Polynesian Welcome - Tahiti Tourisme © Hélène HavardPolynesian Welcome - Tahiti Tourisme
©Polynesian Welcome - Tahiti Tourisme|Hélène Havard



  • Overwater bungalows originated in The Islands of Tahiti and have become a symbol of this island paradise. For visitors wishing to experience the magic of the South Pacific, staying in an overwater bungalow is part of that dream. Reached by a private wooden walkway and sitting above some of the world’s most beautiful lagoons, for which The Islands of Tahiti are famous, there is no more luxurious setting than the shaded terrace of an overwater bungalow. Getting away from it all in five star elegance. The first such bungalow was built by the owners of the Bali Hai hotel in Raiatea in 1967. They took a traditional local fare (house) and placed it on concrete pillars in the shallow water. Soon afterwards, the Bora Bora Hotel became the first luxury hotel to build overwater bungalows. Today, luxury hotels in most of the more popular tourist destinations in The Islands of Tahiti have overwater bungalows perched on the calm, crystal clear waters of the lagoon.


  • Canoe breakfast. Have your breakfast delivered directly to your overwater bungalow by outrigger canoe! Enjoy the unforgettable pleasure of a delicious breakfast served to you in the intimacy of your private terrace,  while you look out over the shimmering turquoise lagoon.


  • The black pearls of The Islands of Tahiti are the territory’s principal export. It is possible to visit the black pearl farms on the atolls of Manihi and Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Islands, or in Raiatea, Taha’a and Huahine in the Society Islands. Visitors are shown the technique of grafting the black-lipped oysters to produce the exotic and much-prized black pearls. Before making your purchase, visit the Museum of the Pearl in Papeete, where you’ll be shown how to judge the quality of a pearl based on its size, shape, color and luster..


  • Swimming with sharks and rays is an unforgettable experience. All you need is a mask and tuba, then you just follow your guide, who will lead you to a magical encounter with the docile sharks and rays of the coral reef.


  • The cuisine of The Islands of Tahiti is traditional Tahitian cooking with an added French touch. Delicious dishes of freshly caught fish and exotic tropical fruits and vegetables, include the obligatory poisson cru au lait de coco, served with thinly sliced raw vegetables. The poisson cru can also be marinated in lemon juice. There is also a choice of grilled fish dishes, including parrot fish, mahi mahi and fish from the lagoon, served in a light coconut and vanilla sauce.


  • Dining at one of the roulottes, or «food-trucks», which open each evening on the quayside in Papeete town center. Visitors can choose among the dozens of food trucks which serve typical local dishes, or rather, dishes that the locals typically like to eat: chow mein, curry, roast pork, pizzas, flambéed pancakes… The atmosphere is friendly and animated, and the prices are very reasonable.


  • The Hawaiki Nui Va’a is the Tahitian equivalent of the Super Bowl. A traditional outrigger canoe race which is a truly thrilling international event. Almost unbelievably exhausting, the race is a test of the endurance and strength of the men and women who come to challenge the ocean. Teams of six paddlers row the 124,5 km which separate Huahine and Bora Bora, stopping at Raiatea and Taha’a. A huge army of floating supporters follow the canoes, creating a marvelous, festive, carnival atmosphere which lasts for a whole week in November each year.


  • The Islands of Tahiti is reputed the world over to be the most romantic and idyllic destination for a wedding ceremony. The gentle rhythm of the islands and the beauty of the surroundings are the perfect setting for newlyweds and couples of all ages to share a moment of pure romance. Each year, more and more couples come here to marry or to renew their wedding vows in a traditional, profoundly symbolic, Tahitian wedding ceremony. The couples are dressed in pareos decorated with flowers, seashells and feathers. The groom arrives in a traditional outrigger canoe, as his bride waits on the white sandy beach, seated on a rattan throne. The spectacular setting sun merges with the softening colors of the lagoon to add to the romantic atmosphere, as traditional musicians and dancers perform for the couple. A Tahitian Priest  symbolically conducts the wedding ceremony, attributing a Tahitian name to the married couple and giving them a Tahitian name to call their first child.


