The Islands of Tahiti: Culture & Cuisine

Overwater bungalows, candy-blue seascapes, and otherworldly ocean adventure? Check!

The Islands of Tahiti entice the most discerning travelers. Island hop among Bora Bora, Moorea, and Tahiti, and an exotic world of local tradition awaits.



1. Lagoonarium
Snorkeling in French Polynesia is a must. And the Lagoonarium, a short water taxi ride off the coast of Moorea, is the perfect spot to take in the tropical underwater world. The protected wildlife area hosts two feeding times a day (morning and afternoon) that draw sharks, stingrays, and fish. Visitors can spend all day swimming, snorkeling, learning about the local marine life, and even nursing baby sharks.

2. Tiki Village
A few miles south of Hauru Point is a replica of a traditional Polynesian village. There, guests enjoy grass skirts and fire dances as well as artisans at work weaving, carving stones, and tattooing. During the day, visitors can attend fishing and pearl-collecting demonstrations.

3. The Pass of the Three Coconuts
Those who opt to explore Moorea’s natural beauty will be rewarded. A good way to explore the local flora and fauna is by hiking Three Coconuts Pass. The hike begins along the edge of a volcanic funnel, and from there the trail begins to climb. Along the route, there are fantastic panoramic views of Opunohu Valley, Cook’s Bay, Mt. Tohivea, Mt. Rotui, as well as unique flora, like the Tahitian chestnut tree, towering bamboo, African tulip trees, and overgrown jungle vines.

1. Le Mayflower
Locals say Le Mayflower is the best gourmet French restaurant on the island. It’s most famous for its house special, lobster ravioli, and other seafood dishes, like raw tuna sashimi with ginger and garlic sauce. The restaurant also serves traditional French cuisine, including beef fillet with foie gras. Don’t miss out on the local’s dessert—a half-frozen coconut with vodka!

2. Snack Coco D’isle
Don’t be discouraged by its modest exterior, as this quaint roadside restaurant is casual dining as its best. Enjoy a relaxing evening with your feet in the sand and a menu that features a range of local specialties. It’s said that Snack Coco D’isle serves a great poisson cru, a Tahitian twist on ceviche and the national dish of Tahiti.

3. Te Honu Iti
Te Honu Iti or The Little Turtle in Tahitian serves classic French cuisine and is located on the waterfront of Cook’s Bay with an outdoor deck and lights that illuminate the lagoon at night. Frog’s legs and beef tenderloin are staples, as well as Polynesian-inspired dishes.

Bora Bora


1. Coral Gardens
On a small island just east of the main island (across from the Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort) lies a beautiful coral reef with an abundance of underwater life to discover. The clear water gives snorkelers a great view of the wildlife, like stingrays, moray eels, and blacktip reef sharks.

2. Vaitape
Head to Bora Bora’s main town of Vaitape and take in the local culture. The markets are full of beautiful, locally crafted items. Shop the famous black pearls, souvenirs, vanilla, and other Monoi products. Also take time to visit the Paroisse Saint Pierre-Celestin Church—the only Catholic Church in Bora Bora. The architectural style blends well with the local design.

3. Mount Otemanu
Mount Otemanu, a now extinct ancient volcano, can be seen from any spot on Bora Bora, and its black rocky slopes are a stark contrast to the lush jungle and bright blue lagoon surrounding it. Hike to the base of the mountain to experience beautiful views and a picturesque landscape. Keep an eye out for old American World War II cannons scattered throughout the jungle as well as a few ancient local altars.

1. La Villa Mahana
As Bora Bora’s most exclusive and romantic restaurant, La Villa Mahana only seats six couples a night, so book in advance. The beautiful setting in a Mediterranean-style house with candles, classical music, and Polynesian artwork all contribute to the restaurant’s intimate dinner experience.

2. Fare Manuia
This roadside thatched-roof café is the perfect place to stop for lunch. The cuisine is French Polynesian with its unique island flare. With lots of options, you’ll definitely find something delicious.

3. Bloody Mary’s
One of the most iconic restaurants in Bora Bora, Bloody Mary’s exudes a retro French Polynesian vibe and rounds out the atmosphere with a sand floor, thatched roof, and local squat stools. The dining area is right on the water and diners can enjoy rock lobster, mahi mahi, and shark.



1. Fautaua Waterfall
Located in Fautaua Valley, this natural waterfall cascades into a large pool. To see the waterfall, visitors must take on the somewhat rigorous hike. However, many agree the scenic hike is just as much of an adventure and enjoyable as the waterfall destination.

2. Arohoho Blowhole

This must-see spot exhibits the power of water and coast erosion. The Arohoho Blowhole was created through years of constant big ocean swells slamming into the coastline. Each time a large wave comes in, water sprays through a hole in the rocks into the air.

3. Robert Wan Pearl Museum

Tahiti is known for its unique Tahitian Cultured Pearls, which carry mythology and meaning to the Tahitian people. Head to the Robert Wan Pearl Museum to learn about the cultural significance of these pearls as well as take in the largest collection of them in the world.

1. Harbor / Les Routottes Food Trucks at Vaiete Square
Tahiti is the birthplace of food trucks, and there’s no better place to taste some of the best island fare than at Vaiete Square in Papeete.

2. Plage de Maui
Head to Plage de Maui for fresh seafood and local produce, like taro and breadfruit. The restaurant is right on the beach with great views and the sand, literally, under your feet. The Polynesian dishes on the menu are some of the best on the island.

3. Chez Loula et Remy

On the southern side of the island in Taravao is the fantastic French restaurant Chez Loula et Remy. Known for its French-style grilled meats and fish, many locals will make the trip just to taste its duck breast in pineapple or honey sauce. Don’t leave without dessert – rather than made with apple, the restaurant’s tarte tatin is made with local papaya.

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