French Polynesia is scattered with dreamy locations. With over 100 islands located in the French overseas territory – including big-hitter destinations such as Bora Bora and Tahiti – this place is all about a slower, more laid-back pace of life.
The best place to hang out and chill to the max on these islands are their myriad of beaches, of course. These stretches of coastline are lapped by turquoise seas, sit at the edge of calm lagoons teeming with marine life, and come with incredible views. As well as, backed by mountainous jungle island interiors, and the seemingly never-ending horizon in the distance.
In short, the islands of French Polynesia are absolutely stunning, and well worth a visit if you ever get the chance.
To help you hone in on what type of beach might work for you, here’s the scoop on the best beaches of Tahiti.
Read more about French Polynesia
- A Guide To How Much For A Trip To Bora Bora
- Best Time To Go To Tahiti
- An Epic 2 Week Islands of Tahiti Itinerary
- Tahiti vs Bora Bora: What's the difference?
- Best Time To Travel To Bora Bora
Where to look for the best places to stay in French Polynesia?
- The platform with the best selection of hotels and pensions on the Islands of Tahiti is Booking which is what we used to book almost all of our stays. We also specifically review the best pensions in Rangiroa and Fakarava.
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Best Beaches in Tahiti
Now that we’ve established just how awesome the beaches are in Tahiti, it’s time to figure out which ones you want to visit and which are going to be best for you.
Our carefully curated list below will whisk you through a bunch of incredible beaches, taking into consideration which are the best for surfing, which are best for snorkeling, good for swimming, ideal for families.
So whether you’re looking for a break on the beaches of Tahiti, or you want something more rugged (Hiva Oa, anyone?), you’ll be sure to find the beach that’s right for your trip.
Situated in the world-famous paradise locale of Bora Bora, Matira Beach is easily one of the best beaches of French Polynesia – and one of the most popular. Running all the way from Hotel Bora Bora to Matira Point, the white sand beach is backed by verdant green hills and swaying palm trees. Here, on either side of the beach, you’ll also find multiple private resorts and sections of privately owned beaches. With so much to offer in Bora Bora, be sure to check out this excursion that offers the best of the land and the sea!
But Matira Beach itself is open to everybody and is actually the only public beach on Bora Bora. There’s a fun, family-friendly atmosphere. The powdery sand that gently slopes into the surf, and the shallow water, makes it great for those traveling with young children. Even the ocean floor is soft and sandy, with no spiky corals to cut your feet on.
One of the best things about this beach? At low tide, you can actually walk all the way from Matira Point to the reef. The water is that shallow!
If you want to take your Matira Beach experience to the next level, we recommend this Jet Ski Tour that has multiple pick locations in the area!
FRENCH POLYNESIA GUIDE
Before you plan your trip to Bora Bora, make sure you read this all-around guide for French Polynesia.
Plage de Toaroto
Beaches in Tahiti don’t get much better for snorkeling than Plage de Toaroto. Because of its rocky bottom, it’s not a great place for lounging around in the sea. But if you want to see what’s going on in the marine world under the waves, it’s a good place to don your mask and explore.
It’s backed by Tapeara'a Pereo'a Mataeinaa Park, which features picnic tables, grill areas, and even showers and toilets. So it’s pretty comprehensive for a day out. There’s even a couple of beach shack food joints right on the sand in case you get hungry.
On the north coast of Tahiti, Point Venus is a low sandy peninsula that’s practically all beach. Situated in the commune of Māhina, about 8 kilometers east of Papeete, Point Venus is a particularly historic location. It was here that Captain Cook himself observed the transit of Venus across the Sun, building an observatory, especially for the occasion: Fort Venus. There’s also a lighthouse here, dating back to 1868.
Aside from the history, this black sand beach is a good place for a day out. Facilities here include picnic areas, a snack bar, toilets, and shops. While in the area, check out a half-day tour to see even more of what Tahiti has to offer!
Mahana Park Beach
This laid-back spot is located in Puna'auia, on the west coast of Tahiti. It’s another of the best beaches in Tahiti for snorkeling. The marine life at Mahana Park Beach is made up of angelfish, stingrays, reef sharks, and any number of colorful tropical fish. It’s the water just offshore, rather than the sand of the beach itself, that steals the show here.
