Top 15 Things to Do in Tahiti, French Polynesia

Little jetty and boat on tropical beach at Tahiti
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The mere mention of the Islands of Tahiti evoke visions of an exclusive and picturesque tropical paradise.

With its natural treasures, crystal clear waters, scenic mountain views, and rich blend of French and Polynesian culture, it is better than the fantasy island in your imagination simply because it actually exists.

It’s really no wonder that Tahiti is known globally as one of the ideal destinations for romantic honeymoons or holiday getaways.

If you need more convincing to make Tahiti your next travel destination, read through our list of featured activities in dreamy Tahiti.

1. Live luxe in “floating” bungalows

You may have seen photos of these iconic accommodations – a series of huts seemingly floating on crystal blue waters.

Hotel overwater bungalows luxury resort Top 15 things to do in Tahiti

Hotel overwater bungalows luxury resort | Photo by Maridav via Shutterstock

On the outside, these huts may look traditional, but each one features modern and luxurious amenities. Fun fact: these famed bungalows were created in Tahiti itself, as a solution for hotels without a beach. Perfect the art of rest and relaxation in a pocket of paradise. Nothing spells luxury quite like your own overwater villas, a private lagoon for scuba diving, paddle boarding, and other activities.

Since these overwater accommodations have become so popular, there is a wonderful selection of luxury resorts on the island. Book in advance to secure the right one for you.

French Polynesia
Admission: $132 per day on your vacation
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Top restaurants to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Le Manoa (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Chez Aro (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Le Manoa (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near French Polynesia in Tahiti.

The best hotel to stay near French Polynesia based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Fare Nukumai (9.1/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

2. Be a beach bum at La Plage De Maui

La Plage De Maui, named after the visually similar Maui Beach in Hawaii, is perfect for a day in the sun.

Maui Beach Top 15 things to do in Tahiti

Maui Beach | Photo by Becca Blond via AFAR

La Plage De Maui | EyeVisit4U Tahiti via YouTube

It features white sandy shores, sparkling cerulean waters, and picturesque mountains. It is one of the only white sand beaches on the island. Take a dip in the cool crystal waters or simply lie on the beach in the sun. You can also head over to the nearby local restaurants or snack bar to get your fill. The beach is loved by locals and visitors alike, so it can get crowded on the weekends – try to schedule your visit on a weekday.

La Plage de Maui
Tahiti, French Polynesia
Admission: Free
Ph: +689 87 74 71 74
Get directions

Top restaurants to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• La Plage de Maui (4.5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Le Manoa (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Restaurant T.K.T Panda Taravao (4.5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

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See the full list of places to eat near La Plage de Maui in Tahiti.

The best hotel to stay near La Plage de Maui based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Bungalows Havae Teahupoo (9.2/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

3. Immerse yourself in the culture at Papeete

Papeete in Tahiti’s Society Island Group is the capital city of French Polynesia. The largest city in the region is your first stop to experience the unique and authentic French Polynesian way of life.

View of Papeete Top 15 things to do in Tahiti

View of Papeete, French Polynesia | Photo by NAPA via Shutterstock

Walk through and discover the ins and outs of the capital. There is plenty to see and do! Start your day with a croissant from Marché de Papeete, a local produce market, before you explore the lagoons, beaches, and volcanoes in the proximity of the city.

Papeete
Papeete, 98714, French Polynesia
Admission: Free
Get directions

Top restaurants to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Cali.stro (4.6/5 stars, Steak, $$$)
• Snack Roulotte (5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Malabar Bistronomia (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Papeete in Tahiti.

The best hotel to stay near Papeete based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Fare Sunny (9.5/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

4. Revisit the past at the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands

For a crash course in Polynesian history and culture, head over to the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands.

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Le Musée de Tahiti et des îles Top 15 things to do in Tahiti

Le Musée de Tahiti et des îles | Photo by Dominique Schmitt via Tahiti Pacifique

Open since 1974, the ethnographic museum showcases artifacts and interesting exhibits chronicling Polynesian traditions. The museum, partially under renovation, is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. Don’t forget to take a photo of the spectacular view of the waterfront.

Museum of Tahiti and The Islands
Puna’auia, French Polynesia
Admission: $6 – $7.50 ticket range
Ph: +689 40 54 84 35
Get directions

Top restaurants to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Côté Jardin (4.9/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Snack Resto Paea (4.8/5 stars, Chinese, $$)
• Lani’s BBQ (4.8/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Museum of Tahiti and The Islands in Tahiti.

The best hotel to stay near Museum of Tahiti and The Islands based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

TEMAYTIVAI (8.3/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

5. See the Fautaua Waterfall

The Fautaua Waterfall is a beloved landmark of Tahiti.

Fautaua Waterfall | CYWORKS via YouTube

Standing tall at 450 feet and surrounded by sharp mountains, the majestic falls have an aura of mystery to them, luring quite a number of visitors on the daily. To glimpse this natural wonder, take a scenic yet challenging 10-km round trip trek. As they say, nothing worth having comes easy – your struggle will be rewarded with an amazing view. Experiences like this are best enjoyed with a tour group, but if you prefer to go alone, you need to secure a permit from the Papeete Townhall.

