Beat of Hawaii loves Hawaii and exploring the islands of the Pacific. One of our favorite places, outside of Hawaii, is the islands of French Polynesia (FP). Located just five hours south of Hawaii, and in the same time zone, it is easy to get to, beautiful, fascinating, and exotic.
French speaking, but English understanding, the islands feature idyllic lagoons replete with abundant sea life. Whereas Hawaii’s coasts are almost all exposed to the open ocean, French Polynesia’s are predominantly reef protected. As a result, FP features world class snorkeling and scuba diving, beyond anything available in Hawaii.
Hawaiian Airlines flies weekly between Honolulu and Papeete. It is likely that the flights will increase to twice weekly.
Tahiti – Islands to consider
Papeete, on the island of Tahiti, is the center of all business activity and international flights. Much like with Honolulu, Tahiti island is all about Papeete. In addition to business, Papeete has resorts, great shopping and dining. The atmosphere to us is somewhat more reminiscent of a Mexican city, rather than a Hawaiian one. There is a similarity with Tijuana, which we mean in the most complementary way to both cities.
If you choose to stay on Tahiti (which we typically do not do for very long), there is much to explore. A top favorite of our is “Le Marche,” Papeete’s large and vibrant traditional daily market pictured above. By far the best day to go is Sunday. It is a feast of food and other Tahitian products, flowers, bright colors and sounds. Le Marche opens at 5am and we suggest getting there very early for every reason. For the quieter side of the island choose Tahiti Iti. And to watch or participate in epic surfing, check our Teahupo’o among other spots.
Moorea, Tahiti’s bedroom neighbor, is only 30 minutes away by Catamaran or 10 minutes by plane. With far fewer cars, it is a better vacation choice for Tahiti travelers with limited time or budget to explore further afield. It features a gorgeous wide, shallow lagoon surrounding the island’s verdant tall mountains. Due to its proximity to Papeete, Moorea has a distinct bedroom community feel, unlike the other more remote islands of French Polynesia.
Bora Bora. An idyllic island, which in the past quarter century has been largely overrun by tourism and massive development. Nonetheless, it has Mount Otemanu at the island’s center, tropical slopes and valleys, gorgeous white sand beaches and an exquisite emerald-colored lagoon teaming with fish and rays. We’re glad to have gotten there in the early 1980’s, before the explosion of today’s resorts.
Huahine is far and away our favorite island in French Polynesia.
Still less than an hour away from Papeete by air, Huahine remains to this day one of the best kept secret hideaways in the South Pacific. It is smaller and more friendly than either Bora Bora or Moorea, and is far less developed. Huahine features unequaled beauty in its lagoons, beaches, bays, and a half dozen charming and quaint small villages. It is heavily agricultural in nature, and is somewhat reminiscent of Kauai, as it was 50 years ago.
More islands to explore
These include the Marquesas, Astrals and Gambier groups as well as Raitea, Taha’a, Rangiroa, Manihi, Tikehau, Tetiaroa and Fakarava.
We look forward to hearing from those of you who have been to French Polynesia or who plan to visit.