Tubuai Austral Islands

The Austral Islands of French Polynesia’s Tubuai, commonly known as the Îles Tubuai, are a tropical paradise in the South Pacific Ocean. This isolated island, encircled by turquoise waters, is a hidden gem for tourists looking for a break from the bustle of city life since it has a fascinating history, a distinct culture, and stunning surroundings. This article will examine Tubuai’s geography, history, culture, economics, and natural wonders by delving into five subtopics.


View of trees from belowGeography

The largest island in the Austral Islands series, Tubuai is about 330 kilometers (205 miles) south of Tahiti. It is a volcanic island with a 47.8 square kilometer surface area and a diameter of about 20 kilometers (12 miles) (18.5 square miles). The island is known for its clean beaches, undulating hills, and lush tropical woods, making it a popular vacation spot for those who enjoy the outdoors and the great outdoors.

A beautiful coral reef system that encircles the island is home to a wide variety of marine life, including colorful fish, dolphins, and whales. Tubuai’s surrounding seas are turquoise and crystal clear, making them ideal for swimming, diving, and snorkeling.

Rolling hills and verdant forests, which are home to numerous rare and endangered species, dominate Tubuai’s interior. In addition, the island is home to a number of rivers and streams that empty into the sea as they descend from the highlands. The island’s residents depend on the rivers and streams as a key source of freshwater, and they are also well-liked locations for fishing and swimming.

The geography of the island has been crucial to its history and development. For thousands of years, the hills and forests of Tubuai have served as a source of food and materials for the island’s residents. Throughout history, the island’s rich natural resources have also made it a significant hub of trade and business.


Beginning with the Polynesian immigrants who came to the island more than 1,000 years ago, Tubuai has a long and fascinating history. The Polynesian Mangarevans, who were renowned for their nautical prowess and seafaring customs, were the island’s first inhabitants. On the island, the Mangarevans built a sophisticated society and the Marae, a stone edifice used for ceremonial celebrations of both religion and culture.

The island was declared a French protectorate by French sailor Louis Antoine de Bou Gainville in the late 1700s. As people from other regions of Polynesia were brought in to work on the plantations, Tubuai increased in population and became a significant hub for the French copra trade in the late 19th century.

The island’s culture and beliefs were significantly impacted by the entrance of Christian missionaries in the late 19th century. Many of the island’s residents were converted to Christianity by the missionaries, who also contributed to the preservation of many of the island’s ancient practices and traditions.

Tubuai was utilized as a staging area for military operations in the Pacific during World War II and developed into a vital military facility for the US forces. The infrastructure and economy of the island were significantly impacted by the US military’s presence, and the military’s investments in public institutions including hospitals, schools, and other public buildings helped the island’s population.

Following the war, Tubuai was once again under French rule and incorporated into French Polynesia. Today, the island is managed as a component of the French overseas collectivity as a French overseas territory. Despite being a French colony, the island of Tubuai has managed to retain a strong sense of Polynesian identity and culture, and it is proud of its extensive past.

Tourist taking a photo of TikisCulture

The South Pacific island of Tubuai has a distinct and dynamic culture that has been influenced by its long history. The island is noted for its elaborate wooden sculptures, known as “tikis,” which are carved by local craftsmen and are utilized in religious and cultural celebrations. The island’s Polynesian ancestry is visible in its traditional dances, music, and crafts.

Additionally well-known on the island are its extensive musical traditions, which have been handed down through the generations. Drums, ukuleles, and other traditional instruments are frequently used in Tubuai traditional music, which is a significant aspect of the island’s cultural identity. At regional festivals and cultural events, visitors to Tubuai can get a firsthand taste of the island’s music and dance customs.

The cuisine of Tubuai, which combines Polynesian, French, and other influences to create a distinctive and delectable fusion of flavors, is another significant facet of its culture. The inhabitants of the island pride themselves on preparing traditional delicacies like poisson cru (raw fish in coconut milk) and taro cakes using only the freshest ingredients, including seafood, fruits, and vegetables.

Along with its extensive cultural heritage, Tubuai is renowned for its hospitable locals who are proud of their island and its culture. Visitors to Tubuai are frequently encouraged to take part in community festivals and celebrations, and they are likely to leave the island with a profound respect for its distinct and lively culture.

Activities and Attractions

Visitors to Tubuai may enjoy a variety of attractions and activities, from unwinding on the island’s gorgeous beaches to exploring its lush tropical forests. The island’s snorkeling and diving options, which provide tourists the ability to explore the island’s abounding coral reefs and aquatic life, are among its most well-liked attractions.

Hiking is another well-liked pastime on the island, with Mount Rotui’s peak being a must-see location for outdoor aficionados. A wonderful way to appreciate Mount Rotui’s distinctive natural beauty is to trek to the top for breathtaking panoramic views of the neighboring islands and the ocean.

A trip to the Marae is essential for everyone interested in the history and culture of the island. The Marae, a stone building used for religious and cultural activities by the island’s original Polynesian immigrants, is a significant component of Tubuai’s cultural legacy.

Tubuai also has a variety of other attractions, such as horseback riding, fishing, and kayaking, in addition to these activities. Visitors can also explore the island’s towns and markets, where they can discover the local way of life and buy goods and trinkets made locally.


The South Pacific island of Tubuai is a well-kept secret that offers travelers a rare fusion of unmatched natural beauty, extensive history, and dynamic culture. Tubuai is the ideal location for those wanting an authentic and remarkable experience in the heart of the South Pacific, whether you’re looking for a restful beach getaway or an adventure-filled escape. Tubuai is the perfect vacation spot for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts because of its lush tropical woods, undulating hills, and immaculate beaches. Its rich cultural legacy and welcoming locals also make it a great choice for anyone looking for a cultural and historical experience. Pack your luggage and visit Tubuai to see for yourself this hidden gem!

Our Top FAQ's

The traditional musical instruments used in Tubuai include drums and ukuleles.

The Marae is a stone structure in Tubuai that was used for religious and cultural ceremonies by the Polynesian settlers who first inhabited the island. It is an important part of Tubuai’s cultural heritage.

Some popular activities on Tubuai include snorkeling and diving, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, and exploring the island’s villages and markets.

The cuisine of Tubuai is a unique blend of Polynesian, French, and other influences, and it is known for its use of fresh ingredients, such as seafood, fruits, and vegetables. Some popular traditional dishes include poisson cru (raw fish in coconut milk) and taro cakes.

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