General Info Tahiti
Tahiti is the largest and most populated island in French Polynesia, home to more than 60% of French Polynesia's population.
Flower greeting at Faa'a Airport in Papeete, Tahiti, received on a 2007 visit. As the location of the islands' largest international airport, Faa'a Airport, and its capital, Papeete, most travelers spend a day on Tahiti.
We recommend at least that amount of time to comfortably visit Le Marché, the central market with the best souvenir and pearl shopping in French Polynesia, and les roulottes - the roadside night dining. There are plenty of outdoor activities to participate in too!
Click here to see Faa'a Airport in Google Earth.
Two volcanoes helped form Tahiti's figure-eight style, resulting in two land masses named Tahiti Nui (Big Tahiti) and Tahiti Iti (Little Tahiti), which are connected by a narrow isthmus.
Today, the landscape is still dominated by mountains, such as the popular climbing destination, Mount Aorai, and deep valleys with cascading waterfalls.
How to travel to the main island of Tahiti
Tahiti is easy to reach via a short, eight hour flight from Los Angeles or Sydney. It also has plentiful connections via ferry or plane from the rest of French Polynesia to the island. Upon arrival, visitors are usually greeted with music and the traditional gift of tiare (gardenia) flowers.
Why visit the main island of Tahiti
Although Tahiti is the largest of the 118 islands, it also possess the best roads, including one that encircles the paradise, stopping at all of its most beautiful locations, including surf, hiking and beaches. In addition, there is access to archaeological petroglyphs and other sites of importance on Tahiti Iti.
Click here to view Teahupoo, Tahiti's famous barrel roll surf spot, in Google Earth.
The best food and souvenir shopping is found in Papeete at its popular daily market, Le Marché. Upscale fashions are available along the bustling waterfront and at the mall.
Click here to view Le Marché in Google Earth.
An international city, Papeete is home to the biggest nightlife in the islands and widest array of dining and activity options, including the Paul Gauguin Museum, Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands and other activities.
Not surprisingly, all of the banks, large hospitals, businesses, embassies and government offices are headquartered here as well.
Why not visit the main island of Tahiti
Tahiti has its share of resorts, however the striking sandy beaches and crystal clear lagoons that made French Polynesia famous are more easily found elsewhere in the islands.
Additionally, the island is home to French Polynesia's only major city, with surrounding suburbs. There is a fair bit of traffic and definitely a rush hour - so your trip might take longer than it looks on a map!
Due to the large population in Tahiti, remote, traditional villages are better off explored on less populated locales.