Must-see attractions in French Polynesia

  • Cooks Bay in Moorea

    Cook’s Bay


    The spectacular Cook’s Bay is something of a misnomer because Cook actually anchored in Opunohu Bay. With Mt Rotui as a backdrop, Cook’s Bay is a lovely…

  • Fossilised coral formations, Rangiroa atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia (overseas territory of the French Republic).

    Île aux Récifs


    South of the atoll, an hour by boat from Avatoru, Île aux Récifs is an area dotted with raised feo (coral outcrops), weathered shapes chiselled by erosion…

  • French Polynesia, Tuamotus, Rangiroa, Blue Lagoon

    Lagon Bleu


    This is what many people visualise when imagining a Polynesian paradise: a string of motu and coral reefs has formed a natural pool on the edge of the…

  • FRANCE - JUNE 15: Les Sables Rose (Pink Sands), Rangiroa, Tuamotus, French Polynesia, Overseas Territory of France. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

    Les Sables Roses


    A double crescent of dreamy beaches split by a narrow spit of white-and-pink coral sands, Les Sables Roses seems to come right out of central casting for…

  • Sailing ship, Opunohu bay, Moorea, Society Islands, French Polynesia (May, 2009)

    Opunohu Bay


    Magnificent Opunohu Bay feels wonderfully fresh and isolated. The coastal road rounds Mt Rotui, and at about PK14 turns inland along the eastern side of…

  • Kamuihei, Tahakia & Teiipoka

    Nuku Hiva

    About 300m towards Taipivai from the Hikokua site, these three connecting sites make up the largest excavated archaeological area of Nuku Hiva. A team led…

  • Marché de Pape’ete


    A Pape'ete institution. If you see one site in town, make it this market, which fills an entire city block. Shop for colourful pareu (sarongs), shell…

  • Tohua Koueva

    Nuku Hiva

    It’s believed that this extensive communal site, with its paved esplanade, belonged to the war chief Pakoko, who was killed by the French in 1845. Today…

  • Hanahevane Bay

    The Marquesas

    This glorious bay is caressed by jade-green waters and is studded with a broad strand of golden sand. It’s a good picnic spot (despite a number of pesky…

  • Maeva


    Prior to European influence, Maeva village, about 7km east of Fare, was the seat of royal power on the island. It’s mostly famous for its concentration of…

  • Matairea Hill Archaeological Sites


    This walk up Matairea Hill is a high point for anyone interested in archaeology. A signpost on the Fare side of Maeva, about 200m west from the Fare Potee…

  • Beach at Tuherahera (Tikehau atoll)


    The Tuamotus

    Most islanders live in Tuherahera, in the southwest of the atoll. Find peace in this pretty village, bursting with uru (breadfruit), coconut trees,…

  • Lighthouse at Rotoava (Fakarava atoll)



    Most islanders live in Rotoava village at the northeastern end of the atoll, 4km east of the airport. Aside from Rangiroa’s Avatoru, this is the most…

  • Dans le village de Tiputa sur l'atoll de Rangiroa aux Tuamotu, Polyn?sie Fran?aise.Scan d'un n?gatif.



    Very few visitors venture to this charmingly quiet village edging the eastern side of Tiputa Pass. Although it doesn't have tourist facilities (all…

  • Plage du PK9 Beach (Fakarava atoll)

    Plage du PK9


    A bit of a local’s secret, Plage du PK9 is – you guessed it – 9km west of Rotoava (go past the airport and follow the dirt track towards the northern pass…

  • Sand beach with palm trees, turquoise clear water under blue sky. Perfect beach for relaxing. Fakarava Island, Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia.

