Beyond Tahiti: Other French Polynesian Islands You Must Visit

By Erin De Santiago,

Despite the fact that many people treat Tahiti like it is a separate country, the truth is that there are a number of other islands that make up the region commonly known as French Polynesia.  If you’re booking a holiday to Tahiti with hopes of relaxing on some uninhabited beach, it might surprise you to see how built up and expansive Tahiti really is. While spending some time on Tahiti is definitely worthwhile, don’t forgo island hopping if you can.  Here’s a look at some of the other cool islands in French Polynesia that are worth exploring.


Pristine over-the-turquoise-water bungalows


Moorea Island French Polynesia
Photo by Steve L Martin 

Visible from the shores of the big island of Tahiti, Mo’orea should definitely be on your list. It combines the best of Bora Bora with the convenience of Tahiti. It’s a 30- minute boat ride to Mo’orea, and the island is home to many of the gorgeous over-the-water bungalows one expects to find in French Polynesia.


Hit up the history and the waves


Raiatea Island, French Polynesia
Photo by Nils Rinaldi 

If you are interested in the region’s historical past, Raiatea is home to French Polynesia’s best-preserved historical site, Taputapuatea. Once considered the cultural capital of French Polynesia, this is an ideal spot to learn more about the culture and religious traditions of the South Pacific.


Your private getaway


Private getaway in French Polynesia
Photo by Jean-Sebastian Roy

If you are looking for a private island getaway in French Polynesia, check out Tetiaroa, which is about 30 miles north of Tahiti. Currently in its soft opening phase, this stunning island is home to The Brando Resort — as in Marlon Brando.  Brando first came to the island while filming Mutiny on the Bounty and was immediately entranced by the island. He eventually found a way to purchase the island and his longtime plan to see an environmentally friendly, post-carbon luxury resort is now a reality.


Coral reefs and snorkeling


Fakarava Island, French Polynesia
Photo by Alessandro Caproni 

With a population of just a few hundred, Fakarava is definitely the spot for travelers who want to get away from it all. Its atolls are pristine and the diving and snorkeling in the area are top-notch. Preservation of coral is so important in this region that you won’t find over-the-water bungalows here. If you are interested in learning more about Tahitian pearls, Fakarava is home to one of the country’s best pearl farms.


Surfing paradise


Huahine Island, French Polynesia
Photo by Oliver Bruchez 

Much like Tahiti, surfers have found paradise in Huahine with its year-round waves. Explore the island’s lush vegetation by bicycle or canoe its clear waters. Huahine is also home to a number of vanilla plantations for those interested in learning how vanilla is produced.


Lush forests and traditional tribal tattoos


Fatu Hiva Island, French Polynesia
Photo by Herve

Getting a tattoo in Tahiti is a popular activity for many travelers and for good reason; the word tattoo originated in Polynesia. However, you’re likely to find that some of the most sought after tattoo artists come from neighboring islands. Fatu Hiva is one of the best spots to visit if you want an authentic Polynesian tattoo.

Traditional Polynesian tribal tattoos depict mythological tales from the islands of the South Pacific. Don’t be surprised while exploring Fatu Hiva if you run across local tribes people covered in tattoos – typically from head to toe.


Pearls and vanilla pods galore


Island Pearl Farm, French Polynesia
Photo by Olivier Bruchez 

Taha’a is regarded as one of the best islands for Polynesian exports. Pearl farms and vanilla plantations are highly regarded on Taha’a, with local production accounting for most of the country’s overall vanilla production.

 Where would you start your exploration of French Polynesia?

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