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Luxurious overwater bungalows, palm-fringed beaches, and turquoise seas are all associated with Tahiti. The beautiful main island and economic center of the overseas territory of French Polynesia has so much more to offer: interesting culture, impressive landscapes, and a diverse animal world, all this is Tahiti. It is a volcanic island dominated by the 7,352-foot-high Mont Orohena.
Here every traveler gets their money's worth because everything is offered in Tahiti: water sports to wellness, discovery to relaxation. You can find out here what you absolutely must see on this paradise island.
Fa'a'a International Airport is just a few miles south of the capital, Papeete. The best way to get there is via the Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle, for example with Air Tahiti Nui, Airbee.
Tahiti has been part of France since 1880, and French is the official language, so normal EU regulations on immigration go. You can get along well with English in the tourist areas.
Vacations in Tahiti are possible all year round, with May to October being the best time to travel. In winter, especially in December and January, you have to expect frequent rainfall. Try to come in July: that's when the big "Heiva" festival with music and dance takes place.
The water temperatures are consistently high, so you can dive, snorkel and swim in the sea at any time without any problems. Everywhere on Tahiti (and the neighboring islands) you will find diving schools that offer appropriate excursions.
The only noteworthy (black) sand beaches on Tahiti itself are Taharuu Beach on the south coast and Vaiava Beach on the west. They are ideal if you only want to spend a few hours at the beach every now and then while vacationing in Tahiti.
The white beaches of your dreams are more likely to be found on the neighboring island of Moorea, for example Tiahura Beach, which was only opened in 2017, and the smaller Ta'ahiamanu Beach. Temae Lagoon is good for snorkeling. The crossing from Papeete to Moorea takes about 30 minutes.
Our pirate tip: Cargo ships allow cheap island hopping in French Polynesia. Ships depart three times a week to the dream islands of Bora Bora, Huahine, Maupiti, Raiatea and Taha'a, and once a week to the Marquesas. The ships offer little in the way of comfort, but they do offer an authentic Polynesian experience where you can quickly socialize with the locals.
Admire a Polynesian dance show (e.g. at the Hotel InterContinental in the capital Papeete)
Shop at Papeete Market
Climb the Venus Cape Lighthouse
Marvel at the tomb of the last king of Tahiti
Stroll through Bougainville Park
Walk through the Notre-Dame-Papeete Cathedral
Visit the Paul Gauguin Museum (arguably the most famous exiled Tahitian in the world)
Stroll in the Papeari Botanical Garden
Visit the Musee de la Perle Robert WAN (the world's only museum devoted exclusively to pearls )
Learn about local culture and traditions at the Musée de Tahiti et des Îles
Learn about Polynesian culture, nature and history at the Te Fare Manaha Museum
Discover the Faarumai Falls
Lose yourself in the Hitiaa lava tube
Check out Vaihiria Lake & Vaipahi Gardens
Use your vacation in Tahiti to explore the interior of the island on hikes. Hiking routes lead up to the 7,352 feet high Mont Orohena and the 6,778 feet high Mont Aorai. On the latter there are also refuges at 4,593 and 5,905 feet altitude, which allow overnight stays. The ascent of the two mountains should only be done in the company of a local guide.
The hiking trail through the Fautaua valley, which is just two and a half miles long, is far less strenuous: it ends at the Fautaua waterfall, in which you can also swim. A special feature are the lava tubes of Hitiaa, underground passages that are partly filled with water and thus produce small waterfalls.
A trip to Tahiti Iti offers the five mile hiking trail to the Vaipoiri Caves and the cliffs of Le Pari. It is best to hire a local guide who will point out the many archaeological sites along the route.
The densely populated capital Papeete can be easily explored on a walk. From the port, stroll through Bougainville Park to the larger Jardins de Paofai with the pink Temple de Paofai and the Pearl Museum. For the way back, take Rue du General de Gaulle to see the Presidential Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the pretty Town Hall. Finish the tour at the covered market, where you can buy handicrafts and souvenirs like the deliciously fragrant monoi oil.
At dusk, residents gather on the Place Vaiete at the port, where numerous food stalls (called roulottes here) offer freshly cooked specialties and live music is played. The culinary offer is diverse: from French crêpes to pizza to Polynesian "poisson cru" (raw fish), everything is there.
In the Bay of Matavai at Point Venus in northern Tahiti, James Cook anchored in 1769 on his voyages of discovery in the South Pacific. On April 4, 1789, the "Bounty" set sail from here, before the crew organized what is probably the most famous mutiny in the history of seafaring on April 28. In 1932, the American James Norman Hall, together with Charles Nordhoff, published the first book about the mutiny, which has since served as the basis for three film adaptations. His home in Arue is now a museum worth seeing. The small beach at Point Venus invites you to take a break and swim in the sea.
Since the island is not very big, you can book a single hotel or bungalow for your vacation in Tahiti and go on day trips with your own rental car. When it comes to accommodation, you have a wide range of options, from owner-managed budget guesthouses to your own bungalow to luxurious resorts with a private beach.