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9 Reasons to Make French Polynesia Your Next Getaway

You may recognize the aquamarine waters, white beaches, and lush mountains of French Polynesia from a desktop wallpaper. But get out from behind your computer and go see it in real life. More than 100 islands make up French Polynesia, located about 8.5 hours from LAX in the South Pacific, so there’s plenty to see and love. Once you land in Tahiti’s capital of Papeete, you can explore or take a ferry ride or quick flight to islands like Mo’orea or Bora Bora, leaving reality far behind.

Author Greta Rose Evans has a soft spot for Tahiti and the other islands in French Polynesia. On her last trip, Greta Rose focused on spending quality time in the ocean to get a better understanding of marine conservation. “I wanted to see with my own eyes what happened beneath the surface, and how our daily habits impact the ocean in a huge way.” We caught up with Greta Rose to get her insider tips. Based on our conversation, we have at least nine reasons to make French Polynesia your next tropical getaway.

Courtesy Pexels // Julius Silver

Why You Should Visit French Polynesia

1. The Food

Start with poisson cru, the signature dish of the islands. In French, poisson cru means “raw fish,” and the dish is made of raw tuna in a mix of lime juice, diced vegetables, and coconut milk. Where should you try it? “Coco Beach on Mo’orea, for sure,” Greta Rose said. “It’s on a small motu (a reef islet), and they have an outrigger that picks you up and takes you there. It’s a whole dining experience.”

Courtesy of Great Rose Evans

2. You Can See a Lot in a Week

While Greta Rose recommends going for as long as you can (because, duh) she says you can get an immersive experience in just seven days. “The first time I went, I only stayed a little over a week because I was in the middle of college finals. That still was a wonderful trip and plenty of time,” she recalled.

During that trip, Greta Rose bounced between Papeete and Mo’orea and spent enjoyable moments sitting on the ferry drinking coffee and writing in her journal. “Mo’orea is my favorite place in the world. It has this untouched beauty. I remember the first time I saw it from the lookout, I actually cried,” she confessed. If you’re in French Polynesia for a week, she recommends waking up early to kayak to the sandbar that is home to the stingrays and reef sharks. Or, watching the sunset from a motu. You’ll also want to sample Hinano, the local beer.

Courtesy Pixabay // mariamichelle

3. You’ll Live in Your Swimsuit

“You’ll spend most of your trip in a bikini, so those are a must,” Greta Rose said. With that in mind, you should pack a strong SPF and consider a swimsuit that has SPF protection, like The Deep Dive from Summersalt. Just remember to use reef safe sunscreen, as conventional chemical sunscreens are damaging to the ocean. (Greta Rose recommends options from Sun Bum.)

The whole vibe of French Polynesia is laid back, and Greta Rose promised that you’ll never need a shoe fancier than a sandal: “You can throw on a sundress over a bikini in moments, stick a fresh flower behind your ear, and be ready for a nice dinner.” Sign us up.

4. There Is a Rich Polynesian Culture

Polynesian culture stretches all over the Pacific, from New Zealand to Hawaii. You can experience it while you’re in Tahiti, too. “An experience that stands out during my time in Papeete was visiting the Heiva festival,” Greta Rose told us. The Heiva is a Polynesian cultural event that takes place in July every year. There is dancing, singing, and more. “When I watched the dancers, I was completely mesmerized,” she said. “I’m Polynesian as well, so it was beautiful to see how they honored these ancient traditions.”

5. There Are Direct Flights from the US

Currently, you can fly nonstop from Los Angeles or San Francisco. For the 8.5 hour flight, Greta Rose wears her Summersalt Everywhere Top and Pant set. “I can’t imagine wearing anything else on an airplane,” she said.

6. You Can Swim with Sharks

While a tropical vacation requires lots of relaxing, you can also add adventure on the islands. “If you’re interested in seeing sharks, you have to go with Kori Garza,” Greta Rose recommended. “Kori is so passionate about sharks and she will truly change the way you think of them.”

Courtesy Stocksnap // Jakob Owens

7. Or See Whales

Greta Rose says witnessing whales in the wild will change your life. That being said, it’s also so important to respect them in the water. For that reason, she recommends going with Mo’orea Dolphin Expeditions. “They have local owners and also thirty years of experience,” Greta Rose explained.

8. It’s Great for the Solo Traveler

When we asked Greta Rose if French Polynesia is good for the solo traveler she said: “Absolutely! I was completely solo, and met many other solo female travelers along the way.” Score.

Courtsey of Greta Rose Evans

9. You Can Give Back to the Ocean

If you’re like Greta Rose, the ocean will inspire you during a visit to Tahiti and the other islands. While you’re there you can give back by planting coral with Coral Gardeners. “They are a nonprofit organization that is bringing new life to damaged reefs and raising awareness worldwide for marine conservation,” Greta Rose explained. “If you have the honor of visiting a beautiful place like Tahiti, you should take even just an hour out of your trip to get involved in something that gives back to this incredible place. It will be the highlight of your trip, I promise.”


Courtesy of Pexels // Tom Fisk

Greta Rose Evans’s Tips For Tahiti

Where to Stay 

Tahurai Homestay in Teahupoo @tahuraihomestay. Greta Rose said: “If you want to have an authentic and local experience, and also be in the best location, you must stay there.”

Where to Eat

Coco Beach on Mo’orea @cocobeachmoorea Greta Rose said: “They have the best poisson cru I’ve ever had.”

What to Do

So, what are you waiting for?