  • Stone fishing competitions are a spectacle that is unique to the island of Taha’a. This ancestral practice begins with men in outrigger canoes beating the water out in the lagoon with stones tied on the end of ropes. The frenzy that this creates frightens and disorients the fish and the canoes herd them into the shallow water, where the villagers wait to encircle them. The end result is a sumptuous feast for the whole village.


  • Navigating by the stars is a pure Polynesian tradition and symbolic of the early navigators of the South Pacific. The first inhabitants of The Islands of Tahiti were experts at reading the paths of the stars, currents, waves, sun and wind, as well as the directions of migrating birds. A visit to the Musée des îles (Museum of the islands) will help you appreciate the knowledge and skill of these sailors from a distant sacred past.


  • Rangiroa, also known as the «endless lagoon», is a sanctuary for one of the largest gatherings of sharks in the world. In Tiputa Pass, hundreds of them come together to create a calm and majestic «wall of sharks». Divers who have had the privilege of approaching the wall are surprised by the complete lack of aggression of these magnificent creatures.


  • Tattoo is one of the rare Polynesian words that is known worldwide, along with «mana», «pareo» and «taboo». This ancient Polynesian custom dates from the times of wars between neighboring tribes. The symbols were signs of identification, inked into the skin using traditional sharktooth needles or combs. Tattooing plays a central role in Polynesian culture.


  • The tiare Apetahi is an extremely rare flower which grows at the top of Mount Temehani, the sacred mountain in Raiatea. Despite the best efforts of botanists the world over, the tiare Apetahi refuses to grow anywhere other than on this mountain. According to legend, a beautiful young lady once fell in love with the son of a Tahitian king, but they were not granted permission to marry and she died of a broken heart. The five delicate petals of the flower represent the fingers of her hand, and the pop that you can hear if you’re close by at dawn when the tiare Apetahi comes into bloom, is the sound of her heart breaking.


  • Tuaro Maohi, are the traditional Tahitian summer games, consisting of ancestral sports such as stone lifting, fruit-carrying races, outrigger canoe races between islands and spear throwing, where competitors have to stick the spear in a coconut at the top of an 18 meter pole! The tuaro maohi sports competitions are part of the traditional Heiva i Tahiti festival which is held each year in June and July.


  • The marae are religious temples and can be found on many islands. The most famous is the Marae Taputapuatea on the island of Raiatea. These sacred sites played an important political and social role in ancient Polynesian society. Many sites are still in the process of being restored after centuries of neglect and are continually revealing different aspects of the rituals and customs that were associated with them.


  • « Tamure » signifie « danse » en tahitien et dégage une énergie et une passion inégalables. Alternant des mouvements gracieux et lents avec des accélérations étourdissantes, ces démonstrations de danses hypnotisent les spectateurs. Même après plusieurs années, les visiteurs qui écoutent les musiques tahitiennes, sont toujours émus et captivés par la puissance du tamure.


  • You can find the traditional pareo everywhere in The Islands of Tahiti. These simple, but colorful wraps are worn in place of skirts, dresses, shorts and shawls. They are also used as picnic tablecloths or instead of towels for lying on the sand. Usually decorated with traditional designs and flamboyant colors, they are an inexpensive means of dressing both casually and elegantly and are the perfect souvenir to take home. The biggest selection of pareos can be found in Papeete market, including some that have been hand painted by local artists. They are the usual attire of Tahitian ladies who live in the islands..


  • How is Tahitian culture passed down through the generations? Although 75% of the inhabitants of The Islands of Tahiti have Polynesian origins, French culture has an important influence on society. During recent years, Tahiti has been trying to revive its culture, notably by teaching the language at school. Young Polynesians are also encouraged to practice traditional sports and learn traditional arts, crafts, music and dance.


  • Hospitality is part of the Tahitian way of life. Proud of their islands, Tahitians take great pleasure in welcoming visitors. Tipping is not customary and not really appreciated, being contrary to Tahitian values and beliefs. On the other hand, Tahitians do appreciate meeting and conversing with visitors and sharing their knowledge of the local culture and customs. The smiling faces of the islanders is just one of the many reasons why you will fall in love with The Islands of Tahiti.