A Photographer’s Guide to the Most Scenic Spots in French Polynesia

French Polynesia is a paradise for photographers seeking to capture the essence of tropical beauty. From the lush landscapes of Moorea to the hidden gems of the Austral Islands, the iconic waves of Teahupo’o, and the luxurious retreats of Bora Bora, this guide will navigate you through the most scenic spots to add to your photography portfolio. Let’s explore the picturesque settings and unique cultural experiences that await in this idyllic corner of the world.

Key Takeaways

  • Moorea offers a diverse range of photographic opportunities, from lush pineapple plantations to panoramic views at Belvedere Lookout and encounters with friendly wildlife.
  • Raivavae is an undiscovered treasure, boasting idyllic motus, iconic landscapes, and a chance to experience genuine local hospitality and traditions.
  • Teahupo’o provides a dynamic scene for action photography, especially during the Shiseido Tahiti Pro surfing event, and offers unique water taxi tours for capturing its legendary breaks.
  • Bora Bora’s luxury resorts, such as the Four Seasons and St. Regis, provide not only comfort but also stunning backdrops for photography, especially the overwater bungalow experience.
  • When visiting these locations, it’s essential to bring appropriate gear like cameras and rain protection, and to be aware of local events and cultural delicacies that can enhance your photographic journey.

Capturing the Essence of Moorea

Capturing the Essence of Moorea

Exploring the Lush Pineapple Plantations

Moorea’s pineapple plantations are a verdant treasure trove for photographers, offering a unique blend of natural beauty and agricultural charm. Capture the vibrant green hues and geometric patterns of the fields that stretch across the island’s fertile volcanic soil.

  • Wander through the rows of pineapples, each one a potential subject for your lens.
  • Engage with the local farmers, whose traditional methods have been passed down through generations.
  • Take advantage of the soft, natural light of early morning or late afternoon for the most flattering shots.

The tranquility of the plantations, coupled with the sweet aroma of ripening pineapples, creates an atmosphere that is both serene and invigorating for any photographer.

The Panoramic Belvedere Lookout

The Belvedere Lookout offers a breathtaking panoramic view that is a dream for any photographer. Perched high above Moorea, this vantage point provides a stunning perspective of Cook’s Bay, Opunohu Bay, and the surrounding peaks of Mount Rotui.

  • Capture the dramatic landscape where lush greenery meets the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Wait for the golden hour when the light bathes the island in a warm glow, perfect for landscape shots.
  • Experiment with different lenses to encapsulate the vastness or zoom in on the intricate details of the terrain.

The lookout is more than just a photo opportunity; it’s a chance to witness the grandeur of nature and the serene beauty of Moorea. Take a moment to soak in the view before you capture it through your lens.

Encounters with Friendly Wildlife and Snorkeling Adventures

Moorea’s crystal-clear waters are a sanctuary for an abundance of marine life, making it a paradise for photographers and snorkeling enthusiasts alike. Capture the vibrant colors of the coral reefs and the playful antics of the friendly sea creatures that call these waters home.

  • Stingrays and Blacktip Reef Sharks: Often found in the shallow waters, these creatures are accustomed to human presence and provide thrilling photo opportunities.
  • Tropical Fish: The lagoons teem with a kaleidoscope of fish, perfect for underwater photography.
  • Sea Turtles: These ancient mariners can be spotted gracefully gliding through the water, a truly serene sight.

Embrace the opportunity to interact with the wildlife in their natural habitat, but always maintain a respectful distance to ensure their safety and yours.

The experience extends beyond the water’s edge, with opportunities to photograph the island’s diverse birdlife and the occasional curious gecko. The blend of land and sea offers a comprehensive snapshot of Moorea’s ecological diversity.

Cultural Immersion: Coconut Crab and Poisson Cru

In the heart of Moorea, the cultural tapestry is as rich as its landscapes. Engage your senses with the island’s culinary delights, where the coconut crab and poisson cru stand out as must-try dishes. These local specialties offer more than just a meal; they provide a glimpse into the soul of Polynesian cuisine.

