ABOUT FRENCH POLYNESIA
WELCOME TO FRENCH POLYNESIA
The territory of French Polynesia (under French administration) is in the South Pacific Ocean, halfway between California and Australia. There are some 118 islands formed by undersea volcanoes and spread across over 1 930 500 square miles (an area five times as large as France).
There are five archipelagoes Society Islands, Marquesas Islands, Tuamotu Islands, Austral Islands, and Gambier Islands.
The capital is Papeete on the island of Tahiti which is the largest of the islands.
Tahiti also has the international airport Fa'a'ā International Airport.
The French Polynesian terrain is a mix of high mountainous islands and low islands surrounded by reefs. The highest point is Mount Orohena 6790 ft (2241 meters). There are deep valleys created by rivers and waterfalls, coastal strips with white coral sands, reefs and lagoons.
Society Islands – are the most inhabited western island group. The islands are divided into the Leeward Islands (Bora Bora, Huahine, Maupiti and Raiatea) and the Windward Islands (Moorea, Tahiti). These islands are surrounded by coral reefs and lagoons. This island group makes up 40% of the land are area. It is also the most highly populated set of islands with 90% of the population. The landscape is mountainous covered in lush vegetation with deep valleys surrounded by narrow coastal beaches with white coral sands, lagoons or ocean. There are barrier reefs circling this island group.
Marquesas Islands – are the Northeastern archipelago. Here you will find Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa. You’ll find steep mountains inhabited by wild horses, goats and pigs.
Tuamotu Islands – are a central archipelago made up of low flat islands and atolls. Rangiroa is located here.
Austral Islands – are a small southern archipelago which includes Tubuai Islands and Bass Islands. These islands were the last inhabited islands and are off the beaten track.
Gambier Islands – are located to the south-east and contain Mangareva Island and surrounding islands.
The population of French Polynesia is 285 000 people, approximately 70% live in Tahiti. Moorea and Raiatea are the next populated islands. Nearly 80% of residents are of Polynesian or mixed Polynesian ethnicity, approximately 12% are of European ancestry and 8% Chinese descent. Most people French Polynesians speak both French and Tahitian which is the dominant Polynesian language. In some of the more isolated islands older residents speak the local Polynesian language and these can differ from island to island. Tahitian is beginning to replace local languages as the cultural identity between islands becomes more homogeneous.
WHERE TO VISIT IN FRENCH POLYNESIA
Tahiti isn’t your typical beach paradise- instead of white sands it’s got tall, looming mountains, black-sand beaches, lagoons, and a landscape that seems almost out of a movie, as does the abundance of marine life and unique Tahitian fauna. Alongside the Jurassic Park-esque environment is a rich culture, which is shared with Travelers at the many museums on the island. You can also head down to the Municipal Market and enter a plaza bustling with Polynesian craft, food, art, clothing and more to take home and remind you of the truly unique visit. The island is also home to famous surfing competitions, and if you’re prepared to give it a crack yourself then you simply must check out the breaks on the island. If you’re looking for a place to kickback on the beach with a drink, and head out for a tropical safari the very next day, then Tahiti is the destination for you.
Popular activities in Tahiti.
Moorea is a classic beach holiday. The island is lathered in paper white sand complimented by the clear turquoise water, dense jungle, and towering mountains. It truly is a tropical paradise. Snorkeling spots are plentiful, and with a guide you too can explore every inch of the island for the marine life that inhabits its waters, especially at Moorea’s very own Lagoonarium where you can see some of the most sought after species in French Polynesia. For a fun day out, ATV and Jetski’s are popular day activities, and come the night you can kick back at a beach restaurant for some quality seafood. Through the dense forests are a variety of enticing bush walks that will take you past some of the most breathtaking lookouts, perfect for photos. If you’re looking for a location equipped with perfect beaches, endless activities, and a rich culture, then Moorea is the destination for you.
Popular activities in Moorea.
Bora Bora is one of the world’s more romantic getaways, blessed with stunning landscapes and a Hollywood setting. Spend your days enjoying the white sand and clear waters and come the night you can enjoy the island’s tranquility at a small beach-side restaurant. It is exceptionally gorgeous at night when the stars come out, as well as the music, drinks, and culture. A trip down here is packed full of the summer essentials- jet skiing, diving, snorkeling, relaxing by the beach, and jungle walks. The island is also home to some unique geological landmarks, such as Mount Otemanu, a 2,400-foot volcanic remnant. On Bora Bora you can also find the Turtle Center, which aims to nurture injured or sick turtles back to good health.
Popular activities in Bora Bora.
If you were to Google beaches, you’d probably see some of Tikehau’s famous landscape and almost Hollywood-esque snapshots. It truly is a tropical paradise and is the perfect escape from the city where you can spend the day how you please doing one of the many activities available. Explore the waters rich with marine life, soar across the waves on a kite board, or hop on a bike and cruise through the breathtaking plant life and stunning villages around the island. Savor the beauty of Tikehau how you please. Stick to the comfort of your resort or head out and meet the friendly locals, the choice is yours. Either way, if you’re looking for an almost untouched beach paradise then Tikehau is for you.
Popular activities in Tikehau.
Raiatea, like most of French Polynesia, is a tropical paradise, and is the second largest Society Island. Steep mountains and reefy lagoons span the landscape, with nature occupying most of the island. Raiatea also houses the Taputaputea Marae- arguably one of the most significant Polynesian temples. While you’re here, you can soar across waves onboard a jetski, explore the bustling marine scene on a snorkeling tour, head out onto the water with a fishing charter, and much more. If you’re looking for an opportunity to learn of French Polynesian culture and have a good time out on the water then Raiatea is the destination for you.
Popular activities in Raiatea.
Come to Fakareva and enjoy stunning stretches of white sand and clear blue water- it’s simply a beach paradise. A trip down here is a breath of fresh air and an aura of tranquility as you enjoy the breathtaking coastal landscape and variety of activities available. Traverse the atoll at high speed on an ATV, or soar across the waves on a speed boat, or charter a boat out to one of the hot diving spots bustling with diverse marine life and coral formations straight out of the movies. Divers come from far and wide to hit these spots- and with a guided tour you can head out to these same sought-after locations for a one of a kind underwater experience. For a perfect summer setting, top notch diving, and bustling culture.
Popular activities in Fakarava