Welcome to Tahiti
While wide, white-sand beaches are often the object of vacationers' affections, but don't let Tahiti's lack of them deter you. The largest island in the French Polynesia's Windward Islands, Tahiti one-ups those garden variety shorelines with black-sand beaches, formed from the erosion of volcanic materials. Tahiti is home to the raucous capital of Papeete, where cultures from all over Polynesia mix. Papeete, where you'll find the region's only international airport, is where most travelers land, and the city itself is worth exploring. City tours are available—including bus and Segway tours—and include stops at highlights such as the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral, the Municipal Market (Marché de Papeete), and the bust of Pouvanaa a Oopa. Then, it's time to experience some of Tahiti's natural phenomena in the mountainous, rainforested interior—tours via 4WD, either self-drive or guided, are popular. Be sure to hit island landmarks such as the scenic lookout at Taharaa, beaches of Matavai Bay at Venus Point, and the Arahoho Blowhole (Trou de Souffleur de Arahoho). The west coast of the island is home to ancient Polynesian temples, where you can learn the history of the Polynesian people. Further insight into the South Pacific's flora and fauna can be found at the Vaipahi Gardens. Water sports are a major draw, and floating in the cerulean waters among the abundant marine life is part of the package, whether on a sunset cruise, a whale-watching cruise, or a ride out to watch the surfers tackle the Teahupoo waves.