Must-see attractions in French Polynesia

  • Marae Pomaovao

    French Polynesia

    Across the road from the airport, this marae (traditional sacred site) features a large paved platform and a massive upright stone standing more than 2m…

  • Maui Beach

    Tahiti

    A picturesque strip of white sand, Maui Beach gets packed and noisy on weekends, but is peaceful during the week. It’s right on the road but has shallow…

  • Ana Tane Uapoto

    French Polynesia

    On the eastern outskirts of the village of Moerai, near Arei Point, you'll find this large roadside cavern with stalactites and stalagmites. Traditionally…

  • Marae Nuutere

    Tahiti

    A signposted turn-off at PK9.5 leads a short distance inland to the rarely visited remains of Marae Nuutere, restored in 1994. There are three paved yards…

  • Vaitauarii

    French Polynesia

    At Vaitauarii are the remains of a site dedicated to tattooing Tubuai royalty. Until 2007 it was believed that the ancient Tubuai people were not tattooed…

  • Painapo Beach

    Mo'orea

    You can’t miss the huge (though falling apart) statue of a tattooed man holding a club at the entrance of this private property overlooking a lovely strip…

  • Gallery Umatatea

    Huahine

    On an isolated property by the road on Motu Ovarei, you’ll find this art gallery, where the exotic paintings of the highly respected artist Melanie Dupre…

  • Le Jardin de Corail

    Huahine

    If solitude is what you’re seeking, head for this secluded beach at the southern tip of Motu Ovarei, just off the now defunct Sofitel. It features shade…

  • Ana Aeo

    French Polynesia

    This cave, with its massive, oozy-looking stalactites and stalagmites, is the most stunning on the island. It’s 500m north of the Teautamatea pension;…

  • Vaipaee

    The Marquesas

    The island’s main town is at the end of a very deep, narrow inlet, about 1km long and rightly named Invisible Bay. You'll find two stores, lots of fruit…

  • Marine Museum

    The Marquesas

    This modest museum, in the white house on the seafront, shows the evolution of traditional pirogues (outrigger canoes) as well as hooks used for shark…

  • Cimetière Pomare

    Pape'ete

    Some members of the Pomare family are buried (or may be buried – their tombs are unmarked) in the Cimetière Pomare. A board at the cemetery indicates…

  • Maison de la Vanille

    Ra'iatea & Taha'a

    On the right of the road into Haamene is this small family-run operation where you can see vanilla preparation and drying processes and also purchase…

  • Place Vaiete

    Pape'ete

    Place Vaiete is home to multiple roulottes and occasional live-music performances at night, but is quite peaceful during the day. There are plenty of…

  • Waterfall

    Ra'iatea & Taha'a

    Along the Les Trois Cascades (Three Waterfalls) hike, it’s an easy stroll to the first (the smallest) waterfall, which has a great swimming hole. Though…

  • Marae Marae Taata

    Tahiti

    This very well-maintained site holds three adjoined stone courtyards, each with its own ahu (alter). It was probably used for religious fishing rituals…

  • Plage de Vaiava

    Around Tahiti Nui

    Beloved by locals, Plage du PK18 is a stunning beach to sun yourself on, but not that great for swimming or snorkelling due to the shallow water. The…

  • Afareaitu

    Mo'orea

    Afareaitu is the island’s administrative centre. There are two waterfalls that are worth a gander (although they are but feeble trickles in winter). Ask…

  • Marae Pua Pua Tiare

    French Polynesia

    This well-maintained marae can be found about 1km from the Vaiuru entrance of the cross-island road (ask for directions as it’s not easy to find). It…

  • Mara’a Grotto

    Around Tahiti Nui

    Lush gardens, overhung caverns, crystal-clear pools and ferny grottoes are all standard features at gorgeous Mara’a Grotto. The fairy-tale park is found…

  • PK10.5

    Fakarava

    The PK10.5 marks the end of the dirt road, just on the edge of the phenomenal Garuae Pass. By incoming or outgoing current, the pass gets really rough,…

  • Île aux Oiseaux

    The Tuamotus

    To the east of the lagoon, a crescent-shaped coral spit covered in small shrubs is a favourite nesting place for oio (brown noddies), tara (great…

  • Fitii

    Huahine

    Just before completing the Huahine Nui circuit, the road passes through the Fitii district. This is an important agricultural area in the shadow of Mt…

  • Rocher de la Tortue

    The Tuamotus

    The Rocher aux Tortues refers to a big coral outcrop lying about 4.5km north of the village on the exterior reef. Its base has been undercut by water…

  • Musée de la Marine

    Bora Bora

    The small, private Musée de la Marine has a collection of model ships made by architect Bertrand Darasse. The opening hours are fairly haphazard, so you…

  • Anahoa Beach

    The Marquesas

    From Hakahau, it’s a 30-minute walk east to deserted Anahoa Beach. From the Hakahau quay, follow the sign for Pukuéé pension and continue along the paved…

  • Marae Farehape

    Tahiti

    The restored Marae Farehape site is almost directly below the ridge line on which the Relais de la Maroto inn perches; you can see an archery platform…

  • Pahua

    The Tuamotus

    The tiny village of Pahua is divided by a pass a few metres wide and no deeper than 1.5m, suitable only for very small boats. A bridge spans the pass and…

  • Cascade Vaiea

    The Marquesas

    At the entrance of the village a sign marks the mountainside track to a waterfall. It has a deep round bathing pool that looks like something out of a…

  • Mairie de Pape’ete

    Pape'ete

    Pape’ete’s mairie is two blocks back from Blvd Pomare and a block north of Marché de Pape’ete. It was completed in 1990, in vague imitation of the old…

  • Fort George

    French Polynesia

    The Bounty is remembered by a sign on the northeastern corner of the island marking the site of Fort George, where the mutineers attempted to set up camp…

  • Motu Hemeni

    The Marquesas

    The neighbouring islet to Motu Teuaua, Hemeni is also a nesting ground for thousands of kaveka (sooty terns). Access to Hemeni is prohibited in order to…

  • Motu Manu

    The Tuamotus

    A great way to get a feel for Ahe is to visit this islet, which has the only remaining patch of primary forest in the Tuamotus, which consists of imposing…

  • Catholic Church

    The Marquesas

    Right in the centre of town is this enticing church made of wood and stone. Inside you’ll find some fantastic woodcarvings of religious figures with a…

  • Marae Tararoa

    French Polynesia

    Behind Teautamatea pension on the west side of the island are the well-preserved remains of Marae Tararoa, the marae(traditional temple) of the last…

  • Vallée de la Vanille

    Ra'iatea & Taha'a

    This small operation, on the east coast between Faaha and Hipu, is known for its quality vanilla pods at economical prices. Visitors will get the low-down…

  • Toataratara Point

    French Polynesia

    This is a sweet, picturesque spot at the southern end of the island. You’ll find a series of photogenic little coves fringed with white-sand beaches. A…

  • Motu Puarua

    The Tuamotus

    Lying almost in the middle of the lagoon, the rocky Motu Puarua hosts several species of ground-nesting birds, including brown noddies and uaau (red…

  • Te Ai'tua

    Nuku Hiva

    Other sites around Taipivai include the new Te Ai'tua mea'a built for the 2011 Marquesas Festival and decked out in interesting modern, mostly cement tiki.

  • Parc Bougainville

    Pape'ete

    A great spot to just chill out, Parc Bougainville is a tropical oasis in the middle of the city. Lush and cool, it’s fronted by a 1909 bust of the great…

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