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Best places to visit in French Polynesia

Beautiful and must-see places, we have plenty of choices. This is the magic of our islands: so little land surface and yet so much to see on each polynesian island. A beautiful beach, a magnificent mountain, a beautiful waterfall accessible with hiking guides, archaeological sites expressing the culture of French Polynesia... Each island has its treasures. 

Travel with us to discover Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Bora Bora, Rurutu, Fakarava, Hiva Oa ! Your trip will take you to some of the most beautiful islands in the world. 

What are the most beautiful places in French Polynesia? This is a topic worth attention to. First, let's focus on the geography of our beautiful travel destination.

Geography of our islands

How big is French Polynesia? If I tell you “bigger than Europe”, do you believe me? No? And yet this is true, at least for the European Union: 1.7 million square miles for French Polynesia and its exclusive economic zone, and around 1.6 million for the 27 European states. About 1100 miles separate Bora Bora from Hiva Oa, and more than 932 miles are between Tubuai and Mangareva.

The European Union's land surface is more or less equal to French Polynesia's maritime surface: 1,608 square miles, spread over 118 islands, including Tahiti (where your plane will land), Moorea, where you must spend a few days, and Bora Bora that cannot be missed. But it is impossible, to sum up, 5 archipelagos to its 3 famous islands. Each archipelago has a different Polynesian culture and unique landscapes. The beach in Bora Bora or Huahine is very different from a Marquesan beach. Also, an island like Moorea can be recognized by its incredible mountains, while a little further away, Tetiaroa or Rangiroa are flat atolls, where only the blue water of the lagoon extends as far as the eye can see. Embark on an exciting trip to the other side of the world. Let’s explore!

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Travel to the society Islands

The highly popular yet inhabited archipelago of French Polynesia is the Society Islands archipelago

The name, given by James Cook in 1769, has not changed ever since. The Raromatai archipelago (Huahine, Raiatea-Taha’a, Bora Bora, Maupiti) is called the Leeward Islands. Tahiti, Moorea, Maiao, and Me'etia islands form to the east, the Windward Islands. Among them, you will surely know the 5 most populous and tourist ones:

  • Tahiti, the big island, where there is so much to visit that we clearly invite you to stay a few days. Do you prefer a white or black sand beach? A hike in the mountains with guides or a scuba dive? In Tahiti, there is everything you need for an exceptional trip.

  • Moorea, the pineapple island, one of the tourists' favorites for its activities, its beaches, its beauty, and the feeling of natural well-being that emanates from it. Moorea is the perfect island to relax near Tahiti.

  • Raiatea-Taha’a, two islands in one trip ! Connected to the same blue lagoon and protected by the same reef barrier, these islands are beautiful. The first one, the sacred island - god’s cradle - hosts archeological treasures such as Taputapuātea Marae, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Culture is an important part of Raiatea. Many catamaran cruises depart from the marina of Raiatea. Taha’a is a wild island whose priceless heritage is vanilla.

  • Huahine, the authentic island. Travel to Huahine to discover the authentic, untouched and peaceful French Polynesia. Everyone who has ever experienced the island of Huahine has instantly fallen in love with it.

  • Bora Bora… Should we still present Bora Bora, the pearl of the Pacific, one of the most iconic travel destinations in French Polynesia, famous all over the world ? Matira beach and the luxury hotels of Bora Bora are among the most popular representations of French Polynesia. A real highlight of any trip to the islands of Tahiti!

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Travel to the Tuamotu Archipelago

It is the archipelago in the center of Eastern Polynesia. It is made up of 77 coral atolls, including the 2nd largest in the world, Rangiroa. About thirty are inhabited. The others are only visited by neighboring inhabitants for fishing or coconut harvest for copra production.

All atolls are different. Generally, whether locals - or tourists - people aren’t aware of the characteristics of each atoll. Their shape, their language, their depth, their past, their vegetation, and sometimes even their marine wildlife is not the same as elsewhere. 

The most famous are:

  • Rangiroa for scuba diving (the atoll is considered the Everest of diving). You’ll also find Tahitian vineyards (whose vines were planted on a motu) and rum ;

  • Makatea, a Pacific-raised coral island known for its industrial history of phosphate mines ;

  • Fakarava is known for its pink sand beach and unforgettable dives. The atoll’s underwater paradise is protected as part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve ;

  • Ahe, Arutua, Apataki, Takapoto, Takaroa, and Manihi atolls producing Tahitian pearls.

The Gambier Islands

On the southeast of the Tuamotus, the Gambier Islands are a group of tiny volcanic islands made of 14 high islands remnants of a caldera and several atolls. The largest and most inhabited one is Mangareva. It is a unique place - almost entirely devoted to producing Tahitian pearls - with its pearl farms on the lagoon. The pearls harvested there are among the most treasured in French Polynesia.

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Travel to the Marquesas Islands

On the northeast of the Tuamotus, and 870 miles from Tahiti and Moorea, Te Henua Enata is the original name of the Marquesas Islands. They were sighted in 1595 by the Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendaña, who named them after the marqués de Mendoza, viceroy of Peru. The 12 islands of the Marquesas - 6 inhabited - are more than a tourist destination; it is a leap into the past. For centuries the Marquesans have preserved their home’s natural heritage and distinctive cultural traditions. Once there, visiting the main islands (Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa) is a must.

Travel to the Austral Islands

The Austral archipelago constitutes of 5 islands, the last land south of French Polynesia. After them, the ocean stretches as far as the eye can see, with water that cools as you approach the frozen lands of Antarctica. Waters that humpback whales leave at the first signs of southern winter in June. The inhabitants of this archipelago are the first to see these marine mammals who go up to the warm and protected waters of French Polynesia. There are the orchards and the most fertile land in French Polynesia. Everything grows, peaches and apples included.

Rurutu, Tubuai, Rimatara, Raivavae, and Rapa Iti islands are predominantly unknown. Their inhabitants specialize in specific art: weaving and basketry of everyday objects. Handbags, hats, baskets, and fans made of coconut leaf, pandanus, or local bamboo (‘ofe) are woven with infinite mastery and impressive technical skills.

So, what are the most beautiful places to visit in our archipelagos? It is no rocket science to process to list about fifteen unmissable islands. I will let you imagine the others…