Updated: Jan 21
The Islands of Tahiti are located in the South Pacific, consisting of 118 islands and atolls, made up of the well-known Society Islands including Tahiti and Bora Bora, Tuamotu Islands, Gambier Islands, Austral Islands, and the Marquesas Islands. Known for being an artist’s residence to the likes of Gauguin and Matisse, The Islands of Tahiti are the birthplace of Polynesian culture. The locals are warm and welcoming, whilst exuding a humble spirit and proudly sharing their traditions and heritage with visitors. Tahiti is a diverse destination, bringing to life the duality of seclusion, adventure, connecting all islands. Have you experienced the spirit of Mana or the spirit of The Islands of Tahiti? Some Tahitian words inspire feelings of warmth and positivity. Words such as 'Ia Ora Na’, the national greeting, and ‘Mahana’, meaning sunshine are amongst many being used.
I loved my brief but amazing stay in beautiful Tahiti as part of my gap year a few years ago;) Traveling with Air New Zealand on an around the world air ticket. Flying from the Cook Islands to Papeete then taking a taxi to the ferry terminal and boarding the boat to Moorea. Today, one of the best ways to reach the islands from the UK is usually via Paris or Los Angeles with connections from Air Tahiti Nui. Sadly, it was pre-digital but I still have the memories. Where better to create memories than beautiful Tahiti. Here is more on the incredible Tahitian Islands.
A to Z Travel Blog - Tahiti
The largest Tahitian Island - Tahiti is shaped like a figure eight, it has two extinct volcanos, lined with black sand beaches, waterfalls and lagoons. The Capital Papeete is great for shopping especially to buy a Tahitian pearl. Don't miss the Robert Wan Pearl Museum and the large Marché de Papeete market.
Smaller than Tahiti, it is said to be the pride and joy of the Tahitian Islands. Great for walking with hikes up the slopes of Mount Tohivea, through the rainforest, and don't miss The Belvedere Lookout with panoramic views. You might also like to explore the three-kilometre stretch of Cook's Bay (named after Captain James Cook where he first landed to witness the transit of Venus) one of the twin bay's. The other Opunohu Bay, where Captain James Cook landed in September 1777. After all the activities it is also a great island for relaxing, with its beautiful white-sand beaches. Yoga anyone?
The boat journey between Papeete and Moorea takes approx 40 minutes onboard a 500 seater 272ft catamaran. A one-way/single ticket costs $15 US Dollars.
I stayed at a hostel that had both private wooden chalets/bungalows with en-suite facilities and open dorm rooms. It was a hive of activity, with games nights including one with frogs. It could have been Le Village Faimano (a lovely lady owned it and offered a private boat back to the mainland)? The wooden chalet was right opposite the beach with incredible sunsets. Tahiti is known for being a luxury destination but you can have luxury at affordable prices!
Island hopping around The Marquesas Islands
The Marquesas Islands are located 932 miles northeast of Tahiti and spread out over 12 islands, of which only six are inhabited. The largest island of the southeastern group is Hiva Oa, the burial place of the French artist Paul Gauguin. The islands are home to many archaeological sites, including stone temples, giant tiki statues, and ancient petroglyphs. See our pick of these three gorgeous islands perfect for your next island-hopping adventure.
Nuku Hiva is the largest island and the most populated of The Marquesas. The vertiginous volcanic peaks and slopes blend with the blue of the Pacific Ocean. The starting point of the adventure is Taioha’e, the archipelago’s regional capital, opening at the end of a large bay holding the same name. Nuku Hiva is nicknamed "The Land of Men'' because of warrior traditions that persist today. Local men take pride in wearing the horns of animals they've killed around their necks. The island features outstanding landscapes, an incredible archaeological history, and a rich culture. The view from the infinity pool at Le Nuku Hiva by Pearl Resorts, the only hotel on the island, is the cobalt blue of Taiohae Bay. The natural beauty of this landscape stretches out onto a kaleidoscope of cliffs, rocky peaks, deep bays, and steep valleys. Every four years, Nuku Hiva hosts the Marquesas Arts Festival, a celebration of the local people's renowned artistic talent and deeply rooted traditions.
Hiva Oa is commonly called the “Garden of the Marquesas'' due to its fertile and lush land. The island features endless untouched nature: green, invading, and bright. The rugged landscapes blend sharp ridges, peaks, and valleys scattered with archaeological sites and ruins. They are home to the largest tiki statues of French Polynesia. Hiva Oa is lined with black sand beaches and sharp cliffs diving into the Pacific Ocean. The island’s main village, Atuona, is nested at the end of Taaao Bay and is overlooked by the highest mountains (Mount Temetiu – 4,186 ft. and Mount fe’ani – 3,366 ft.).
