With 118 islands scattered around its region of South Pacific, French Polynesia has, as you probably suspect, some pretty awesome beaches. The sand there is plentiful and comes in many shades - from pure white to pale pink to dramatic black. Here's a look at the best beaches in Tahiti.
Once you get outside of the capital, Papeete, the western and eastern coasts of Tahiti, French Polynesia's largest island are lined with fabulous strands - many of them covered with black sand. Several of the loveliest are now home to the island's leading resorts - including slender, black-sand Lafayette Beach, part of which fronts the Radisson Plaza Tahiti Resort.
A few, however, are less developed. These include half-mile-long Plage de Toaroto, where the snorkeling is excellent; and black-sand Venus Point Beach, which also has a lighthouse and a park. Surfers generally favor spots such as Papanoo Beach on the rugged north coast and the wilder six-to-eight-foot tubes (suitable only for experts) common at Teahupoo Beach on the less-visited Tahiti-Iti section of the island.
Although lush Moorea is famous for its jagged, emerald-green peaks, its beaches are none too shabby. Again, Moorea's resorts have claimed some stellar white- and black-sand strands.
Yet public beaches are widely accessible and one of the most popular is half-mile-long Opunohu, which attracts picnicking local families on weekends. Also worth a visit are Teavora and Temae beaches, which blend into one another along the east coast., and Hauru Point, a winding, three-mile beach on the west coast.
It's not so much the beaches on Bora Bora, the most famous of Tahitian islands, that are so amazing, but rather the sandy motus (tiny islets) that surround its legendary lagoon.
Many motus are now home to Bora Bora's top resorts, with overwater bungalows branching out from white-sand beaches over the lagoon. There's no need to leave your resort to enjoy some pretty incredible beach time, with bar and food service available and easy-access snorkeling right from shore.
Other motus, such as Motu Tapu, are far too tiny to accommodate resorts but are ideal for resort-arranged Robinson Crusoe-esque day trips via boat, complete with gourmet picnics, snorkeling, and even shark and stingray feeding.
The one accessible beach on Bora Bora proper is Matira Beach, a one-mile long strand straddling the island's southern tip at Matira Point.
Like nearby Bora Bora, this lush, flower-shaped island known for its vanilla farms does not have impressive strands on its own shores but rather is ringed by tiny motus, each fringed with unspoiled white-sand beaches. Just inquire at your resort and you'll be transferred via boat to a picture-perfect "deserted isle" for snorkeling and a picnic. Such excursions are often paired with shark and ray feeding.
These small coral-and-sand atolls, the most visited of which are Rangiroa, Tikehau, Fakarava and Manihi, are practically all beach. This makes them ideal for visitors whose idea of bliss is a chaise, some sunscreen, and a good book.
In fact, Rangiroa is a necklace of 240 tiny sand motus encircling a lagoon world-renowned for diving, with miles of exceptional sand to explore. Picturesque Tikehau, home to just 400 people, is famous for its serene pink-sand beaches and excellent snorkeling with abundant reef fish just offshore.