First-Timer’s Guide to the French Polynesian Islands

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Advisor - Kateri Grey
Curated By

Kateri Grey

  • French Polynesia

  • Bora Bora

  • Tahiti

  • Adventure Travel

  • Beaches

  • Couples Travel

  • Honeymoons

  • International Travel

  • Luxury Travel

  • Island

  • High-End

  • Remote

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Curator’s statement

The French Polynesian Islands are the ideal location for adventurers, laid-back vacationers and honeymooners alike. Here is a first timer’s guide to this spectacular part of the world.

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Where to stay in French Polynesia

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Things to do in French Polynesia

Green mountain with flowing waterfall during daytime

Waterfalls - Go chasing waterfalls! There are plenty to be found in these lush tropics. Faarumai Waterfall is one of the most accessible in Tahiti with a well paved path and beautiful vegetation. 

For the more adventurous traveler, snag a permit from the town hall in Papeete and spend a day hiking to Fautaua waterfall, one of the tallest falls in the world. 

Visit Cook’s Bay - Soak in breathtaking views at Cook’s Bay. Found on the island of Moorea. 

World class Snorkeling - Bora Bora and Mo’orea are home to hundreds of dazzling tropical fish species. Book an overwater bungalow where you can explore vibrant reefs right outside your room. 

*Always take steps to preserve these special habitats. Use reef safe sunscreen. Avoid touching and damaging corals and other wildlife.* 

Swim with sharks - Tahiti is widely known as a shark hot spot so there are many opportunities to come up close and personal with these magnificent creatures. The most abundant species are blacktip reef sharks. These more timid sharks are not commonly known to pose threats to humans and are a wonder to see in their natural habitat. 

Upgrade to a floating breakfast - The perfect start to your day with fresh fruit, pastries, and more brought right up to your suite. 

Shop for Tahitian pearls - These one of a kind pearls are known for their iridescent blue, green, and gray colors. Found exclusively around the atolls of Tahiti.

Day Trips

Take the Aremiti ferry - An easy and affordable way to get between Tahiti and Moorea is to jump on a ferry. There are multiple crossings each day leaving Papeete town. Tickets are available for purchase at the dock, and there are vehicle spaces aboard so you can bring your rental car with you for ease of travel.

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A note from Kateri

Consider renting a router for your trip. Portable and rechargeable wifi routers can be rented at the airport and brought with you throughout the islands. It’s an easy way to stay connected while you savor every moment in paradise.

Places to eat & drink in French Polynesia

Glass of wine on chair with sunset in the background over body of water

Try Poisson Cru: a local delicacy similar to ceviche but with a coconut milk base and made with fresh, sushi grade fish.

Roulettes at Vaipoopo or Papeete: Support local small businesses by taking a trip to these roulettes or food trucks. Found on Tahiti these are popular spots for visitors and locals alike. It’s recommended that you bring cash (pacific francs or XPF is the local currency.) Usually a variety of food is available from local cuisine to international favorites. 

Toatea Crêperie: An open air gourmet crepe spot inside the Hilton Moorea Lagoon resort. The best place to treat your sweet tooth while admiring the local black tip reef sharks swimming right below your feet. 

Carameline Cafe: A quick and easy spot for pastries, sweets, and coffee. Grab a delicious cappuccino to fuel your activities for the day.

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Travel Advisor

Kateri Grey

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