French Polynesia
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Things to do in French Polynesia

Things to do in  French Polynesia

Welcome to French Polynesia

With more than 100 tropical islands to explore and plenty of things to do, French Polynesia—located in the remote South Pacific Ocean—is pretty close to paradise on earth. Days are best spent lazing on palm-lined beaches, snorkeling or diving with rays and sharks in azure lagoons, and hiking to hidden waterfalls. Travelers tend to go island-hopping to experience the laid-back way of life or splurge for the ultimate luxury island holiday. Come July, the islands come alive during the vibrant Heiva festival, when locals showcase their culture with dance performances, traditional sports, and more.

Top 15 attractions in French Polynesia

Belvedere Lookout

Belvedere Lookout is a scenic viewpoint awarding views of Cook's Bay, Opunohu Bay, Mt. Rotui and the fertile Opunohu Valley with its many pineapple plants, craggy peaks and gentle slopes. It’s a great place to visit simply to take in the views or to get a bit of outdoor exercise in.More

Magic Mountain

At 650 feet (200 meters), Magic Mountain is one of the highest mountains in Moorea, part of French Polynesia. Although it’s not exceptionally high, the volcanic peak is rugged and covered in thick bush, and offers great views of Moorea and beyond from the lookout near the summit.More

Arahoho Blowhole (Trou de Souffleur de Arahoho)

Perched along the rocky coast of Tahiti and bordered by a scenic black sand beach, Arahoho Blowhole is one of the island’s most visited natural wonders. As waves crash against the shore, a powerful geyser-like eruption sends spectacular plumes of water into the air, wowing visitors and creating the opportunity for some impressive photos.More


Vaitape is the biggest—and only—real town on the island of Bora Bora. It’s where most people start their vacation on the island and is home to all the essential services.More

Coral Gardens

Encircled by a lagoon and barrier reef, the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora is known throughout the world for its marine life. A paradise for snorkelers, the Coral Gardens are a section of the reef with calm, shallow waters ideal for beginners. Look for resident creatures such as parrotfish, Japanese moray eels, and more.More

Lycée Agricole d'Opunohu (Agriculture School)

Lycée Agricole d'Opunohu, or Agriculture School, is French Polynesia's only agricultural school, located on the island of Moorea. At the agricultural school, visitors can see pineapples, lemons, grapefruits, bananas, vanilla beans and many other fruits being grown and learn about the cultivation process. The school also makes fresh fruit juices, jams and sorbets, which are available for purchase. They also offer tastings of the fruit products they make. Visitors can hike on educational trails in the school's plantations in order to learn more about the school and its work and to enjoy the scenery. At the agricultural school, you can also learn about the different tropical plants, flowers, and fruits that are native to French Polynesia.A visit to Lycée Agricole is often included on tours around the island. Other highlights of these tours include the lookout points at Magical Mountain and Belvedere Lookout, which offer different vantage points for viewing the island, the volcanic landscape, and the surrounding water. In addition, these tours often include ancient Polynesian sites, hiking, swimming, and taking in the gorgeous island scenery.More

Faarumai Waterfalls

There are numerous waterfalls all over Tahiti, but the most popular and accessible are the three waterfalls at Faarumai, also known as the Cascades of Faarumai. The three majestic falls are surrounded by tropical vegetation and are more easily reachable than other waterfall sites in Tahiti. Although you may see visitors taking a dip in the pools, swimming here was outlawed after someone was injured.More

Matira Beach (Plage Matira)

Located on the southern tip of Bora Bora, the public Matira Beach (Plage Matira) is one of the island’s most popular sandy spots. With clear water ideal for swimming, and a beach backed by swaying palm trees, it is an idyllic destination for sunbathing, snorkeling, and watersports.More

Territorial Assembly (Place Tarahoi)

Built in the 1960s on the site of Queen Pomare IV of Tahiti's residence, the Territorial Assembly (Place Tarahoi) is home to the Presidential Palace and French Polynesian Assembly. Its also surrounded by manicured gardens dotted with memorial statues.More

Afareaitu Waterfalls

This pair of waterfalls near the village of Afareaitu are each fed by a different stream, the Putoa Stream and the Vaioro Stream. The larger of the two falls plummets more than 100 feet (30 meters) into a rock pool perfect for swimming.More

Marché de Pape'ete (Pape'ete Market)

The sights, sounds and smells of authentic Polynesian life are on offer at Pape'ete’s main market, the Marché de Pape'ete (Pape'ete Market). The indoor market hall is the commercial and social hub of Tahiti’s laid-back capital and the oldest surviving institution on the island.More

Mt. Otemanu

Mt. Otemanu is a jagged, green-sided mountain in the center of the island of Bora Bora. The volcanic mountain is visible from across the island. Visitors can admire the mountain from a boat, or explore the base of the mountain on a rigorous guided hike.More

Notre Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame)

Recognizable for its sunny yellow façade, Notre Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame) is one of the oldest and largest churches in Papeete. The Gothic structure was originally built between 1844 and 1875 but has been destroyed and restored several times, most recently in 1987.More

Cook's Bay (Baie de Cook)

Surrounded by rugged mountain landscape that seems to reach up from the water, Cook's Bay is one of the main tourist areas in Moorea (it's here that cruise ships come to moor their boats). The area is home to restaurants, shops, and hotels, but it’s still relatively sleepy and laid-back—this is Moorea, after all!More

Vaima Shopping Centre

The Vaima Shopping Centre is the largest and most modern shopping outlet in Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia. You can shop for Tahitian souvenirs, such as black pearls and maps of the French Polynesian Islands, as well as international and French brands. It’s conveniently located on Tahiti near the Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the island’s top draws.More

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All about French Polynesia

When to visit

French Polynesia enjoys warm, sunny weather year-round, although the best time to visit is during the dry season from May to October. In July, islanders celebrate the month-long Heiva Festival with traditional dancing competitions, sporting events, and cultural ceremonies. Meanwhile, the Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o—a professional surfing competition held annually in August—attracts people from all over the world.

Getting around

The quickest way to island hop in French Polynesia is by plane with Air Tahiti, the local airline. Ferry services also operate in the Society Island group, between Tahiti and popular destinations such as Moorea and Bora Bora. On the main island of Tahiti (and a few others) there are public bus services but they’re generally slow and unreliable; so, depending on the size of the island, the best option is to rent a car, scooter, or bike for the duration of your stay.

Traveler tips

Head to the Papeete Central Market early on Sunday morning to grab some firi firi (coconut milk donuts), poisson cru (raw fish), baked taro, and some tropical fruits before indulging in your own traditional Sunday brunch. A boat trip or guided hike through the Fenua Aihere—Tahiti’s wild country, which is steeped in legend—is also unforgettable.

French Polynesia information

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