  • Coconut crab, known locally as ‘Kaveu’, is a delicacy that’s both rare and revered. Its sweet, succulent meat captures the essence of the island’s flavors.
  • Poisson cru, Tahiti’s version of ceviche, is a refreshing mix of raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk, embodying the freshness of the Pacific.

Embrace the opportunity to participate in a traditional ‘tamara’a’, a Polynesian feast, where these dishes are often featured. The experience is not just about eating but about understanding the communal spirit and the connection to nature that defines Polynesian culture.

Raivavae: A Hidden Gem in the Austral Islands

Raivavae: A Hidden Gem in the Austral Islands

The Idyllic Motu Surrounding Raivavae

The motu of Raivavae are the quintessential image of paradise, framing the island with their pristine white beaches and crystal-clear waters. Motu Wayamanu stands out as a jewel among them, boasting a two-kilometer stretch of powdery sand and a serene entrance to the sea, making it an ideal spot for both relaxation and underwater exploration.

Despite its small size, Raivavae is a powerhouse of natural beauty, enveloped in lush tropical greenery. The island’s coral reefs are a diver’s haven, teeming with vibrant marine life, including the eye-catching Parrot Fish. Photographers will find themselves captivated by the contrasts and colors of this untouched oasis.

Accessibility to Raivavae is surprisingly straightforward, with a two-hour flight from Tahiti to the Tubai archipelago, followed by a short hop on a light-engine airplane. For those with a spirit of adventure, arriving by boat offers a direct route to this secluded paradise.

The balance Raivavae strikes between tourist comfort and authenticity is delicate and deliberate, ensuring that visitors can enjoy modern conveniences without compromising the island’s original charm. This harmonious blend is what makes Raivavae not just a destination, but a calling card for the enchanting allure of French Polynesia.

Photographing the Island’s Iconic Landscapes

Raivavae Island is a canvas of natural beauty, offering landscapes that seem to leap straight out of an artist’s imagination. The Pomaowao marae stands as a testament to the island’s rich history, a two-meter stone monolith that whispers tales of ancient warriors. This site, along with the island’s lush greenery and crystal-clear waters, provides a plethora of opportunities for photographers seeking to capture the essence of the Austral Islands.

  • The panoramic views from the island’s peaks are a must-capture for any photographer.
  • The intricate play of light and shadow in the dense tropical forests offers a challenging yet rewarding subject.
  • The serene beaches, with their fine white sand and azure waters, are perfect for sunrise and sunset photography.

Embrace the tranquility of Raivavae’s landscapes and let your creativity flow as freely as the island’s gentle breezes. The absence of crowds means you can take your time to compose the perfect shot, ensuring that each photograph you take is as unique as the scenery itself.

Experiencing Local Hospitality and Traditions

In the heart of Raivavae, the warmth of local hospitality is as inviting as the island’s crystal-clear waters. Visitors are greeted with open arms and an opportunity to delve into the rich tapestry of Polynesian culture.

  • Traditional Greetings: Experience the customary welcome with flower leis and gentle ukulele melodies.
  • Homestay Experiences: Stay with a local family to truly understand the island lifestyle.
  • Cultural Workshops: Learn to weave baskets or dance the Tamure with islanders.

Embrace the slower pace of life and the communal spirit that is ever-present in Raivavae. Here, every meal is a celebration of local flavors and every interaction is an exchange of stories and smiles.

The table below summarizes the key aspects of Raivavae’s hospitality:

AccommodationsHomestays with local families
MealsTraditional dishes with fresh, local ingredients
Cultural InteractionWorkshops and shared experiences with locals
EnvironmentWarm and welcoming, fostering a sense of community

Teahupo’o: Riding the Waves of Inspiration

Teahupo'o: Riding the Waves of Inspiration

The Shiseido Tahiti Pro Surfing Event

The Shiseido Tahiti Pro is the pinnacle of surfing competitions in French Polynesia, drawing the world’s top surfers to the legendary waves of Teahupo’o. Witness the athletes compete in some of the most hollow waves on earth, an experience that is both thrilling and awe-inspiring for photographers aiming to capture the essence of professional surfing.

