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The 20 Best Things to do in Tahiti for First Timers

Go sailing in a catamaran

Anyone who takes a trip to Tahiti will marvel at the beauty of their surroundings. There are so many things to see and do when you're there. If this is your first time visiting, you might not know where to begin. To help you get the most out of your time in this tropical paradise, we've prepared a guide for first-timers so you'll know about a few of the lesser-known pleasures and points of interest that Tahiti has to offer. There are some attractions and simple pleasures that you won't want to miss out on. Here are the 20 best things to do in Tahiti for first-timers.

Visit La Plage de Maui

20. Visit La Plage de Maui

Spend half a day at La Plage de Maui and enjoy the lovely dazzling white beaches. This popular beach area is found on the southern shore of Tahiti. Swim in the clear warm waters at the lagoon where the water is clear and the lagoon is calm and shallow. While you're there, enjoy a refreshing beverage and snack from one of the local snack bars, or enjoy the tempting and delicious fresh seafood. This is a rare white beach as most of Tahiti's beaches feature black volcanic sand.

Fautaua Waterfall

19. Fautaua Waterfall

The Fautaua Waterfall is one of Tahiti's many natural wonders. Plan on spending a half-day at least at this popular attraction. The sparkling water from the tall waterfall is even more intense in volume during the rainy season. The waterfall is located in a setting with breathtaking landscapes. It's a decent hike to the waterfall, but you can do so in a tour group or hire a local guide to take you to the spectacular site. It's best to go with a guide because it can be difficult to find if you're a first-timer in the area.

Visit the Papenoo village

18. Visit the Papenoo village

Everyone who visits Tahiti needs to visit the ancient ruins of the small Papenoo village. It's about 5 miles from Papeete on the eastbound road. There are remnants of the volcanic history of the island. The beach is accessible by taxi and there is no charge to enjoy the volcanic ebony sands and the warm and clear blue waters for a day at the beach. This is one of the less populated beaches if you want to get away from the crowds. If you're into surfing it's one of the better places to go, but you'll encounter a lot of locals vying to catch the waves. There aren't many amenities on this beach, but it's not far into town where you can find plenty of places to grab a quick snack or enjoy a full meal. The best way to access the beach is to arrange for a taxi to drop you off and pick you up at a set time. It offers a good way for you to escape the big tourist crowds and mingle with the locals.

Shop at the Papeete Market

17. Shop at the Papeete Market

The Papeete Market is a must-see for all visitors to Tahiti. It's located in the capital city and makes up several blocks with great souvenir items, fresh foods, handcrafted art and local crafts, and more. It's one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

Visit the Moorea Dolphin Center

16. Visit the Moorea Dolphin Center

The Moorea Dolphin Center is another popular tourist attraction that is a must-see when you're in Tahiti. See the beautiful dolphins in their natural habitat. They're magnificent creatures and you can swim among them in select areas. This will be an unforgettable experience.

Tour the James Norman Hall Home

15. Tour the James Norman Hall Home

The James Norman Hall Home is a historic mansion that has become a popular tourist attraction for anyone who enjoys history or reading books. The gardens surrounding the some are beautiful and so is the mansion. It's one of the best possible attractions for fans of James Norman Hall's writing. He was a former World War I army pilot who became friends with fellow author Charles Nordhoff. The two were prolific writers during the 1920s era. An example of their writing collaborations is "Mutiny on the Bounty." The mansion serves as a museum that features many of Hall's belongings and written works. Tours are available.

Go Surfing in Taapuna

14. Go Surfing in Taapuna

Tapuuna is one of the best places for beginning through intermediate surfers. It's one of the most popular beaches for surfers who are just learning or gaining experience. It's an ocean venue that offers a variety of different types of swells. This is one of the best places to be if you want to get in on a variety of good swells whether you're a beginner or more advanced. If you're brand new to surfing and you want to take a few lessons you can contact the Ecole de Tura'i Mataare or Tama He'e surf schools to sign up for lessons.

island cruise to Tahiti

13. Take an island cruise to Tahiti

Santana Adventures offers one of the most exhilarating tours of 7 Tahitian islands. It's one of the best ways to see more of the Polynesian wonders. You'll sail aboard the Wind Spirit for a week-long cruise that that takes you to a different island every day. While at each destination, you have the option of participating in different adventures to explore each island for an unforgettable experience.

Visit Plage du Taharuu

12. Visit Plage du Taharuu

Plage du Taharuu is one of the most widely visited beaches on the southern coast in Papara. It has the most beautiful black sands and palm trees for shade. It's a large beach that extends into deep blue waters with ideal swimming and a few swells further out for intermediate surfers. There is also a snack bar on the beach for grabbing a tempting cool beverage or a bit to eat. This is a free beach that doesn't require a fee for entry.

