After pickup from your hotel, set out to explore the island of Tahiti, traveling by air-conditioned coach with an experienced local guide. Your first stop will be on the west coast where you will visit the famous Marae Arahurahu, a relgious site dedicated to the ancient gods where important ceremonies used to take place. For manicured landscapes, visit the Vaipahi Garden, where you can wander around a tree-shaded wonderland of waterfalls, ponds and colorful tropical flowers. Your guide can help you identify the plant life as you take in this botanical gem. Visit Venus Point, located on Matavai Bay. The stop got its name from Captain James Cook, who observed the 1769 transit of Venus from this point as part of his work for the Royal Society. As you walk around the black-sand beach, note the monument that commemorates Cook's work here.Next, cruise along scenic roads to arrive at the Arahoho blowhole where, when there's a big swell, water shoots skyward, resulting in what might be a free shower courtesy of the sea! Enjoy the beauty of the black-sand beaches and turquoise sea, a popular surfing spot. Afterwards, visit Taharaa View Point for breathtaking panoramic views over the island before being returned to your hotel in Papeete where your tour ends.
It’s tough to choose between Maupiti and Huahine, but I think the latter wins it for me. Huahine was gorgeous. It had the best beach I found in French Polynesia, it had tons to do, from exploring old abandoned hotels to feeding blue-eyed eels to hiking up a volcano. The locals were welcoming, the lagoon was beautiful, and the seafood was delicious. My favourite guesthouse was also in Huahine.
Despite a local assembly and government, French Polynesia is not in a free association with France, like the Cook Islands with New Zealand. As a French overseas collectivity, the local government has no competence in justice, university education, security and defense. Services in these areas are directly provided and administered by the Government of France, including the National Gendarmerie (which also polices rural and border areas in European France), and French military forces. The collectivity government retains control over primary and secondary education, health, town planning, and the environment.[22] The highest representative of the State in the territory is the High Commissioner of the Republic in French Polynesia (French: Haut commissaire de la République).
You may be wondering, where is Tahiti? The islands are situated halfway between Los Angeles, California and Sydney, Australia. They are in the same time zone as Hawaii and located just as far south of the equator as Hawaii is north. Since the word often conjures up visions of a distant, unspoiled paradise, many assume them to be far away; but in all reality, Tahiti is only eight hours from Los Angeles.

Home to the capital city of Papeete, Tahiti is the economic center of French Polynesia. Since all flights arrive through Faa'a International Airport, your tailored Tahiti vacation will begin and end in Papeete. While you may be tempted to jet off immediately to the other islands, we recommend staying at least a day or two. Tahiti strikes an interesting contrast to some of the more quiet, secluded islands in the region; and with a selection of wonderful and convenient Tahiti resorts available, you will never regret staying.


More than just a romantic ideal, Bora Bora is a romantic reality. It comes as no surprise that the island is an internationally acclaimed honeymoon destination. Our newlyweds who decide on a Bora Bora honeymoon often feel as though they have escaped to a private oasis tailored entirely to their special moment of marital bliss—and anyone in the midst of planning a wedding can relate to just how enticing that sounds.  
Latin rite Roman Catholics constitute a large minority with 30% of the population, which has its own ecclesiastical province, comprising the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Papeete and its only suffragan, the Diocese of Taiohae.[34] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had 25,841 members as of 2017.[35] Community of Christ, another denomination within the Latter-Day Saint tradition, claimed 7,990 total French Polynesian members as of 2015[36] including Mareva Arnaud Tchong who serves in the church's governing Council of Twelve Apostles. There were about 3,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in Tahiti as of 2014.[37]
The ʻōteʻa is one of the few dances which existed in pre-European times as a male dance. On the other hand, the hura (Tahitian vernacular for hula), a dance for women, has disappeared, and the couple's dance 'upa'upa is likewise gone but may have re-emerged as the tamure. Nowadays, the ʻōteʻa can be danced by men (ʻōteʻa tāne), by women (ʻōteʻa vahine), or by both genders (ʻōteʻa ʻāmui = united ʻō.). The dance is with music only, drums, but no singing. The drum can be one of the types of the tōʻere, a laying log of wood with a longitudinal slit, which is struck by one or two sticks. Or it can be the pahu, the ancient Tahitian standing drum covered with a shark skin and struck by the hands or with sticks. The rhythm from the tōʻere is fast, from the pahu it is slower. A smaller drum, the faʻatete, can be used.
After pickup from your hotel, set out to explore the island of Tahiti, traveling by air-conditioned coach with an experienced local guide. Your first stop will be on the west coast where you will visit the famous Marae Arahurahu, a relgious site dedicated to the ancient gods where important ceremonies used to take place. For manicured landscapes, visit the Vaipahi Garden, where you can wander around a tree-shaded wonderland of waterfalls, ponds and colorful tropical flowers. Your guide can help you identify the plant life as you take in this botanical gem. Visit Venus Point, located on Matavai Bay. The stop got its name from Captain James Cook, who observed the 1769 transit of Venus from this point as part of his work for the Royal Society. As you walk around the black-sand beach, note the monument that commemorates Cook's work here.Next, cruise along scenic roads to arrive at the Arahoho blowhole where, when there's a big swell, water shoots skyward, resulting in what might be a free shower courtesy of the sea! Enjoy the beauty of the black-sand beaches and turquoise sea, a popular surfing spot. Afterwards, visit Taharaa View Point for breathtaking panoramic views over the island before being returned to your hotel in Papeete where your tour ends.

