Tahiti 1-Day Itinerary: Full Travel Guide to Things You Must Do

Hotels on the water in Tahiti, sunset view
Tropical forest jungles in Tahiti island, 1-day itinerary

From verdant green mountains to gorgeous azure lagoons, the islands of Tahiti are about as heavenly as life gets.

This little slice of paradise on earth has been legendary as a vacation destination almost since the first European explorers landed on its shores.

Still today it offers an extraordinary variety of sights and experiences for the adventurous traveller.

Tahiti conjures up images of exquisite beaches and effortless luxury, but there is far more to this island paradise than just decadence, relaxation and pampering (although it offers these in abundance!).

With crystal clear seas teaming with marine life, a fascinating culture and some of the best food you will ever taste, exploring Tahiti will be one of the most amazing vacations you will ever take.

Taking a cruise as a way to see Tahiti is a great way to maximize your time on the water, alternatively you can take a small flight into the local airport. 

No matter how you get there, this Tahiti travel guide will help you get the best out of this extraordinary destination.

Covering some of the best things to do in Tahiti, its top attractions and how to get into and around the archipelago, this Tahiti itinerary is the ideal companion to your next trip to these wonderful islands.

So read on, then start packing for the best vacation you’ll take all year!

How to get to Tahiti

Tahiti island getting by a boat in a day itinerary

Tahiti lies in the South Pacific, and is the common name for the 118 islands and atolls that make up the archipelago of French Polynesia, as well as being its largest island. 

With its location in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, the vast majority of visitors to Tahiti arrive by air.

Faa’a International Airport (PPT) is the only major airport, just outside the capital city of Papeete, and is served by a variety of international airlines. 

Tahiti is roughly halfway between the West Coast of the USA and Australia, and flights from Los Angeles or San Francisco take around 8 hours non-stop.

Papeete is a great place to start any Tahiti vacation, and is the best way to introduce yourself to this wonderful place. From island culture to the best Polynesian cuisine, the capital city is the place to be.

It is also the perfect base to explore the island of Tahiti, and to transfer to any of the other resorts, islands or atolls across the archipelago. 

Getting around the island of Tahiti is easy. Modern, affordable, reliable city buses serve Papeete, and the rest of the island is easily explorable by taxi, rental car or even by bicycle!

Most visitors to Tahiti will at some point head for Bora Bora, probably the most famous and recognisable of Tahiti’s islands. You can travel from Papeete Airport to Bora Bora by boat or by plane. 

The 140-passenger high-speed boat Maupiti Express II goes from Papeete to Bora Bora, Raiatea, Tahaa and the small island of Maupiti three times a week, while cruise ships, cargo/passenger boats and private motor launches are also available.

Air Tahiti has regular flights to 47 of the islands of Tahiti, including the popular destinations of Bora Bora, Moorea and Rangiroa.

The flights themselves are something of an experience, as soaring over the gorgeous lagoons and lush jungle-covered islands in a small aircraft offers unbeatable views and some extraordinary memories. 

Find the cheapest flight on Skyscanner

The most popular sea route connects Papeete with the adjacent island of Moorea.

Ferries and catamarans make the short, 12 mile crossing regularly throughout the day, and the journey is scenic and far cheaper than flying.

Check prices and schedule here

Where to stay in Tahiti 

Hotels on the water in Tahiti, sunset view

Tahiti is full of beautiful resorts, charming guesthouses and vibrant communities, offering a wealth of amazing places to stay.

The capital city of Papeete is a great choice for visitors wanting to explore the amazing culture of French Polynesia, and to discover the excellent cuisine of the South Pacific.

Many visitors will head for Bora Bora, where the famous overwater bungalows stand out as a true icon of Tahiti. If you fancy a different sort of luxury, the island boasts some fantastic all-inclusive resorts, such as the Four Seasons, the Intercontinental and Le Meridien.

Check for the best prices for accommodation on Booking.com

The island of Moorea is Tahiti’s little sister, a paradise of lush tropical jungle, rugged mountains and exquisite palm-fringed azure lagoons and bays.

The island is a little more laid-back than Tahiti or Bora Bora, and offers a more relaxed option for accommodation. It offers similar overwater resorts to Bora Bora at the InterContinental, the Hilton, and the Sofitel, and you can easily find smaller, quieter options like Aimeo Lodge on Cook’s Bay.

For a completely different experience, head to one of the smaller, more remote islands like Maupiti, Rangiroa or Taha’a. These islands are full of charming pensions, guesthouses  and smaller hotels, like the Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa, the Kia Ora Hotel in Rangiroa, or Tautiare Village on Maupiti. 

How many days do you need in Tahiti?

You could spend a lifetime exploring the islands and atolls of French Polynesia and not discover everything there is to see and do in this gorgeous slice of paradise, but sadly most visitors do not have unlimited vacation!

