10 Days In French Polynesia

Updated:

Ia Orana, welcome to paradise! A trip to Tahiti and French Polynesia is something you’ll never forget. With 118 islands stretching across a chunk of the South Pacific Ocean the size of Western Europe, it’s important to pick and choose the right islands for you. Here’s a sample 10 days in French Polynesia itinerary, which offers a few combinations of islands to choose from.

Cet article est disponible en français *

I spent three months in French Polynesia while backpacking across the South Pacific Islands. While no two islands are the same, it’s key to avoid trying to see too much. This is paradise, after all, so leave plenty of time for relaxing. Independent travelers to French Polynesia will discover that there’s way more to this destination than just luxury resorts. It all depends on you.

Heading off to French Polynesia? Free travel guides to 11 islands await you, plus tailor-made services to make your vacation to paradise unforgettable! 

Independent Traveler's Guide to French Polynesia
Tahiti Tailor Made Thumbnail


Part 1: Papeete, Tahiti (1 Day)

Tahiti is your gateway to paradise, and though deserving more than just a single day, you aren’t here for a very long time. Spend the night at the Hotel Sarah Nui, comfortably situated in the center of Papeete and close to the ferry terminal to Moorea.  

Start your morning with a visit to Papeete Market – the most colorful market in the South Pacific. Shop for anything from black pearls to sweet mangos, and enjoy the exotic vibe.

View of Papeete Market Tahiti French Polynesia

Papeete Market fish Tahiti French Polynesia

Bags and hats Papeete market Tahiti French Polynesia

In the afternoon, head out on a walking tour of Papeete, checking out its colonial style buildings, charming cathedrals and laid back waterfront.

Cathedrale Notre Dame Papeete Tahiti French Polynesia

Paofai Gardens Papeete Tahiti French Polynesia

Presidential Palace Papeete Tahiti French Polynesia

For dinner, head to Place Vaiete and experience the cuisine of the legendary roulottes. Tahitians love to eat out, and these food vans serve large inexpensive portions of local food, Chinese classics, and even French crepes!

Place Vaiete roulottes Papeete Tahiti French Polynesia

Place Vaiete roulottes in Tahiti French Polynesia

Have a look at this sample itinerary for lots more information on how to spend a day in Tahiti

Part 2: Moorea (3 Days)

Moorea is just 30 minutes by ferry from busy Papeete, yet it feels like a different world. The excitement is already in the air as the ferry inches closer and closer to Moorea, and maybe a few dolphins join to escort you into port.

Ferry from Moorea to Tahiti onlookers

Moorea is shaped like a giant heart, thanks to its signature twin bays: Opunohu and Cook’s Bay. It’s the kind of island that has a little bit of everything for everybody: from high-end luxury resorts to family owned pensions, from thrilling hikes to white sand beaches and from lazy snorkeling to world class scuba diving.

Magical Mountain Moorea French Polynesia Opunohu Bay

Athia Bay Moorea French Polynesia sunset

Moorea Travel Guide - cover

Diving in Moorea with lemon shark

Here’s a sample itinerary for Moorea that you choose your own favorite days from, along with a list of the top things to do in Moorea.

Part 3: Bora Bora Or Maupiti (3 Days) / Rangiroa Or Fakarava (5 Days)

For the third leg of your journey: stay in the Society Islands and choose from laid back Maupiti or luxurious Bora Bora (Option A), or head to the coral atolls of the Tuamotus for some world class scuba diving (Option B).   

Option A: Bora Bora Or Maupiti (3 Days)

Bora Bora

One of the most famous islands in the world, a visit to Bora Bora is a sure way to make your friends jealous. Choose from simple lodging in the main island like the Sunset Hill Lodge or pamper yourself in an overwater bungalow on one of the small islets of Pearl Beach Resort, The St Regis, InterContinental or Four Seasons resorts.

luxury resorts from the air bora bora french polynesia

Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort - overwater bungalows view

Your days in Bora Bora can be as lazy or as active as you want. Don’t miss the chance to explore the beautiful lagoon as part of a full-day excursion, where you’ll be swimming with nurse sharks, feeding stingrays, snorkeling and grabbing lunch on your own private island.

bora bora french polynesia aerial view

bora bora french polynesia

lagoon tour in bora bora french polynesia riding shark fin

Bora Bora Lagoon tour French Polynesia stingrays 2

As far as beaches go, all the resorts on the motu (small islets surrounding the lagoon) will have their own white sand beaches. But for those staying or exploring the main island, don’t miss Matira Beach – one of the prettiest tropical beaches you’ll ever come across.

matria tropical beach bora bora french polynesia

For those seeking to explore the real Bora Bora, rent a beach bicycle and circle the island on two wheels. It’s just 32 kilometers around the island, and you’ll get to see WWII stations, ancient temples, and authentic village life. You can also join 4X4 tours and reach panoramic lookouts offering sensational views of the lagoon. 