I don’t really mind language barriers, and I definitely can’t complain about them, but it was isolating as a solo-traveller-who-couldn’t-find-any-other-solo-travellers and I did feel lonely at times. It also made it harder to get things done. When a guesthouse owner forgot to pick me up from a ferry terminal, for example, on an island with no taxis and where nobody seemed to speak English, I struggled to get out of the situation.


In about 1790, the ambitious chief Tū took the title of king and gave himself the name Pōmare. Captain Bligh explains that this name was a homage to his eldest daughter Teriinavahoroa, who had died of tuberculosis, "an illness that made her cough (mare) a lot, especially at night (pō)". Thus he became Pōmare I, founding the Pōmare Dynasty and his lineage would be the first to unify Tahiti from 1788 to 1791. He and his descendants founded and expanded Tahitian influence to all of the lands that now constitute modern French Polynesia.
The island of Tahiti is divided into two parts: The larger portion to the northwest is known as Tahiti Nui, while the smaller, southeastern peninsula is known as Tahiti Iti. Tahiti Nui is dominated by three extinct volcanic mountains including Mount Orohena, the tallest in French Polynesia; Mount Aorai, known for its incredible views; and Le Diadème, which appears to crown the island as the rightful queen.
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In July 1768, Captain James Cook was commissioned by the Royal Society and on orders from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to observe the transit of Venus across the sun, a phenomenon that would be visible from Tahiti on 3 June 1769.[21] He arrived in Tahiti's Matavai Bay, commanding HMS Endeavour on 12 April 1769.[22][11]:141 On 14 April, Cook met with Tutaha and Tepau.[11]:144 On 15 April, Cook picked the site for a fortified camp at Point Venus along with Banks, Parkinson, Daniel Solander, to protect Charles Green's observatory.[11]:147 The length of stay enabled them to undertake for the first time real ethnographic and scientific observations of the island. Assisted by the botanist Joseph Banks, and by the artist Sydney Parkinson, Cook gathered valuable information on the fauna and flora, as well as the native society, language and customs, including the proper name of the island, 'Otaheite'. On 28 April, Cook met Purea and Tupaia, and Tupaia befriended Banks following the transit. On 21 June, Amo visited Cook, and then on 25 June, Pohuetea visited, signifying another chief seeking to ally himself with the British.[11]:154–155,175,183–185
On 2 April 1768,[19] it was the turn of Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, aboard Boudeuse and Etoile on the first French circumnavigation, to sight Tahiti. On 5 April, he anchored off Hitiaa O Te Ra, and was welcomed by its chief Reti. Bougainville was also visited by Tutaha. Bougainville only stayed about ten days on the island, which he called "Nouvelle-Cythère ", or "New Cythera (the island of Aphrodite)", because of the warm welcome he had received, the sweetness of the Tahitian customs, calling it a "sailor's Paradise." Ahutoru accompanied the French on the return voyage, becoming the first Tahitian to sail on a European vessel.[11]:93–109 The account Bougainville and Philibert Commerson gave of his port of call would contribute to the creation of the myth of a Polynesian paradise and nourished the theme of the noble savage, so dear to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, which was very much in fashion.[11]:116–118 Between this date right until the end of the 18th century, the name of the island was spelled phonetically "Taïti". Beginning in the 19th century, the Tahitian orthography "Tahiti" became normal usage in French and English.[20]
The indigenous Tahitians are of Polynesian ancestry comprising 70% of the population alongside Europeans, East Asians (mostly Chinese) and people of mixed heritage sometimes referred to as Demis. They make up the largest population in French Polynesia. Most people from metropolitan France live in Papeete and its suburbs, notably Punaauia where they make up almost 20% of the population.[citation needed]
When it came to the other islands, things got even more affordable. My guesthouse in Maupiti was $70 a night, but that included all of my meals, an airport transfer, and a free snorkelling trip to swim with manta rays, so I didn’t have to pay for anything else while I was there. In Huahine and Raiatea, I averaged $50 a day in total, and that’s as a solo traveller.
In about 1810, Pōmare II married Teremo'emo'e daughter of the chief of Raiatea, to ally himself with the chiefdoms of the Leeward Islands. On 12 November 1815, thanks to these alliances, Pōmare II won a decisive battle at Fe'i Pī (Punaauia), notably against Opuhara,[29] the chief of the powerful clan of Teva.[10] This victory allowed Pōmare II to be styled Ari'i Rahi, or the king of Tahiti. It was the first time that Tahiti had been united under the control of a single family. It was the end of Tahitian feudalism and the military aristocracy, which were replaced by an absolute monarchy. At the same time, Protestantism quickly spread, thanks to the support of Pōmare II, and replaced the traditional beliefs. In 1816 the London Missionary Society sent John Williams as a missionary and teacher, and starting in 1817, the Gospels were translated into Tahitian (Reo Maohi) and taught in the religious schools. In 1818, the minister William Pascoe Crook founded the city of Papeete, which became the capital of the island.
Before the arrival of the Europeans the island was divided into different chiefdoms, very precise territories dominated by a single clan. These chiefdoms were linked to each other by allegiances based on the blood ties of their leaders and on their power in war. The most important clan on the island was the Teva,[9] whose territory extended from the peninsula in the south of Tahiti Nui. The Teva Clan was composed of the Teva i Uta (Teva of the Interior) and the Teva i Tai (Teva of the Sea), and was led by Amo and Purea.[10]

