Don't Miss Places In French Polynesia
French Polynesia is made up of five island chains scattered over a vast area of the South Pacific. This is not an independent country, but an overseas territory of France that is self-governing. The people vote in French elections and elect representatives to France’s parliament.
There are around 130 islands in French Polynesia. Many were formed by volcanoes and have rugged, cloud-capped peaks. Rain forests thrive in the deep valleys, while coconut palms and fruit trees flourish on the coasts. Coral reefs shelter warm, sandy lagoons and they also form many low-lying island rings. Powerful ocean currents and strong winds in the region occasionally bring tropical typhoons.
The largest and most famous of French Polynesia’s Islands is Tahiti in the Society Islands. The majority of the territory’s population lives there. Many people have moved from the outlying islands to Tahiti, where tourism is an increasingly important source of income. In the small coastal villages, most people live by fishing and growing crops such as vanilla pods, pineapples, and bananas.
These are the top ten not-to-be-missed places in the islands of French Polynesia.
Bora Bora Photo Lagoon
Excursions by boat or catamaran, organized by numerous hotel facilities, will allow you to have the most wonderful and unforgettable experience at the atoll lagoon of Bora Bora. The tour lasts 4/5 hours with several stops at strategic points around the spectacular lagoon for picnics, swimming, and photo shoots. It costs a bit but the expense is totally worth it, you will experience emotions and visit places that you will never forget. The crystal clear quality of the sea is dazzling and the rustle of the wind in the palm trees sounds like music. On this scenic lagoon, you not only swim with millions of fish but also with rays and sharks.
The captain of the boat will organize every activity in a very entertaining way; you can spend a day of complete enjoyment, and almost everything is a unique opportunity. The tour stops in a beautiful area with amazing marine life, where you can swim and have your pictures taken underwater. The photographers will also serve as tour guides for the island -- they know so much about the history of the region and have amusing anecdotes about living on the island. Be sure to take the tour on a sunny day, because then you will capture the most beautiful photos with all shades of the waters of Bora Bora. At the end of the tour, the photographer hands you a full set of your Bora Bora Photo experiences stored on a CD.
Bora Bora Lagoonarium
At the Bora Bora Lagoonarium you can have a full-day excursion or you can choose just a half-day. Swimming in the clear water surrounded by fish, rays and sharks (harmless) is a wonderful experience, plus you can spend a really fun day with the guys who will accompany you on your tour of the lagoon. They are cordial, friendly, and really put great effort into making you feel relaxed; they truly want you to love the whole activity, in addition to seeing panoramic views from the ocean. For instance, there is a "Sarong Show" during which they will show 100 ways to fix the pareo (it is not so simple!). The provided meal is excellent: meat and fish on the grill and then lots of fresh fruit.
And once again, the setting is beautiful with the backdrop of Mount Otemanu. The tour starts at Lap Island (bring towels and anything heavy for the wind) and the boat will pass through breathtaking landscapes. Then, it is time for some snorkeling fun at the beautiful coral garden where hundreds of colorful tropical fishes swim in an area that is also full of sharks and rays. Then onward to the Lagoonarium point, which has a spectacular beach that lies hidden on one side of the island. Here too, many people appreciate the opportunity to touch and take pictures with stingrays and pet turtles in their arms -- making the beachfront look like a little zoo.
The tour of Mount Otemanu is definitely worth a trip. The excursion begins by riding a 4-wheeler along with a great guide. The trail is quite challenging but the wonderful trip to the mountain where you can see the most beautiful view of the Bay of Cook is highly recommended. The area is very wild and you must be prepared for very steep climbs but it is all worth it. Do not miss the 360-degree view of this beautiful mountain with its "brother" peak Pahia. Rent a bike and enjoy the tour of the island. The atoll seen from above is a magnificent spectacle.
One of the most intriguing things is to find military posts of the Second World War, complete with bunkers and cannons -- proof that the Japanese allies once hid and set up camp in this remote jungle. The guide is always ready to tell stories about history, the fruits, vegetation and the island's economy. The steep road allows views of the beaches and wonderful photo opportunities -- plus the incomparable view of the ocean with its various colors is best admired from afar. The view is not only breathtaking but the place will also enrich your knowledge about French Polynesia.
At the Coral Gardens, the tropical fishes are beautiful, amazing, and varied -- and if you bring them a bit of bread, you will have hundreds around you (but beware of the urchins.) You can go there by catamaran from nearby hotels or rent small boats from the licensed tour organizers. Snorkeling gear can be rented from the boat owners.
There is a myriad of marine wildlife to see: the lips of the clams glowing in all shades of color, sharks (on a shark feeding tour!), stingrays and all types of eels. For snorkeling enthusiasts this is the real highlight when visiting the island. Remember to take some bread and your shark feeding adventure will be a complete success. Near the island there are several big coral heads in water ranging from 3-20 feet deep.
