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Best Islands in French Polynesia for Every Kind of Traveler

08/04/2021

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Dreaming of relaxing on a beach somewhere? Somewhere with blue water, white sand, and fruit drinks? Then it sounds like you’re trying to decide where to go in French Polynesia.

French Polynesia might be the closest thing to paradise on earth. It includes 118 islands, 76 of them inhabited, and it’s located in the South Pacific Ocean. Though you might think of French Polynesia as tiny, it’s actually bigger than Europe and includes five archipelagos known as the Society Islands, the Gambier Islands, the Tubuai Islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago, and the Marquesas Islands.

With so many different areas, you can definitely find more than the honeymoon islands in French Polynesia. You just need to know where to go. Here’s the list of best islands in French Polynesia with something for every kind of traveler.

Top French Polynesia Islands

French Polynesia Islands Map made with Google My Maps.

Click here to view this map on Google My Maps

Tahiti

  • Location: Winward Islands
  • Best for: Snorkeling and Diving, culture & festivals, honeymoon

Top Tahiti Accommodation & Lodging

Vanira Lodge (top recommendation), Fare Sunny (mid-range), Hilton Tahiti Resort (new in Tahiti, luxury), Villa Mitirapa (luxury villas).

With a relaxed atmosphere and overwater bungalows, Tahiti is one of the most romantic honeymoon destinations in the world. It’s also where you’ll arrive when you fly into French Polynesia. However, there’s more to Tahiti than an airport and romance. 

Tahiti is also one of the best islands in French Polynesia for surfing with locations for all levels ranging from beginners to advanced. Surfing in Tahiti is so good that Tahiti was chosen to host the surfing events of the Paris 2024 Olympics from mid-July to early August. This is where you’ll find Teahupoo, considered to be the most challenging break in the world because of its sheer power and the deadly reef below.

However, if you prefer gentler pastimes, then you won’t miss out. Tahiti is also known for its jungle scenery and for its gourmet French Polynesian cuisine which uses local, fresh produce to create culinary masterpieces.

Moorea

  • Location: Winward Islands
  • Best for: Diving & snorkeling, wildlife, sightseeing

Top Moorea Accommodation & Lodging

Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort (top recommendation), Moorea Island Beach Hotel (mid-range), Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa (luxury), Robinson’s Cove Villas (luxury villas). Here’s the list of the best places to stay in Moorea.

Moorea Island is one of the most popular destinations for any French Polynesia trip. This island gets few tourists as well, which is why it’s one of the best French Polynesia islands if you’re on a budget too.

Surrounded by stunning clear water, Moorea offers lots of opportunities for every kind of water activity you can imagine, from jet skiing to diving. From mid-July to mid-November, It’s also visited by whales and dolphins which is why animal experiences are so popular on the island.

If you prefer to stay on land, then you can spend your time exploring the rural farming areas. The pineapples grown on the farms are absolutely luscious, so make sure you eat as many of them as you can.

Bora Bora

  • Location: Leeward Islands
  • Best for: Sightseeing, honeymoon, relaxing

Top Bora Bora Accommodation & Lodging

The St Regis Bora Bora Resort (top recommendation), Royal Bora Bora (mid-range), Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora (luxury), Rohotu Fare (luxury villas).

The tiny island of Bora Bora is one of the hottest honeymoon destinations in the world. And it’s really no wonder that this tiare-scented island is popular among lovers the world over. It’s really beautiful, offers stunning views almost everywhere, and feels incredibly private and secluded despite the number of tourists who visit.

Bora Bora truly is one of the most stunningly beautiful French Polynesia Islands. It’s formed out of an extinct volcano, and the lagoon around is an unbelievably bright and clear blue. This water is filled with colorful and fearless fish of all kinds, which is why you must get out into the water during your stay for water sports of all kinds from swimming to sailing, and diving.

Bora Bora also has beautiful white, sandy beaches, and a lush green interior that you can explore on foot, on a bike, or on a scooter.

Huahine

  • Location: Leeward Islands
  • Best for: Relaxing, outdoor adventures, ancient ruinns, sightseeing

Top Huahine Accommodation & Lodging

Maitai Lapita Village Huahine (top recommendation), Hotel Le Mahana (mid-range), Pension Tupuna (mid-range).

Mostly ignored by the tourists, Huahine is one of the best islands in French Polynesia if you prefer a quieter visit. It’s also markedly more budget-friendly than other islands in the area.

However, don’t think this means that Huahine lacks a natural beauty, outdoor experiences, or the relaxed vibe of the other islands. In fact, Huahine has the stunning white sandy beaches of the other islands as well as the beautifully clear water. It’s just that it also offers you the chance to enjoy the scenery without lots of other tourists around.

Huahine is also known for its ancient Polynesian ruins, which rival the ruins on Easter Island, and the lush green interior is perfect for hiking, biking, and driving adventures.

Maupiti

  • Location: Leeward Islands
  • Best for: Relaxing, sightseeing, wildlife

Top Maupiti Accommodation & Lodging

Pension Papahani (top recommendation), Maupiti Holiday (mid-range), Pension Teheimana (mid-range).

Secluded Maupiti doesn’t have the five-star hotels, well-worn trails, or comfortable experiences of some of the other islands in French Polynesia. What it does have is kilometers of white sand, clear water in every shade of blue, and a laidback lifestyle that’s mostly untouched by other tourists.

If you prefer to travel to more authentic, local areas, then Maupiti is for you. It will give you a chance to live and eat with local families and experience the everyday flow of life. And with only one road on the island and very few cars, this soothing, hypnotic vibe promises to enthrall travelers for years to come.

TIP: Be aware that on the island of Maupiti you will not find a bank or ATM. Come with enough cash for your daily expenses.

Rangiroa

  • Location: Tuamotu Archipelago
  • Best for: Diving & snorkeling, outdoor adventures, sightseeing

Top Rangiroa Accommodation & Lodging

Hotel Kia Ora Resort & Spa (top recommendation), Maitai Rangiroa (mid-range), Pension Tiputa Lodge Rangiroa (mid-range).

Rangiroa is the largest of the Tuamotu islands, but it sees few tourists and is home to only a few thousand residents. Its relative seclusion gives rise to the beautiful, pristine landscape and some of the best outdoor experiences in the French Polynesia Islands. Despite the seclusion, Rangiroa has paved roads, gourmet restaurants, and a couple of resorts which means that it offers the best of both worlds.

First and foremost, Rangiroa is known for its stunning, crystal clear waters that offer some of the best diving sites in the world including Tiputa Pass, Avatoru Pass, and the Wall. It also offers boat trips across beautiful lagoons, cycling experiences, and a coral winery where you can try some wine made from locally grown grapes.

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