Welcome to French Polynesia


The Dream

Tahiti: just the word conjures up centuries’ worth of images: hibiscus flowers; bronzed dancers in grass skirts; a humid breeze over turquoise sea. The islands of French Polynesia became legends the minute the first European explorers reached their home shores with tales of a heaven on earth where the soil was fertile, life was simple and lust was guilt-free. While the lingering hype is outdated, French Polynesia is still about as dreamy as reality gets. The lagoons are just as blue but there are freeways, more conservative values and nine-to-five jobs. It’s not the untainted paradise of explorer lore, but at least there’s an internet connection.

Lagoon Spectacular

The slim stretches of white-, pink- and black-sand beaches in French Polynesia are really just pretty springboards into the real draw: the lagoons. Most high islands are surrounded by fringing reef that creates a protected swimming pool of the most intense aqua imaginable. Coral atolls have this same calibre of lagoon minus the big island in the middle. Fish, dolphins, rays, sharks, turtles and more inhabit these clear-water coral gardens that are as excellent for snorkelling as they are for diving and swimming. Surfers ride glassy wave faces at reef passes while kitesurfers fly across the water with the trade winds.

To Luxe or Not to Luxe

Over-the-top indulgence has become French Polynesia’s – or more specifically Bora Bora’s – signature, and often overshadows what the rest of the country has to offer. Resorts on the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’ are a honeymooner’s dream, with private overwater bungalows and spectacular views of the island’s iconic, square-topped peak. But if this isn’t your cup of coconut water, or not in your budget, don’t let that dissuade you from visiting French Polynesia. Small, family-run lodgings offer a closer-to-the-culture experience for considerably less financial output.


Top experiences in French Polynesia

Recent articles

Travel guides

Starting at $29.89

Image for Image for

French Polynesia activities

$224.81 Water Sports

Jet Ski and Shark and Stingray Snorkel Cruise from Bora Bora

Start your day with convenient morning pickup from your Bora Bora hotel or meet your tour guide at the Vaitape pier. After a short safety briefing, strap on the provided lifejacket then hop aboard your Jet Ski, riding solo or double, as you prefer.Follow your guide through the warm turquoise waters while looking at the spectacular scenery and Mt Otemanu, which reaches 2,385 feet (727 meters) at its highest point. During the tour, your guide points out landmarks and shares facts about the island's marine life, culture and history. You also stop briefly at two scenic locations for a swim and a coconut husking demonstration.After two hours on the Jet Ski, it’s time for lunch at Bloody Mary’s. The famous restaurant is known both for its food and its colorful history and atmosphere. Resembling a traditional Tahitian hut, the building features a thatched roof, open walls and kitschy interior with sand floor, tiki torches and seats made from palm trunks. Fresh seafood stars on the menu, with burgers, sandwiches and local specials also offered for lunch. Appetite satisfied, head back to the water for a 2.5-hour shark and stingray safari. By powerboat, cruise over to a shallow lagoon where your guide jumps in the water to attract black-tip reef sharks with food. You have the choice to watch from the boat or hop in the water and observe close up with the provided snorkel and mask.After seeing the sharks, go to another spot for a close encounter with stingrays. Your guide shows you how to interact with the gentle rays; if you like, you can get in the water with them. Then continue to your final stop: a colorful coral garden that is perfect for snorkeling. Whether you get in the water or stay dry in the boat, you’ll get an unforgettable experience of this spectacular underwater world. At the end of this comprehensive tour, your guide returns you to your hotel.

$72.17 Outdoor Activities

Bora Bora 4WD Tour

After your choice of morning, afternoon or early evening pickup from Vaitape Pier or your Bora Bora hotel, start your 4WD tour of the island with your professional guide. Travel approximately 20 miles (32 km) all the way around the island to reach amazing lookout points where you can soak in views of turquoise ocean and lush green hills. Travel to the East Matira lookout to admire a great perspective on the shimmering lagoon. Then continue to Faanui Canon lookout to see canons left behind by US troops after WWII. Your guide explains the American presence in Bora Bora during the war and the mission known as Operation Bobcat. In Faanui Valley, visit a small workshop where artisans make beautiful tie-dye sarongs and coconut oil. After watching the production process, taste delicious tropical fruits at a small fruit plantation. Next, head to the Amanahune Bay lookout where you can examine rock formations that were once inside of the caldera of Bora Bora, a volcanic island formed after volcanic eruptions long ago. During your 4-hr tour, complete a full circle around the island by open-sided 4WD, perfect for scaling any mountain or rough track on the tropical island. Be sure to bring your camera to capture photos of the many breathtaking views as well as locations made famous in the 1962 Marlon Brando movie Mutiny on the Bounty.If you choose the sunset tour, your 4WD stops at a couple of viewpoints before heading to the perfect lookout to watch the sunset. Sip a provided glass of bubbly and listen to live local music during a magical sunset experience on this stunning island. After your 4-hour tour, your guide returns you to your hotel.