Shades of blue and white make up this spectacular coral reef lagoon of Bora Bora, which is one part of the Society Islands. A coral reef lagoon is a sheltered stretch of warm water separated from the sea by a necklace of corals.
The water is crystal clear, with a view that can go down to 65 feet. Many tropical fish and mollusks can be seen here, and the guide brings scraps that can attract the fish also. If you can paddle a kayak, you can approach this place by yourself. Either way the trip is much more fun in good good weather when fishes can be easily seen even by the naked eye. Do not forget to buy a waterproof camera and take pictures -- after applying a lot of sunscreen to your back!
There is nothing like a gorgeous beach on the southern side of an island overlooking the open ocean with reefs in the distance. At the sensational Matira Beach the water is clear, transparent really, with lots of modest bungalows lining its quiet beachfront. It is a very beautiful and ideal place to spend unforgettable moments with your partner. It is especially recommended for newlyweds. Enjoy snorkeling fun as the deep blue sea is well worth investigating even if the beach has no major infrastructure. There are just a couple of stores where you can eat or drink something. It is more of a rustic experience with the purpose of enjoying nature in its purest form.
It is advisable tor bring your own drinking water at least. There are no words to describe the beauty of this beach: there are not many people, you can find silence, and it is remote from other well-known attractions. Here at Matira Beach you can just sit on the white sand looking at the horizon over the vast turquoise-colored seas that you will never find anywhere else in the world. Despite being the only public beach on the island of Bora-Bora, it is well maintained, very clean, and has no waves which makes it even more wonderful. Do not forget to wear water shoes as there are many pieces of coral in the sand.
If you want to have a unique 360 ° view, it is right here on the north side of Moorea and on the northwest corner of the Opunohu Bay. The trail up the Magic Mountain takes about a half-hour to walk and brings a good sweat, but the amazing view is more than worth the effort. This breathtaking landscape’s name could not be more appropriate because it truly is magical. You can also ride to the top either by 4x4 or an ATV (all terrain vehicle); either way you will be faced with one of the most spectacular panoramas of French Polynesia. From the top, you can drink in the vision of the sea with stunning different shades of blue, combined with a view of the entire island and its surroundings right down to the small houses of the city. It is also one of the best places to take beautiful and memorable pictures. No words can describe its beauty as it feels so small and yet so big once you reach the top. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are in the Society Islands.
The Belvedere Lookout allows you to enjoy enchanting views of both the famous bays of Cooks and Opunohu. Tour guides with rental cars can be hired at the foot of Mount Rotui; they will take you just before sunset to the viewpoint -- after crossing a fantastic tropical forest interrupted occasionally by pineapple and papaya plantations and the great forests of huge acacia trees. You can drive there easily and safely yourself, but must pay attention to the road which -- although paved -- presents sharp curves in the final section that can end with some steep drop-offs. It is a beautiful panorama especially at sunset, when the sky turns into pink hues.
This is the most impressive part of the Moorea region; it is surrounded by mountains, covered with forests, and gives one a feeling of being in a science fiction film. You can take another approach to this trip -- get yourself a scooter for the ride up to this spectacular view. Instead of planning to watch the sunset, go early in the morning between 6 and 7 before any clouds can gather. Enjoy the interesting excursion through the lush vegetation of the island that is overflowing with so many flowers and colors. During the course of the climb it is also possible to observe the Marae (open-air temples) of Tetiaroa.
Tiki Village Cultural Center
The Tiki Village Cultural Center is a classic and authentic cultural attraction designed to help tourists appreciate and understand island traditions and customs. You can see the works of local artists, from painting to sculpture; you will have a warm welcome and be greeted with a cocktail drink; a beautiful view of the ocean at sunset is also part of the experience here. The cultural dance performance for fans of the genre is interesting and draws you into the mood of the place and its people.
The various demonstrations such as the opening of the coconut are fascinating folklore. The grand finale is the wonderful banquet with Polynesian dishes cooked according to traditional methods.
Moorea Tropical Garden
The Moorea Tropical Gardens are located at the entrance of the bay Opunohu, on a steep slope that is also possible to deal with on a scooter. It is an interesting place for its restaurant / bar / sale of local products, souvenirs and for the fruit-shake stalls where the juices are really exceptional. There are many plants and flowers that can be admired throughout the rest of the island. In particular, there is a vanilla plantation that can be found in one of its greenhouses.
The Fautaua Waterfalls are an impressive sight and carry the distinction of being one of the tallest waterfalls in the world. The trail is a nice little nature walk, and provides very fast access to the waterfalls. The first waterfall is actually just near the parking.
It is possible to swim along the river bottom but not around the first cascade because there is a risk of falling rocks landing on your head. The walk to the 2nd waterfall is about 10 minutes, and it is pleasant to go right to the edge of the waterfall or even get into the river because here there are no rocks. If you can travel around the island, this enchanting waterfall is a mandatory stop.