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Moorea, Tahiti | © Daniel Chodusov / Flickr
Moorea, Tahiti | © Daniel Chodusov / Flickr
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14 Things to do in Tahiti That Don't Involve Lying on a Beach

Picture of Juliette Sivertsen
Updated: 13 March 2017
Romance, island vibes and the incredible French Polynesian culture; Tahiti and her islands offer visitors a fascinating blend of culture, incredible nature and a beautiful ambience. If you can tear yourself away from blissfully staring out into the ever-changing colours of the ocean, Tahiti has an exciting assortment of activities both on land and in the ocean to keep even the fussiest traveller busy, and content. Here is our pick of the best activities that go beyond lying on a beach.

Tahitian Dance Lessons

Get your hips swirling and swaying in a hypnotic beat with Tahitian dance lessons. Watch the Tahitian women demonstrate this famous dancing style, then try it yourself. We may not all have been blessed with with flexible and ridiculously bouncy hips like many women in the Pacific Islands, but we can at least attempt to get our hips swinging to the beat a little more rhythmically.

Tahitian dancers | © LuxTonnerre / Flickr
Tahitian dancers | © LuxTonnerre / Flickr

Visit the Huahine Natural Aquarium

Located on the island of Huahine, this natural lagoon aquarium is a chance for travellers to learn about and observe some of Tahiti’s marine life in a safe and fun environment. You can observe from an observation platform, but the best way to truly see what the underwater world is like is to descend underwater to see who’s living in the lagoon. The lagoon waters are shallow and a guide will remain with you at all times.

Go surfing

Tahiti’s reef breaks are really for the experienced players, but there are plenty of calmer areas around the islands which are perfect for learning to surf. Teahupoo has the famous tube breaks, right over the razor sharp coral reef, and is where the world’s best surfers come to compete on these heavy waves. Tahiti’s best waves are typically from May to August, but they are pretty good all year round.

Discover Bora Bora

Bora Bora is the island of overwater bungalows and blue lagoons. It’s the most famous island in Tahiti and a popular destination, especially for honeymooners. There’s really little reason to venture out of your bungalow, but there are activities such as snorkelling, diving, fishing, kitesurfing and jet skiing for those who want a little more adventure in their romantic getaway.

Sunrise at the Intercontinental in Bora Bora | © SF Brit
Sunrise at the Intercontinental in Bora Bora | © SF Brit

Hike Aorai mountain

Aorai is the second highest peak in Tahiti and typically takes around two days to climb. As you ascend, the weather cools, and it’s one area in Tahiti where it can get cold. From the top, you’ll get incredible views out to the island of Moorea. It’s a hike for experienced and advanced trampers.

Go snorkelling and diving

The warm, clear waters of Tahiti and her islands are the perfect home for a variety of tropical marine life, and an ideal setting for a snorkel or dive trip. There’s plenty of snorkelling over coral reefs or in lagoons, while divers delight in the drop-offs, different coral and fish species and wrecks.

Diving with blacktip reef sharks in Tahiti | © Manoel Lemos / Flickr
Diving with blacktip reef sharks in Tahiti | © Manoel Lemos / Flickr

Visit the pearl farm

Tahiti’s pearls are world famous and pearl cultivation is now a major industry for the islands. The Tahitian pearls are often thought to be black pearls, but the colours are unique and vary from light grey to dark green. Visit the pearl farms to learn about the history of these beautiful gems, how they are cultivated and how they get their colours. You can also visit the The Robert Wan Pearl Museum, the world’s only museum dedicated to the black pearl.

Learn to sail

The Tahiti islands offer a picturesque and stunning place to sail, with their idyllic lagoons and dramatic mountains. There are passages between islands which are ideal for sailing and learning to sail, with protected lagoons offering plenty of places to anchor up, although some of the reef passes can be challenging.

A sailboat in Bora Bora, Tahiti | © Craig Hatfield / Flickr
A sailboat in Bora Bora, Tahiti | © Craig Hatfield / Flickr

Go on a mountain safari

Jump on a 4 x 4 to tour the islands and travel through lush rainforest and mountainous peaks for the ultimate adventure in Tahiti. View waterfalls and rivers while learning about the local flora and fauna.

Walk on Fire

Walking on fire, or on hot rocks, is a traditional Polynesian ceremony which takes place in several Pacific Islands, including Fiji. The ‘walkers’ call on a divine spirit and will chant, which allows them to walk on the fire. Some spectators can dare to try cross the hot coals themselves.

Kayak in a lagoon

The protected lagoons around Tahiti are perfect for a relaxing paddle in a kayak. Look over the edge into the clear waters and observe the fish and marine life below.

Visit the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands

Brush up on your history and learn about Tahiti’s past at the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands. The museum, located just out of Papeete, offers a range of exhibitions and collections, including ethnographic collections, fine art and ornithological collections.

Discover the Blowhole

The Arahoho Blowhole is a spectacular natural phenomenon in Tahiti, created through years of coastal erosion. This erosion has created caves into the rocks, and a small hole at the top which sprays out water in a dramatic scene. Expect to get wet, even if you stick to the wooden viewing platform. Wear sturdy shoes and don’t explore off the path as the rocks can be slippery and dangerous.

Go stargazing

Tahiti’s night sky is protected from a lot of the light pollution common in big international cities. The Polynesian Islands are a popular spot for astronomers and stargazers, with a vast and uninterrupted view to the sky above.

A full moon in Tahiti | © Aaron Hawkins / Flickr
A full moon in Tahiti | © Aaron Hawkins / Flickr