Bora Bora 4X4 Natura Discovery Tour French Polynesia - view of tahaa from Bora Bora

Bora Bora 4X4 Natura Discovery Tour French Polynesia -view of lagoon 2

Bora Bora 4X4 Natura Discovery Tour French Polynesia - mount otemanu with clouds

Here’s a complete three day Bora Bora itinerary, and a list of the top things to do in Bora Bora.

Maupiti

Maupiti is said to be ‘the old Bora Bora’, long before the tourist hype. It also looks like a miniature version of its big sister just a few kilometers away, and in fact, it’s so small so you can get around on foot. With no resorts or nightclubs, Maupiti is an authentic little slice of paradise.

Maupiti from the air French Polynesia

Stay at Maupiti Residence, Pension Tereia, and Pension Tautiare Village on the main island or at Pension Papahani in one of the dream-looking motus overlooking the main island, where locals will take excellent care of you. Spend your days hiking Mount Teurafaatiu, going Robinson Crusoe on Motu Auira, and head underwater to dive with giant manta rays in ‘the cleaning station’. Not to be missed, is a day out in the Maupiti lagoon, complete with snorkeling in the enchanting coral garden and sharing the leftovers from lunch with the stingrays.  

Motu Auira Maupiti French Polynesia coconut on tropical beach

Panoramic view of Maupiti French Polynesia from Mount Teurafaatiu

Lagoon tour tropical beach in Maupiti French Polynesia

With all these activities, don’t forget to leave enough of time for relaxing. Maupiti is super pretty!

Lagoon tour in Maupiti French Polynesia manta ray swimming away

Here’s a sample itinerary for Maupiti from which you can choose your own favorite days, along with a list of the top things to do in Maupiti.

Option B: Rangiroa Or Fakarava (5 Days)

Rangiroa

Known as the ‘infinite lagoon’, Rangiroa is the second biggest coral atoll in the entire world. Stay at a simple family-owned pensions or spoil yourself at the Kia Ora Resort or Maitai Rangiroa.

Rangiroa French Polynesia from the air

Colorful tropical fish in snorkeling tour aquarium Rangiroa French Polynesia

The prime reason for coming to Rangiroa is scuba diving. Most of your dives will be in the legendary Tiputa Pass, where you’ll encounter sharks, dolphins, and sea turtles, before drifting back into the lagoon if conditions are right.

Diving Rangiroa French Polynesia Tiputa Pass dolphin

Diving Rangiroa French Polynesia Tiputa Pass school of baracuda

If you’re diving with The Six Passengers, you can even see the mighty silvertip shark. Head to the Avatoru Pass in the early hours of the morning, when this predator likes to come out and patrol the reef. So scary yet so thrilling!

Silver-Tip-shark-closeup-avatoru-pass-rangiroa-french-polynesia-diving

Aside from scuba diving, Rangiroa offers excellent snorkeling from just about every spot, and excursions to the ‘Blue Lagoon’ and ‘Ile Aux Recifs’.

reef sharks rangiroa atoll french polynesia

Tropical fish in aquarium snorkeling tour Rangiroa French Polynesia

Sharks in Rangiroa Atoll French Polnyesia

Have a look at this sample itinerary for Rangiroa, with all the highlights to choose from.

Fakarava

Just like in Rangiroa, scuba diving in Fakarava is some of the best in the world! However, in Fakarava – every single dive is memorable due to the pristine coral, and there’s plenty more to do beyond just scuba diving. Stay at the Relais Marama, where you’ll surely get to know other independent travelers like you, and where a good night’s sleep is guaranteed if your bungalow faces the reef.

cycling fakarava atoll french polynesia

Book your dives with Ariane and Matias from Dive Spirit Fakarava, who’ll take you to all the secret spots in this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Cruise along the Ohutu Cliff and witness some of the finest coral in the south seas, drift into the lagoon faster than Superman, and explore the magical Alibaba Canyon – where sharks and other ‘surprises’ like to chill.  

