Are you ready to lay your eyes on the bluest waters you’ve ever seen? Are you ready to wake up in an overwater bungalow where you can go from bed to ocean in 5 seconds flat? Are you ready to live the island life of your dreams? That is literally what you’re signing up for when you visit the best islands in French Polynesia.

These islands scattered my Pinterest boards for years with the hope that one day I’d rack up enough cash to stay in Four Seasons Bora Bora. Have you seen that place? Holy shit, it’ll blow your mind.

If you’re anything like me, I thought all of French Polyenesia was for 5-star guests with fat bank accounts. But, I’m here to tell you French Polyenesia doesn’t have to be left off your travel list because of money.

In this guide, I’ve got exactly what you need to spend as little or as much on French Polynesia while getting the best of what each island has to offer… Not just the ones flooding your favorite influencers page.

Whether you’re a honeymooner, a family of five, or an adventure seeker, I’ve got all the deets on all the best French Polynesian islands to fit your travel style and budget. Lets jump into this.

Huahine, French Polynesia
Welcome to French Polynesia!

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Best Islands in French Polynesia

I’m serious when I say if you’re traveling French Polynesia, any island is more than you could dream of. There are no bad options, just different tastes. And for the most part—because they’re literally in the middle of the Pacific and a pain in the ass to get to, you’ll likely plan to visit more than one!

So, without further ado, here are the best islands in French Polynesia…

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    1. Moorea

    If you’re looking for adventure, then Moorea is the perfect French Polynesian island. It’s just a short ferry ride away from Tahiti, and it’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen. As soon as you arrive, you will see the luscious mountains that create a drastic contrast against the bright blue waters. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be making a beeline to the shores!

    • Why visit: Some of the best snorkeling, and it’s great for all my budget travelers.
    • When to visit: June-November is the dry season, and if you’re looking for whales, head to Moorea in October or November
    • How to get there: Take the ferry from Tahiti

    The island is famous for its coral gardens and is one of the most beautiful diving spots in the world (and snorkeling). The coral is thriving and brings in a ton of colorful fishies for you to swim with.

    But if you want to step up your diving game a notch, you have to come during whale season. And I’m not talking whale watching from a boat: I’m talking up close and personal, swimming with these majestic creatures. You can’t even imagine how big these gentle giants are.

    But I get it… if water activities aren’t your thing, all good. Staying in Moorea is still incredibly cool, offering heaps of thrilling land adventures to indulge in. With big mountainous terrain, there are plenty of hikes and viewpoints to explore.

    I highly recommend visiting one of the pineapple farms. After trying one of these babies, well, let’s just say I’m constantly disappointed by my local grocery store. Ha.

    2. Bora Bora

    Ah, the dream destination of the French Polynesian Islands. Bora Bora puts the luxe in luxury.

    I know we’ve all seen the iconic over-the-water bungalows, which I assure you are just as spectacular in real life as they are on Instagram. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to wake up for a sunrise.

    Bora Bora
    I can’t believe this place is real…
    • Why visit: One of the most luxurious islands in the world, perfect for honeymooners and couples looking for a romantic getaway.
    • When to visit: May-October is high season, but if you want to save some money, go from Dec-Feb. You might catch some rain and mozzie bites, but hey, you’re in Bora Bora.
    • How to get there: Take a 50-minute flight from Tahiti

    Everywhere you look in Bora Bora will leave your jaw on the floor. The sheer natural beauty of the volcanic island consistently draws people in, to live their dreams of staying in French Polynesia. My favorite place in the whole world could be Four Seasons Bora Bora – so if you can afford it… go!

    The gorgeous lagoon invites lots of sea life for you to explore. And, when you aren’t hanging out in your bungalow, ride your bike to the island and go for a walk on the powder-white sand.

    One thing I really love about Bora Bora, is how private it always feels. It can be the height of the busy season, and every bungalow can be booked out, but you will still feel like you are on your own private island.

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    3. Maupiti

    If you want a low-key vacation, then Maupiti will deliver. This is one of the most beautiful islands in French Polynesia beaucse it’s one of the only few without any major hotels or overwater bungalows. You’ll find Polynesian guesthouses scattered across the small island to stay at, which gives you an authentic look into life on the island.

    No words needed mate…
    • Why visit: Untouched beaches, you can swim with wild sting rays and live like a local.
    • When to visit: May-October
    • How to get there: Take a 50 minute flight from Tahiti

    Maupiti is where a lot of French tourists spend their vacations. So, if you want to avoid crowds of Americans going on honeymoon and instead chill with the French, this is your spot. (It really might come down to the lesser of two evils… haha, just joking.)

    You can spend your days eating fresh fish caught by the locals, swimming with rays in the shallow waters, and even go on a few hikes if you’re getting a little stir-crazy. This island is for those who want the most authentic Polynesian experience.

    4. Tahiti

    Your first look at French Polynesia always comes from Tahiti, it’s the largest island, and it’s where the International airport is. I’ve met a few people who have only used Tahiti as their jumping-off point to the other islands, and to be honest, they are wrong! I mean, I get if you don’t have a lot of time, but come on, the island is stunning and has so much to offer.