The Society archipelago is a hotspot volcanic chain consisting of ten islands and atolls. The chain is oriented along the N. 65° W. direction, parallel to the movement of the Pacific Plate. Due to the plate movement over the Society hotspot, the age of the islands decreases from 5 Ma at Maupiti to 0 Ma at Mehetia, where Mehetia is the inferred current location of the hotspot as evidenced by recent seismic activity. Maupiti, the oldest island in the chain, is a highly eroded shield volcano with at least 12 thin aa flows, which accumulated fairly rapidly between 4.79 and 4.05 Ma. Bora Bora is another highly eroded shield volcano consisting of basaltic lavas accumulated between 3.83 and 3.1 Ma. The lavas are intersected by post-shield dikes. Tahaa consists of shield-stage basalt with an age of 3.39 Ma, followed by additional eruptions 1.2 Ma later. Raiatea consists of shield-stage basalt followed by post-shield trachytic lava flows, all occurring from 2.75 to 2.29 Ma. Huahine consists of two coalesced basalt shield volcanoes, Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti, with several flows followed by post-shield trachyphonolitic lava domes from 3.08 to 2.06 Ma. Moorea consists of at least 16 flows of shield-stage basalt and post-shield lavas from 2.15 to 1.36 Ma. Tahiti consists of two basalt shield volcanoes, Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti, with an age range of 1.67 to 0.25 Ma.[4]
French Polynesia is divided into five groups of islands: the Society Islands archipelago, composed of the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands; the Tuamotu Archipelago; the Gambier Islands; the Marquesas Islands; and the Austral Islands. Among its 118 islands and atolls, 67 are inhabited. Tahiti, which is located within the Society Islands, is the most populous island, having close to 69% of the population of French Polynesia as of 2017. Papeete, located on Tahiti, is the capital. Although not an integral part of its territory, Clipperton Island was administered from French Polynesia until 2007.
Hi Lauren, great post about French Polynesia. I was wondering if you could please advise as I’m heading there in December for 16 days. So, as you mentioned in the blog, you suggested to go to 3 islands of Maupiti, Huahine and Bora bora. When you were booking flight, did you choose Bora bora Pass from Air Tahiti – Euro 414? As I’m going to 16 days, I was wondering it’s worth to add a Moorea? Btw, do you know if they have camping facilities in all the islands that you went? I am planning to take my tent to cut down the cost in accommodation, as I did this when I was traveling in New Caledonia back in 2014. Thanks and look forward for your response.
In between the visits of Bougainville and Cook, in December 1768, a war of succession amongst the Tahiti's clans took place for who would assume the role of paramount chief. Tutaha's Pare-'Arue army allied with Vehiatua's Tai'arapu army, Pohuetea's Puna'auia army, To'ofa's Paea army, and Tepau-i-ahura'i (Tepau) of Fa'a'a, to defeat Amo and Purea in Papara. The warriors, women and children of Papara were massacred, while their houses, gardens, crops and livestock destroyed. Even the Mahaiatea marae was ransacked, while Amo, Purea, Tupaia and Teri'irere fled into the mountains. Vehiatua built a wall of skulls (Te-ahu-upo'o) at his Tai'arapu marae from his war trophies.[11]:134–140,144–145,196
French Polynesia (/ˈfrɛntʃ pɒlɪˈniːʒə/ (listen); French: Polynésie française [pɔlinezi fʁɑ̃sɛːz]; Tahitian: Pōrīnetia Farāni) is an overseas collectivity of the French Republic and the only overseas country of France. It is composed of 118 geographically dispersed islands and atolls stretching over an expanse of more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) in the South Pacific Ocean. Its total land area is 4,167 square kilometres (1,609 sq mi).