Ua Pou is geologically the most recent island in the group and one of the most typical for Polynesia. Some of the highlights include swimming at the beautiful golden sand beach of Anaho and visiting many archaeological sites on the island as well as exploring the colourful village of Hakatehau. In this flowered village, inhabitants invite visitors to discover traditional crafts such as pandanus weaving, wood painting or carving, and the fabrication of bone, shell, or mother of pearl ornaments.
Island hop by air
The most practical and time-efficient way to island-hop is by air. Air Tahiti offers mix-and-match island hopper flight services between 38 French Polynesian islands one or more times a week. In addition, there are flights from Tahiti to the Marquesas several days a week. The archipelago's two main islands (Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa) are served daily. Many flights from Tahiti to the Marquesas stop first in the Tuamotus, allowing access to more than one island group on the same ticket.
package for island hopping from Nuku Hiva to Hiva Oa:
Price from £2,215 per person based on two sharing, including three nights at Le Nuku Hiva by Pearl Resorts in a Bayview Bungalow with Half Board, three nights at Hanakee Lodge Hiva Oa in an Ocean View Bungalow with Half Board, Atuona Museum & Puamau entrance fees, all transfers by four-wheel drive and domestic flights. International flight costs are additional. For more information visit Turquoise Holidays.
For Those Hidden Gem Lovers
Nuku Hiva Keikahanui Pearl Lodge: The Islands of Tahiti
The Marquesian islands are known as the most remote archipelago on the planet. More than 900 miles north-east of Tahiti, Nuku Hiva island is a mystical island hiding many natural wonders, such as the Hakaui waterfall, tiki statues and encounters with wild horses, goats and boars. Located on a hillside overlooking Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva Pearl Lodge is the only formal hotel on the Marquesian island of Nuku Hiva. Visitors can hike through the pineapple fields, tackle the surf, explore archaeological sites or simply relax on the black sand beaches. Prices from £230 per night. www.tahititourisme.uk/en-gb/ | www.nukuhivapearlodge.com/en/
If you loved hearing about this hidden gem, don't miss the full travel blog coming soon - 22 Destinations to Inspire your 2022 Bucket List. Watch this space.
Romantic Getaway Inspiration
Heart-shaped island, Tupai - The Islands of Tahiti
The Islands of Tahiti scream serenity, perfect for couples looking to relax, unwind and just enjoy each other’s company surrounded by crystal blue waters. Fill days with sunshine on the diamond-white sand beaches, swim in crystal-clear azure waters and experience the lavish comfort of The Islands of Tahiti’s luxury hotels with a stay in a breath-taking overwater villa. Located 10 miles north of Bora Bora, the islet of Tupai, viewed from the sky, features a heart making it one of the most romantic islands there is. It hosts a double lagoon and motu covered with coconut trees. Getting there: Fly from Paris with Air Tahiti Nui from £1,130 return. Alternative airlines include United Airlines and British Airways flying from London.
With hundreds of empty white-sand beaches that fringe the turquoise waters, enjoy exclusive use of the atolls with your partner. With a range of treatments, from a Balinese hot stone experience to a traditional Polynesian taurumi massage.
For more on romantic inspiration check out - Swipe Right on New Faces and Places - Romantic Breaks for 2022.
What To See & Do While In Tahiti
Return of Tahiti Pro Teahupo'o 2022
Home to the best waves, Tahiti is a surfer’s paradise due to its position facing the full uninterrupted force of the South Pacific. The mythical wave of Teahupo’o, located on the Peninsula of the island of Tahiti, presents athletic and ideal surf conditions. The legendary surf spot of Teahupo’o is already part of the various surf spots which The Islands of Tahiti has to offer to both expert and novice surfers. Teahupo’o has extensive surfing locations with seven spots within five miles of each other, where surfers go to catch the waves all breaking in different swells and winds.
2022 marks the 8th World Surfing Championship, Tahiti Pro Teahupo'o, which has become a major event in the world of surfing. This year the competition is taking place from 24 August - 3 September. Visitors and viewers have the privilege of admiring one of the biggest waves in the world and all the international surfing elite in an idyllic setting on the Tahitian peninsula, The End of the Road.
for the first time, The Islands of Tahiti have been selected as the host destination for the surf events of the 2024 Olympic Games, one of the biggest sporting events on the planet. The famous wave of Teahupo’o will be the top surf spot of 2024 for surf athletes and the whole world!
The top picks of the five best surfing spots found around The Islands of Tahiti include not only Teahupo’o but also Taapuna, Maraa, Papara, and Papenoo Rivermouth. Are you into surfing? Would you like to know more about each of these great surfing locations?
