Located in the South Pacific, French Polynesia is renowned for its exotic beauty, sparkling turquoise waters, and atmosphere that feels like you have stepped back in time. However, with its remote location, you might be unsure how to best go about visiting the tropical paradise.
Within this guide, I’ll be delving into how to best go about planning your perfect trip to French Polynesia!
When to Visit French Polynesia
Unlike places that experience extreme weather changes, French Polynesia is lucky enough to experience temperatures in the 70s and 80s that remain relatively consistent throughout the year. But, the amount of rain that accompanies the warm temperatures varies significantly depending on the time of year that you visit.
To limit your risk of having your parade quite literally rained on, it’s best to plan a visit during the dry season. This is considered between May and October. During this time of the year, there’s less rain, which leads to less humidity in the air, and you can anticipate lots of sunny days!
Flying to French Polynesia
Depending on where you’re traveling from, getting to French Polynesia may look a little different.
But, for the most part, it’s pretty common to fly out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) or Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). This is because both locations offer direct flights to Fa’a’ā International Airport, which is the main airport in Tahiti’s capital.
So, if you can, try to fly out of one of these airports to minimize the number of layovers.
Once you’re on Tahiti, you can either directly head to your accommodations on the island or take a smaller airplane to one of the other islands, such as Huahine or Bora Bora.
See also: How to avoid jet lag when traveling
5 Things to Do in French Polynesia
Now that you know how to get to French Polynesia, let’s talk about all the wonderful things you can do around the islands!
1. Marvel at Teahupoo
On the big island of Tahiti, there are all kinds of different exhilarating excursions that visitors can embark on. But an activity that you won’t want to miss out on is witnessing one of the world’s most impressive surf breaks, Teahupoo.
This is a big and powerful wave located on the smaller portion of Tahiti called Tahiti Iti! This particular break is known for its predictable bowl shape that creates picture-perfect barrels for experienced surfers.
And while only highly experienced surfers should attempt surfing on the break, anyone can admire the beauty of the wave. So, if you’re interested in watching these brave surfers tackle mother nature head-on, make sure to take a taxi boat out!
2. Snorkel in Moorea Lagoon
A visit to French Polynesia also isn’t complete without exploring its amazing coral reefs and lagoons. One of the most popular locations to snorkel in is the surrounding waters on the island of Moorea.
For those who don’t know, Moorea is an island that’s just a stone’s throw away from Tahiti. And similar to Tahiti, guests can witness unbelievable views and find all kinds of fun adventures to partake in on Moorea.
However, what sets Moorea apart from Tahiti is Moorea Lagoon. This area provides visitors with some of the clearest waters that are perfect for a snorkeling adventure. Within Moorea lagoon, you’ll be able to observe various species of colorful fish, pet some stingrays, and even get up close and personal with some friendly black-tip sharks in their natural habitat!
So, make sure to try your best to make your way over to Moorea, even if only for a day or two!
3. Climb to the Top of Magic Mountain
Another activity to consider while visiting Moorea is trekking to the top of Magic Mountain.
This is a long and steep hike, but you won’t want to miss out on these views. From here, visitors can observe both Moorea lagoon and sweeping views of Opunohu Bay.
I promise that the colors of the water and the luscious landscape of Moorea make it worth the tough climb up. And even if you’re feeling a little tired on your way back down, don’t worry because there are plenty of places to grab some snacks and drinks at the base of the mountain.
4. Visit the Ancient Marae
Not only can visitors to French Polynesia explore its amazing landscape, but they can also explore the historical culture of the islands.
One of the most popular ancient sites to visit is the marae. A marae is an ancient temple that was originally used in traditional ceremonies by Polynesian people for hundreds of years. Today, many of these still exist, but the most well-preserved one is in Tahiti and is called Marae Arahuahu.
Here, visitors can explore this ancient site, learn about the ceremonies, and connect with some of French Polynesia’s beautiful past!
5. Eat Delicious Local Food at the Papeete Market
Finally, no visit to French Polynesia would be complete without trying all the delicious foods that local vendors have to offer.
At the Papeete Market, you can find a variety of different Polynesian specialties like poisson cru (raw marinated fish) and chicken fafa (chicken cooked in coconut milk and taro leaves) as well as an assortment of other fresh produce and goods!
Furthermore, the Papeete Market is a great place to find cheap souvenirs, so make sure to leave some space in your suitcase for all the goodies you’ll find!
Places to Stay
In terms of places to stay, there’s a wide range of options. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious resort, an affordable hotel, or even a more immersive stay with a local family, French Polynesia has something to fit every budget!
Is French Polynesia Student Friendly?
For those working with a tighter budget, you may be wondering if French Polynesia is student friendly. The truth is that it’s definitely more geared toward those with a larger bank account.
That said, I don’t think a trip to French Polynesia costs nearly as much as people think, and even students can enjoy the islands just as much as anyone else! My friends and I traveled to French Polynesia immediately after graduation, and had the best time ever despite having a smaller budget.
Here are two things we did to save money. First, we opted to eat out at a nicer restaurant only once a day. For the other meals, we usually bought food from local food stands and markets.
The second best thing we did was get a rental car. This saved us from spending exorbitant amounts of money on taxis because there isn’t exactly great public transportation on the islands.
See also: How to pack light for summer trips
Ultimately, French Polynesia is one of the most incredible destinations to visit. And with this guide for planning a trip to French Polynesia in hand, I hope you can plan the perfect getaway for taking in all the amazing landscapes, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine! This is truly a destination that you don’t want to miss out on!
Author Bio: Kristin Lee is a travel writer and Youtube vlogger. On her blog, Global Travel Escapades, she aims to make travel more accessible by providing useful travel tips, destination guides for maximizing your experience, and ways to travel more for less money. Follow her on Youtube @KristinLeeVlogs or Instagram @kristins_travel_escapades