However, when you are back on dry land, you can still enjoy some pretty idyllic scenery. To further immerse yourself in this area of Tahiti, local guides will give you an off the beaten path look on this unique journey. If you get hungry, don’t worry: there are a few food trucks and snack shacks operating on the beach. And if you want to base yourself here, that’s easily done thanks to a handful of family-run pensions located here.
There are some big claims about Temae Beach. Some say it’s the best beach on the island of Moorea’s east coast, others think it’s the best in the whole of French Polynesia. Either way, this blissed-out slice of sand should not be missed.
It’s a wide coastal area that stretches all the way from Tvero to the airport. One of the things that make it stand out among the rest are the snorkeling credentials here. That’s right: at Temae Beach it’s easy to paddle out to the shallow lagoon where you’ll find a reef teeming with life. No boats necessary. If you want to get the full Moorea snorkeling experience, we suggest taking one of these guided excursions: swim with whales, rays, and sharks on a half day boat tour or, if you are feeling extra adventurous, explore all that this beach has to offer after the sun goes down.
The public part of the beach is north of the Sofitel Hotel, but note that it does get pretty crowded at weekends.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME?
Trying to figure out what time of the year to go to French Polynesia?
Plage de Maeva
Also situated on the island of Tahiti is this particularly picturesque white sand beach. It has the ideal balance of everything you want: palm trees, sand, facilities, crystal clear water, and good swimming conditions. Located a stone’s throw from the Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort, to get to Plage de Maeva take the bus from Papeete and get off at the Sofitel bus stop. Simple.
Once you get off the best, you’ll soon find yourself on one of the prettiest beaches of Tahiti. To make life more convenient, there are plenty of sun loungers and places to get a bite to eat. That means spending the day here in paradise is very much a possibility.
Plage du Taharuu
On the southern coast of Tahiti, in Papara, this black sand beach is one of the island’s most popular. Backed by lush palm trees, this beach has plenty of room to stake your claim for a day of sun.
At Plage du Taharuu visitors can mingle with local families, who come here on their days off to enjoy the good swimming conditions. It’s also popular with surfers, so if you’re in this part of the world to catch a wave or two, this could be one of the best beaches in Tahiti for you. There’s also a little snack bar right on the beach itself, adding to the enjoyable atmosphere.
La Plage de Maui
The powdery white sand is one of the main reasons that visitors make a beeline for this beautiful beach. Many of the beaches across the island have peppery or volcanic sand, but this place has gleaming, pure white sand. Situated on Tahiti’s southern shore, the beach is dotted with swaying palm trees for shade.
La Plage de Maui is not the most secluded beach, however, as it’s backed by a coastal road. But if you’ve rented a car and you’re road tripping around the island, it’s an awesome place to stop off. It’s free to access, the water is warm, and there are even a few snack bars serving fresh seafood and catch of the day, adding to the beach’s popularity.
Meaning “Peaceful Landing” in Tuamotuan, Tikehau is a coral atoll – one of the 118 islets that make up French Polynesia. One of Tikehau's most attractive things is its pink sand, which is something of a rarity in the archipelago. Consisting of a string of coconut-palm-edged alcoves, the lagoon here is almost perfect, hemmed in by a virtually unbroken ring of coral.
The lagoon itself is 16 miles (25 kilometers) across and is brimming with underwater life. In fact, it has been said that the lagoon here features a higher density of fish than in any other lagoon in French Polynesia. If you find yourself in Rangiroa (just nearby), make sure you don’t miss out on a trip to Tikehau.
If you’re looking for one of the most beautiful beaches in French Polynesia, then look no further than Fare Beach. It’s located on the island of Huahine, which is almost like two large islands connected by a narrow sand spit at low tide. Specifically, you’ll find it on the “big” island (Huahine Nui) close to Fare Quay.
