Miles of shoreline, dozens of resorts, French cuisine to die for – Tahiti has all the makings of a honeymoon destination. But beach bums often pass over Tahiti’s sands in favor of Bora Bora’s ivory shores. Despite its idyllic reputation and accessibility, Tahiti is more of an off-the-beaten-path stop than a romantic getaway. However, that doesn’t mean Tahiti deserves to be ignored.
Leafy forests sit beside sandy shores, French crêpes are served alongside Tahitian poisson cru (raw fish). If there ever was a place that embodies the beautiful duality of the French Polynesian archipelago, it’s Tahiti. Here, the quirky, often chaotic atmosphere of the island’s capital, Papeete, rubs elbows with uncorrupted natural beauty. In fact, Tahiti – the largest of French Polynesia’s 118 islands – is often referred to as two separate islands despite them being joined by a tiny land bridge. Tahiti Nui is the larger, northern section where Papeete can be found. Tahiti Iti (the smaller half) is less accessible, although many visitors make the trek here for a taste of seclusion. Just note that spending a week on either part of Tahiti will cost you quite a chunk of change. But travelers agree that the warm waters, the lush jungles and the luxurious resorts are worth the splurge.
What to Eat
Surrounded by the South Pacific Ocean and blessed with ample sunshine and rain, Tahiti is an ideal spot to harvest seafood and grow fresh produce. Fish reigns supreme on menus in the restaurants in this French Polynesian island, with mahi mahi, grouper and tuna undoubtedly the most popular. You’ll be remiss if you don’t sample Tahiti’s national dish, poisson cru, which is raw tuna marinated in coconut milk and lime juice, similar to a ceviche. When it comes to fruit, the island grows some of the tastiest pineapples, coconuts and bananas. Roulottes (food trucks) are also a staple in Tahiti, dishing out a variety of quick (and cheap) eats like pizza, crepes and burgers all packed with flavor.
Many of the island’s top resorts house some of the best restaurants in Tahiti – they’re also some of the most expensive. However, experts, visitors and locals suggest at least one meal at one of the upscale eateries; favorites include the overwater Le Lotus at InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa and French and Polynesian fusion restaurant Le Carré at the Le Méridien Tahiti. Downtown Papeete is home to some standout restaurants as well, according to recent travelers. They say those looking for a decadent French meal should look no further than Le Grillardin or Restaurant Le Sully.
Getting Around Tahiti
The best way to get around Tahiti is by the affordable Le Truck bus. If you’re planning on doing a lot of traveling throughout the island, a rental car is another good option. A bike can be a transportation option, too. For journeys to other French Polynesian islands, you’ll have to book passage on a boat or airplane. Most travelers arrive into Faa’a International Airport (PPT), which is a 3-mile jaunt from the capital city of Pape’ete. If a representative from your hotel isn’t picking you up at PPT, you can hop into a Le Truck public bus or take a taxi to your destination.