The Mo'orea Ferry operates from Papeete and takes about 45 minutes to travel to Moorea. Other ferries are the Aremiti 5 and the Aremiti 7 and these two ferries sail to Moorea in about half an hour. There are also several ferries that transport people and goods throughout the islands. The Bora Bora cruiseline sails to Bora Bora about once a week. The main hub for these ferries is the Papeete Wharf. 

In 1946, the EFOs became an overseas territory under the constitution of the French Fourth Republic, and Polynesians were granted the right to vote through citizenship. In 1957, the EFOs were renamed French Polynesia. Since 28 March 2003, French Polynesia has been an overseas collectivity of the French Republic under the constitutional revision of article 74, and later gained, with law 2004-192 of 27 February 2004, an administrative autonomy, two symbolic manifestations of which are the title of the President of French Polynesia and its additional designation as an overseas country.[5]
Papeete is a vibrant and multicultural city with busy boulevards and a bustling harbor. The downtown municipal market, Le Marché, is an exciting place to purchase all things Tahiti including vanilla beans, monoi oil and colorful pareos. Just down the street at Le Centre Vaima is the Robert Wan Pearl Museum, which is a great place to start if you're hoping to purchase a Tahitian black pearl during your stay. To live like a local, head to Vai'ete Square after sunset. This waterfront promenade comes to life at night when gourmet food trucks, Les Roulottes, open their windows to serve a range of affordable meals including Chinese food, French crépes, steak frites, fresh fish and pizza.
Papeete is a vibrant and multicultural city with busy boulevards and a bustling harbor. The downtown municipal market, Le Marché, is an exciting place to purchase all things Tahiti including vanilla beans, monoi oil and colorful pareos. Just down the street at Le Centre Vaima is the Robert Wan Pearl Museum, which is a great place to start if you're hoping to purchase a Tahitian black pearl during your stay. To live like a local, head to Vai'ete Square after sunset. This waterfront promenade comes to life at night when gourmet food trucks, Les Roulottes, open their windows to serve a range of affordable meals including Chinese food, French crépes, steak frites, fresh fish and pizza.
Tahitian cultures included an oral tradition that involved the mythology of gods, such as 'Oro and beliefs, as well as ancient traditions such as tattooing and navigation. The annual Heivā Festival in July is a celebration of traditional culture, dance, music and sports including a long distance race between the islands of French Polynesia, in modern outrigger canoes (va'a).
In July 1768, Captain James Cook was commissioned by the Royal Society and on orders from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to observe the transit of Venus across the sun, a phenomenon that would be visible from Tahiti on 3 June 1769.[21] He arrived in Tahiti's Matavai Bay, commanding HMS Endeavour on 12 April 1769.[22][11]:141 On 14 April, Cook met with Tutaha and Tepau.[11]:144 On 15 April, Cook picked the site for a fortified camp at Point Venus along with Banks, Parkinson, Daniel Solander, to protect Charles Green's observatory.[11]:147 The length of stay enabled them to undertake for the first time real ethnographic and scientific observations of the island. Assisted by the botanist Joseph Banks, and by the artist Sydney Parkinson, Cook gathered valuable information on the fauna and flora, as well as the native society, language and customs, including the proper name of the island, 'Otaheite'. On 28 April, Cook met Purea and Tupaia, and Tupaia befriended Banks following the transit. On 21 June, Amo visited Cook, and then on 25 June, Pohuetea visited, signifying another chief seeking to ally himself with the British.[11]:154–155,175,183–185
In 1946, Polynesians were granted French citizenship and the islands' status was changed to an overseas territory; the islands' name was changed in 1957 to Polynésie Française (French Polynesia). In 1962, France's early nuclear testing ground of Algeria became independent and the Moruroa atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago was selected as the new testing site; tests were conducted underground after 1974.[16] In 1977, French Polynesia was granted partial internal autonomy; in 1984, the autonomy was extended. French Polynesia became a full overseas collectivity of France in 2003.[17]
At the 2012 census, 88.7% of people living in French Polynesia were born in French Polynesia, 8.3% were born in metropolitan France, 1.3% were born in overseas France outside of French Polynesia, and 1.7% were born in foreign countries.[24] The population of natives of metropolitan France living in French Polynesia has declined in relative terms since the 1980s, but in absolute terms their population peaked at the 2007 census with 24,265 natives of metropolitan France living in French Polynesia that year (not counting their children born in French Polynesia).[25] With the local economic crisis, their population declined to 22,278 at the 2012 census, and later evolution is not yet known.[25]

