French Polynesia Islands

French Polynesia, also known as the Society Islands, is an overseas collectivity of France located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago is made up of 118 islands and atolls, divided into five main island groups: the Society Islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands, and the Austral Islands. 

 

Two people riding a canoeThe Society Islands

The Society Islands are the most famous and most visited island group in French Polynesia. They are made up of four main islands: Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, and Huahine.

  • Tahiti

Tahiti, the largest island in the group, is known for its lush landscapes, black sand beaches, and vibrant culture. The island is home to the capital city of Papeete, which is a hub for transportation and commerce. Visitors to Tahiti can take part in traditional Polynesian activities such as outrigger canoe rides, Tahitian dance performances, and pearl farming tours. The island also offers a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, rock climbing, and surfing.

One of the most popular activities on Tahiti is visiting the island’s many natural wonders such as the Cascade de Fautaua, a waterfall that drops over 300 feet into a swimming hole, and the Arahoho Blowhole, a natural geological formation that shoots water high into the air. The island also has several cultural attractions such as the Museum of Tahiti and the Islands, which showcases the history and culture of French Polynesia, and the Paul Gauguin Cultural Center, which is dedicated to the famous painter who lived and worked on the island.

  • Moorea

Moorea, located just 17 miles northwest of Tahiti, is known for its stunning beaches and crystal clear waters. Visitors can explore the island’s rugged interior on hiking trails or take a boat tour to see the island’s famous shark and ray feeding spots. The island is also home to several botanical gardens such as the Jardin des Cimes and the Jardin Botanique de Moorea, where visitors can see a wide variety of tropical plants and flowers.

  • Bora Bora

Bora Bora, located northwest of Tahiti, is known for its luxurious resorts, overwater bungalows, and clear blue waters. The island is a popular destination for honeymooners and those looking for a romantic getaway. Visitors can take part in activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and jet skiing. The island is also home to several spas and wellness centers where visitors can relax and rejuvenate.

Bora Bora is also known for its beautiful beaches, such as Matira Beach, which is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and the white sandy beach of Anau. Visitors can also take a tour of the island’s interior on a 4WD or a quad bike, or go on a guided hike to see the island’s stunning views.

  • Huahine

Huahine is known for its ancient Polynesian ruins, including the Maraes, which are ancient stone temples and tombs. Visitors can also take a boat tour to see the island’s beautiful coral reefs and marine life, or go on a guided hike to see the island’s lush rainforests. The island is also home to several small villages, where visitors can see traditional Polynesian life and culture.

Diver swimming with a whale sharkThe Tuamotu Archipelago

The Tuamotu Archipelago is made up of 77 coral atolls and is the largest island group in French Polynesia. The atolls are known for their pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, and excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities.

  • Rangiroa

Rangiroa, located in the Tuamotu Archipelago, is known for its world-class diving and snorkeling opportunities. The island is home to the world’s second largest coral atoll and is a popular spot for viewing marine life such as manta rays, sharks, and dolphins. Visitors can also take a boat tour to see the island’s beautiful coral reefs and marine life, or go on a guided hike to see the island’s lush rainforests.

  • Fakarava

Fakarava is another popular destination in the Tuamotu Archipelago, known for its excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities, as well as its traditional Polynesian culture. Visitors can take a boat tour to see the island’s beautiful coral reefs and marine life, or go on a guided hike to see the island’s lush rainforests. The island is also home to several small villages, where visitors can see traditional Polynesian life and culture.

View of lush vegetation and oceanThe Gambier Islands

The Gambier Islands are a small island group located southeast of the Society Islands. The islands are known for their traditional Polynesian culture, beautiful beaches, and excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities.

  • Mangareva

Mangareva is the largest island in the Gambier Islands and is known for its traditional Polynesian culture and beautiful beaches. Visitors can take a boat tour to see the island’s beautiful coral reefs and marine life, or go on a guided hike to see the island’s lush rainforests. The island is also home to several small villages, where visitors can see traditional Polynesian life and culture.

