7 Outdoorsy Things to Do in Tahiti

It’s easy to stay active while in Tahiti. Hike to waterfalls and lava tubes in the lush and mountainous interior, surf reef breaks on black-sand beaches along the coastline, or snorkel and dive amongst sharks and wrecks. Here are some of our favorite outdoor experiences to try while vacationing in Tahiti.

Pā'ea, French Polynesia
If you need to hone your surfing skills, no worries, Tahiti has some fabulous beginner breaks plus warm water! Tura’i Mataare Surf School offers private and small group surf lessons to anyone over the age of 5-years. The 3 hour and 30 minute lesson aims to help you master the basic techniques before you venture to multiple surfing spots along the western coast of the island. The company picks up from all the hotels, and rates include transport. If you already know what you’re doing and just want to ride the best waves for when you’re visiting Moana Surf Tours in Punaauia can provide guides or put together any combination of surfing, lodging and boat.
Hitia'a, French Polynesia
On Tahiti’s rocky east coast, the volcanic Lava Tubes of Hitiaa are underground channels and eroded sections of rock in caves that have been penetrated by water. Although you can visit solo, it is really best to visit with a guided 4WD tour. Check with Marama Tours, which also does a range of other island tours from encounters with dolphins to 4WD trips across the Papenoo valley that is rich in waterfalls and archeological sites.
French Polynesia
Noted by golf enthusiasts as “Tahiti’s best kept secret”, the Olivier Bréaud International Golf Course offers a spectacular 18-hole fairway set in rich tropical and colorful vegetation. Located on the west side of Tahiti just between the mountains and lagoon, this par 72 d’ Atimaono golf course has become a destination for golfers from all around the world.
Ha'apūpuni, French Polynesia
Tahiti is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in Polynesia. Stops can include spectacular waterfalls and natural pools, panoramic views, grottos, archeological sites and lava tubes. A favorite hike is to the three Faarumai waterfalls. From the car park it is a quick scramble through a forest of chestnut trees to the first waterfall, Vaimahutu. Continue on for another 20 minutes or so to reach the other to falls Haamarere Iti and Haamarere Rahi, which are almost side-by-side. With hundreds of varieties of tropical trees, plants and flowers, Tahiti also has some of the world’s most beautiful gardens. Visit the water gardens of Vaipahi to experience the abundant flora and waterfalls that flow directly into Lake Vaihiria.
Puna'auia, French Polynesia
On Tahiti’s west coast, the area around Punaauia town has some lovely stretches of black and white beaches between PK10 and PK15. This is considered Tahiti’s gold coast of sorts, as it is home to some of the most expensive real estate on the island, and also boasts stunning views across the water to Moorea -- try to stay for at least one sunset. You’ll also find some good shore surf breaks along this strip of sand and for divers the St Etienne Drop-Off just off the Punaauia reef is a wonderful wall dive.
Teahupo'o, French Polynesia
Tahiti Iti, Tahiti‘s smaller sister island that’s connected to the main island at the southeast coast, is home to one of the most famous surfing waves in the Pacific, Teahupoo. This powerful reef break most certainly should not be attempted by anyone but the best surfers—a fall means being dragged by the current across the sharp coral right below the surface. That edge of drama makes for a tense but enjoyable afternoon of observation (from the beach). The left break is best between April and October. The Billabong Pro competition is held here August.
Austral Islands, French Polynesia
Continue hundreds of miles south of the main island of Tahiti and you’ll come to the Tropic of Capricorn and the five-island Austral Islands chain. There are plenty of ways to connect to nature here. Take a cue from the locals and join them as they beach-hop and ride bikes through the villages and along the shore (with very little traffic on the islands, biking is a breeze). Then delve into the lush interior of Rurutu island during a horseback excursion. If you time your visit between July and November, you’ll also be able to spot majestic whales in the waters around Rurutu.
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