I picked up an island hopping pass from Air Tahiti, which gave me close to a 50% discount on what I would have paid if I’d booked all of my flights individually. In total, I ended up paying just over $400 for seven flights. There are several options for island hopping passes, ranging from around $280 for three stops in the Society Islands to a whopping $750 to visit several islands in the Marquesas.


Around 1750, war broke out between Atehuru and Papara, forcing Te'e'eva, the daughter of the Papara chief, to flee to Raiatea. She then married Tamatoa I's eldest son, Ari'ima'o, from which their son Mau'a was born. When Borabora warriors, led by Puni, invaded Raiatea in 1763, both Mau'a and the Taputapuatea priest Tupaia, were forced to flee to Tahiti, where the new Papara chief Amo and his wife Purea gave them refuge. This led to the building of the Mahaiatea marae at Papara. However, the marriage of Amo and Purea, and their status as black leg ariori, ended with the birth of their son Teri'irere. Tupaia then became Purea's lover. Tupaia would eventually sail with Captain Cook on the Endeavor, while Mau'a would sail with Lt. Gayangos on Aguila.[11]:35–38,60–61,85,134,208,277
Bora Bora (French: Bora-Bora, Tahitian: Pora Pora) is a 30.55 km2 (12 sq mi) island group in the Leeward group in the western part of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the Pacific Ocean. The main island, located about 230 kilometres (143 miles) northwest of Papeete, is surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef. In the center of the island are the remnants of an extinct volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point at 727 metres (2,385 feet).
In the 1790s, whalers began landing at Tahiti during their fishing expeditions in the southern hemisphere. The arrival of these whalers, who were subsequently joined by merchants coming from the penal colonies in Australia, marked the first major overturning of traditional Tahitian society. The crews introduced alcohol, arms and infectious diseases to the island, and encouraged prostitution, which brought with it venereal disease. These commercial interactions with westerners had catastrophic consequences for the Tahitian population, which shrank rapidly, ravaged by diseases and other cultural factors.[27] During the first decade of the 19th century, the Tahitian population dropped from 16,000 to 8,000-9,000; the French census in 1854 counted a population just under 6,000.[28]
The most common form of transportation around Tahiti is by car. The former "Truck" does no longer exist in this form (a rickety public open-air bus with wooden passenger cabins that will stop on the side of the street and serve different cities). They got replaced by city buses and prices are very inexpensive, normally set around 300 CFP (about US$3) per person and most will end up in the centre of downtown close to the market. Other means of transportation include scooters or private cars. Most rental cars will be stickshift and end up being around 9,000 CFP per day (about US$90). There is a multitude of bikes to rent cheaply. This is especially a good idea on Sundays as everything is closed and you can end up discovering the islands.
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