Diving Fakarava Atoll French Polynesia North Pass Garuae goatfish

Diving Fakarava Atoll French Polynesia North Pass Garuae Ohotu Cliff coral garden

Diving Fakarava Atoll French Polynesia North Pass Garuae Ohotu Cliff drift

Diving Fakarava Atoll French Polynesia North Pass Garuae Ohotu Cliff nurse shark cave

When you’re not diving, grab a bike and explore the atoll. PK9 Beach is one of the prettiest you’ll ever see, and it will likely be all yours for the day. If it’s more beaches you’re after, join a lagoon tour and visit the famous pink sand beach… that’s right – pink sand!  

PK9 Tropical Beach Fakarava Atoll French Polynesia

Pink Sand beach Fakarava Atoll French Polynesia 1

Here’s a sample itinerary for Fakarava, along with a list of the top things to do in Rangiroa & Fakarava.

Part 4: Raiatea Or Huahine (3 Days)

Obviously, this part only applies if you skipped Rangiroa or Fakarava… next time. For the final leg of your 10 days in French Polynesia, choose from either Raiatea or Huahine – both in the Society Islands.

Raiatea

Known as the ‘sacred island’, Raiatea shares the same lagoon with neighboring Tahaa Island, offering you a great 2-for-1 opportunity. Stay at Villa Temehani or the Sunset Beach Motel, and if you really want to taste luxury – spend your last night at Le Tahaa Resort.  

mount tapioi hike panoramic view of tahha Raiatea Island French Polynesia

Raiatea is all about the outdoors, with excellent hikes on the menu. Choose from the short hike up to Mount Tapioi for gorgeous panoramic views, venturing deep into the rainforest in search of three waterfalls, or a challenging hike up to the Temehani Plateau in search of one of the rarest flowers in the world – the tiare apetahi.

les trois cascades three waterfalls hike raiatea french polynesia descending

Temehani Plateau hike Raiatea Island French Polynesia Tiare Apetahi rare flower

Aside from hiking, hit the road and circle Raiatea. Once you exit town, you’ll have parts of the island all to yourself. Stop at Marae Taputapuatea, the most important ancient temple in the Polynesian Triangle and a newly named UNESCO World Heritage Site. On your final day, you can even take a trip to neighboring Tahaa Island, where you’ll find pristine beaches out on the surrounding islets, and some of the finest vanilla in the world.

Massive cliff Raiatea Island French Polynesia

Marae Taputapuatea Raiatea Island French Polynesia

beautiful white sand beach on motu at le tahaa luxury resort french polynesia

Have a look at a sample itinerary for Raiatea & Tahaa, plus this of the top things to do in Raiatea & Tahaa.

Huahine

Huahine is known as ‘the Garden of Eden’, and you can really slow things down over here. Choose from a simple Airbnb close to Fare, to upscale Maitai Lapita Village to the perfectly situated Relais Mahana.

Huahine island from the air french polynesia

For those seeking to spend their final days in French Polynesia on a white sand beach, head to Avea Bay and work on your tan. If you like having the entire beach for yourself, the one by the abandoned Sofitel Resort will be to your liking.  

children tossing rocks Fare beach Huahine Island French Polynesia

Avea Bay tropical beach Huahine Island French Polynesia palm tree

clown fish snorekling off beach in Fare Huahine Island French Polynesia

If you’re looking for a bit of action, rent a car or a scooter and simply circle the island. In fact, Huahine is made up of two islands connected by a bridge. Don’t miss visiting the dozens of ancient Polynesian temples dotting Lake Maeva and the surrounding hills, and the sacred blue-eyed eels that are said to hold the spirits of ancient islanders.

Matariea Hill Marae Huahine Island French Polynesia

Pontoon Huahine Island French Polynesia

Blue Eyed Eels Huahine Island French Polynesia

For one last taste of paradise, spend your last day exploring the Huahine lagoon. You’ll visit a floating pearl farm, have lunch on a dream of a beach and get to feed hundreds of hungry sharks!

lagoon tour Huahine Island French Polynesia snorkeling

lunch on motu Huahine Island French Polynesia

picnic on motu lagoon tour Huahine Island French Polynesia

Here’s a sample itinerary for Huahine, along with a list of the top things to do in Huahine.

Want More?

Start planning your trip to French Polynesia with free travel guides to 11 islands, plus tailor-made services to make your vacation to paradise unforgettable! 

Independent Traveler's Guide to French Polynesia
Tahiti Tailor Made Thumbnail


A final word of advice: while 10 days in French Polynesia is a decent amount of time, you will still be left with a strong taste of wanting more. If time allows, aim to spend two weeks. You’ve already made the journey to the end of the world after all…

email

Post a new comment

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Google+