Fautaua Waterfall
Fautaua Valley, French Polynesia
Admission: Free
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Top restaurants to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Coconut Station (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Le Royal Kikiriri (4.7/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Snack Madeleine (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Fautaua Waterfall in Tahiti.

The best hotel to stay near Fautaua Waterfall based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Fare D’hôtes Tutehau (9/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

6. Experience Papeno’o Beach

Papeno’o beach offers a stunning and unique contrast between the deep blue waters of the ocean and the dark sandy shores.

Crepuscule sur papenoo 15 Top things to do in Tahiti

Crepuscule sur papenoo | Photo by Sara FOURNIER via Flickr

The wide shoreline makes it perfect for surfing, kayaking, and the like. Surfing competitions are regularly held at the beach. Engage in the many board sports available or simply take a stroll along the beach and have your breath stolen by the gorgeous view. This hidden gem on the northern coast of Papeete is not frequented by as many visitors, so you can enjoy the beach by yourself.

7. Discover undersea ‘treasures’

Although Tahiti has many beautiful attractions, the real beauty is hidden underwater: its rich and diverse marine life.

Woman snorkeling in clear tropical waters in front of overwater bungalows 15 tops things to do in Tahiti

Woman snorkeling in clear tropical waters in front of overwater bungalows | Photo by BlueOrange Studio via Shutterstock

There are hundreds of species of fish, crustaceans, and turtles in the French Polynesian islands. Take a plunge underwater to see the subaquatic attractions, like stingrays, colorful corals, reef fish, and sea turtles. You can snorkel in the beaches or the overwater bungalows to glimpse the different species or go on a scuba diving tour to go deeper and see the impressive sea creatures.

8. Appreciate Mont Orohena

At 2,241 meters above sea level, Mount Orohena is the highest point in French Polynesia.

Mont Orohena Top 15 things to do in Tahiti

View on mountain Orohena at sunset | Photo by KKulikov via Shutterstock

The extinct mountain volcano towers over the islands and is the most recognizable sight in Tahiti. For the adventurous spirits, you can join organized expeditions and scale the mountain to see unimaginable landscapes at the top. You can also take an exciting drive up to a nearby lookout point to see and appreciate the views from afar.

Mont Orohena
Māhina, French Polynesia
Admission: Free
Get directions

Top restaurants to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Restaurant New Fai (4.8/5 stars, Chinese, $$$)
• Le Royal Kikiriri (4.7/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Snack Resto Paea (4.8/5 stars, Chinese, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Mont Orohena in Tahiti.

The best hotel to stay near Mont Orohena based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Te Fiti Island Break Mahina (9.8/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

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9. Conquer Moorea

For an escape from Tahiti, hop on a ferry ride to its sister island 12 miles away: Moorea.

Black-tip reef sharks in the moorea lagoon 15 top things to do in Tahiti

Black-tip reef sharks in the Moorea Lagoon | Photo by bru greg via Shutterstock

Magic Mountain Moorea | Sam VeuCasovic via YouTube

Distinct jagged peaks covered by lush greens, nicknamed Magic Mountain, dominate its landscape. There are many things to see and do on the island. A fun and popular way to tour the island and navigate the rugged terrain is on an all-terrain vehicle. There are many beaches on the island as well – you can stop by and visit the beloved Temae beach. The island also features a lagoonarium with turquoise waters for diving and snorkeling and a viewing center for dolphins.

For an unforgettable experience (and view to boot!), go on a two-hour steep trek up Magic Mountain.

Moorea-Maiao
French Polynesia
Admission: Free
Get directions

Top restaurants to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Painapo Beach (5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Restaurant Moorea “Le Lézard Jaune Café” (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Snack Mahana (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Moorea-Maiao in Tahiti.

The best hotel to stay near Moorea-Maiao based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

MOOREA SURF INN (7.7/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

10. Ride the waves

Tahiti is not only known for its beautiful beaches and lagoons. People flock to the island to partake in one of the most exciting watersports: surfing.

Awesome view of a extreme surfboarder riding epic blue waves in the hot summer sun of French Polynesia Top 15 things to do in Tahiti

Awesome view of a extreme surfboarder riding epic blue waves in the hot summer sun of French Polynesia | Photo by Flystock via Shutterstock

TAHITI FREE SURF 2015 | Wilbur French via Vimeo

It is one of the best destinations for surfing in the world as the island’s position allows for big swells. Get your board ready for a challenging yet exhilarating adventure. Although waves roll and crash all year round, the prime time to catch the best waves is in winter (May to August). Whatever your surfing skill and ability, from beginner to hardcore, the island has waves that cater to the different ranges.

11. Relax at Plage de Taharuu

Located in Tahiti’s Southern Coast, Plage de Taharuu is another must-visit beach on the island.

Beautiful sunset at surfer beach Taharuu, Tahiti, French Polynesia 15 top things to do in Tahiti

Beautiful sunset at surfer beach Taharuu, Tahiti, French Polynesia | Photo by TWEITH via Shutterstock

Featuring volcanic black fine sand, lush foliage, and palm trees, the wide picturesque beach is a perfect spot for swimming or even surfing. Under the shade of the trees, relax to the calming waves of the idyllic and inviting beach. It is the perfect spot to spend the day. The beach is favored by the locals and tourists as it is clean and well maintained.

