5 Essential Islands to See in French Polynesia (with Map & Photos)

French Polynesia is undoubtedly one of the most incredible places in the world, islands full of coral reefs and animals living around them.

French Polynesia Islands
French Polynesia Islands

If you like nature in its purest form, and especially marine life, you have to consider traveling to Polynesia because it is much more impressive than you could ever dream of.

There are very few corners of the planet that can live up to French Polynesia and you constantly have the feeling of seeing yourself surrounded by landscapes from movies like Jurassic Park.

As these islands are located in the middle of the South Pacific, many hours away from the continents, many people prefer to take shorter trips and are not aware of what they are missing.

French Polynesia Islands
French Polynesia Islands

What to see and do in French Polynesia


You can dive or snorkel among sharks or fish of all the colors you can imagine, feed manta rays, or do calmer activities such as boogie boarding or driving a quad through palm tree forests.

And also for those who are afraid of spiders, snakes and this type of animal, do not worry because there are hardly any, and much less dangerous.

The most dangerous thing there were were the geckos, a kind of salamander that eats mosquitoes, which in addition to avoiding being bitten, flee when you get close.

French Polynesia Islands
French Polynesia Islands

Which islands to visit in French Polynesia


French Polynesia is made up of 118 islands and atolls spread over 5 archipelagos, so there are many options when choosing what to visit.

That's why we're going to show you our selection of the ones you can't miss.

When it comes to choosing, there is an island that is always visited, Tahiti, since it is home to the only international airport in French Polynesia, where all flights arrive.

Here you have a video and we leave you the link to an article with the best tips to visit French Polynesia, which will be useful if you consider planning a trip to this paradise.

Tahiti


French Polynesia Islands
French Polynesia Islands

Tahiti is one of the most famous islands, and it could be said that it is a must-see.

In fact, Tahiti is two islands embracing each other that together become the largest island in French Polynesia, and it is the only one with an urban character, since, as a curiosity, it is only on it that you can drive on a three-lane road.

It is an island very similar to Hawaii since its volcanic origin is very marked, and since the original volcano that formed the island is not so sunken, there is not as much coral as in other atolls.

Island life revolves around the coast, but much of its charm lies inland.

The interior of Tahiti is a wonder of nature, with tropical forests and huge waterfalls that do not stop releasing water throughout the year.

If you have time, I recommend you sign up for the excursion through the interior of Tahiti that we were able to take on our trip, in which an authentic Polynesian will discover the island for you while telling you about a multitude of traditions of the Polynesian culture.

Of course, if you travel to Tahiti, you can't miss the Papeete market, a must-see on the island.

A good contact with the culture of a country is to visit its markets because through them you can learn about the customs and habits of a population.

In the Papeete market you will find everything, from different types of food and crafts, to products made from coconuts and flowers, which are one of the star items on the island as they are loaded with symbology.

That is why when you arrive at any hotel you are greeted with an offering in the form of a necklace of fresh flowers.

Moorea


French Polynesia Islands
French Polynesia Islands

Moorea is an island that is only 17 kilometers from Tahiti, less than half an hour by ferry.

A beautiful island where many Tahitians reside and to which they return every afternoon after their work day.

It is the island where many of the fruits that are later consumed in Tahiti are produced, such as pineapples, bananas or mangoes.

Moorea also has an incredible barrier reef, especially in the north of the island.

In this area of ​​the island there are two large bays with a lot of history, as Captain James Cook arrived at them on the trips he made throughout this region of the Pacific.

Here we leave you this video where we show you this incredible island, an essential visit if you travel to Polynesia.

Moorea basically only has one road that runs the length of the island by the sea, which is where most of the towns are located.

Although in reality there are other roads that go inland, in practice they are used by farmers to go to the growing areas.

In fact, there are several quad or boogie tours that you can sign up for to get to know the interior of the island, which are well worth it.

They are half-day excursions during which you go through the plantations until you reach viewpoints from where you can enjoy incredible landscapes.

Specifically, there are two viewpoints that are very special, which we were able to visit when we toured the island on a quad.

One from which you can see the two bays, and the other is known as Magic Mountain for its amazing 360-degree views that allow you to see from the mountain to the coral reefs in the north of the island.

Bora Bora


French Polynesia Islands
French Polynesia Islands

Bora Bora is, along with Tahiti, the most famous of the 118 islands of French Polynesia, and the incredible photos of its floating bungalows on turquoise blue waters are not an easy image to forget.

And there are so many bungalows of this style because the shape of the atoll makes it much easier than building them in other places.

An outer ring that surrounds the central island makes Bora Bora a very peculiar island in which one could almost say that roads are meaningless, everything is easier by sea.

That is why it is a very good place to snorkel from the same hotel, since the entire interior of the atoll has very shallow and calm waters full of coral.

It is one of the most touristic and most expensive islands, since there are few accommodations and they are absolutely luxurious.

Here are all the big hotel chains and it is a highly demanded area for honeymoons.

Rangiroa


French Polynesia Islands
French Polynesia Islands

Being full of coral reefs, French Polynesia is home to some of the best areas in the world for diving, and the jewel in the crown, when it comes to diving into the sea to see fish, is Rangiroa Atoll, just a hour by plane north of Tahiti.

Do not miss the video that we insert in this article in which you can see in images the experience of visiting Rangiroa.

This large atoll, in which Tahiti would fit inside, only has a ring of coral beaches out of the water surrounding the caldera of the ancient volcano.

This island became famous because in the Tiputa pass, one of its two entrances from the sea to the interior of the atoll, there is a family of dolphins that live all year round and play in the currents that form.

In fact, there is a hotel, the Relais des Josephine, from whose terrace you can see the dolphins jumping and surfing the waves that the current forms as it leaves the interior of the atoll towards the open sea every afternoon.

All lovers of diving have to visit this island, even those who have never submerged with a tank, as it happened to us; this is certainly a very good place to start.

In a first dive of the initiation dive it is already possible to see hundreds of fish since at the entrance of Tiputa there are marine reserves teeming with life.

And for the most experienced divers you can do absolutely unique dives.

You can see hammerhead sharks or blacktip sharks, you can touch the dolphins that live there, for which they themselves will come closer, or dive among all kinds of colorful fish.

The best thing to imagine how amazing it is is to know that Rangiroa is the favorite island of most Polynesians.

Tikehau


French Polynesia Islands
French Polynesia Islands

And our last recommendation is Tikehau Island, another one of those impressive atolls where diving is one of the main attractions.

It is one of the oldest islands in the area that keeps a secret that is not easy to see in such remote areas of the world.

Tikehau is known as the bird island in French Polynesia.

When we talk about islands so far from continents, normally we must understand that it is difficult for many birds to arrive, but this time Tikehau is an exception.

One of its islands is absolutely full of different species.

And as if that were not enough, there is a peculiarity and that is that the birds lay their eggs directly on the branches of the trees.

This is not due to the presence of predators that prevent them from living in a very calm way, since they could also put them on the ground, but since it is of volcanic origin, the eggs would get too hot.

For this reason, the option chosen by most species is not to waste time building nests, but to deposit them directly on the branches of the trees.

French Polynesia Islands Map