Travel Guide


Tahiti, The Queen Island

The gateway to French Polynesia, Tahiti is at the heart of the South Pacific islands. Its evocative name is a very strong symbol that has made its international reputation. The ultimate destination before discovering the isolated paradise landscapes, the Queen Island concentrates all the administrations and services, nearly three quarters of the country’s population and its capital Papeete. This modernity remains relative because Tahiti is above all a natural, wild and preserved force. Leaving the coastline, the vertiginous mountains reveal deep isolated valleys for a complete change of scenery. There is a fantastic and mysterious feeling on the island. The discoveries are often unusual, and the wonders are just like the Queen Island: monumental. Much more than a simple stopover in Polynesia, Tahiti is a cultural and natural destination in its own right.

About Tahiti

  • Location: Society Archipelago

  • Area: 1,042 km²

  • Population: 192,760 inhabitants

  • Main City: Papeete

  • From Los Angeles: 6,600 km, 8 hours

  • Airport: Faaa

Why Visit Tahiti

With the only international airport in French Polynesia, Tahiti is the place where journeys begin and end. This first contact with Polynesian culture is to be experienced in the capital Papeete. Its shops and cultural life reveal the city’s dynamism and local particularities. A visit to the famous covered market and the friendly atmosphere of the meals taken in the food trucks give an excellent overview of the flavours that will punctuate your stay in Polynesia. It is then the opportunity to take in a rich historical heritage around museums, archaeological sites and traditional cultural events.

A few more days are enough to discover the interior on the main island, Tahiti Nui. In contact with the mountainous massifs, nature seems exalted by the island’s humid climate. Waterfalls cascade down from the cliffs, while everywhere the green vegetation impresses. A visit to the caves reminds us of Tahiti’s volcanic past in an unreal and fantastic setting. Further south, Tahiti Iti is an even wilder peninsula. In contact with the black sand beaches, the natural elements seem to come from another world.

The Queen Island benefits from exceptional and spectacular natural sites. The setting is ideal for contemplation or sporting activities, whether on land or in the water. With a very satisfactory hotel offer, Tahiti is a destination accessible to all.

The Essentials Of Tahiti

1. The descent of the Papenoo Valley

Dominated by the Orohena and Aorai mounts, Tahiti is the highest island in French Polynesia. With no less than 70 valleys, there is a real sense of verticality and depth. This particular topography makes the Queen Island the preferred place for hiking and motorized excursions. The discovery of the Papenoo Valley is certainly the most immersive activity possible. In an absolutely pristine area, this initiatory descent transports you into the collapsed crater of an ancient volcano. It is an encounter with an exuberant nature, its multiple waterfalls and caves, but also the unexpected exploration of archaeological sites.

This adventure is to be experienced in an all-terrain vehicle and in the company of a professional guide. The moment is dedicated to both discovery and relaxation. You can enjoy a swim in the pools at the foot of the waterfalls. The Papenoo Valley offers a spectacular, pleasant and timeless adventure.

2. Discover the Lava tubes of Hitiaa

Experienced sportsmen and thrill-seekers will not want to miss the lavatubes aquatic hike on Tahiti Nui. These immense tunnels were formed by lava flows dating from the creation of the island and sculpted by erosion over several hundred thousand years. These natural relics of ancient volcanic activity are a must-see on a trip to the centre of the Earth. A great way to visit Tahiti in a different way with a nice adrenaline rush.

In the commune of Hitiaa, three lavatubes can be visited in succession. Under the control of a professional guide, you will live an incredible experience where all your senses will be put to work. Equipped with a special suit, helmet and headlamp, you will venture into strange and fantastic labyrinths. This canyoning-like trek combines climbing, white water swimming and progress in the dark.

3. See the Wave of Teahupoo

Tahiti Iti is home to one of the most impressive surf spots in the world. This is where the famous international competition of Teahupoo takes place every year: the Tahiti Pro. The waves here are hollow, rough and terribly powerful. For obvious safety reasons, only the champions frequent the spot.

Surfing is a Polynesian art form and an integral part of the local culture. Head to Tahiti Iti and board a tourist shuttle that will take you to the edge of the peak, near the reef. Watching the surfers train is an impressive experience. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the Teahupoo Wave, a veritable wall of water almost 10 metres high.

Aerial view of the lagoon and luxury bungalows in Bora Bora

Tahiti in a Nutshell

Tahiti is a destination with many faces, where traditional culture, natural elements and modernity are intensely experienced. Alongside the tumultuous Papeete, you’ll find a raw nature of incredible strength, unusual landscapes far from the clichés of Polynesia and an adventure of every moment.

Offering a wide range of activities and excursions, the Queen Island has everything to become an essential part of your stay in French Polynesia. Its accommodation capacities allow everyone to stay here for more than a simple stopover. Three to four days on the island are necessary to take advantage of the great diversity of Tahiti.

Good to Know

  • Politics: On request, the services of the Assembly of French Polynesia in Papeete can organise educational visits on the functioning of democratic institutions. In addition, a free visit to the gardens of the Parliament allows a glimpse of an impressive banyan tree.

  • History: During the First World War, the German Imperial Fleet attempted to land on Papeete in September 1914. Unable to enter the harbour, it bombed the city, causing the destruction of many colonial buildings.

  • Shopping: The market of Papeete is the place where perishable goods (fruits, vegetables, fish, flowers) pass through. Upstairs are the local craftsmen for souvenirs to take away. An experience to be had very early in the morning from 5am.

  • Festivities: Many cultural events are held in Tahiti every year. Between July and August, the Heiva festival celebrates Polynesian identity through traditional dance and song performances. Alongside the competition, typical sports events and street parties mobilise the population.

Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, in Tahiti

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