Highlights

The top 3 islands to visit will be the classic ones:

Papeete (Tahiti): French Polynesia’s capital, Papeete, on the island of Tahiti, is a vibrant little city, and a fun place to spend a few days. Many people head straight for the central market (open: daily 05h00-17h00), to root through the colourful assortment of Tahitian crafts, food and flowers. The waterfront is also a pleasant place for a stroll and there are a few attractive churches dotted around. 

Best of all, though, is the town’s nightlife. There are several clubs along the waterfront on the northern side of town that are hopping on the weekends and far from empty on weekdays. Music and dance styles range from modern techno to local Tahitian while the bars stay open until the early hours of the morning – usually around 04h00. For the more out-of-the-ordinary, the Piano Bar features a cabaret put on by mahu (transvestites).

Moorea: Moorea, meaning “yellow lizard” in Tahitian, fits the traditional image of a South Seas island perfectly. Its high, craggy mountains jut out of the Pacific with an impossible looking geometry. Below, the turquoise lagoon is rimmed with pristine white sand. Despite the number of tourists that visit Moorea each year, the island absorbs the traffic so well that it remains tranquil and distinctly Polynesian. 

A quick hop from Tahiti (45 minutes by ferry or seven minutes flying), Moorea is inexpensive to get to and has accommodation to fit every budget. The tourist infrastructure is well developed so if you tire of lounging on the beach, there are plenty of activities ranging from snorkelling and dolphin watching to hiking in the mountains and exploring archaeological sites.

Bora Bora: If you are looking to experience a tropical island paradise in complete luxury, you’ll be hard-pushed to find a better place for it than Bora Bora, particularly for honeymooners. This is the premier island in French Polynesia for lounging on the beach while sipping a Mai Tai.

Most resorts are located on the island’s “motus,” small islets on the reef that fringes it, and are very self-contained. You’ll find the usual island activities here such as diving, snorkelling, outrigger tours and jeep safaris, but also some more unusual ones such as a submarine trip or jet skiing.

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