    Lagon Bleu (Motu Tehatea)


    Simply divine. Near the northwestern corner of Fakarava, Lagon Bleu features an indescribably lovely stretch of white-sand coral beach, turquoise-blue…

  • marae Papiro (archaelogical site)

    Marae Papiro

    The Tuamotus

    Marae Papiro is a well-kept marae (traditional temple) on the edge of a hoa, about 14km from the village. In the centre of this marae you can see the…

  • French Polynesia, Society Islands, Windward Islands, Tahiti Island, Papenoo


    Around Tahiti Nui

    There’s a popular surf break just before the headland that signals the start of the small village of Papenoo. A long bridge crosses the Papenoo River at…

  • Hikokua

    Nuku Hiva

    One of the most powerful archaeological sites in the Marquesas, Hikokua was discovered by the archaeologist Robert Suggs in 1957 and has been restored and…

  • Pointe Vénus & Matavai Bay

    Around Tahiti Nui

    Part of Captain Cook’s mission on his three-month sojourn in 1769 was to record the transit of Venus across the face of the sun in an attempt to calculate…

  • Hauru Point


    The coastal road rounds Hauru Point, the northwestern corner of the island, between PK25 and PK30. Hauru Point has one of the best beaches on the island,…

  • Vaitahu

    The Marquesas

    This tiny village, built against the steep slopes of the central ridge, retains a few vestiges of its stormy past. On the seafront stands a modest…

  • Hanavave

    The Marquesas

    Hanavave boasts a splendid setting, at the mouth of a steep-sided valley, best enjoyed from the sea (lucky yachties!). When the setting sun bounces purple…

  • Fare


    A visit to tiny Fare almost feels like stepping back in time, so perfectly does it capture the image of a sleepy South Seas port. There’s not a lot to do,…

  • Omoa

    The Marquesas

    Time moves at a crawl in Omoa. The most striking monument is the Catholic church, with its red roof, white facade and slender spire. It makes a colourful…

  • Meiaute

    The Marquesas

    High up in the valley of Hane, the site of Meiaute includes three 1m-high, red-tuff tiki that watch over a group of stone structures, pae pae and me’ae,…

  • Administrative District


    The Territorial Assembly and other government buildings occupy Place Tarahoi, the former site of the Pomare palace. The termite-riddled 1883 palace was…

  • Motu Teuaua

    The Marquesas

    Thousands of kaveka (sooty terns) nest year-round on these islets and lay thousands of eggs daily.

  • Bain de Vaima & Vaipahi Spring Gardens

    Around Tahiti Nui

    Bain de Vaima (Vaima Pool) is where locals come from all over to bathe in the icy but exceptionally clear waters that are thought to have healing…

  • Taravao

    Around Tahiti Nui

    Strategically situated at the narrow isthmus connecting Tahiti Nui with Tahiti Iti, the town of Taravao has been a military base on and off since 1844,…

  • Faarumai Waterfalls

    Around Tahiti Nui

    Through the village of Tiarei where the road swoops around a black-sand beach, you’ll see a sign on the mountain side of the road for the exceedingly high…

  • Jardins Botaniques

    Around Tahiti Nui

    The 137-hectare Jardins Botaniques has walking paths that wind their way through the garden past ponds, palms, a massive banyan tree and a superb mape…

  • Hapatoni

    The Marquesas

    Hapatoni curves around a wide bay and is accessible by boat in less than 15 minutes from Vaitahu, or by a track.

  • Marae Mahaiatea

    Around Tahiti Nui

    Just east of the village of Papara, the Marae Mahaiatea was the most magnificent marae on Tahiti at the time of Cook’s first visit (according to Cook it…

  • Hane

    The Marquesas

    Experts believe that the first Polynesian settlement on the Marquesas was here, tucked away in a bay protected on the east by the impressive Motu Hane…

  • Musée Gauguin

    Around Tahiti Nui

    This museum has been closed for years but hopefully it will reopen during the life of this book. The airy site surrounded by lush foliage is lovely, and…

  • Moorea Tropical Garden


    This delightfully peaceful property perched on a small plateau is heaven on earth for the sweet-toothed, who can sample (and buy) homemade organic jams,…

  • Te Tumu

    The Marquesas

    Built for the 2013 Mini Marquesas Festival, this beautiful site holds a large performance area and the island's main museum. The Marquesas's largest tiki,…

  • Lycée Agricole


    A small shop at the college sells jams in local flavours as well as honey, coffee, fruit juices and, on occasion, ice cream. If you’ve got itchy feet,…

  • Marae Titiroa & Marae Ahu-o-Mahine


    Past the agricultural college, the valley road comes to a parking area beside this vast complex, on the edge of a dense forest of magnificent chestnut…

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