While Tahiti isn’t the white-sand island of your holiday brochure, it is the heart of French Polynesia, and it would be a shame to bypass it. Waterfall-laden, shadowy mountains; unpretentiously beautiful black-sand beaches; and a distinctly Polynesian buzz make Tahiti a gem in its own right.
While exploring the lively backstreets and strolling the waterfront of the pint-sized capital Pape’ete is a must, it’s the outdoor action and cultural offerings that woo visitors to extend their stay. Explore the mystical, mountainous interior on a 4WD tour, learn to dive in the translucent lagoon, wander flabbergasted amid archaeological sites, and from July to October go whale-watching or hike across the fecund interior. In July catch the country’s most spectacular festival, the percussion and dance-heavy Heiva. And don’t miss Tahiti Iti – this peninsula on the southeast of Tahiti, so far only known to surfers, is one of the hidden gems of French Polynesia.