how to travel experience tahiti three different ways boat bungalow jungle

Tahiti is an absolute dream; there’s no denying it.

stephanie arsenaultThe weather is gorgeous, the beaches are idyllic, and the water (and the busy little world that occupies it) is beyond anything you could imagine.

Top all that off with an abundance of fresh food, a fascinating culture that Tahitians are proud to share, a way of life that just emanates a sort of carefree kindness, and you’ve got the paradise that is Tahiti.

Naturally, if you’re planning on making the trip, you’ll want to figure out the best way to go about your adventure. Where should you stay? What kind of holiday do you want? Don’t worry, I’ve done the grunt work for you; here are three different ways to experience the beauty that is Tahiti.


Tahiti: In the depths of nature

vanira lodge sunsetStephanie Arsenault

Situated high on a hillside overlooking the world-renowned surf spot, Teahupo’o, Vanira Lodge is a nature-lover’s paradise. Each bungalow is unique, boasting a private bathroom, an impressive view, and an assortment of conveniences like large patios, refrigerators, laundry drying racks, and mosquito nets draped over the beds.

Some of the bungalows are open air, which allows for a seriously different sleeping experience. In those, guests wake up to the early rising sun and equally early rising birds singing their beautiful songs. The openness allows little creatures, like lizards and some bugs to get in, but if you can take solace in knowing that there are no poisonous or really harmful bugs in Tahiti, you might actually enjoy the fascinating critters.

vanira lodge patioStephanie Arsenault

If you love nature but being one with it isn’t your jam, there are a few bungalows that are a little more private, complete with jacuzzies and air conditioning. This little taste of luxury kicks the experience up a notch, creating a glamourous getaway in the jungle.

Vanira’s restaurant, run by a rather boisterous French chef, has a small menu created daily with whatever ingredients are fresh and on hand. It’s a beautiful mix of classic French fare and Tahitian cuisine; it’s unassumingly upscale, and the chef’s passion for his cuisine is evident.

vanira lodge food fruit buffetStephanie Arsenault

While in Teahupo’o, head to the beach and check out all of the sea life on your own, or book a day trip with Teahupo’o Surfari Expedition.

Run by an incredible team, they’ll take you on an adventure that starts at the “end of the road”. (The literal end of the road that goes around the island.) Then, it's over and around the giant swells that make the area the famous surfing destination that it is, in the water on soft sand bars, and through a lush forest into a pitch-black cave.

vanira lodgeStephanie Arsenaultvanira lodgeStephanie Arsenaultvanira lodge surf pipelineStephanie Arsenault

If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to tow out a couple of surfers along the way, and enjoy some fresh fruit while lounging in the lagoon.

Of course, you can try your hand at surfing the waves yourself, but the waves are treacherous. Inquire about taking lessons at the lodge, or ask the folks at Teahupo’o Surfari Expedition about getting out there.

Tahiti: By private yacht

yacht marinaStephanie Arsenault

Obviously exploring the islands of Tahiti is amazing, but if you have the chance to venture around the islands by boat, you’ll get a totally different perspective.

Go one step further and sleep on a boat, by chartering a private yacht. It seems like something that is only reserved for the rich and famous, but because of the way the islands are laid out, chartering yachts is actually very common and relatively affordable, especially if you’re travelling with a group.

yacht tahiti sunsetStephanie Arsenault

Evenings at sea are silent; the stars are clearer than you can imagine, shining bright above, just waiting to be watched. If you shine a light into the water at night, an assortment of underwater critters will rush to the beam, exposing fast-swimming fish, curious manta rays, and hungry (yet harmless) reef sharks.

During the day, you can venture out into the water and snorkel, kayak, or stand-up paddle board; or, you can ask your skipper to take you to one of the islands (like Taha’a, the “Vanilla Island”, Huahine, “the Majestic Island”, or Raiatea, “the Sacred Island”) for a quick excursion on solid ground.

yacht tahiti pearl regattaStephanie Arsenault

If you’re heading to Tahiti in late spring, try to book a custom trip with Tahiti Yacht Charter during the Tahiti Pearl Regatta (TPR). This annual sailing race brings over 40 teams from around the world for five days of inter-island routes and evening festivities throughout the area. Even if you’re not into sailing, or know very little about the sport, it’s an absolutely fascinating event to take in. For those who are sailing aficionados, watching the TPR is a dream come true.  


Tahiti: Atop the crystal-clear lagoon

tikehau bungalowsStephanie Arsenaulttikehau pearl resort beachStephanie Arsenault

If sleeping in an over-water bungalow is on your bucket list, you’re in luck. Tahiti boasts a wide variety of them, all in different styles at different price points.

For a truly unique experience, head to Tikehau, a coral atoll nearly 350 kilometres northeast of Tahiti. Shaped like an oval, the atoll is made up of two larger islands, and many motus (small, flat islands). The entire area is essentially surrounded by coral reef, so no matter where you go, there are ample opportunities for snorkeling.

The Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort is situated on one of those little islands and is covered in coconut palms and pink sand. The bungalows are stunning, private, and designed in true Polynesian style. It’s so glamorous, you almost expect to spot a young Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton lounging on one of the decks watching the sun set on the horizon.

tikehau beach tahitiStephanie Arsenaulttahiti tikehau beachStephanie Arsenault

The resort, primarily geared toward couples and families (though still ideal for a one-person getaway or holiday with friends), feels almost empty, even when fully booked. There’s an undeniable deserted island vibe, if that deserted island were well-equipped with the most genuinely lovely people, delicious food, and some of the most exciting and unexpected activities (picnic on an uninhabited motu, anyone?) Hike through an island populated only by birds and crabs, or take a bike ride along dirt paths through coconut groves to hidden beaches. 

tikehau picnicStephanie Arsenault

Of course, the over-water bungalows are the highlight (because clearly all of that incredible stuff I just mentioned isn’t convincing you, right?), and while each one is furnished beautifully, it is the private deck, ladder into the lagoon, and glass window in the floor that really make this place go from really, really, incredible to absolute perfection. It’s a place where words can’t do it justice and pictures only tell part of the story.

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