Think of French Polynesia and lush mountains, hibiscus flowers and swaying palms probably come to mind. This natural treasure trove of more than 100 islands – including Bora Bora and Tahiti – is the epitome of a tropical paradise. Here’s a handful of reasons why you should book a sailing vacation to see these South Pacific islands in all their natural glory.
Discover French Polynesia from the water by booking an eight-day sailing adventure with Culture Trip, where you’ll get to snorkel with dazzling tropical fish and visit centuries-old temples on Huahine.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
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Bask in the year-round warm climate
Tropical temperatures, sunshine and cooling trade winds make for glorious weather for both sailing and exploring on a French Polynesia tour. At this latitude, it’s summer year-round, though it is important to note that there is both a wet season and dry season. From May to October, temperatures average out around 81F (27C), while the period from November to April can see heights of 95F (35C) with a few short-lived tropical showers. The scent of vanilla and tropical flowers are your reward for any downpour.
Spot incredible wildlife
From migrating whales to protected sharks, the French Polynesian waters are known for their exceptional biodiversity. Within the 5m sqkm (2m sqmi) of ocean, there are over 1,000 species of fish, 21 species of shark and 176 species of coral. Nesting turtles make their way to the beaches here to lay their eggs, plus it’s a gathering point for bottlenose, spinner and rough-toothed dolphins. If you’re lucky, you might catch a giant manta ray gliding through a lagoon, ready to be groomed by cleaner fish.
Admire the beautiful beaches and coral atolls
Grab your sunshade and beach towel. The best French Polynesia islands boast a rainbow array of beaches – from pale pink to volcanic black sand – as well as remote coral atolls. You’ll easily find a piece of paradise all to yourself beneath coconut-laden palms. One of our favourites is Motu Iriru, loved by visitors and locals alike, where islanders gather on the weekend to catch fish, cook dinner and while away the afternoon.
Soak up lagoon life
As beautiful as the beaches are, the real draw is the wealth of lagoons. Fringe coral reefs and islets create natural swimming pools of shallow waters, surrounding most of the islands in the region. Imagine looking through a glass window, right down to the sea bed; these calm waters are nature’s aquarium and dazzle with every spectrum shade of blue. Linger by them, swim through them or head beneath the surface to watch tropical fish gather around the reef.
Learn about Polynesian culture
Seafaring Polynesians have an innate, spiritual connection to the islands. Head to Raiatea, considered the spiritual heart of ancient Polynesia. You’ll find centuries-old sites, including Marae Taputapuatea, where ceremonies used to be held. Imagine what it was like to hear the pounding of the drums and Maohi (indigenous Polynesians) communing with the gods at these sacred spots.
Surfing is part of the DNA of these islands. Locals have been charging down waves here for centuries. Nowadays, thousands flock to the legendary Teahupo’o break on Tahiti between May and October to watch pro surfers take on one of the most powerful waves on the planet. Watch in awe from the shoreline – or find a mellower spot to try wave riding for yourself. Papara, Papenoo and Taapuna are ideal for novices.
Take advantage of world-class diving and snorkelling spots
Head down to the deep blue, where the sound of breaking bubbles is the only thing to interrupt the otherworldly communion with flitting fish and looming humpbacks (if you’re lucky). Dolphins, rays, sharks, turtles and more inhabit these warm tropical waters and coral gardens. It’s a haven for scuba diving, as well as snorkelling.
Marvel at the spectacular scenery
Like spiking teeth rising from the ocean, the jagged peaks of the islands jut towards the sky. Paraglide over the moss-green slopes on Tahiti, one of the best French Polynesian islands, or take the slow route by hiking the lush contours around the Papenoo Valley or up Mount Aorai. The views over halo lagoons and across forest canopies are worth it alone.
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meet our Local Insider
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WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.