The 10 Best Things to Do in French Polynesia

March 31, 2018 Merry Kessler

Tahiti and Bora Bora are the most well known French Polynesian islands, thanks to their picture-perfect beaches and romantic ambiance. Indeed, these islands are ideal for handholding, with their lush landscapes and mood-setting features like lagoons and grottos. The heart-shaped island of Mo’orea makes a wonderful base for divers and snorkelers eager to explore its surrounding barrier reef system. Feeding the massive, sacred eels of Huahine is a one-in-a-lifetime way to experience an important local ritual.
Restaurants in French Polynesia

1. Tereia Beach

French Polynesia
Excellent
81%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 174 reviews

Tereia Beach

Reviewed By ehb365 - Oceanside, California

Ideal for those who are not use to currents and just want to splash around. There is a small set of coral just off the point to the right as you are looking at the lagoon. We even saw an octopus!

2. Aremiti Ferry

Porto di Papeete | Moorea ferry station, Papeete 98713, French Polynesia +689 40 50 57 91
Excellent
54%
Good
38%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 969 reviews

Aremiti Ferry

Fast and confortable ferry crossing between Tahiti and Moorea. Operating 7 days a week, from 05:30am to 05:30pm.

Reviewed By Marlin L - Ocheyedan, Iowa

This is a very cost effective way to travel always on time very clean They handle your luggage with care Very easy

3. Vallee de la Vanille

Faaaha | Haamene - Tahaa Commune, Patio 98734, French Polynesia 657489
Excellent
58%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 146 reviews

Vallee de la Vanille

Reviewed By RC30319 - Georgia

This is a small local farm that produces Vanilla in the most traditional ways. From an education perspective it was very informative. Especially seeing first hand how labor intensive it is. The owner who gives the tour seemed very frustrated at having to explain things, maybe it was just a bad day. Regardless, it was a fun way to spend an hour and there is a small shop on site where you can buy the products. Would recommend a stop here if you are on the island.

4. Taputapuatea Marae

Opoa, Opoa 98735, French Polynesia
Excellent
48%
Good
42%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 211 reviews

Taputapuatea Marae

The largest and most important religious site in Polynesia features the ancient temple area located on the edge of a huge lagoon.

Reviewed By J R W - Carson City, Nevada

Most of my visits to Taputapuatea were from the seaside when we would anchor there. This was my first stop while driving around the island, and since the last time I was there they have constructed a visitor center as well as many informational signs in French, Tahitian and English.
We first saw it in 1972, just four years after Dr. Yoshihiko Sinoto of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu organized a party to reconstruct it.
It was first examined and discussed by Dr. K.P. Emory, also of the Bishop Museum in 1925.
The meaning of Taputapuatea is sacrifices from afar. It is one of the oldest and most powerful maraes in all of Polynesia and it is said that for any other religious marea to have any power, it had to include a stone taken from here.
According to legend, the Polynesians from as far away as the Marquesas would come to here on regular pilgrimages. They would kill their human sacrifices in the lagoon and use the bodies as canoe rollers so as not to damage the canoes when they were dragged ashore.
This is certainly worth an hour or so of your time if you want to wander around and read all of the signage.

5. Ile aux Recifs

Atoll de Rangiroa, Avatoru 98775, French Polynesia +689 87 96 02 57
Excellent
88%
Good
10%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 403 reviews

Ile aux Recifs

Reviewed By jasilver23 - Tampa, Florida

We thought this excution was the best adventure we have ever taken!!! The two guides were excellent and they took us to two snorkeling spots, to see some amazing landscape, cooked us one of the best meals for lunch and we made a basket to take home along with a hat out of straw that they made for us. I would highly recommend this excursion!!!!

