Because all but a few of the islands are surrounded by coral reefs, there are few surf beaches here. Most of those on Tahiti have heat-absorbing black volcanic sand. Except in the Marquesas, which are almost devoid of coral, most islands (and all but a few resorts) have bathtub-like lagoons that lap on white-coral sands draped by coconut palms. Here are a few that stand out from the many (the French word for "beach" being plage):
- La Plage de Maui (Tahiti): Bordering the southern shore of Tahiti Iti, the main island's peninsula, this strip of white sand is far and away the best beach on Tahiti. The lagoon is suitable for swimming, and there's an excellent snack bar beside the beach.
- Mareto Plage Publique (Moorea): Although it isn't as picturesque as Moorea's Temae Plage Publique , this beach between Cook's and Opunohu bays sits between a coconut grove and the lagoon.
- Temae Plage Publique (Moorea): The northeastern coast of Moorea is fringed by a nearly uninterrupted stretch of white-sand beach that commands a glorious view: across a speckled lagoon to Tahiti, sitting on the horizon across the Sea of the Moon.
- Avea Beach (Huahine): My favorite resort beach is at Relais Mahana, a small hotel on Auea Bay near Huahine's southern end. Trees grow along the white beach, which slopes into a lagoon deep enough for swimming at any tide. The resort's pier goes out to a giant coral head, a perfect and safe place to snorkel, and the lagoon here is protected from the trade winds, making it safe for sailing.
- Matira Beach (Bora Bora): Beginning at the Hotel Bora Bora, this fine ribbon of sand stretches around skinny Matira Point, which forms the island's southern extremity, all the way to Club Med. The eastern side has views of the sister islands of Raiatea and Tahaa.
- Plage Tereia (Maupiti): Like Matira Beach on Bora Bora, this white-sand beach wraps around a peninsula on Maupiti's main island. Unlike Matira, however, you'll likely have this one all to yourself, since there are no resorts on Maupiti. Almost as beautiful is the beach at the northern end of Motu Tiapaa, where you have a view of Maupiti's central mountain, and no one cares if you skinny-dip.
- Les Sables Rose/The Pink Sands (Rangiroa): At a remote corner of Rangiroa's lagoon, the world's second largest, lies a gorgeous beach made up of pink sand. It's well worth the hour-long boat ride from Rangiroa's hotels.
- Motu Tuherahera (Tikehau): The eastern half of Tikihau's main island is skirted by a beautiful stretch of white sand, much of it flanked by the atoll's pensions.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.