  • The Marquesas Islands

The Marquesas Islands are a remote island group located north of the Society Islands. The islands are known for their rugged landscapes, traditional Polynesian culture, and excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities.

  • Nuku Hiva

Nuku Hiva is the largest island in the Marquesas Islands and is known for its rugged landscapes, traditional Polynesian culture, and excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities. Visitors can take a boat tour to see the island’s beautiful coral reefs and marine life, or go on a guided hike to see the island’s lush rainforests. The island is also home to several small villages, where visitors can see traditional Polynesian life and culture.

The Austral Islands

The Austral Islands are a remote island group located southeast of the Society Islands. The islands are known for their traditional Polynesian culture, beautiful beaches, and excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities.

  • Rurutu

Rurutu is the largest island in the Austral Islands and is known for its traditional Polynesian culture, beautiful beaches, and excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities. Visitors can take a boat tour to see the island’s beautiful coral reefs and marine life, or go on a guided hike to see the island’s lush rainforests. The island is also home to several small villages, where visitors can see traditional Polynesian life and culture.

Culture and Heritage

French Polynesia’s culture is a mix of Polynesian, French and Chinese heritage. The islands are famous for their traditional dances, music and crafts, such as tapa cloth and black pearls. Visitors can learn about the history and culture of French Polynesia by visiting the many cultural and historical sites on the islands. These include traditional Polynesian temples and tombs, such as the Maraes on Huahine, and the ancient ruins on the Marquesas Islands. Visitors can also take a tour of the island’s interior on a 4WD or a quad bike, or go on a guided hike to see the island’s stunning views.

Another way to experience the culture is to attend a traditional Polynesian dance performance, where visitors can see the island’s ancient dances and learn about their meanings and origins. Visitors can also visit local markets to buy traditional crafts and souvenirs, such as tapa cloth, black pearls, and woven baskets.

French Polynesia is also home to several museums and cultural centers, such as the Museum of Tahiti and the Islands, which showcases the history and culture of French Polynesia, and the Paul Gauguin Cultural Center, which is dedicated to the famous painter who lived and worked on the island.

Sustainability

French Polynesia is a popular destination for tourists looking for a tropical getaway, but its fragile ecosystem and limited resources are being increasingly affected by the tourism industry. Visitors are encouraged to take care when traveling to French Polynesia, to minimize their impact on the environment and support the local communities. This can be done by respecting local customs, choosing eco-friendly accommodations, and participating in sustainable tourism activities.

One example of sustainable tourism in French Polynesia is coral reef protection programs. These programs aim to protect the coral reefs, which are vital to the island’s ecosystem, by educating visitors on how to properly snorkel and dive without damaging the reefs. Visitors can also take part in beach clean-up projects, which help to keep the beaches clean and protect the island’s marine life.

Another way to support the local community is to participate in cultural exchange programs, which allow visitors to learn about the island’s culture and history from the locals. Visitors can also buy locally-made products and support local businesses, which helps to boost the island’s economy and support the local communities.

In conclusion, French Polynesia is a diverse and captivating destination for visitors, with each island group offering its own unique experiences. From the famous Society Islands, to the remote Marquesas Islands, visitors can experience the island’s lush landscapes, crystal clear waters, and vibrant culture. Visitors can also take part in activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and hiking, or take a guided tour to see the island’s natural wonders and historical sites. French Polynesia is a destination that offers something for everyone, but it’s important to take care of the environment and the local communities while traveling there.

Our Top FAQ's

French Polynesia is made up of five main island groups: the Society Islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands, and the Austral Islands.

The most famous island in French Polynesia is Tahiti, known for its lush landscapes, black sand beaches, and vibrant culture.

Some popular activities for visitors to French Polynesia include snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, visiting natural wonders and historical sites, and experiencing the island’s culture through traditional dances and crafts.

French Polynesia’s culture is a mix of Polynesian, French, and Chinese heritage. Visitors can experience the culture by visiting traditional Polynesian temples and tombs, attending traditional dance performances, visiting local markets and cultural centers, and participating in cultural exchange programs.

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