Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia; an overseas collectivity of the French Republic, sometimes referred to as an overseas country, The island is located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the central Southern Pacific Ocean, and is divided into two parts: The bigger, northwestern part Tahiti Nui and the smaller, southeastern part Tahiti Iti. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous with surrounding coral reefs. The population is 183,645 inhabitants (2012 census), making it the most populous island of French Polynesia and accounting for 68.5% of its total population. Tahiti was formerly known as Otaheite.
November to April is the wet season, the wettest month of which is January with 13.2 in (340 mm) of rain in Papeetē. August is the driest with 1.9 in (48 mm).The average temperature ranges between 21 and 31 °C (70 and 88 °F) with little seasonal variation. The lowest and highest temperatures recorded in Bibys are 16 and 34 °C (61 and 93 °F), respectively.
Tahitian (Reo Mā'ohi or Reo Tahiti in Tahitian) is an indigenous language spoken mainly in the Society Islands in French Polynesia. It is an Eastern Polynesian language closely related to the other indigenous languages spoken in French Polynesia: Marquesan, Tuamotuan, Mangarevan, and Austral Islands languages.
The indigenous Tahitians are of Polynesian ancestry comprising 70% of the population alongside Europeans, East Asians (mostly Chinese) and people of mixed heritage sometimes referred to as Demis. They make up the largest population in French Polynesia. Most people from metropolitan France live in Papeete and its suburbs, notably Punaauia Where they make up almost 20% of the Population.
Tahiti Guide: Religion. In Polynesia, the great majority of the population is extremely religious. As early as 1797, the first Protestant missionaries arrive in Tahiti to evangelism the people of Oceania. In less than 30 years, all five archipelagos convert to Christianity.
Because of its larger size and population, the island of Tahiti has many transportation options. Upon arrival, transport from Faa'a International Airport to your hotel or cruise ship is quick and should be arranged by your preferred travel professional or by your hotel or cruise ship. Connecting flights to other islands on Air Tahiti and Air Moorea leave from Faa'a Airport. Passenger ferries to Moorea depart from the waterfront in downtown Papeete. To get around Papeete and the surrounding towns, the public transit system offers two bus services: the Le Truck allows frequent stops and a unique way of meeting the locals while the large white RTC motor coaches offer more conventional seating. Taxi service is also available from your hotel and is best arranged by your hotel's concierge. Once in downtown Papeete, the waterfront, restaurants, and shopping are within walking distance.
Tahiti is famous for its food, and throughout the islands there are excellent restaurants offering French, Italian, Polynesian, American, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. There is plenty of delicious seafood, including clams, crayfish, shrimps and local ocean fish. Tropical fruits include pineapple, coconuts, mangoes, limes, papaya, oranges and grapefruit. Traditional Tahitian fare includes the national dish of poisson cru (raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk), and the local pork is featured in many Tahitian dishes. Meat and chicken is good, mostly imported from New Zealand. Moreover, sea-product-lovers will enjoy the great diversity of fish -from lagoon or deep-sea fishing- prepared in dozen different ways. People who don't care for fish or are vegetarian will also be pleasantly surprised by the dishes available to them. The restaurants on Bora Bora and Moorea are as legendary as the islands themselves. The hotels have restaurants that offer gourmet dinning and service, with a magical view of the lagoon. Traditional Polynesian evenings are often organized after dinner, when visitors are entertained by the most talented musicians and dancers on the island. For specifics about restaurants in each island please consult each island page in the section "Best of..." The cost of a meals in the good restaurants is comparable to what you'd pay in a big city, about $80 per person, plus wine.
1. Overwater Bungalows
Unlike any other hotel room you've stayed in before, these traditional thatched-roof bungalows are perched above the turquoise lagoon waters. In many of the overwater bungalows, tropical fish swim below as you look through the glass floor or coffee table. With all the amenities of a first-class hotel room, here on your private balcony surrounded only by water and sky, you can enjoy both breakfast, often delivered by canoe, and the sunset, seemingly delivered by the heavens.
2. Island Tours
There is no better way to gain a sense of everyday Tahitian life and experience the culture of French Polynesia, than passing through the small villages on a circle-island tour. As nearly every island has a coastal road following the lagoon shores, you can either drive around the island by rental car or take a guided bus tour. Explore the island interiors on a 4x4 safari, guided nature hike, or horseback ride. Skim across the lagoons on a motorized canoe, sailboat, or powerboat. For dramatic views above the islands, take a helicopter tour.
3. Snorkeling & Diving
World-class snorkeling and diving in Tahiti is one of the South Pacific's best-kept secrets. Both experienced and beginner divers and snorkelers are amazed by how clear the waters are and how close they can swim to the marine life, such as the gigantic manta rays. With hundreds of dive sites throughout the islands, divers can choose from the amazing drift dives, oceanic drop-offs, sunken ships, and lagoon dives with infinite marine life.
4. Shark Feeding
This excursion is one of the most thrilling and popular and can be enjoyed on most of the main islands. After a short trip into the lagoon by powered outrigger canoe or powerboat, you'll float or stand in four to seven feet of clear water behind a secure rope as the docile sharks are hand-fed by an experienced guide. Even non-swimmers can enjoy this exciting scene from the boat.
5. Tahitian Cultured Pearls
The world-renowned iridescent luster of Mother Nature's most perfect gem can only be created in Tahiti warm lagoon waters. Commonly known around the world as Black Pearls, each Tahitian Cultured Pearl ranges in size and shape and the colors range from the darkest black to shimmering shades of green, blue, bronze, aubergine, or even pink. Tour a pearl farm on Manihi, Rangiroa, Raiatea, Huahine, Taha'a, Tikehau, and Fakarava or visit one of the many pearl shops.
6. Polynesian Spas
Tahiti is a world-class spa destination with many of the resorts offering new luxurious spas. Surrounded by a backdrop of natural beauty and floral fragrances, there is no better setting for relaxation. Enjoy fresh-flower baths, herbal rain showers, or even a body wrap in banana tree leaves. You can also rejuvenate your romance at the spas aboard the cruise ships including the Parisian-influenced private Spa Villa for two on the m/s Paul Gauguin.
7. Unique Cruise Ships
A wide variety of cruise products set sail in these romantic isles. Each week, luxurious cruise ships offer first-class meals and balcony cabins, Tahitian-owned "super yachts" sail deep within the smooth-water lagoons, a passenger freighter voyages between 17 ports, sailing catamarans offer small groups or families a vacation at sea, and barefoot cruising creates an environment for the independent and adventurous. Something for everyone on cruises found nowhere else on earth.
8. Tahitian Wedding Ceremony
An authentic Tahitian Wedding is a meaningful and traditional ceremony for couples wishing to wed in the islands. Couples are bedecked in bright pareu, flowers, and shells. The groom is brought to the beach side location in a canoe while the bride is carried on a rattan throne. Music and dancers enhance the ceremony while a Tahitian priest performs the rites and gives the couple their Tahitian name. This ceremony is held for couples who are being wed for the first time, or for those who wish to renew their vows.
Beginning 2010 weddings are also now legally binding for U.S. and Canadian citizens! Visit our wedding section of the website for more information.
10. Motu Picnic
Enjoy a private or group picnic on your own motu (tiny islets in the lagoon). Your resort or cruise ship can provide an unforgettable experience where gourmet meals are prepared and enjoyed on a table set either under a coconut tree or in the warm, shallow waters along the beach or at sunset.
The hotel offers a snack bar/deli. A bar/lounge is on site where guests can unwind with a drink. Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast. An Internet point is located on site and high-speed wireless Internet access is complimentary.