Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Located in the southern Pacific Ocean, Tahiti is the main island and capital of the Society Islands Archipelago in French Polynesia. It is a dream destination in France Overseas, with incredible natural landscapes and a lively culture you will fall in love with.
Tahiti is a popular vacation spot for honeymooners or those looking for a luxury romantic trip. However, it is also a great destination for active travelers and nature lovers. Remote and beautiful, there are amazing outdoor activities in Tahiti.
Keep reading to discover the best things to do in Tahiti for active travelers!
Are you Planning a Trip to Tahiti?
How to Get to Tahiti
French Polynesia is located between California and Australia. This means that, most probably, you will reach Tahiti by plane.
The Tahiti-Faa’a International Airport, in Papeete Tahiti, is the main point of arrival in French Polynesia and the departure point for everyone who plans to explore other islands in the archipelago.
Getting to Tahiti is a long journey, as you will likely need to be on a plane for long hours.
Air France and Air Tahiti Nui offerdirect flights Paris – Papeete via Los Angeles. Other air companies flying to Tahiti are Air Tahiti Nui (from Japan, many destinations in the US, and New Zealand), Air Caledonia, Air New Zealand, Hawaiian Airlines, and Lan.
You can also arrive in Tahiti from other islands in French Polynesia. You can opt for taking a ferry whose service varies based on destination. The most frequent ferry service connects Tahiti and Moorea and runs several times a day – Book a transfer from Tahiti’s International Airport to your hotel or cruise terminal
Top Tahiti Accommodation
Le Tahiti by Pearl Resorts (luxury), InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa (luxury), Boutique Hotel Kon Tiki Tahiti (mid-range), Royal Tahitien (mid-range). Here’s the full list of the hotels in Tahiti.
What to Do in Tahiti, French Polynesia
1. Tour the Island and its Main Sights
Tahiti is an incredible island with a spectacular crystal-clear sea and coral reefs. The coral reef with colorful fauna, the rocky coastline, and the inland green valley with majestic waterfalls make Tahiti a wonderful destination to explore.
One of the best ways to enjoy Tahiti’s scenic views is by taking a guided tour. The Tahiti Half Circle Island Tour by Bus is a fantastic option. The informative guide will lead you around the best places to visit in Tahiti, including the stunning black-sand beaches at Venus Point, the ancient Polynesian temple at Marae Arahurahu, the wonderful waterfall at Vaipahi Garden, and the breathtaking lookout point of One Tree Hill.
If you prefer a private tour, this half-day guided tour with an air-conditioned vehicle always gets the best ratings.
If you are looking for a more active experience, hire an electric mountain bike for the day and navigate the paths and valleys of Tahiti on two wheels!
2. Visit the Tikis and the Temples of Arahurahu Marae
Arahurahu Marae is one of the most incredible archeological sites in Tahiti. A marae was a space reserved for the ceremonial, social, and religious activities of Polynesians.
One of the top things to do in Tahiti, the temple complex is of utmost importance for the local Maohi culture. The marae is home to the tikis, the sacred statues that are believed to have supernatural powers.
The Arahurahu Marae, in the Pa’ea district, is beautifully maintained and is divided into the tahua (the sacred square), the patu (the surrounding wall), the un ahu (the altar), and the taura (the wooden sculptures dedicated to the guardian spirits).
The Arahurahu Marae is immersed in Tahiti’s lush countryside, and you will love the amazing energy of the place!
For the most active travelers, there’s a pleasant hike (1,5 hours), well marked, through a forest typical of the island. From the car park, head towards the marae, and follow it to the right. Then, continue in the forest by a path which is located behind the wall of the marae. The trail runs along the Vaipoe River, then crosses it. The path continues in the Tefaaiti valley. The return is by the same route.
3. Watersports in Tahiti
Tahiti is a magic island for water sports lovers. The list of fun watersports in Tahiti includes kayaking, paddling, sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, jet ski, and even spearfishing.
The coral reefs create ideal conditions for practicing other sports. The lagoons are sheltered from wind and waves and perfect for kayaking and paddling.
If you are looking for more exciting and adventurous activities to do in Tahiti, you should try windsurfing or kitesurfing. Depending on your ability level, you should head to a specific beach, as the waves in Tahiti can be really high (and potentially dangerous).
If you are a beginner, the perfect beaches are Motu Nono, Papeeno, and Phaeton Bay, while if you are an intermediate windsurfer or kitesurfer, you can enjoy your time in the water at Sapinus Beach or Vairao Beach. If you are a pro, the place to be is the famous Teahupo’o Beach!
If you want to surf the waves on a jet ski, you can rent one here.
TIP: If you are looking for unique water adventures, try this best-seller Sea Scooter Snorkel Tour – Ocean & Lagoon
4. A Paradise for Underwater Exploration
Tahiti is one of the top destinations in the world for diving and snorkeling lovers. Under the surface of the crystal-clear waters, there is a colorful and lively world made of coral reefs and incredible fauna. Manta rays, small sharks, and clownfish are among the stunning creatures you can meet while exploring Tahiti’s seabeds.
