The first time I visited Tahiti and French Polynesia, I was 3 years old. So you would imagine when I got the opportunity to go back there for a special family trip last year, I didn’t hesitate one second right?
French Polynesia is the dream of many people and often out of reach as so far away and so expensive. The numbers speak for themselves, only about 200,000 visitors go to French Polynesia each year. Which makes it a very exclusive destination.
Before I dive into the places I checked and things I did, a few things to know about French Polynesia:
French Polynesia is part of France and yes everyone speaks French! Many speak English too of course but if you know a bit of French, it’s always easier.
From Australia, the trip really isn’t long (as long as you don’t encounter plane issues like I did on the way back but that’s another story). It took me about 8 hours total to reach Tahiti and if you leave in Australia, that’s pretty good. My plane tickets weren’t also super expensive, about AUD$1,000 return.
You can travel around French Polynesia under a budget, I stayed in a nice hotel and did a cruise with my parents but on the way back stayed on my own at a hostel and met lots of young French travellers (usually from New Caledonia or Australia) visiting the different island and although many had to choose only a couple of islands to visit, they could do it on their own budget.
Staying in nicer hotels, transfers between islands and the cost of life in general is a bit expensive though. I found also the conversation between Pacific francs to dollars was really bad. But Pacific francs to Euros was quite ok.
Here is an overview of what I did during my time in French Polynesia:
Tahiti is the main island and probably the most famous one. I wouldn’t stay too long there though because there’s a lot more to see around French Polynesia - two or three days there is pretty good. Here are my recommendations for Tahiti:
Don’t spend more than half a day in Papeete - check out the market, the pearl museum and that’s pretty much it. There isn’t much more to see and the city itself isn’t the nicest.
Rent a car and drive around Tahiti Nui (the big island) and Tahiti Iti (the smaller island). Take a good day to do the whole island and more if you want to go inside (I didn’t get time unfortunately.)
A MUST DO for ocean & surf lovers: watch the Teahupo’o wave! This was hands-on one of the best thing I’ve ever seen. We took a boat from “Cindy Taxi Boat” in Teahupo’o, a lovely surfing local family who take people on one-hour boat tours every day. For about 30 dollars per person, you can get very close to the wave and watch surfers get the most insane barrels. I got lucky on that day and saw quite decent waves. It was incredible to watch!
Definitely one of my favourite islands in French Polynesia - Huahine was great to discover the local life, about plants and agriculture but also French Polynesian traditions, history and culture. The tropical surroundings of this island are also stunning.
Bora was a nice place to stop to observe the marine life with whales, dolphins, stingrays, sharks… I had a great time swimming in the ocean with those. I actually saw more when snorkelling than diving (which was a bit disappointing!) so definitely recommend that to you try this at least once. The crystal-clear waters are the best to dive into!
You can also discover the inside of Bora-Bora ina 4WD to check out the sights, the nature and the beautiful hotels. But I found overall Bora-Bora quite touristy and not as charming as the other islands - still interesting to explore though.
Moorea is only 30 minutes away from Tahiti and quite a nice island to explore as well. I found it had a lot more charm, beautiful nature and more traditional than other ones. I really enjoyed the tropical feel there.
You can do the same activities as in Bora-Bora with sharks and stingrays snorkelling, tours around the island to discover the inside and the culture.
I also visited a pineapple plantation there which was beautiful and very interesting to see how pineapples are growing!
I got lucky to also stop on a private island for the day thanks to the cruise we did with my family. Apparently, there are quite a few motu (meaning small island with not much on it) which you can access around French Polynesia. It’s the perfect place to relax, take pictures, swim and really really relax. I loved it because I could take many pictures!
Overall French Polynesia is a big place to visit and it is not cheap but definitely worth to do at least once in your life. I think it’s best to visit the islands by boat (I’d love to do by sailing boat one day!) as it’s such a nice way to discover the surroundings.
Have you been to French Polynesia before? Or is it on your list for your next escape? Tell me everything!