The beach itself is a local hangout, a fun spot where you’ll find families playing with their children, people enjoying picnics by the shore, and snorkeling in the sea (this beach is particularly good for snorkeling, in fact). One of the coolest things is that, you’ll also get some stunning views of Bora Bora in the distance.
If you didn’t bring food with you, that’s ok because there are a few spots along the road where you can have something to eat or drink.
Tucked away close to the capital of Papeete, this is another of the numerous black sand beaches of Tahiti. It may not be one of the most beautiful, but the large beach never feels too crowded.
Stretching for an impressive 800 meters (over 2,600 feet), Lafayette Beach boasts dramatic views of the southwestern portion of the island. The Radisson Plaza Resort is located along this portion of sand, but don’t worry: this beach is open for the public to use.
Near here, Matavai Bay is where explorer Captain Cook first dropped anchor in the 1760s during his first voyage.
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Les Sable Roses
Translating to “The Pink Sands”, this is another of those rare treats: a pink sand beach. It’s impeccably beautiful. Rather than just one beach, this is actually two beaches with a spit of land separating the two . The pink hue of the sand comes from eroded coral and the shells of sea creatures.
Les Sable Roses is located on the southeastern shores of Fakavara, one of the largest atolls in all of French Polynesia, not far from the island of Tetamanu. You’ll only be able to reach this incredible spot by the beach. It does involve a day trip that can be quite expensive.
However, if you want a day out on a deserted beach, usually with a picnic, and the sands all to yourself, then you may want to shell out for the privilege.
Surf’s up: Papenoo on the island of Tahiti features optimal conditions for summertime surfing. Making it one of the best beaches in French Polynesia to catch a wave. The offshore winds from the south create almost continual surf, with waves coming from both the left and the right.
It’s a black sand beach that isn’t too developed, without the eateries or showers of other Tahitian beaches, but that might be the charm for some people. Without much else going on here, it’s a hub for the island’s surf community (particularly in the summer months). The waves are never too wild, making it a great spot for beginners.
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track place to feel like a real castaway, then this far-flung beach might just be the spot for you. Hanatekuua Beach is all about its rugged, untouched nature. Located on the Hiva Oa, the largest of the southern Marquesas Islands, getting to this wild beach is part of the fun: namely, that would be hiking.
The rich nature allows for some amazing hiking in the area. To get to Hanatekuua Beach, you’ll start at Hanaipa village, and follow the trail down to the beach – past goats and farmland, through tropical flora, and even past views of a coastal waterfall. It’s like trekking in heaven. It’s very much a local beach, so don’t expect big resorts, hotels, or even eateries here.
Instead, it’s more likely that you’ll be sharing the sand with fishermen and coconut harvesters. The coconut trees that line the beach are actually part of a plantation.
The island of Raivavae has a beautiful string of beaches that edge its calm lagoon, referred to as Motu Piscine (literally “Motu Swimming Pool”), which gives you an idea of just how easy it is to swim here. One of the best for chilling at the beach all day here is a long, shallow sandbar, with vast scenery.
It’s the kind of place where you can just lounge around in the shallows all day. Highly recommended if you want to get away from it all. And if you do feel like doing more than just chilling out, there are lagoon tours, too.
If you weren’t already thinking about a trip to French Polynesia, chances are you are now after seeing all of these awesome beaches. There’s almost no end to the sheer beauty of French Polynesia and no end to the amount of time you could spend exploring the beaches of Tahiti and beyond. Our handy list above is a good place to start!
If you do not rent your own car, taxi can be your most effective way to get from point A to point B but they can be rather expensive. There are also bicycle rental options as well as ferries to transport between islands. Check out the Tahiti Tourism Board for more information.
Other than the typical sunscreen and a towel, we recommend bug spray, snorkel gear, and, last certainly not least, water shoes. Between the reef and rock fish, these will keep your feet protected. A rash guard coverup probably isn't a bad idea either. The sun can be intense.
On land, you can find over 90 different bird species as well as wild pigs, goats and horse on some of the islands. The diverse marine wildlife offers the chance to see dolphins, humpback whales, tunas, moonfish, swordfish, and more! Just make sure you keep an eye open for the more than 20 shark species that also call this area home.
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