans for VIP transport.
Celebrating their 43-year anniversary, they take pride in always being the leader in “personal attention”. If you need help with hotel reservations, inter island air ticketing, airport meet and greet, transfers, optional excursions/activities, and they have over 30 years of cruise ship handling experience.
If you need a custom itinerary to suit the needs of any size group, Marama Representatives will attend to your group throughout your stay in French Polynesia, and can arrange all phases of the group visit to the islands including custom excursions and special theme evenings.
Marama Tours prices are competitively low, and their service standards are high. We aim for “absolute satisfaction of the client” shares Michael Faye, Project Director at Marama Tours.
Tel: 689 40 50 74 74
Tahiti Helicopters takes guests on sightseeing, private or passenger-transfer flights, on a spectacular and memorable flight over the turquoise waters of the South Pacific. We selected the flight tour of Moorea and met our pilot Matthew at the airport in Tahiti.
The Tahiti Helicopter Pilots and Team provide top service and a custom tour, and offer some of the best itineraries to discover the hidden and difficult to reach places in French Polynesia.
Sharing an example of some flights over Tahiti by Tahiti Helicopters:
- Take off at dawn in the direction of Mount Orohena (Tiara) to admire the spectacular colors of the sun’s rays rising over the island’s vegetation.
- Another flight excursion will take you to the Fataua waterfall, 300 meters high, which makes it one of the highest in the world, without forgetting the turquoise waters of Punauaia.
- Plunge into the heart of the massive volcano and mingle with the jagged mountains shrouded in clouds. At the heart of Tahiti Nui is hidden an incredible vegetative realm interspersed with countless waterfalls. These uninhabited valleys shelter sacred archeological sites. Your excursion will finish with a flyover of the lighthouse on the famous Venus point, as well as its black-sand beaches with an aerial view of the city of Papeete.
- Discover even more of this amazing heritage by choising the Tahiti Nui Tour. The Vaihiria Lake, an enormous natural reservoir, followed by a flight over the Papeari valleys that will take you straight to the isthmus of Taravao. This little stretch of land links the 2 parts of the island of Tahiti and gives the island its fish-like shape. On the western coast, the panoramic view of the Orofero valley will be the last stage.
- After having flown over all the hidden nooks and crannies of Tahiti, we invite you to enter into the deep and majestic valleys of the peninsula—Tahiti Iti. On the eastern coast of the peninsula, you will look out over the world renowned surf spot, Teahupoo, famous for its colossal waves. Not far from there can be found the private Motu of Te Pari, a little paradise within paradise.
Aéroport International de Tahiti Faa’a
98702 Polynésie Française
Tel : (689) 40504075
E-mail : email@example.com
EXPLORE FRENCH POLYNESIA
ARTICLES AND VIDEOS OF FRENCH POLYNESIA
On this trip, we cruised with Windstar Cruises, and visited 8 islands including coral atolls Fakarava and Rangiroa in the Tuamotus archipelago, as well as Taha’a, Raiatea, Huahine, Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti in the Society Islands. Sharing highlights from each of these islands – what to do, where to go, dine, stay…
***Click here to see drone footage Fakarava Blue Lagoon Tour
Global Adventuress thanks Marama Tours for hosting our transfers during our stay. We also want to thank Windstar Cruises for partially hosting us on one of the most AMAZING cruises in our lives, and making it possible for us to experience the French Polynesian Islands in a unique way!
Also, we want to thank Intercontinental Tahiti Resort and Tahiti Helicopters for partially hosting our hotel, meals, flights.
We flew from LAX Los Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti and it took about ~8 hours.
Air Tahiti Nui offers daily non-stop service to Tahiti from Paris and Los Angeles, as well as flights to Auckland and Tokyo.
Tahiti Tourism Office: To help plan your trip, visit the official tourism site, click here.
Be sure to download their guide, “100 Things to Do on Tahiti” click here
Windstar Cruises, a Luxury Cruise in a Private Yacht
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Named the World’s Best Small Ship Cruise Line by Condé Nast Traveler
If you’re looking for small ship cruising, on a casual elegant yacht, with less than 300 guests – we highly recommend Windstar Cruises to discover the islands of Tahiti. This is not your ordinary cruise. It’s 180 degrees from the ordinary!