6. The Water Gardens of Vaipahi

Taravao, French Polynesia
Excellent
53%
Good
43%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 109 reviews

The Water Gardens of Vaipahi

Reviewed By ruthandvern - Wilton, California

This is a water based tropical garden park. It is also a well documented history of the attending to the dead immediately following in a series of nine locations and descriptive signage telling you what stage of the process and where it fits in the forgiveness, cleansing and purification for the traditional Tahitian approach to heaven. In addition there are several actual treks to take up into the mountain (some part of the ceremonial trail) one is quite a long loop. The entrance is free. Cruise ships send excursions by bus down to this place on the southwest corner of the island. There is also a gift shop with many nice items and immaculate bathrooms.

7. Paofai Gardens

Boulevard Pomare, Papeete 98714, French Polynesia
Excellent
55%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 241 reviews

Paofai Gardens

Reviewed By Allgoodthyngs - Shrewsbury, United Kingdom

We enjoyed walking along the waterfront in Papeete. The Gardens are well maintained and the pathway is easy to manage and suitable for wheelchairs and strollers too.
Lots of birds - they seem to be used to having humans around so will come quite close.
Locals use it for picnics, as did we! They also use it to practice dance and hook routines often with loud music but all in good humour and really entertaining especially if you try to join in!
Theres lovely breeze coming across the ocean and lovely to see all the yachts on the pontoons. So its a nice safe place to take a stroll or to sit and watch the goings on, however you can not escape the roadside noise and fumes.
This is a public place with no fees,

8. Mount Otemanu

French Polynesia
Excellent
83%
Good
14%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 506 reviews

Mount Otemanu

This jagged remnant of an ancient volcano rises up sharply more than 2,400 feet from the surface of a sparkling, turquoise lagoon.

Reviewed By 14Roger - Ontario, Canada

The views of Mt Otemanu from some angles are more spectacular than others. On nice sunny days you can see the lush landscape and beautiful mountain clearly. We saw the top of the mountain with cloud cover most of the time we were here in January. It reminded us of Table Mountain in Cape Town.

9. Magic Mountain

Near Opunohu Bay, French Polynesia
Excellent
82%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 663 reviews

Magic Mountain

Reviewed By heindels - Atlanta, Georgia

We booked through Crystal Cruises with Alberts 4x4 ATV on a 3 hour tour of Moorea Island. It was one of the highlights of our visit through the South Pacific. The scenery was breathtaking. Belvedere Lookout Point was perfect for photographs as was Magic Mountain overlooking the blue lagoon below. We had a great ride through streams, steep inclines, rough terrain, Forests, switchbacks, you name it. What a thrill.
We visited pineapple plantations, ancient burial sites, and stopped at the Agricultural school for a break to taste various fresh fruit jellies, and fruit juices.
These highlights are not to be missed.

10. Museum of Tahiti and the Islands

Pk 15 | PO. Box 380 354, Punaauia, French Polynesia 689548435
Excellent
36%
Good
48%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 228 reviews

Museum of Tahiti and the Islands

Le Musee de Tahiti et des Iles - Te Fare Manaha offre une decouverte de la culture polynesienne a travers quatre salles d'exposition permanente consacrees au milieu naturel, a la culture materielle, a la vie sociale, religieuse et a l'histoire.Le musee propose egalement des expositions temporaires. Museum tells the story of Tahiti and the Islands featuring exhibits on Polynesian history, culture, environment and ethnology.

Reviewed By TwoAmps - San Diego

This is one of the best collection of pre-contact French Polynesian artifacts anywhere. The Bishop Museum in Honolulu and the Museum of New Zealand have more extensive collections from across the Pacific, but here is an excellent collection focused on some truly iconic French Polynesian artifacts. The natural history section is OK; the Polynesian migration explanation and timeline seemed a bit dated. The 19th and 20th history section can be explored quite quickly, and the Gardens are wonderful. Overall, certainly worth the round trip taxi fare from the airport or the Intercontinental. The museum will call you a taxi for the return trip. We planned on spending an hour but ended up spending two. Most but not all of the explanations are in French, so the offline camera function of Google Translate comes in handy if your French skills are as pathetic as ours.

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