Choose from 13 Fun Things to Do in French Polynesia
- Some market vendors will accept cards, but it’s best to bring cash in local currency (French Polynesian francs).
- Plan at least an hour to explore the large market.
- The Marché de Papeete is accessible to wheelchair users, and an elevator takes shoppers between the two floors.
- The market’s small restaurants and cafés are popular spots for lunch.
After you're done eating, you'll be able to wander the downtown to explore some of the island's nightlife options. Not surprisingly, the square becomes rowdier as the night goes on. On certain nights of the month, you can also find traditional dance performances taking place.
The beach stretches from the Hotel Bora Bora to Matira Point, which is a low sandy peninsula that juts into the lagoon. At low tide you can wade from here all the way out to the coral reef.
The only downside to Matira Beach is that it can get somewhat crowded and hectic, particularly on days when a cruise ship is docked nearby. Nonetheless it's still a beautiful (and free) attraction. In the evenings this west-facing beach is perfect for watching the sunset.
- Most boat tours include fresh food and champagne.
- Tours of Mt. Otemanu are suitable for most active travelers.
- Consider bringing waterproof sandals, a hat, and sunscreen for catamaran tours.
- Pack your camera to capture the stunning vistas on a helicopter tour.
Rent a scooter or a car to easily zip around Bora Bora's 20 miles (32 km) of coastal roads. Ambitious visitors can rent a bike, although be warned that there are hills. Most of the tourist services, including the Bora Bora Visitors Bureau, are located in the town of Vaitape.
When to Visit Mt. Otemanu
Fruit plantations give insight into the local agriculture, while stalls showcasing wraparound skirts (pareos) add color to the streets. You'll also find Farenua, a sacred place of worship built with stones called a "marae." It is the biggest of its kind in Bora Bora and for many, the highlight of their trip.
The most iconic landmark of Faanui, however, is its beautiful light pink church set in front of a lush green mountain background and marking the head of Faanui Bay. Nearby you'll be able to access a road which heads away from the coast and into the lush vegetation of inland Bora Bora.
There are two roads leading to Belvedere Lookout, depending on whether you're going from Cook's Bay or Opunohu Bay. While Cook's Bay will take you through pineapple fields and lush vegetation, Opunohu Bay will bring you through Moorea's natural preserve as well as stop at the local Agricultural School for some fresh juice and sorbet and jam tastings.
From Cook's Bay you can begin driving to Belvedere Lookout, a scenic viewpoint awarding aerial views of Opunohu Valley, Cook's Bay and Opunohu Bay.
There are numerous waterfalls all over Tahiti, but the most popular and accessible are the three waterfalls at Faarumai, known as the Cascades of Faarumai. Turning off the main coastal road, a dirt track cuts through the teeming jungle to a parking spot. From there a 5 minute walk brings you to the first cascade, Vaima Hutu. This is a truly impressive sight, with crystal clear water rushing down a sheer rock face into a cool, inviting pool.
The other two waterfalls – Haamaremare and Haamaremare Iti – are close by each other about 30 minutes’ walk away, and are well worth seeking out.
Faarumai is close to Tahiti’s north coast, not far from the Arahoho blowhole. It’s about half an hour’s drive from Papeete via the island’s main ring road, and is usually included as a stop on a circuit tour.
The restaurant was founded in 1979 by an eccentric Polish nobleman, the Baron Jerzy Hubert Edward von Dange (George to his friends). It was sold to a Los Angeles businessman in 1985 but the restaurant still maintains what it calls its “old Tahiti style.” The building is a fare tiurai, a traditional hut with a thatched roof and open sides. The kitschy interior features a sand floor (bare foot dining encouraged), tiki torches and polished palm trunks for seats.
Bloody Mary's is open for lunch, dinner and drinks. On the menu is fresh seafood and the daily catch is displayed on ice at the entrance. You will no doubt be encouraged to pair your meal with a fruity island cocktail. Don't forget to check out the open air restrooms which have waterfalls instead of sinks.
- There is a designated viewing area with a barrier preventing visitors from getting too close to the blowhole, but it’s still possible to get wet when the blowhole is at its most powerful.
- Visitor facilities at the blowhole include parking, a gift shop, and restrooms.
- The viewing area for the Arahoho Blowhole is wheelchair accessible.
One of Papeete’s few museums, the Musée de la Perle (or Black Pearl Museum) celebrates all aspects of pearl culture. In the days before large-scale cultivation, these ocean jewels were charged with mystical significance, associated with religious rites and coveted as status symbols. The museum, established by local entrepreneur Robert Wan, looks at the pearl in art, history and literature, and shows how they get from the sea to the display case.
The real star here is the black pearl. While a little more abundant than in the days when Mary, Queen of Scots adorned herself with a priceless necklace of the dark sea bounty, this Tahitian specialty is still a sought-after rarity.
The Musée de la Perle is a stone’s throw from Papeete’s waterfront, close to the Marché de Papeete and the cathedral. There are numerous stores in the area where you can buy your own black pearls.