Tahiti's not quite the same as camping

Updated: Aug 31

Wellness and adventure in some of the most beautiful islands in the world Click here to watch the video with tons of pictures!

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I think I’ve mentioned that I have ten siblings: seven sisters and three brothers. As you can imagine, growing up in a family that size didn’t mean luxury vacations together. It meant a lot of road and camping trips.



I enjoyed camping a lot more as a kid than I do as an adult. That probably came out wrong—it’s not that I don’t like camping anymore. As an adult, I still love the same things I did then: being in nature, away from people, a million stars in the nighttime sky, cool evenings, sitting around a campfire, camping food. I still love all of that. But as an adult you have to be the one to plan the food and the location, and pack and bring the equipment (and hope you didn’t forget anything). So camping as an adult is different from camping as a kid. It’s different making the experience happen as opposed to just experiencing the experience.


Today’s destination, Tahiti, has a huge element of what I love about camping: being in nature, being away from crowds of people, and being able to experience the destination. Tahiti receives fewer visitors in one year than Hawaii does in 10 days!


What do you know about Tahiti? You’ve probably seen pictures and heard about the overwater bungalows. But did you know that Tahiti is an amazing wellness destination as well? Whether you’re looking for laid-back, relaxing spa treatments or adrenaline-inspiring adventure, Tahiti has it all.


Although the 118 Tahitian islands are clustered into five archipelagos, the islands most commonly visited are Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora. Between these three, you can experience food adventures, land adventures, and water adventures. And relaxing spa treatments are available on every island.


Let’s start by talking about the many outdoor adventures available on the islands of Tahiti!



Water adventures:


If you’re scuba certified, you can jump right in to some of the best dives on the planet. If not, TopDive scuba centers are found throughout the islands, and you can learn and practice diving throughout your trip.


If scuba isn’t your thing, how about some snorkeling? The islands of Tahiti have colorful coral reefs and amazing underwater wildlife like rays and small sharks; if you’re staying in an overwater bungalow you can even snorkel right outside your bedroom.


Boat tours are a fantastic activity in Tahiti. You can visit a manta ray sanctuary, see the best of untouched coastlines, bathe under waterfalls, rock climb and cliff jump, and find hidden caves along the way.


Another water activity you may not have thought of in Tahiti is surfing! On the southwestern coast of Tahiti is a little town called Teahupoo, which is known for world-class breaking waves reaching up to 23 feet tall. There’s a surf school with a variety of classes: one hour, half-day, and full-day options.


Additional ideas are paragliding, swimming with sharks or manta rays, or trying your hand at an outrigger canoe.




Land adventures


If you thought that the French Polynesian islands only have watersports, think again! Tahiti and her islands are a mixture of high volcanic islands and low-lying atolls. There are lots of land excursions to keep you happy.


Some popular excursions, which I recommend doing at the beginning of your vacation, are island tours. On these informative and fun trips, you’ll be able to learn a little about the history and culture of the island while soaking up panoramic views.


4x4 safaris and ATV trips are a great way to immerse yourself in the beauty and variety of the islands. You’ll see valleys and mountains, natural pools (where you can take a dip), craters, waterfalls, and jungles. Some of these are self-drive, and others are passenger excursions.


Hiking in these beautiful islands almost always includes beautiful rivers, pools, streams, and waterfalls.


What about an e-bike or scooter rental? These are fantastic ways to explore on your own, visiting the locations you most want to see.


Ziplines and ropes courses are a great experience, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, how about canyoning? Canyoning is a guided adventure; you may be walking, swimming, jumping, sliding or even rappelling down lava tubes and natural slides, as well as through lots of other scenery.





Food adventures


With its mix of French, Chinese, and Polynesian cultures, Tahitian food is a delight and an adventure. Tahiti’s national dish consists of raw fish mixed with vegetables, coconut milk and lime.


Some other must-try local foods in Tahiti include chevreffes (freshwater shrimp cooked with creamy coconut milk and vanilla), poulet fafa (chicken with taro leaves), and po’e (sweet, creamy pudding made from taro and banana, vanilla, papaya, or pumpkin and topped with coconut milk sauce). You’ll love all the fresh fruit in the islands as well.


Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, hosts the highest number of culinary tours, but the island of Moorea has a very popular street food tour as well, and Bora Bora has some amazing sunset dinner cruises. You can take cooking lessons or do a food tour highlighting street food. There are lots of great food options in the Tahitian islands.



Photo courtesy of St Regis Bora Bora


Spa treatments


The Tahitian islands are full of gorgeous resorts with beautiful spas onsite. You can experience treatments indoors, in private gardens, overwater bungalows, white sand beaches, or on lush hilltops overlooking crystal clear lagoons.


I’ve highlighted one spa on the three main islands, so you can get an idea of what’s available:


Bora Bora


St Regis Bora Bora: The beautiful 13,000-square foot Iridium Spa has its own island in the middle of a private lagoon on Bora Bora. They specialize in Polynesian and Asian Touch treatments, have five treatment rooms and a relaxation room which offers beautiful views of their private lagoonarium.


Moorea

Sofitel Moorea Kia Ora: Le Jardin Spa & Beauty features pure essential oils and natural local ingredients such as coconut, zesty orange, sweet vanilla, fruity mango and avocado. In addition to offering stand-alone treatments, Le Jardin also offers wellness escape treatments, such as a toning and detox intensive treatment which focuses on activating the lymphatic system, as well as may others.



Tahiti

Le Taha’a by Pearl Resorts’ spa is called Tavai Spa, located in a beautiful garden surrounded by bamboo trees and overlooking the inland laguna. They offer a wide range of massages, body scrubs, and wraps, and use monoi, the traditional flower-infused coconut oil in most of their treatments.



What are the requirements right now to get to Tahiti?


If you’re vaccinated, it’s pretty simple. Tahiti requires you to register on their website 30-6 days prior to your trip, get a negative Covid test within 72 hours of traveling, and bring your vaccination card with you. Unvaccinated kids under 18 traveling with a vaccinated adult are required to take an extra test on days 4 and 8 of your stay. These tests are provided, and can either be turned in at your hotel, or at a dedicated health center.


If you’re unvaccinated, it’s a lot harder. After registering on the website, you also need a negative Covid test. You need to provide a compelling reason to travel to Tahiti (vacation doesn’t count). Once arriving in Tahiti, you’ll be required to quarantine for 10 days and receive another negative test result, and THEN you’ll be able to go anywhere you want in Tahiti. So if you’re not vaccinated, I wouldn’t recommend traveling to Tahiti.


Conclusion


Tahiti doesn’t bring cool evenings and campfires; instead, it brings adventures in nature. And with me helping you, planning a Tahiti trip doesn’t involve nearly as many hard decisions as a camping trip; just let me know the type of experience you want to have, and I’ll help you experience all the adventure you want, whether on land, in the water, with food, or spa treatments.