Take a Jet Ski Tour of Moorea

11. Take a Jet Ski Tour of Moorea

Schedule a jet ski tour of Moorea and get a bird's eye view of the area while avoiding the crowds. This is a cool and refreshing way to see more of the area while enjoying the exhilarating freedom of riding the waves. You can arrange for hotel pickup and dropoff and enjoy a 3 hour guided tour. If you prefer, you can explore Moorea solo.

Museum of Tahiti and The Islands

10. Visit the Museum of Tahiti and The Islands

While you're in Tahiti, the Museum of Tahiti and the Islands only takes a few hours but it is well worth the time to get an education about the lovely archipelago. Four parts of the museum educate visitors about the geography, the natural history, the colonization and pre-European culture, and the natural wonders of the Tahitian Islands. There are plenty of exhibits to see at the museum. Displays are offered in both English and French languages.

Faarumai Waterfalls

9. Visit the Faarumai Waterfalls

In the village of Tiarei, you'll find the Faarumai Waterfalls. You will need to plan on taking a brief hike through the forest to arrive at the falls. The first waterfall is Vaimahutu. The next is a 20-minute hike, and the third is not far. These are the Haamarere Iti and Maamararere Rahi waterfalls. To get to the falls, you drive 30 minutes from Papeete on the main road on the north coast of Tahiti.

Vaipahi Gardens

8. Walk through the Vaipahi Gardens

The Vaipahi Gardens is a must-see for every first-timer who visits Tahiti. It's free to visit the gardens that are situated in Mataiea, along the southern coast of Tahiti. The garden is like walking through paradise with information and signs written in both French and English. The winding paths take you through 75 different varieties of plant species from around the world. There is a stream, a lily pond, and some of the most beautiful exotic flowers on the planet. You'll enjoy the warm and luxurious feelings the lovely surroundings evoke as you wander through the various trails.

Maraa Grotto

7. Swim in the pools of Maraa Grotto

Maraa Grotto is another tourist attraction in Tahiti that you won't want to miss. Bring your hiking shoes to explore the caves and make sure you have your bathing suit on underneath. There are some of the most exciting pools to swim in this area. You can also book a tour of the area and learn more about the caves and pools from experts in the area.

Moorea Lagoons

6. Ride a Glass Kayak through the Moorea Lagoons

If you're into kayaking you're going to love taking a guided tour with transparent kayaks. You'll be thrilled to see the aquatic life through the bottom of the craft as you paddle through the lagoons. The glass bottoms in the kayaks combine with crystal clear waters to let you see the smallest detail of the aquatic environment beneath. You might even see an occasional turtle or stingray. You can also ditch the kayak and spend some time swimming with the stingrays and sharks. If this is an excursion that you plan to make it's a good idea to plan. Make sure that you bring your camera to catch the colorful and vibrant aquatic life as snapshots in time to mark your trip to Tahiti.

snorkeling in a coral garden

5. Go snorkeling in a coral garden

Moorea is situated in the shadow of Bora Bora, but it offers multiple benefits for visitors. One of them is beautiful coral formations the size of small cars under the water. It's the perfect place for a snorkeling excursion. You'll also see stingrays and other underwater life. You'll see coral and exotic fish in colors that you never imagined possible.

Hiking in Moorea

4. Go Hiking in Moorea

After you've finished snorkeling, put on your walking shoes and enjoy a brisk hike in the mountainous landscape of Moorea. You will find eight peaks that will be worth your time. There are many good trails and beautiful vistas to behold. Make sure you bring comfortable hiking shoes and a camera.

Take a sunset cruise

3. Take a sunset cruise

There is nothing like a romantic sunset cruise in Tahiti. You can book an inexpensive sunset cruise for two that provides you with pickup from your hotel and drop off after the cruise, and one cocktail free, and additional cocktails available for purchase.

overwater Bungalow

2. Book an overwater Bungalow

One of the most exceptional experiences you can have in Tahiti is to stay in an overwater bungalow. The ocean surrounds your living quarters. You will enjoy the cool breeze that blows off the water in the evenings and mornings.

Go sailing in a catamaran

1. Go sailing in a catamaran

You will have your choice of outfits that provide inexpensive offers for professionally guided sailing tours You can book excursions that range from a few hours to all day for select lagoons and islands in Tahiti. Learn about the history of the Tahitian islands through the experienced guides who know all about the islands, their most outstanding attractions, and the hidden little facts about the most popular parts of the tours. Some sailing tours even incorporate snorkeling and diving experiences as side excursions. You don't have to get in the water if you prefer to just enjoy the cool breeze against your skin while you get to see the Tahitian Islands from the water. Go sailing once twice, or every day of your trip.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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