$77.90 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Bora Bora Snorkel Cruise with Shark and Stingray Feeding

Start your 2.5-hour Bora Bora snorkeling tour in the afternoon, departing from your hotel or Vaitape Pier. Then hop aboard a motorized covered boat that takes your across Bora Bora’s magnificent lagoon. Your guide makes several snorkeling stops along the way for an up-close look at sharks, rays and other fish. Stop near the barrier reef and discover a coral garden and marine park teeming with nearly 700 species of tropical fish (weather permitting). Snap on your provided snorkel equipment and slip into the aquamarine water that makes French Polynesia famous. Black-tip reef sharks are another highlight of Bora Bora. Watch your guide jump into the water to attract and hand-feed more than a dozen sharks. Observe this feeding frenzy from the boat, or experience the thrill through your snorkel mask while in the sea. Continue your excursion to a shallow bay where you’ll come face-to-face with hungry stingrays under your guide’s expert supervision. Enjoy fantastic photo ops before re-boarding the boat for a trip around the island of Bora Bora and a return to your hotel or the port.

$93.89 Outdoor Activities

Papeete Inner Island Full-Day Jeep Safari

Discover the interior of the island of Tahiti by 4 wheel drive vehicle. The tour will take you to Mount Marau. You'll be taken to an altitude of 3600 feet, stop for a bird's eye view of Punaruu Valley, once a fortress built by the French during the Tahitian uprising of 1844 to 1846. The site is now used as a TV relay station. At 4320 feet, there is a magnificent panorama of the island's highest peaks: Orohena, Aorai, Tetufera and Teamaa. Tour continues to the Tiarei Arahoho Blow Hole, Tahiti's biggest roadside attraction. It's unmarked and located at the base of a steep cliff on a narrow shoulder on the mountain side of the road. Over countless years, battering surf has undercut the basalt shoreline and eroded a passage to the surface beneath the road. When waves crash against the rocks, the result is a geyser-like plume of sea water that showers on lookers. You'll enter to the Fa'aurumai Valley to visit the three waterfalls. The rainforest on both sides of this small valley is thick, nearly impenetrable and filled with "hutu" and "mape" trees (chestnut trees, only found in the Society Islands). If you look carefully, you'll notice star fruit, guava and "mape" along the trail. From the parking lot, it's several hundred yards to Vaimahutu, the first fall, which cascades 100 feet to the earth and empties into a pool. Continue the rainforst walk and within 20-minutes will reach the other two falls : Haamaremare Iti and Haamaremare Rahi.

$64.44 Tours & Sightseeing

Tahiti: Venus Point, Taharaa View Point and Vaipahi Gardens

After pickup from your hotel, set out to explore the island of Tahiti, traveling by air-conditioned coach with an experienced local guide. Your first stop will be on the west coast where you will visit the famous Marae Arahurahu, a relgious site dedicated to the ancient gods where important ceremonies used to take place. For manicured landscapes, visit the Vaipahi Garden, where you can wander around a tree-shaded wonderland of waterfalls, ponds and colorful tropical flowers. Your guide can help you identify the plant life as you take in this botanical gem. Visit Venus Point, located on Matavai Bay. The stop got its name from Captain James Cook, who observed the 1769 transit of Venus from this point as part of his work for the Royal Society. As you walk around the black-sand beach, note the monument that commemorates Cook's work here.Next, cruise along scenic roads to arrive at the Arahoho blowhole where, when there's a big swell, water shoots skyward, resulting in what might be a free shower courtesy of the sea! Enjoy the beauty of the black-sand beaches and turquoise sea, a popular surfing spot. Afterwards, visit Taharaa View Point for breathtaking panoramic views over the island before being returned to your hotel in Papeete where your tour ends.

$181.85 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Bora Bora Lagoon Small-Group Snorkel Cruise with BBQ Lunch

After pickup at your hotel or at the Vaitape pier, board your boat for your 6-hour small-group snorkel cruise. You’ll enjoy a customized experience of this incredible island and its outstanding marine life.Set off on the first part of your 26-mile (42-kilometer) cruise around the island, heading to shallow waters where you can see blacktip reef sharks and stingrays. Once your guide hops into the water to show you how to interact with the gentle creatures, you have the option to join your guide in the water. Swim with the tame stingrays and sharks if you like, or stay dry and observe the action from the boat.Next, explore this tropical paradise further by snorkeling at pristine locations with colorful coral gardens and multitudes of fish. If you are new to snorkeling, your guide can assist you to feel comfortable in the water. Continue to a lovely motu with great views of Mt Otemanu, the tallest point on Bora Bora at 2,385 feet (727 meters). Have time to snorkel and swim in calm, clear waters or relax on the white-sand beach while your guide prepares a delicious picnic lunch. When ready, eat at a shaded table on the beach. Savor the tasty Polynesian-style barbecue picnic, which may include grilled fish, chicken and beef, along with salads and other dishes. Your guide explains how to cook these local favorites and shares other cultural and historical facts.At the end of your memorable 6-hour cruise, your guide returns you to your starting point.