White-sand beaches, black-sand beaches, beaches surrounded by lush, tropical vegetation – Tahiti is renowned for its beautiful shorelines and turquoise waters. So whether you're into surfing, snorkelling, kayaking, beach volleyball or just bobbing about, here are 10 of the best beaches on this gorgeous island of French Polynesia.
Plage de Toaroto
Just west of the Le Meridien Resort in Tahiti’s Puna-auia area, Plage de Toaroto offers good snorkelling among colourful reef fish and a kilometre-long stretch of clean, white sand to sit back and soak up the rays. There is also a nearby park with public showers and a beachside restaurant.
La Plage de Maui
One of the only white-sand beaches on the island, La Plage de Maui lines Tahiti’s south coast, about half an hour from Papeete. It is one of the best places to slow down and appreciate the Polynesian way of life and embrace the warm and casual spirit of the locals. You might even spot a Hollywood celebrity. Wander to the nearby lagoon and swim in the clean, warm waters, or walk through the rainforest to Caverna de Maui.
Teahupo’o is a village on the southwest coast of Tahiti, known for its surf break and heavy waves offshore. It’s also the site of the annual Billabong Pro Tahiti surf competition.
Some say Teahupo'o is the most dangerous break in the world, with many surfers having come to grief on coral reef and even losing their board shorts thanks to the size, power and speed of the waves. What’s more, tiger sharks lurk beneath its wild waters. If you’re visiting while the renowned surf competition is on, be sure to stop by and watch as some of the world’s best, and bravest, surfers take on the tumultuous waves.
Plage du Mahana Park
On the west coast near Paea, Plage du Mahana Park has dazzling white sands, calm waters and a snorkelling reef close to the shore. After exploring the crystal lagoon, join in a game of beach volleyball before enjoying a bite to eat at the beachside restaurant. The nearby parkland also provides a perfect spot for a picnic, while kayaks are available for hire on weekends.
Nestled in front of Matavi Bay, Plage Lafayette is one of Tahiti’s best public beaches, offering about 800 metres of sparkling black sand. A great spot for those wanting to escape the crowds for a few hours of rest and relaxation, Plage Lafayette is ideal for a dip, with the eastern side of the curved beach framed by cliffs and lush greenery. Take your camera for some unforgettable snaps.
More South Pacific inspiration:
Island paradise: Spotlight on Tahiti
Photo opportunity: Sean Scott Chases Waves & Whales In Tahiti
Touch of France: French Flavours In The South Pacific
Plage de Venus Point
In 1769, Captain James Cook recorded the transit of Venus on the island of Tahiti during his first voyage around the world. Today, walk in the great explorer’s footsteps along the black sands of one of Papeete’s most popular spots, soak up the magnificent South Pacific sun, swim in the cool waters of the lagoon and take a walk to the beach’s large lighthouse. There’s also a snack bar and a gift shop, where you might find a special memento.
Plage de Taharuu
Another black-sand beach on Tahiti’s southern coast in Papara, Plage de Taharuu is a favourite among families, locals and tourists alike. The little ones will love splashing in the water, surfers can catch some great waves and there’s a small snack shop for when you and the clan are feeling a little peckish. Gently curving, long and fairly protected, Plage de Taharuu has a beautiful backdrop of leafy green palm trees and is not far from the Gauguin Museum.
Bain Lot Beach
Bain Lot Beach is the main beach in Papeete, close to the centre of town and great for first-time visitors to Tahiti who want to see the island’s most popular sites. Not only is Bain Lot Beach great for its swimming and a range of other water sports, including snorkelling and sail boarding, but there’s a golf course right next to the shoreline for those who wish to tee off with gorgeous ocean views.
The waves of Bain Lot Beach are also something of a phenomenon. The beach is known as the ‘ins and outs’ beach, its waves breaking in both directions due to steep shores and underwater currents.
Plage de Papenoo
If you’re a surfer, hire a board and head to Plage de Papenoo, a small but popular black-sand beach on the rugged north coast. It’s a less developed beach and there are no facilities, so pack everything you need, including snacks, sunscreen and water, for a morning or afternoon of great waves among the friendly locals.
Plage de Maeva
Within walking distance of the beachfront Sofitel Resort at Papeete is the Plage de Maeva, a picturesque white coral sand beach offering great swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing opportunities. Tahiti’s famous le trucks, colourful vehicles comprising cheerful painted wooden cabins mounted on the rear of flatbed trucks, offer transport to the beach from downtown Papeete.