There’s lots to do in French Polynesia

Hello everyone, it’s Shannon here. Many times we have clients who want to enjoy the beauty and overwater bungalows in French Polynesia, but they are concerned that they might get bored with all of that “relaxation”. Great news, both the islands of Moorea and Bora Bora (which are the most popular) have many fun activities that can counter balance your beach and relaxation time.

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Moorea.  Moorea is known as the more active island of the two. Here are some of the more popular things can do.

Snorkeling Heaven
Because of the lack of strong currents, and the abundant marine life, the shallow waters around Moorea are ideal for year-round snorkeling. All ages can enjoy dozens of perfect snorkeling spots close to the resorts and around the island. Local guides will take you to snorkel among schools of gentle rays.

Plantations
The fertile valleys are home to plantations of cotton, coffee, sugarcane, and pineapple. Considered by many to be the sweetest tasting pineapple on earth, Moorea’s harvest can be enjoyed at village stores, road-side stands, or the tasting counter of the delightful fruit-juice factory.

Mountain Exploration
The majestic mountains are fully accessible to everyone. By air, helicopter tours fly into canyons and along ridge tops. By road, a 4×4 ventures past plantations, across streams, into deep valleys, and up to waterfalls. By foot, guided hikes of all levels follow winding rainforest trails and up to high mountain overlooks.

Belvedere Overlook
Moorea’s most spectacular sites are seen from this easily reached overlook. Located in the center of the island, visitors marvel at the panoramic views of the twin bays and the plantations of Opunohu Valley. The overlook is a popular stop on circle-island or 4×4 tours.

Swimming with the Dolphins
Encounters with the ocean’s friendliest residents are waiting at Moorea Dolphin Center at the InterContinental Resort Moorea. Here, adults swim side by side with dolphins, while children wade in the waters with them. For an educational excursion, expert guides lead dolphin-watching boat tours into the ocean to observe them in their native habitat as well.

Diving
Some of the finest diving in the world can be found at Moorea-year round. The drama of Moorea’s landscape continues below the sea with an infinite range of canyons, chasms, and promontories. Fish feeding is common here so divers are often surrounded by schools of small and large marine life.

Papetoai Village
History buffs will want to make a stop at the historic octagonal church located in the northern coastal village of Papetoai. Established by the London Missionary Society in 1822, the church is the oldest European building in use in the South Pacific.

Other activities and sites on Moorea include:

  • Shark and Ray Feeding.
  • Tiki Theatre Village.
  • Open-ocean dolphin and whale watching.
  • Semi-sub underwater tours.
  • Lagoon explorations by boat, jetski, pedal boat, kayak, or parasail.
  • Deep sea fishing.
  • Guided hiking trips to mountain overlooks and waterfalls.

Angela-Bora-Bora

Bora Bora.  This island is known for it’s relaxation and beautiful views, but there are still many activities.  Here is a short list:

Lagoon Exploration
There are so many activities in the world’s most famous lagoon that some visitors never leave the water! The shallow and clear waters allow for snorkeling from you bungalow or off the beaches anywhere around the island. Another way to see the vivid coral and schools of tropical fish is a glass bottom boat. For a faster pace, explore the entire lagoon by rented motorboat or jetski where you and a guide can skim around the island, hopping off at beaches or a tiny motu along the way for a picnic.

Breakfast by Canoe
Start each day with an unforgettable breakfast brought to the private balcony of your overwater bungalow or villa by outrigger canoe. Often bedecked in flowers, the canoe carries Polynesian staff serving fresh fruits, pastries, and juices while the surrounding waters begin welcoming the rising South Pacific sun. Canoe breakfasts are also available at many of the resorts throughout all the islands and can be reserved before you travel by your travel arranger or scheduled with the concierge on your arrival.

4×4 Excursions
Even though Bora Bora is small, the adventures along the interior roads are huge. These overgrown forest roads wind high above the lagoon to panoramic stops that can only be described as breathtaking. The island’s role during World War II is expertly told as you visit large U.S. Naval guns left behind in 1945.

Shark and Ray Feeding
Although the idea of feeding sharks may sound somewhat ominous, it is now one of the most popular excursions in the South Pacific. Originated on Bora Bora, your close encounter begins after you don a snorkeling mask and float in the shallow lagoon waters behind a secure rope. Docile sharks arrive in schools and are hand-fed by your guide just a few feet away. Later in the same tour, you’ll stand in shallow waters as graceful rays circle the group with ballet-like movements.

Sailing
Bora Bora’s lagoon is a very popular anchorage for both round-the-world and avid vacation sailors. If chartering your own sailboat in Raiatea, Tahiti, or Moorea, the deep, wide pass and calm lagoon is a natural stop. You can also rent a Hobie Cat in Bora Bora or take a half-day or sunset cruise around the lagoon on a giant catamaran, complete with music.

Diving
Because of the abundance of large marine life, diving within the waters of the most beautiful lagoon in the world is on many diver’s “must do” list. During the dives, it is common to be joined by legions of gigantic manta rays gliding gracefully within arm’s reach while schools of reef sharks parade by.

Motu Tapu
The ultimate private island escape, Motu Tapu is the most photographed isle in the South Pacific. This tiny motu, just a few hundred yards from the main island, is best described as the world’s most perfect place to relax. Motu Tapu is reserved for guests of select resorts and groups with invitations.

Other activities and sites on Bora Bora include:

  • Matira Beach, one of the world’s most famous beaches
  • Bloody Mary’s restaurant
  • Parasailing for one or two
  • Boston Whaler motorboat tours
  • Guided hikes to Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu
  • Sunset cruise complete with singers and dancers
  • Exploring the ancient marae temples along the coast
  • Horseback riding

So I am happy to say that I am heading to Tahiti in a few months, when I return, I will have more interesting travel tips for you.  If you want to see those overwater bunaglows for yourself, give me a call at 312-951-8517 or email at sbradley@downunderendeavours.com  For more information and examples of our handcrafted French Polynesia itineraries, click here.