Beautiful green peaks surrounded by blue lagoons where nature reigns supreme, French Polynesia is the perfect place to slow down the pace and experience warm, laid-back island culture
French Polynesia comprises 118 islands that cover over 6,400 square kilometers, as big as Western Europe! It’s one of the Pacific’s most popular tourist destinations and is home to breathtaking islands.
With diverse marine life, here you can experience some of the most spectacular dives in the world. Plus, the volcanic peaks and pristine white beaches are straight out of a postcard!
From the very moment you arrive, you will be left speechless by its natural beauty.
For our trip, we preferred mostly small guesthouses and pensions run by locals and an itinerary from island to island to enjoy the beauty of this corner of paradise fully. We went snorkeling with manta rays and sharks, diving with dolphins, trekking in the woods. In a nutshell, A trip that brings you happiness.
day 1 Tahiti
day 2-5 Huahine
day 6-11 Moorea
day 12-17 Rangiroa
day 18 Tahiti
Culturally speaking, Huahine was arguably the most interesting island on our trip to French Polynesia! Despite the rain we toured twice, both to enjoy the untouched nature among coral gardens and ancient temples, and to discover more about this island famous for its fertility. One of our guides, Poe, taught us the meanings of the various symbols that Tahitians love to have tattooed; he told us about the customs and invited us to his home to cook a typical Tahitian lunch with him!
Huahine is immaculately tropical and effortlessly Polynesian. Lush and scarcely developed, this is an island to visit for extreme calm, communing with nature, and a genuine taste of culture. There are plenty of opportunities for diving, surfing, snorkeling, exploring top-notch archaeological sites, and horse riding. Still, the beauty of this place is how easy it is to relax and do very little. The days go by, your skin gets a little darker, and your smile a little wider.
Huahine has everything you could desire from a South Pacific island. This is an island that must be visited at an extremely slow pace, communing with nature, and a genuine taste of culture.
There are plenty of activities to do. Here you can find amazing white sand beaches, palm trees lining every road, extinct volcanoes to climb, glistening lagoons to paddle in, dense jungle, old Polynesian ruins to explore, smooth roads to cycle along, vanilla bean plantations to wander around.
The beauty of this place is just how easy it is to relax and do very little at all.
Moorea is a lush volcanic island very close to Pape'ete. This dreamy island is the kind of paradise you picture when you think of French Polynesia, bright blue lagoons, swaying palm trees, green mountain valleys, blooming hibiscus and white beaches.
While Huahine remains the most pristine and undeveloped island we visited in French Polynesia, Moorea is hands-down the most visually striking. The panoramas simply need to be seen to be believed!
Looking at a map of the island, I strongly recommend staying on the northern shore between Hauru and Tema’e. This is the best area where to stay in Moorea, in my opinion.
The northern part of Moorea is home to the island's most dramatic landscapes, most notably Mount Rotui, Opunohu Bay and Cook’s Bay. The entire island is beautiful, but this particular region is extraordinarily breathtaking.
There are many activities you can do in Moorea: exploring the lagoon by kayak, diving, enjoying a culinary orgasm while eating at the coco beach, visiting the viewpoint. However, above all, I recommend renting a catamaran for two and sailing in the lagoon as we did with Captain Hervé Bourmaud's Polynesian spirit pirogue. Sailing in the blue lagoon while sipping mango juice and eating passion fruit picked by our captain directly in his garden is an experience not to be missed. Hervé is very experienced sea lover and is very respectful for marine life.
Far from the hustle and bustle of urban life and located between the sky and the sea, Rangiroa is a world of its own!
Like giant pearl necklaces floating in the warm blue ocean, the Tuamotu Atolls are like nothing you've ever seen before. Thin slivers of coral rock surround endless lagoons, where traditional Polynesian life moves extra slowly and rich marine life awaits you beneath the gentle waves. Rangiroa is known as ‘the Infinite Lagoon’.
This island is all about what you can find underwater. You can snorkel or dive here, visit the blue lagoon or just take a dip in the ocean. This is one of my favorite islands because of all the unexpected adventures!
The Blue Lagoon is a postcard that came to life.
When we reached the Blue Lagoon by boat, I wasn't prepared for its beauty.
It is a group of islands in the west of Rangiroa atoll, making a small lagoon. This is a beautiful and unusual place on the edge of the world blessed with coconut trees, colorful coral, and thriving sea life. The water had the most impressive shades of blue.
Our very own little paradise.
Diving in RANGIROA
Most of the wildlife lies in the lagoons and surrounding waters, as there are very few indigenous animals on land. Diving offers a great chance to experience this country's underwater wildlife.
Rangiroa is not only the second-largest atoll in the world but also one of the best destinations for scuba diving.
Rangiroa is to scuba diving what Bora Bora is for the ultimate luxury vacation.
It’s is one of those destinations that every scuba diver should visit at least once in a lifetime.
The fantastic visibility and the sheer volume and density of marine life is astounding. On the outgoing tide, diving is done on the ocean side of the reef. When the wave comes towards the lagoon is when drift dives are done with the current. The marine life that you may encounter is astonishing. There are manta rays, eagle rays, turtles, moray eels, schools of barracuda, grey reef sharks, black tip sharks, the occasional great hammerhead and even the silky shark can be witnessed on occasion.
Nuhi Nuhi Motu
It’s a Lagoon dive (10-15 meters). Here we did our first dive in Rangiroa. If you are looking for the perfect place to learn how to dive, this lagoon is the ideal place. This site is full of colorful reef fish. You can also witness blacktip sharks resting on the sand. If you have a spouse who may be a little nervous about trying out diving, this is a very welcoming place for a first experience.
The Big Blue to Tiputa Pass
When the tide moves away, another one of our favorite dives is the steep oceanic drop-offs where there is much less current. Here you can find sedentary dolphins and these encounters are regular occurrences. There are also several different species of rays and turtles which can be found in these dive sites along with countless fish.
One of the reasons the Tiputa Pass is so famous is because of the huge variety of pelagics. You’re likely to see grey reef sharks, manta rays, white tip reef sharks, black tip reef sharks, lemon sharks and even great hammerhead sharks. Unfortunately, we aren't skilled divers and we were not able to benefit from the chance of seeing big hammerhead sharks.
Anyway, we opted for swimming with the dolphins.
Dolphins are still wild animals, however when they want to play we could call them some sort of "sea dogs". We saw them dancing in the waves, playing in groups, singing and we were even lucky enough to caress them. When they came out of the deep blue and two of them started swimming towards me, I was at the head of the group for a moment I froze. I was petrified! One of them passed me so close that he almost touched me. When he turned around and came back to me I knew he wanted me to caress him and so I did until he started swimming back to the open ocean in a sinuous way. Those few seconds were worth the trip.
The top dive instructors were exceptional! Nice, experienced and respectful of the sea and marine animals. If I went back to Polynesia, I wouldn't think twice about choosing them again.