With over 118 islands in French Polynesia, there are a plethora of incredible beaches to explore. The island of Tahiti itself has some of the best black sand beaches in the Pacific, as well as some stunning paradisaical stretches of white sand to feed your desire for variety. Here’s a guide to some of my favourite beaches on the island of Tahiti.
La Plage de Maui
Travelling from Australia where white sand beaches are the norm, it’s strange to discover that on Tahiti they are in the minority… and the locals love them! La Plage de Maui on Tahiti Iti has to be up there with the best of them, a palm-backed beach falling away into calm, clear water perfect for relaxing and taking in the Polynesian way of life on the shores of the Bay of Tapueraha.
Plage de Taharuu is a long black sand surf beach on Tahiti Nui’s South Coast perfect for families, tourists and surfers alike. The beach is fairly protected with good swimming conditions and plenty of space on the sand for all those who visit to find their own spot in paradise. It’s also one of the safest beach breaks on the island, providing the perfect spot for young groms to learn to surf. Taharuu offers easy parking, a little eatery with snacks and refreshments, and a playground for the kids.
Plage de Vaiava
On the West Coast of the island lies the ever-popular Plage de Vaiava, or PK18. With calm, shallow water and a long stretch of sand looking out over the ocean to Moorea, it’s not hard to see why this pristine patch of sand is one of the most popular spots on the island. On weekends it can fill up quickly, but that’s just a sign of its local popularity as the perfect sun-baking location. PK18 was one of my personal favourite spots in Tahiti… I just couldn’t resist jumping in the sparkling water for a swim!
The Papeno’o River Mouth, L’Embouchere, is a black sand surf beach on Tahiti’s North Shore known for its consistently favourable surf conditions. Due to seasonal wind and swell directions, L’Embouchere works its best during the summer months, the opposite of its Southern cousins, and can get busy during its peak and around competition time. Definitely not a spot for those wishing to relax in Tahitian bliss, L’Embouchere sits hidden down a narrow road off the highway, exposed to the elements and waiting for the keenest of surfers and surf-appreciators.
Le Trou de Souffleur
Arahoho blowhole is one of Tahiti’s most popular natural phenomenons and roadside stops. A narrow lava tube leads from the lookout to the sea and visitors standing in the right spot can enjoy a dramatic explosion of sea spray as the water from incoming waves rushes up the tube and shoots out through a hole in the rocks. Next to the car park also lies a small black sand cove with some interesting wave action that can produce fun conditions for body-boarders and onlookers alike.
Papeno’o Beach, also known as Chinaman’s Bay, is an exposed surf break on Tahiti’s north coast. Offering both left and right-hand waves, Papeno’o is consistently popular with the surfers on the island, particularly when the swell is up and its waves are some of the biggest you can find on Tahiti Nui. The best view for onlookers is the little headland park at the Eastern end of the beach where those who opt to watch can witness the action with a stunning backdrop of green volcanic cliffs and a palm-lined shoreline.