    Tahiti > anywhere else in the world?
    • Why visit: Loads going on—incredible nightlife, monster surf breaks, the capital, Papeete has cool markets to get lost in, and the Polynesian culture is everywhere.
    • When to visit: May- September. If you don’t like crowds, I suggest avoiding August
    • How to get there: You will have to fly in from an International airport.

    If you are big into surfing, and I don’t mean you like to catch some whitewash, but actually are a surfer, then Tahiti should be on your radar. The waves here are huge, and the breaks are fierce—it’s a surfers’ paradise.

    Since I’m a whitewash gal, staying in Tahiti living the island life is bliss. Sunrise swims in the warm waters, afternoons strolling the markets, and honestly, just chillin’. My favorite hotel on the island is Te Moana Resort – it’s a stunning resort with an infinity pool overlooking a lagoon!

    The island is full of black sand beaches, and if you head into the jungle, you’ll find heaps of waterfalls. It’s the perfect Polynesian Island to just relax. And out of all the islands, the sunsets in Tahiti are unmatched.

    5. Rangiroa

    Everyone kept telling me I had to go to Rangiroa since it’s one of the biggest atolls in the world, and while that sounds cool, I had no idea what an atoll was. Good news: An atoll is just a big ring of islands, so if you look at it from above, it basically looks like a donut in the middle of the ocean.


    What makes this even cooler is that in the middle of Rangiroa’s ring of islands is the blue lagoon. It’s pretty much a wild aquarium, making this an awesome spot for divers and snorkelers.

    • Why visit: Incredible snorkeling and diving opportunities, pink sand beaches, and a laid-back atmosphere
    • When to visit: April-November
    • How to get there: Take a 1 hour flight from Tahiti

    Because of all the islands that make up Rangirao, there is hella diversity above and under the water. Visit pink sand beaches in one part of the island and then go snorkeling with schools of colorful fish in another.

    If you’re PADI certified, I highly recommend heading out for at least one dive. The Tiputa Pass has been named one of the best diving spots in the world. With black-tip sharks, dolphins, and manta rays all around you, it’ll feel like you’ve just dived into a National Geographic documentary.

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    6. Nuku Hiva

    I usually hate the term “off the beaten path,” but if you’re looking for that, Nuku Hiva is definitely it. This island is the largest in French Polynesia, and it takes another 3 hours to reach after your long-haul flight to Tahiti. But this island is not for relaxing. This is for the few who consider themselves hardcore explorers who center their trips around epic hiking.

    Nuku Hiva
    • Why visit: Incredibly rich with culture and incredible hiking that leads to some freaking huge waterfalls. It seriously looks like Jurassic Park, it’s mega.
    • When to visit: October-April. This is different than most of the other islands, so if you go during shoulder season, it’s easy to add Nuka Hiva to your itinerary.
    • How to get there: Take a 3 hour flight from Tahiti

    Don’t make the long journey to Nuku Hiva if you’re looking for blue beaches. Leave that to the more popular islands. Nuku Hiva’s water is much darker due to volcanic activity, and honestly, there are sand fleas everywhere, so… just stick to hiking.

    The archipelago is so remote that you’ll feel as if you’re the only foreigner there. This makes it perfect for any traveler who is curious and would rather spend time learning from locals and getting to know their customs. You need to book hiking tours, as Nuku Hiva is one of the wildest and most rugged islands in French Polynesia.

    7. Fakarava

    My life has never felt slower and more perfect than when I was on Fakarava. The name means beautiful, and just wow! That’s exactly what she is. Immediately upon arrival, you’ll feel like Moana as the sea calls you to it.

    • Why visit: Dreamy crystal clear waters, great for snorkeling with a diverse array of marine life.
    • When to visit: May-June or September-November for optimal diving conditions.
    • How to get there: Take a 1 hour flight from Tahiti

    Fakarava is the second-largest atoll in French Polynesia and is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The lagoon is swimming with healthy sea life and has some of the most thriving coral in French Polynesia. If sharks are your thing, you’ll fall head over fin for the walls of coral that shelter them, allowing you to swim with lemon, tiger, and blacktip sharks!

    On the land, less than 1,000 locals are living the slow life, and for a couple of days, you can too. Take a bike ride around the island, visit a pearl farm, or just relax on the pink sand beaches and soak up all the magic of Fakarava.

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    Final Thoughts on the Best Islands in French Polynesia

    What more can I say? I’m absolutely in love with the Islands in French Polynesia.

    I didn’t think something so beautiful actually existed in real life. And tbh, regardless of which island you pick, it’s going to be the best fucking island you’ve ever been to – no doubt!

    You can choose the luxe life in Bora Bora, get lost in the wildness of Nuku Hiva, or find your inner peace in Fakarava. And hey, if you’re like me and can’t get enough of French Polynesia, just island hop! You flew all that way, it would be a shame to only see one island.

    But I can’t let you leave without making sure you put Moorea as the highlight of your French Polynesia itinerary. While all the islands are amazing and offer incredible experiences, there’s just something special about Moorea that can’t be put into words.

    The bright green mountains behind the strikingly blue lagoon are so unique. They’ll give you that warm feeling we all get when we arrive somewhere truly special.

    surfing in south america
    Surfin til’ sunset 🙂
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