Top 10 things to do in Tahiti

Gravir le Mont Orohena

Tahiti on your doorstep? Don’t waste another moment and take advantage of our selection of must-do things to do when visiting Tahiti! Emotions guaranteed.

The moment has finally arrived: you’re off to Tahiti! Considered one of the most beautiful islands in the world, Tahiti remains untamed and wild.

With its paradisiacal beaches, mountains brimming with secrets and inhabitants as warm as the thermometer, the question arises: how do you visit Tahiti? And since it’s not all about lazing around in the sun, Generation Voyage has the answer with its selection of must-do things to do when visiting Tahiti!

1. Visit the capital, Papeete

visiter Tahiti

Photo credit: Shutterstock – NAPA

Papeete, pronounced papé-été, from the Tahitian words pape (water) and ete (basket), is the capital of French Polynesia, located on the island of Tahiti in the northwest. Stroll along the waterfront to discover the port, the city center and its streets decorated with numerous works of Street-Art. Finally, head to Parc Paofai, from where you can admire a breathtaking view of Moorea, Tahiti’s sister island.

2. Discover Papeete’s municipal market

marché municipal de Papeete

Photo credit: Shutterstock – EQRoy

A true city entity, the municipal market is a must-see in Tahiti. It’s huge, taking up an entire city block. You’ll find everything: jewelry, pareos, fresh fish, cheap tropical fruit, fresh fruit juices…

You’ll also find local dishes prepared on the spot that you’ll just have to try: raw fish, Ma’a Tinito (one of Polynesia’s most popular dishes: a red bean and pork dish), exotic ice creams…

Papeete’s municipal market is a must if you really want to visit Tahiti in its entirety.

3. Take your first dive

visiter Tahiti

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Kristina Vackova

Diving is a must-do in Tahiti. If you can, treat yourself to a first dive under the supervision of a professional diving club. You’ll be able to dive down to the incredibly beautiful seabed off the Tahitian coast.

Coral reefs, fauna and flora, some of them endemic, are all magnificent. You’ll come away drained of energy but full of memories. However, if you can’t afford it, there’s nothing to stop you taking a mask and snorkel and visiting the seabed for yourself. The sensations aren’t the same, but it’s all about exploring the seabed and discovering its richness. Whether you’re a supervised diver or a free diver, Tahiti offers you the best of what it has to offer.

4. Discover black sand beaches

visiter Tahiti

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Tyler Rooke

The best way to visit Tahiti is, of course, to visit the beaches. White sand beaches are already magnificent, but a black sand beach is even more so, because of its originality.

The island of Tahiti has several, but we recommend that you discover four of them. There are others, but they are less well maintained, or less easy to access…

  • Pointe Vénus. As well as being a beautiful stretch of black sand, this cape is home to a lighthouse and offers a view over part of the island’s west coast. The beach is equipped with parking, showers, sanitary facilities, picnic tables and even a supervised swimming area.
  • Tautira beach. Located on the north coast of the peninsula, this beach offers a number of amenities: showers, tables, a pétanque court and even games for children.
  • Taharuu beach, Papara. Renowned as a great surfing spot, it’s not always accessible for swimming. That said, there’s nothing to stop you going there to watch the surfers, soak up the sun and grab a bite to eat. And, above all, to enjoy the view.
  • Vaiiha Beach, Faaone. With its two wild coastlines, it offers an intimate setting, ideal for a romantic moment with friends or family. Surfers can also venture here, but swimming remains accessible.

5. Visit Tahiti and her islands

Visiter Tahiti et ses îles

Photo credit: Shutterstock – ranniptace

Other things to do in Tahiti include the surrounding areas: Moorea, Bora-Bora, Huahine, Tetiaroa, Rangiroa… Air Tahiti Nui operates inter-island flights. We advise you to find out about these flights in advance, via an online comparator such as Skyscanner, because depending on the dates and price, they could affect your stay.

Depending on the island you visit, there’s obviously a whole list of new things to do. Start by taking advantage of the island’s beaches and infrastructure. For example, on the island of Rangiroa (pronounced ranguiroa), if you go to the Tiputa pass (often considered the « Mecca of divers ») and put on a mask and snorkel, you’ll have the chance to meet dolphins…

6. Attend the Heiva

Visiter Tahiti : assister au Heiva

Photo credit: Shutterstock – VDV

If you’re lucky enough to visit Tahiti in July, we highly recommend attending the Heiva. This annual festival lasts almost three weeks.

It showcases Polynesian culture through competitions in tamure (pronounced tamouré), traditional local dances, songs and sports. It’s an event that brings all participants together to share and celebrate Polynesian culture.