The event offers a unique opportunity to be in the midst of the action, safely from the channel or an exclusive platform for an unobstructed view.

During the event, Teahupoo Adventures provides guided tours, including taxi boat transportation and live commentary, ensuring that participants have front-row access to the competition. Here’s what you should bring for the best experience:

  • Sunglasses
  • Towel
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Rain gear

The local knowledge of the guides guarantees a prime spot for photography, allowing you to immortalize the synergy of surfers against the dramatic backdrop of Teahupo’o’s mountains.

Capturing the Power of Teahupo’o’s Legendary Breaks

Teahupo’o is not just a surfing spot; it’s a pilgrimage for photographers seeking to capture the raw power of nature. The waves here are not only massive but also form with such perfection that they’ve become iconic in the surfing world. A visit during the Shiseido Tahiti Pro event allows you to witness the world’s best surfers tackling these monstrous waves, providing a thrilling subject for any lens.

On the safety of a boat, with local knowledge guiding you to the best spots, you’re guaranteed a front-row seat to the action. The backdrop of lush mountains only adds to the dramatic scene, making for photos that are as much about the landscape as they are about the sport.

Here’s what you should bring to ensure you’re fully prepared for the experience:

  • Sunglasses
  • Towel
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Rain gear

With the right equipment and a sense of adventure, photographing Teahupo’o’s legendary breaks can be an unforgettable experience.

A Guide to Water Taxi Tours and Photography Opportunities

Embarking on a water taxi tour offers an unparalleled perspective of Teahupo’o’s dramatic coastline and legendary waves. Capture the essence of the ocean’s raw power as you navigate through the azure waters with a knowledgeable guide providing live commentary.

The intimacy of a small group tour ensures that you can take your time framing the perfect shot, free from the rush of larger tourist groups.

Before setting sail, make sure to pack essentials such as sunglasses, sunscreen, and of course, your camera. Here’s a quick checklist to prepare for your adventure:

  • Sunglasses
  • Towel
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Rain gear

Remember to consult the lunar calendar; the best times for photography are during the low tides of new and full moons. For a seamless experience, it’s advisable to confirm your tour the day before departure. The inclusion of hotel pickup and drop-off services adds convenience to your day, allowing you to focus solely on the art of photography.

Luxury Amidst Bora Bora’s Natural Beauty

Luxury Amidst Bora Bora's Natural Beauty

Four Seasons Resort: A Blend of Comfort and Scenery

Nestled on the edge of paradise, the Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora is a haven for photographers seeking both luxury and natural beauty. The resort’s overwater bungalows offer unparalleled views of the turquoise lagoon and majestic Mount Otemanu. Guests can indulge in the privacy of their own space while capturing the essence of Polynesian charm through their lenses.

The resort’s commitment to sustainability and wellness is evident in its offerings. From health programs to eco-friendly practices, the Four Seasons ensures a stay that’s as responsible as it is comfortable.

Amenities at the resort cater to a wide range of interests and needs:

  • Infinity pool with ocean views
  • Personalized experiences with private butlers
  • Health and wellness programs
  • Activities for children
  • Cooking classes

Each element is designed to enhance the photographic potential of your stay, allowing you to create a portfolio of images that truly encapsulate the spirit of French Polynesia.

St. Regis Bora Bora: Privacy and Elegance in Paradise

Nestled on the edge of paradise, the St. Regis Bora Bora offers an unparalleled blend of luxury and seclusion. Photographers will find themselves captivated by the resort’s serene atmosphere and picturesque surroundings.

Guests can indulge in the privacy of their own overwater bungalow, each presenting a unique vantage point for capturing the interplay of light and water at different times of the day. The resort’s amenities complement the natural beauty, ensuring a comfortable stay while you focus on your art.

