With an ever-growing tourism industry, French Polynesia, located between Australia and South America, is quickly becoming a popular vacation destination. However, thanks to its huge variety of islands (118 in total!), spread out over more than 4,000 square kilometers, you can still find quiet beaches and secluded forests for a peaceful retreat.
French Polynesia’s islands offer countless colorful beaches. For classic white sand, head to Matira Beach, Bora Bora’s most popular coastal spot, and one of the island’s few public beaches. Enjoy waterfront restaurants and boutiques along this 1.6-kilometer-long stretch, or take a dip in the warm, shallow waters.
|Matira Beach is Bora Bora’s most popular beach.
For black beaches, visit Lafayette Beach, located on the largest French Polynesian island, Tahiti. You’ll be amazed by both the color and the softness of the sand: don’t be surprised if you sink down as far as your knees!
|Tahiti is the largest French Polynesian island.
Alternatively, head to the UNESCO biosphere reserve of Fakarava for pretty pink sand. The island is still fairly unknown, and well-preserved by UNESCO, making it the perfect place for a secluded and clean escape.
After relaxing on a peaceful beach, check out one of French Polynesia’s many hiking trails. Check out the 727-meter-high Mount Otemanu on Bora Bora, created from the remnants of an old volcano. Owing to the fragile nature of this mountain’s rocks, you can only hike to its base, but you’ll still get a great work out! With unpredictable weather and sharp inclines, this isn’t a hike for beginners, but your hard work will pay off with fantastic panoramic views over Bora Bora’s coastline.
|Hiking Mount Otemanu isn't easy but worth it for the great view.
The island of Raiatea also has great trekking routes, along which you might spot the tiare apetahi, one of the rarest flowers in the world. Head up to the 294-meter-high peak of Mount Tapioi for unforgettable views over the blue lagoon, and even Bora Bora on a clear day. Alternatively, check out the Hamoa Waterfalls: a set of three fantastic falls, with an idyllic bathing spot.
Thanks to its expansive coastline, French Polynesia offers great watersports opportunities and facilities. For an unforgettable diving experience, check out Rangiroa, one of the largest coral atolls in the world. Here, you’ll see a huge range of wildlife, including hammerhead sharks, turtles, dolphins, and manta rays.
|Rangiroa is home to hammerhead sharks, turtles, dolphins, and manta rays.
If you prefer to stay on top of the waves, head to the village of Teahupo’o on Tahiti, home to one of the world’s most dangerous reef surf breaks. Only advanced surfers should take to the infamous Teahupo’o waves, where Billabong hosts its well-known annual surfing contest.
To see what French Polynesia was like under tribal rule, visit the ancient temple, and UNESCO world heritage site of Marae Taputapuatea. The site is approximately 1,000 years old, and was once a center for religious and social ceremonies, before Europeans arrived in French Polynesia.
To learn about the Marquesan tribe, check out the Nuku Hiva island, where you can even watch a haka dance in the middle of an ancient temple. Be sure to buy beautiful Marquesan wood and stone carvings, before visiting one of the island’s three archaeological parks, with their tiki statues and human sacrifice stones.
|Nuku Hiva island is great to learn about the Marquesan tribe.
For more cultural sites, visit Vaitape, the largest town on Bora Bora. It’s home to the Paroisse Saint Pierre-Celestin Church, the only Catholic church on the island, which is famous for its beautiful stained-glass windows. While in Vaitape, don’t miss out on its art scene, including Bora Art Upstairs, a gallery that represents ten local artists, with over 100 pieces.
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Endless beaches and opportunities to relax. But be prepared to spend some cash!