If you feel famished after a day in the sun, you can have a snack at the on-site snack bar, featuring local cuisine. 

Plage de Taharuu
Road Papara, French Polynesia
Admission: Free
Get directions

Top restaurants to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Restaurant HOANUI (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Snack Chez Ina (4.5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Four Grand-Mère (5/5 stars, Pizza, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Plage de Taharuu in Tahiti.

The best hotel to stay near Plage de Taharuu based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Bungalow Premium Tahiti (9.4/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

12. Find peace in Vaipahi Gardens

The grand 2.5-acre Vaipahi gardens offer a serene atmosphere and wonderful view of the over 75 species of flora, fauna, and vegetation native to the Polynesian region.

Gardens of Vaipahi Top 15 best things to do in Tahiti

Gardens of Vaipahi | Photo by underkill

The gardens were built on top of a sacred, open-air temple. Absorb the peaceful environment as you take a leisurely stroll and discover what the complex has to offer. Stop by the Vaipahi Waterfall as you make your way to the gardens. You can also make a stop at the nearby Harrison Smith Botanical Garden. The entrance to the gardens is free. Be prepared with bug repellents lest you find your peace broken by mosquitos. 

Vaipahi Gardens
Water Gardens Vaipahi, Teva I Uta, French Polynesia
Admission: Free
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Top restaurants to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Tahiti Smoothies (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Snack Madeleine (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Chez Aro (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Vaipahi Gardens in Tahiti.

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The best hotel to stay near Vaipahi Gardens based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Fare Nukumai (9.1/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

13. Enjoy a walk at the Pā’ōfa’i Gardens

Located in Papeete, Pā’ōfa’i Gardens is a popular and accessible landscaped park along the Tahiti coast.

Pā’ōfa’i Gardens | MProdTahiti via YouTube

The garden is lush with hundreds of plants and trees dotting the area and has large green spaces for recreation. The garden also features a fish pond with water lilies. Perfect for a romantic walk in the day or at night, the garden is inviting for anyone looking to relax and watch the world go by with someone special. The gardens are also perfect for picnics with families or for a quick and easy jog.

The garden is accessible daily from 7 am to 7 pm.

Pā’ōfa’i Gardens
Pape’ete, French Polynesia
Admission: Free
Get directions

Top restaurants to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Kozy restaurant (4.5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Tiki Peue (5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Cali.stro (4.6/5 stars, Steak, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Pā’ōfa’i Gardens in Tahiti.

The best hotel to stay near Pā’ōfa’i Gardens based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Te Fiti Island Break Mahina (9.8/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

14. Hunt for precious black pearls

What better way to chronicle an unforgettable trip in Tahiti than to get the perfect souvenir: pearls.

Tahiti Pearl Market | EyeVisit4U Tahiti via YouTube

Tahiti is world-famous for its pearls, specifically for the rare black pearls formed by black-lipped oysters. Visit the Tahiti Pearl Market for a wonderful selection of pearls at an affordable price. You can choose from the pre-made jewelry already available on-site or make your own unique piece after selecting your own pearls. If you want to learn about the cultured pearl industry in Tahiti, check out the educational exhibits in Robert Wan Pearl Museum.

Tahiti Pearl Market
25 Rue du Père Collette, Papeete, French Polynesia
Admission: Free
Ph: +689 40 54 30 60
Get directions

Top restaurants to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• L’O A La Bouche (4.7/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Le Soufflé (4.6/5 stars, French, $$)
• Cali.stro (4.6/5 stars, Steak, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Tahiti Pearl Market in Tahiti.

The best hotel to stay near Tahiti Pearl Market based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Fare D’hôtes Tutehau (9/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

15. Go on a food trip at Place Vai’ete

Place Vai’ete is a waterfront park in Tahiti that transforms into a lively destination of culinary adventures at sunset.

Place Vai’ete Top 15 things to do in Tahiti

Place Vai’ete (en front de mer) | Photo by bygérard via Flickr

The popular park hosts roulottes, or mobile food vans, serving various cuisines and tasty delights at night. You can get anything you fancy, from pizzas to French crepes. Watch the park come alive at sunset and feast on the many delicious delights Tahiti offers under the stars. Although you can never have a bad meal at the roulottes, try out the popular Chinese food with the sweet twist common among French Polynesian cuisine.

The roulottes open from 6 pm to 3 am and showcase live performances of all kinds. Tables are available so you can sit down, enjoy your meal, and relax.

Place Vai’ete
369 Boulevard de la Reine Pōmare IV, Papeete, French Polynesia
Admission: Free
Get directions

Top restaurants to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Le Royal Kikiriri (4.7/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Snack Madeleine (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Malabar Bistronomia (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Place Vai’ete in Tahiti.

The best hotel to stay near Place Vai’ete based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Fare Sunny (9.5/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com


Come and enjoy these wonders of the Pacific with us! 

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