Scuba diving is, without a doubt, one of the best activities to do in Tahiti! The Aquarium and The Spring are two popular diving spots in Tahiti. If you are a navigated diver, you should instead head to The Marado or The Cargo Ship and Catalina to admire Tahiti’s underwater world.
Best Diving & Snorkelling Tours in Tahiti:
- Small-group snorkeling: wrecks & tropical fishes
- Small-group snorkeling: turtles at 7.30 am
- Tahiti certified scuba dive
- Tahiti introductory diving (no PADI certificate needed)
5. Hike Mount Orohena and Mount Aorai
Mount Orohena (2,241m) is the highest point in Tahiti and French Polynesia. The hike to the top of this extinct volcano is a 6-hour walk from the city of Mahina, passing through the plateaus of Moto Fefe, Pihaaiateta, and Pito Hiti, which offer a view of Tahiti and the neighboring islands of the Society Archipelago.
Hiking Mount Aorai is one of the best things to do in Tahiti for active travelers, as the peak is considered the best climb in French Polynesia. The view you can enjoy from the top of the mountain will leave you speechless!
Aorai is the second-highest peak in Tahiti, and it rises to a height of 2,066 meters. The hike is extremely pleasant as the trail runs through a scenic rainforest and is well-maintained. There are two refuges in Mount Aorai where you can stop for a break. The second one hosts the restaurant Le Belvédère which is also the most scenic viewpoint.
If you are looking for strong emotions, hike the Aorai summit at sunrise to have the most magnificent sight with views over the sea of Moorea island in the distance.
6. Go on a Fun 4WD Tour across Papeno’o Valley
Tahiti is all about scenic views, but some of the most incredible ones are tricky to reach. If you want to see breathtaking viewpoints and are ready for an adventure, join this inner-island safari tour by 4WD vehicle.
The thrilling ride through Papeete’s dense rainforest will lead you off the beaten path to explore Tahiti’s paradisiac inner-land. You will explore Mount Marau, a former 19th-century French fortress, and the rainforest-clad Punaruu Valley.
Here, you will visit Tahiti’s highest peaks (Orohena, Aorai, Tetufera, and Teamaa) with the most incredible panoramas! Before the tour ends, the tour guide will walk to two waterfalls, HaamaremareIti and HaamaremareRahi, to relax and swim.
4WD tours are one of the best things to do in Tahiti. Book this tour across Papenoo Valley for a fun day you will hardly forget!
7. Explore Tahiti’s Waterfalls
Tahiti is one of the best places in French Polynesia to admire awe-inspiring waterfalls. The rainforest landscape of the inner island is the perfect environment for the formation of sky-high waterfalls!
Chasing waterfalls is one of the best Tahiti things to do for active travelers as it combines hiking with a refreshing bath at the end. If you are wondering which ones to visit, these are the most beautiful cascades in Tahiti:
- Fautaua Waterfall in Fautaua Valley, located near the capital city Papeete
- The waterfalls of HaamaremareRahi and HaamaremareIti, both located in Faraura Valley, in the municipality of Hitia’a (in the northeastern part of the island)
- Topatari Falls, Vaiharuru Falls, and Puraha Falls are among the most gorgeous waterfalls in Papenoo Valley, in the north of Tahiti.
8. Surf in Tahiti
If there is a water activity as popular as diving in Tahiti, that is surfing! Surfing is one of the best things to do in French Polynesia, and the most famous place for surfing in Tahiti is Teahupo’o, located in the southwest of the island.
The waves in this spot are so legendary that Teahupo’o is the designated location for the world championship of surfing, the Air Tahiti Nui Billabong Pro, which is held annually. Teahupo’o will also host all the surf competitions in the Summer Olympics 2024!
One of the top Tahiti attractions, Teahupo’o is an incredible spot, but you should surf here only if you are an expert! Tahiti has many spots for beginner and intermediate surfers, and there are countless surfing schools around the island where you can take lessons. If you want to discover more about Tahiti’s best surfing spots, read this post.
TIP: Not a surfer? Enjoy the world’s best waves differently with this fun Teahupoo Wave Watching tour
9. Fun Weekend Getaway to Moorea
The island of Tahiti is an incredible destination with plenty of things to do for active travelers. However, since you made your way to far-away French Polynesia, you should consider traveling to other islands as well.
The best one to visit is Moorea, an island also part of the Society Islands Archipelago, which is only a few kilometers off the northwest coast of Tahiti. Easy to get to, thanks to the several ferry connections, Moorea is a fantastic place if you love outdoor activities.
The island is considered a paradise for divers, and there are countless diving and snorkeling tours you can join. If you are not scared of wild animals, you can also swim with whales (seasonal tours) and sharks.
Hop on a 4WD or Quad tour to explore Moorea’s inner forests and mountains: you will have a thrilling day visiting stunning landscapes and marveling at breathtaking views! You can also combine adventurous days with more relaxing (or romantic) nights in one of the best resorts in Moorea – Check here where to stay in Moorea
And there you have it, the list of top things to do in Tahiti for active travelers. Now all you need to do is decide which things you will do on your trip to Tahiti (but we suggest doing them all!).