The St. Regis Bora Bora is not just a stay, it’s an experience that intertwines with the essence of the island, offering moments of tranquility that beg to be photographed.

For those seeking to document the elegance of the resort, consider these points:

  • The architectural harmony of the bungalows with the crystal-clear lagoon
  • The vibrant sunsets that bathe the resort in golden hues
  • The intimate moments of luxury that can be found in the details of the resort’s design

Whether you’re lounging on your private deck or exploring the lush tropical gardens, the St. Regis Bora Bora is a haven for photographers aiming to capture the essence of luxury amidst natural beauty.

Photographing the Overwater Bungalow Experience

The allure of overwater bungalows in French Polynesia is undeniable. Perched above the crystal-clear waters, these architectural marvels offer a unique vantage point for photographers. The serene environment, coupled with the gentle lapping of waves, provides a tranquil backdrop for capturing the essence of island luxury.

Overwater bungalows are not just a place to stay; they are an experience in themselves. They are particularly popular for honeymoons and romantic getaways, symbolizing seclusion and intimacy. Photographing these structures often involves playing with reflections, the interplay of light, and the vibrant colors of the tropical setting.

When staying in an overwater bungalow, the connection with the ocean is ever-present. The decks offer a private space to observe the sunrise or sunset, adding to the plethora of photographic opportunities.

Here are some tips for photographing overwater bungalows:

  • Utilize the golden hours for soft, warm lighting.
  • Experiment with different angles to capture the architecture.
  • Include elements of nature, such as marine life, in your frame.
  • Take advantage of the bungalow’s privacy to set up long exposure shots.

Remember, the key to stunning overwater bungalow photography is to convey the tranquility and beauty of the experience through your lens.


French Polynesia, with its enchanting islands and breathtaking landscapes, offers a treasure trove of scenic spots for photographers and adventurers alike. From the iconic overwater bungalows of Bora Bora to the lush mountainous terrains of Moorea, each location presents a unique canvas for capturing the essence of the South Pacific. Raivavae’s picturesque scenery, reminiscent of an artist’s brushstroke, and the vibrant life at Teahupo’o during the Shiseido Tahiti Pro surfing event are just a few highlights. Whether you’re exploring the Route des Ananas, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, or immersing in the local culture, French Polynesia’s beauty is as diverse as it is magnificent. As you pack your camera and gear, remember to respect the natural environment and the communities that welcome you into their paradise. With each snapshot, you’re not just preserving a moment in time; you’re telling the story of an island wonderland that continues to inspire awe and wonder.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the must-visit scenic spots in Moorea for photographers?

Photographers should not miss the lush pineapple plantations, the panoramic Belvedere Lookout, the opportunity to encounter friendly wildlife while snorkeling, and the cultural experiences of tasting coconut crab and poisson cru.

Why is Raivavae considered a hidden gem in French Polynesia?

Raivavae is a lesser-known destination with idyllic motu, iconic landscapes, and warm local hospitality, making it a perfect spot for photographers seeking unspoiled beauty and cultural richness.

Can I photograph the Shiseido Tahiti Pro surfing event at Teahupo’o?

Yes, Teahupo’o hosts the Shiseido Tahiti Pro surfing event in May, which is a fantastic opportunity for photographers to capture the excitement and power of the waves during this international competition.

What are some luxurious resorts in Bora Bora for a scenic photography retreat?

The Four Seasons Resort and St. Regis Bora Bora offer a blend of comfort, privacy, and elegance amidst natural beauty, providing ample opportunities for photographers to capture the overwater bungalow experience and scenic views.

What should I bring when going on a photography tour in French Polynesia?

Essential items to bring include sunglasses, a towel, a camera, sunscreen, water, and rain gear. It’s also recommended to contact your tour provider the day before for confirmation.

Are there guided photography tours available in Teahupo’o?

Yes, Teahupo’o Adventures offers guided tours that provide photographers with unique opportunities to capture the legendary breaks and the vibrant atmosphere of the surfing events.

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