Top 10 Things to Do in Tahiti

Polynesian house on stilts
Vincent Jary / Getty Images

Tahiti is the ultimate "Fantasy Island" destination for many couples, one they often opt to splurge on for a romantic occasion such as a honeymoon or anniversary. The azure-hued realm of French Polynesia is indeed a tropical Eden ideally suited for two, and its sights and activities appeal to hedonists and adventure-seekers alike.

You could simply choose to relax all day on a gorgeous beach, but here are some 10 must-try things to really enjoy these islands' bounty.

01 of 10

Sleep in an Overwater Bungalow

Overwater Bungalows in Tahiti

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto

Sleeping in an overwater bungalow is a must-do on any trip to Tahiti, and luckily, every island is dotted with these thatch-roofed huts poised on stilts.

Check-in, change into your swimsuit, and savor your own private frangipani-scented paradise. You can wake up and fall asleep to the soothing lullaby of softly lapping water, enjoy a refreshing dip or invigorating snorkel right from your private sun deck, and even ogle colorful reef fish through strategic glass panels in the bungalow’s floor.

02 of 10

Take Photos and Feed Sharks and Stingrays

A man feeding a stingray in the lagoon

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto

Man isn't the only creature that enjoys Tahiti's crystalline lagoons. Stealth black-tipped reef sharks and prehistoric-looking southern stingrays like to splash about, too.

You can interact with both during a shark and stingray feeding tour, available on most islands. But you won’t just watch the food toss from a boat.

Following your guide's lead, you'll actually get in the water as three-foot sharks circle while waiting for handouts (don't worry—they have no interest in snacking on you) and curious rays scamper about, even rubbing their velvety bellies up against your legs like playful puppies.

03 of 10

Swim and Snorkel in a Blue Lagoon

A woman snorkeling in Tahiti

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto

There's water, water everywhere in Tahiti and some of the islands' best scenery lies beneath its glassy surface.

Slip on snorkel masks and fins (after applying liberal sunscreen to each other's backs) and float above wavering gardens of pastel-hued coral as silver-striped and neon-spotted fish dart amid the salty flora.

Also keep an eye out for starfish, sea turtles, and even the occasional eel.

04 of 10

Enjoy a Monoi-Oil Massage

Woman getting a massage
ImagesBazaar / Getty Images

There's nothing better than a soothing Tahitian massage, which combines long, smooth strokes and fragrant monoi oil scented with vanilla, coconut, or tiare blossoms.

Whether on the beach at sunset or in a five-star spa’s couple’s suite, such as this one at the Mane Spa at the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa, an hour of pampering is the perfect way to transition from active day to romantic night.

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05 of 10

Take a 4x4 Tour of Moorea

Tropical island moorea scenic, Tahiti
M Swiet Productions / Getty Images

Emerald-peaked, heart-shaped Moorea is the ideal isle to explore via land, and the best way to see its many nooks and crannies is to bounce around in an open-air 4x4 truck.

From atop Magic Mountain, where the lagoon spreads out before you in a mosaic of every possible shade of blue, to Belvedere Overlook, where twin Cooks and Opunohu bays jut out below like almost perfectly symmetrical fingers, you’ll be awed by the spectacle the South Pacific's forces of nature created.

06 of 10

Try Poisson Cru

Poisson Cru

Sarah Bossert / Getty Images

Of all the traditional local dishes to sample—among them, breadfruit, taro, fish, and pork cooked in a himaa, or underground oven—none is as addictively delicious as poisson cru: raw tuna marinated in lime juice and coconut milk. It's a healthy and refreshing lunch or light appetizer. You can enjoy it during a casual beachside luncheon or a romantic dinner for two, such as one at the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort.

07 of 10

Visit a Pearl Farm

A hand holding tiny black pearls

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto

Aside from the freshest fish imaginable, Tahiti's most abundant salt-water bounty is its cache of precious black pearls.

Not all are black, but instead come in a range of bright shades of gray, blue, bronze, green and aubergine, and are farmed in waters off of several islands—namely Taha'a, Huahine, and the Tuomotus.

Price depends upon size, symmetry, and luster and ranges from a few dollars for a souvenir-stand bauble to several thousand for a perfectly uniform strand.

08 of 10

Get a Traditional Tattoo

Tahitian man with body tattoo and fern crown on his head

Jason Dewey / Getty Images

Tahitian tattoos are legendary (the word "tattoo" is even a derivation of the Polynesian word "tatau"), and it's not unusual to see Tahitian men, especially those from the Marquesas, with elaborate designs covering their limbs and torsos.

Tourists in the market for the real deal can be safely adorned by native tattoo artists working at specific resorts, while wannabes can try out the look with a temporary version that will wash off in a few days.

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09 of 10

Circle Bora Bora by Boat

Catamaran on the water

Colin Anderson / Getty Images

Bora Bora is a chameleon among islands, and the best way to appreciate its myriad profiles is to circle it by boat.

During a sail on a catamaran, you'll marvel as the rocky, green summit of Mt. Otemanu shifts from wide and fat to square and nubby to slender and needlelike as you view it from different spots on the lagoon. The 40-foot Vitamin Sea catamaran takes visitors on full or half-day sails around the island. 

10 of 10

Watch a Polynesian Dance Show

A traditional Polynesian dance show

TripSavvy / Jamie Ditaranto

This may be the most touristy thing you’ll do in Tahiti, but it will also be the most fun. Polynesian dance is an incredible, energetic artform set to a thunderous drum beat and punctuated by chants.

And it's not just for the locals as visitors are encouraged to join in the action—and many end up on YouTube shaking what their mama gave 'em.

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