Luckily you can experience some of the best of Tahiti in as little time as you have available (even a day!).

Even if you are only on an extended layover in Papeete, you can still take in some of the best attractions in Tahiti. Tahiti in a day can be a fantastic experience, and if you explore the capital city Papeete as well as taking a trip around the island you’ll find that there are plenty of things to do in Tahiti in just one day. 

Of course, if you have longer to spend in this captivating destination, so much the better.

A one or two week stay is the perfect amount of time, giving you the chance to explore everything Tahiti has to offer. 

Tahiti Itinerary

Tahiti is full of natural beauty and amazing experiences, and you could easily spend as long as you wanted exploring every nook and cranny of these gorgeous islands.

For those of us with a more limited time frame, however, these are the top attractions in Tahiti, and the things that you just can’t miss on a vacation to this island paradise.

Also check my Bali itinerary

Amazing waterfalls

Waterfall in Tahiti, attractions to see

Tahiti’s verdant green interior, complete with majestic mountains and lush rainforests, is one of the most exciting elements of a vacation here, particularly if you love adventure.

One of the best things about heading off on a trek into the jungle is the chance to discover some of the gorgeous, hidden cascades that are scattered around Tahiti.

A dip in a natural rock pool is the perfect way to cool off after a warm hike through the rainforest, and falls like the Faarumai Waterfalls on Tahiti Nui are a breathtakingly beautiful sight. 

Colorful beaches

Colorful beach shore in Tahiti

Of course, you can’t talk about Tahiti without thinking about the beach.

A beach vacation is the main reason to come to this beautiful corner of the world, and there is nothing quite like lying back on an empty stretch of pristine sand, and letting the cares of the world wash away to the sound of the waves and the sea breezes.

Don’t forget to bring all the necessary items for your summer vacation

Tahiti boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, in an array of colors that might just surprise you. While there are plenty of stretches of classic golden sand, spots like La Plage de Maui offer up an alternative with an ebony white beach that merges with the foam from the crashing surf.

Even more amazingly, the island of Tikehau boasts eye-catching pink sand, from infinitesimal pieces of broken coral and shells, while the black volcanic sand of Teahupo’o is almost as incredible as its daunting surf breaks. 

Life under the sea

Diving in the sea in Tahiti, what to do in a day

If you love snorkelling or scuba diving, then the calm, warm and crystal clear waters that surround Tahiti’s many islands will be like something out of a dream.

There are dive centres on 11 of Tahiti’s atolls, and the diving is truly outstanding, with a combination of reef, wreck and high-speed drift diving. If you come at the right time of year, you’ll even have the chance to dive alongside the various species of whales that pass by this corner of the South Pacific. 

If diving isn’t your thing, then playing around in the lagoons with a snorkel will still provide an outstanding amount of magical sea creatures, from tiny tropical fish in electric colors to majestic sea turtles.

If you are feeling adventurous you can arrange shark snorkelling trips as well!

You can even get up close and personal with the underwater world without having to get wet, at the Huahine Natural Aquarium.

A platform takes you right out over the water where you can watch the beautiful marine life in the shallow waters of the lagoon and keep your feet dry at the same time!

Museums and culture

Traditional dancing in Tahiti, things to do in a day
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Despite its sleepy tropical island paradise vibes, Tahiti has a rich and vibrant history and culture, and is full of fascinating museums and fascinating historical spots to visit

The most important place to start is the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, a deep dive into the remarkable cultural heritage of Polynesia, exploring Tahiti’s unique history, religion and lifestyle, as well as displaying some amazing artefacts.

Another incredible aspect of Tahitian culture is its black pearls, and the best place to discover more about these mysterious, beautiful gems is the Black Pearl Museum in Papeete.

Offering a very different perspective on Tahiti are the Musee Gaugin and James Norman Hall House. The islands of French Polynesia have long fascinated artists and authors from Europe, and these excellent museums tell the stories of two of the most famous European immigrants who found inspiration and a new home in the South Pacific.

Incredible cuisine

Traditional food in Tahiti, one day itinerary
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Polynesian cooking is incredible, a wonderful blend of French haute cuisine and fresh local Tahitian ingredients and cooking styles.

Tahiti’s capital, Papeete, is home to a variety of great food joints, in particular the famous roulotte food trucks, but there are amazing restaurants scattered across Tahiti, from Tahiti La Plage overlooking the island of Moorea to O Belvedere halfway up Mount Orohena!

Tahiti is a wonderful travel destination full of natural beauty, elegant luxury, exquisite cuisine and a rich, vibrant culture.

There is a wealth of amazing experiences to be found here whether you have one day or one month to explore this island paradise, and seeing the best things to do in Tahiti will leave you with enough wonderful memories to last a lifetime.

This Tahiti itinerary is designed to be the ultimate guide for your Tahiti vacation, and will help you make the most of your trip.

Happy travels!

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