Galerie ‘Umatatea, The Islands of Tahiti
Galeria ‘Umatatea is located in an isolated property by the road on Motu Ovarei on the island of Huahine. The small showroom showcases exotic paintings by the highly respected artist, Melanie Dupre. Her art captures local Tahitian life as well as life on Huahine based on her 17 years living in French Polynesia. The gallery is open when the artist is home.
If you love visiting art exhibitions and museums here is International Art Exhibitions and Museums worth travelling for in 2022.
Traditional Tahitian Crafts
The Islands of Tahiti host an array of traditional arts and crafts that are incorporated into day-to-day Tahitian life. The Polynesian craft industry is renowned for using locally sourced, often naturally produced, resources and following ancient techniques. From the use of fine weaving to create sturdy basketry from the Austral Islands to gorgeous patchwork quilts known as tifaifai used as pillow and bed covers. Additionally, sculptures and tikis from the Marquesas Islands are often used for survival and entertainment through the creation of spears and puzzles.
Sculptures and Tikis from Marquesas
Sculptures and tikis are a major art of French Polynesia and can mostly be found in the Marquesas Islands. Tikis can be found as large or small humanoid forms, carved in wood or stone. Polynesia sculpture is characterised by mystical power, it is often inspired by old original designs and patterns. Tahitians sculpt according to their inspiration and according to ancestral, diagrammatic, or symbolic patterns in precious wood. The Marquesans excel in this domain and produce gorgeous pieces of work, spears, puzzles, and umete (fruit bowls in which special meals can be served). Hiva Oa is worth visiting for its various archeological sites such as me’ae in Puama’u, hosting the largest tiki statue of The Islands of Tahiti, standing at eight feet tall.
Fine basketry from Austral Islands
Women from the Austral Islands are noted as experts of the ancient art of weaving. Pandanus is usually the wood used for weaving however, visitors to the islands may also see pieces made out of coconut leaves or local bamboo. The art of weaving is found in various forms using these leaves to create elaborate hats, purses, mats, and bags.
Polynesian Patchwork: The Tahitian Tifaifai
Tifaifai is a quilt style from French Polynesia involving patchwork which dates back to the arrival of the first missionaries in French Polynesia. Tifaifai means ‘to patch’ so materials are made by patching together several pieces of fabric to make a unique pattern. Designs are often inspired by vegetation or floral designs and colours often bold. Various different sizes of tifaifai can be found, from pillow covers to bed covers, they are often given as a symbol of affection and love, respect, and consideration as wedding gifts or goodbye presents.
Swimming with sharks
There are hundreds of species of marine life in the crystal clear warm waters of French Polynesia, including 19 species of shark. Known as ‘m’oan’ in the local language, sharks represent a protective force in local culture and have been protected by law since 2006. Head to the waters surrounding Fakarava Island, listed as a UNESCO Biosphere, and experience the Wall of Sharks. Although sharks are present here year-round, July see’s an influx of sharks descend on this narrow passageway, creating an opportunity for brave divers to get up close and personal. For the ultimate adrenaline-fueled experience night dives to the Wall of Sharks are offered by many top centres including Tetamanu Village. Not into swimming with sharks? How about snorkeling over a secluded coral garden?
The Vaipahi Gardens - The Islands of Tahiti
The Vaipahi Gardens, located along Tahiti's south coast in the district of Mataiea 49 kilometers (30 miles) from Papeete, are rich in cultural heritage and abundant in natural beauty. Restored and reopened in August 2007, the gardens include archaeological relics and legendary traditions. There are over 75 different species of vegetation, all kept fresh by water from Lake Vaihiria in the center of the island, Tahiti's only freshwater lake. There are three walks available around the gardens, each lasting around 30 minutes. One of the most popular walks takes visitors along marked paths next to the river; passing by archeological sites steeped in history, as well as shaded areas created by a pine tree forest - a rather surprising sight on The Island of Tahiti.
Discover more on the world's beautiful gardens - Garden's Blossoming Around The World.
For more information on The Islands of Tahiti, visit www.tahititourisme.uk
If you have children or not, you may enjoy the movie Moana (meaning a body of open water, in particular, the sea). The animation follows a young girl as she goes in search to return the heart of goddess Te Fitti from Maui, a demigod, after the plants and the fish on her island start dying due to a blight.
Although Moana is from the fictional island Motunui some 3,000 years ago, the story and culture of Moana is based on the very real heritage and history of Polynesian islands such as Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, and Tahiti. In fact, once you start looking for ties to Polynesian culture in Moana, it's hard to stop!
I hope you have enjoyed reading and feel inspired to visit the beautiful Tahitian Islands. I love sharing destinations that I have visited myself, giving an insight into how easy it is to travel there, travel for all budgets, and more. As always, if you have any questions don't hesitate in reaching out.
Until next time....