Things to Do in French Polynesia
Magic Mountain is on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia. Though the mountains on Moorea are not extremely high, they are particularly rugged. Magic Mountain is one of the highest points on the island. It is located along the exterior part of the island, and it offers spectacular 360-degree views of the island and the surrounding clear blue waters of the lagoon and the ocean. On the way up the mountain, visitors will pass villages, scenic valleys, fruit trees, and pineapple plantations. Magic Mountain lets visitors experience the breathtaking scenery an ancient volcanic island.
The mountain is not accessible by regular cars and can only be reached by 4WD or ATV. For this reason, the best way to experience Magic Mountain and its views is by taking a tour of the island that includes a trip up the mountain. Most tours also include Belvedere Lookout, which is located toward the center of the island and offers gorgeous views of both Cook's Bay and Opunohu Bay, ancient Polynesian sites, and the agricultural school. It is a great way to take in the wonderful sights and culture that Moorea has to offer.
Belvedere Lookout is a scenic viewpoint awarding views of Cook's Bay, Opunohu Bay, Mt. Rotui and the fertile Opunohu Valley with its many pineapple plants, craggy peaks and gentle slopes. It’s a great place to visit simply to take in the views or to get a bit of outdoor exercise in.
Located on the southern tip of Bora Bora, the public Matira Beach (Plage Matira) is one of the island’s most popular sandy spots. With clear water ideal for swimming, and a beach backed by swaying palm trees, it is an idyllic destination for sunbathing, snorkeling, and watersports.
Encircled by a lagoon and barrier reef, the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora is known throughout the world for its marine life. A paradise for snorkelers, the Coral Gardens are a section of the reef with calm, shallow waters ideal for beginners. Look for resident creatures such as parrotfish, Japanese moray eels, and more.
Perched along the rocky coast of Tahiti and bordered by a scenic black sand beach, Arahoho Blowhole is one of the island’s most visited natural wonders. As waves crash against the shore, a powerful geyser-like eruption sends spectacular plumes of water into the air, wowing visitors and creating the opportunity for some impressive photos.
Lycée Agricole d'Opunohu, or Agriculture School, is French Polynesia's only agricultural school, located on the island of Moorea. At the agricultural school, visitors can see pineapples, lemons, grapefruits, bananas, vanilla beans and many other fruits being grown and learn about the cultivation process. The school also makes fresh fruit juices, jams and sorbets, which are available for purchase. They also offer tastings of the fruit products they make. Visitors can hike on educational trails in the school's plantations in order to learn more about the school and its work and to enjoy the scenery. At the agricultural school, you can also learn about the different tropical plants, flowers, and fruits that are native to French Polynesia.
A visit to Lycée Agricole is often included on tours around the island. Other highlights of these tours include the lookout points at Magical Mountain and Belvedere Lookout, which offer different vantage points for viewing the island, the volcanic landscape, and the surrounding water. In addition, these tours often include ancient Polynesian sites, hiking, swimming, and taking in the gorgeous island scenery.
There are numerous waterfalls all over Tahiti, but the most popular and accessible are the three waterfalls at Faarumai, also known as the Cascades of Faarumai. The three majestic falls are surrounded by tropical vegetation and are more easily reachable than other waterfall sites in Tahiti. Although you may see visitors taking a dip in the pools, swimming here was outlawed after someone was injured.
The sights, sounds and smells of authentic Polynesian life are on offer at Pape'ete’s main market, the Marché de Pape'ete (Pape'ete Market). The indoor market hall is the commercial and social hub of Tahiti’s laid-back capital and the oldest surviving institution on the island.
Mt. Otemanu is a jagged, green-sided mountain in the center of the island of Bora Bora. The volcanic mountain is visible from across the island. Visitors can admire the mountain from a boat, or explore the base of the mountain on a rigorous guided hike.
More Things to Do in French Polynesia
This small park with a tranquil stream, benches, lush vegetation, and an enormous banyan tree providing shade to visitors was named after Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a French explorer who believed he had discovered Tahiti and claimed it for France, unaware that less than a year prior it had been discovered by Samuel Wallis.
Recognizable for its sunny yellow façade, Notre Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame) is one of the oldest and largest churches in Papeete. The Gothic structure was originally built between 1844 and 1875 but has been destroyed and restored several times, most recently in 1987.
This butter-cup yellow building is surrounded by palm trees, a pond, and manicured gardens. The Tahitian flag flies proudly atop Papeete Town Hall, while inside, crystal chandeliers, glass furnishings, historical artifacts, and pink Italian marble give the space an air of grandeur.
Surrounded by rugged mountain landscape that seems to reach up from the water, Cook's Bay is one of the main tourist areas in Moorea (it's here that cruise ships come to moor their boats). The area is home to restaurants, shops, and hotels, but it’s still relatively sleepy and laid-back—this is Moorea, after all!
Stretching from To'Ata Square to Vaiete Square, Paofai Gardens (Waterfront Esplanade) are ideal for scenic strolling. Watch boats sail by as you enjoy snacks from vendors selling fresh juices, popcorn, and French pastries, who enhance the Parisian feel of the park.
Located on the western side of Opunohu Bay, Papetoai (Papeto'ai) is frequented by visitors who want to explore the village's art and shopping center, with plenty of shops, restaurants, and art galleries along with historic attractions. The beaches here are also worth checking out, with calm, crystal clear waters, ideal for snorkeling.
To'ata Square (Place To'ata) is the main hub for cultural events, performances, rock concerts, and festivals in Papeete, including the annual Heiva Festival, the largest annual cultural festival in Tahiti. Anchoring the square is a 5,000-seat pavilion with an outdoor stage. Onsite snack bars sell light bites and drinks in the evenings.
Separating the beautiful Cook’s and Opunohu Bays, Mt. Rotui is the peak of Mt. Rotui. In a dramatic fashion, jagged sides lush with green meet at the top in an almost perfect pyramid, its rocky spur reaching 2,951 feet (900m). When clouds are behind the mountain, it almost appears as if it is a smoking volcano.
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