- 1. The main island and its city, Papeete, is not really that great. There is a run down, dilapidated feel. Like most of the buildings were erected around the 1960’s and then left to elemental decay. Most depressingly, everywhere you turn you’re faced with the sight of stray dogs, and their litters of puppies, roaming feral. They’re not a nuisance to you, but it is heartbreaking to see.
- 2. There aren’t long white sandy beaches with that famous turquoise water…at least not on the main island. I don’t know about you, but prior to our trip, when I thought about what Tahiti would be like, I envisioned crystal clear, vibrant blue waters lapping against sugar sand beaches. Imagine my surprise to learn that nearly all the beaches on the main island are black sand (from the volcanic activity) and the waters were what you might expect to see crashing onto the Pacific Northwest of the United States. That’s not to say that the beaches didn’t posses a beauty to be savored…it just wasn’t even in the parking lot of what I expected. The wet sand looks like mud; however, it is actually amazing to walk on and a spectacle to see. Hands down, it’s the softest sand I’ve ever felt and it’s jet black color was stunning. The waters may be dark, but they are still warm and great for swimming or jumping in the waves.
- 3. Outside of your fancy resort, there’s not really much to do. While there, we kept searching for excursions, activities, or even great shopping and dining but everything advertised was less than inspiring. Additionally, the few activities we were interested in required a trip to the nearby Moorea (more on this in a second).
- 4. Rent a car right away. Drive around the island, stop into amazing local restaurants like Le Plague De Maui, visit those beautiful black sand beaches like up at Pointe Venus, then drive your car onto one of the ferries and take it to…
- 5. The nearby island of Moorea. You’ll probably need to book one night on the main island for when your flight arrives (in the evening) but you’ll want to book the majority of your stay on Moorea. Verdant, lush, and surprisingly undeveloped, Moorea is what you imagine after seeing all the Tahitian marketing materials. Especially if you are heading out there for a special occasion, like a honeymoon, Moorea is the atmosphere and experience you are likely hoping for. Here you’ll find those bright, turquoise waters, white sand beaches (although not fine or soft like the black volcanic sands), and nature based excursions. But know, outside the resorts, there isn’t any shopping or fine dining. Tahiti is not Hawaii. For the most part, it’s sleepy and undeveloped–which may be exactly what you’re looking for.
5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Traveling to Tahiti