Sunny Tahiti is called the Queen of the Pacific because it's the main island of French Polynesia and the largest of its 118 archipelagos in the South Pacific. Its main city, Papeete, is the beating heart of the island and also the capital of French Polynesia, which is an overseas territory of France.
Tahiti Nui is the populated northwestern region of the island. Many visitors get around this region by taking a ride from a friendly local, but it’s also easy to rent a car and travel the coastal freeway. The southeastern section of the island is called Tahiti Iti and is only accessible by boat or on foot.
Learn about the history of the famous South Pacific black pearls at the Pearl Museum in Papeete, or go jewelry shopping at Quartier du Commerce. Find tropical fruits and handicrafts at Marché Municipal.
Tahitian cuisine mixes flavors from France and the South Pacific. Nothing comes cheap on the island, but downtown you’ll find some of the best local dishes at roulottes, the food trucks, for a few francs. Try the poisson cru, fish cured in lime juice and coconut milk, and then visit waterfront bars or attend the Les Ateliers “Te Oro” dance workshops.
See more of Tahiti’s natural charm with a hike through tropical forests to Mont Aorai, or join a jeep safari to Mont Marau. Watch waterfalls in the Faarumai Valley. Go to Paea to visit Marae Arahurahu, an ancient Polynesian temple, which hosts the Heiva I Tahiti festival in July.
In Punaauia, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Papeete, visit the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands to learn about the local history and see views of Moorea Island. Mataiea, 32 miles (51 kilometers) west of Papeete, is home to the Botanical Gardens with tropical plants from all over the world.
Go scuba diving or snorkeling in the clear waters around Punaauia and Papeete. If you want to stay dry while seeing the local marine life, visit the Lagoonarium. Surf is up at Teahupo’o, home to a world-famous reef break and whales from July to October.
Visitors can arrive in Tahiti via Papeete's International Airport, 4.5 miles (7 kilometers) to the southwest of the city. Flying to Tahiti requires you to first fly to Los Angeles, Honolulu or a major hub in Europe, New Zealand, South America or Northern Asia.