Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia and gateway to the rest of the region, greets visitors with majestic volcanic peaks rising from the ocean. Arriving in the bustling capital city of Papeete, travelers indulge in shopping, restaurants, museums and nightlife.
But everywhere on the Islands of Tahiti, the beach is the thing. On the south shore of Tahiti’s main peninsula is La Plage de Maui (plage is beach in French), a white-sand beach with a sparkling lagoon perfect for swimming. (Many Tahitian beaches feature volcanic black sand.)
Moorea, 12 miles from the island of Tahiti, is often called the “The Magical Island” for the way it emerges from the ocean in a burst of green with a broad lagoon surrounding the mountains. Its best-known beaches are Temae Beach, a nearly unbroken stretch of white-sand beach with a memorable view of Tahiti, and Mareto Beach, located between Cook’s and Opunohu bays among the coconut trees.
Bora Bora, described by late author James Michener as “the most beautiful island in the world” and often cited on lists of the world’s top honeymoon destinations, is a volcano sitting in a stunning blue and green lagoon. Its famed Matira Beach stretches all the way around slender Matira Point, which forms the island’s southernmost boundary.