7. Watch the Teahupoo wave

visiter Tahiti

Photo credit: Shutterstock – iPics

Teahupoo beach lies to the south of Tahiti. It’s a very famous spot, as every year it hosts one of the stages of the World Surfing Championships, as well as other international competitions. This « left-hand » wave is also one of the scariest and most dangerous in the world! That’s why it’s so impressive to see! With a bit of luck, you’ll find yourself there at the time of a competition…

8. Drive to Taravao Belvedere

visiter Tahiti

Photo credit: Shutterstock – MAURURU

Taravao is the commune located on the plateau that joins the large island of Tahiti (Tahiti nui) and its peninsula (Tahiti iti). In the middle, then, lies this passageway between two distinctive lands. Take the time to drive to the Belvédère de Taravao, from where you can enjoy a stunning view of the peninsula.

9. Climb Mount Orohena

visiter Tahiti

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Damsea

Reserved for the most seasoned and experienced climbers, the ascent of Mount Orohena (2,241 metres) is not something to be done on a whim. It’s an intense hike, requiring not only training but also a minimum of three days. The reward on arrival is well worth it, as you’ll have a completely unobstructed view of the island of Tahiti, and if the conditions are right, of the archipelagos in the distance.

We advise you to seek advice from approved professional organizations before attempting this climb. Climbing Mount Orohena is a great way to visit Tahiti, but also one of the most difficult.

10. Get a tattoo

visiter Tahiti

Photo credit: Flickr – Duncan Rawlinson

Tattooing in Tahiti is a real institution. In fact, the word tattoo has its etymological origins in the Tahitian language: tatau means to mark, to draw, to strike. It’s an ancestral art: tattooing entered Tahitian culture even before writing.

Tattoos are very common on the island, because for the locals they’re like a piece of identity, a way of telling their story. For those who appreciate the art of tattooing and would like to make a piece of it their own, take advantage of your stay on the island to make an appointment and leave your mark forever.

11. Taste the local cuisine

visiter Tahiti

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Dolly MJ

Travelling to the other side of the world without enjoying the local culinary delights would be a big mistake. To visit Tahiti, beyond the beauty of its landscapes, is also to come face to face with the reality and richness of its culture.

Local Tahitian cuisine relies heavily on fresh, readily available produce. In particular, fresh fish, fruit and vegetables make up a large proportion of local specialties. A wide range of recipes will delight even the most demanding gourmets.

It would be pretentious to list everything here, but we can already tell you about the raw fish (a dish full of freshness), fafa chicken (chicken with coconut and taro leaves, similar to spinach), banana po’e (a mixture of banana, cassava flour, coconut milk and vanilla)….

There’s something for everyone, from appetizers to desserts. Also note the presence of Tahitian wines, produced on the Tuamotu archipelago. And of course, treat yourself to a wide variety of exotic fruits and fresh vegetables!

Tasty cuisine that can be very demanding

Beware, however, that not all recipes are equally delicate… Let’s just say that some of them require a strong heart and stomach. For example, fāfaru, a preparation based on fish fillets (usually tuna) macerated in a brine made from seawater and pressed shrimp.

It’s eaten when the fish has begun to decompose, or even when it’s very far advanced… Its strong smell may repel some sensitive souls, but this dish is very famous and common in the Polynesian archipelago.

How do I get to Tahiti?

From France

Air travel is virtually the only way to get to Tahiti. Indeed, the island’s insularity reduces accessibility. Several airlines fly to Tahiti from Paris (Air Tahiti Nui, Air France…), but not without a stopover.

These routes between France and Tahiti have to transit through Los Angeles International (LAX), for a stopover that can last more than five hours. The minimum flight time (including stopover) is around twenty hours, but depending on the length of the American stopover, this can be more than twenty-four hours. Take this into account when planning your trip. To get your tickets, visit Skyscanner, the online tool for optimized flights at the best price!

Landing is at Faaa airport, 5 kilometers from Papeete. Buses run from 05:00 a.m. and drop you off in the center of Papeete. There are also car rental companies close to the airport.

And how do you get around?

With road conditions improving all the time, we recommend that you rent a car. As local buses are not always very reliable, with a rental car you’ll have the freedom to go from one place to another, stopping along the way to take photos (for example) whenever you like. You can also rent bicycles for short trips.

Where to stay in Tahiti?

There’s no shortage of hotels in Tahiti. Whether it’s a luxury resort or a guesthouse, a vacation club or a youth hostel, you’ll easily find a place to stay. Even Airbnb accommodations have made a place for themselves in Tahiti!

Of course, budget also plays a part in your choice. The most comfortable will opt for a luxury hotel, while others will choose a more affordable formula. A hotel comparator will give you an overall idea of what’s available locally.

It’s easy to find a hotel or resort in and around Papeete, from very affordable to top-of-the-range, and all along the coast as far as Teahupoo.

Many well-maintained hotel infrastructures follow one another to ensure the destination’s tourist affluence. If you opt to travel by rental car, you can also choose to change accommodation every two or three days. Why not take a road trip to Tahiti?

Now you know how to enjoy the Pacific, but above all how to visit Tahiti. It’s an island full of surprises and mysteries for you to discover. There are so many things to do in Tahiti that a single article will never be enough to describe it all.

Map of hotels and accommodation – French Polynesia,en