Discover the captivating history of French Polynesia, its legends and colonization, its ancient culture and archeological sites. A fascinating voyage to the heart of this island paradise.

The birth of the myth

Cérémonie culturelle_Tere Na Tua © Tahiti Tourisme_Dimitri Nguyen Verdenet

The origins of the myth of Tahiti

The myth of Tahiti as a tropical paradise began with the first European explorers. Cook, Bougainville, the mutineers of The Bounty and even the early missionaries perpetuated this image.

When they returned home they described an idyllic land with food in abundance, inhabited by friendly islanders living in peace and harmony. And of course, there were the ‘vahine’, the beautiful, partly clothed and very sensual young women of the islands.

Top 10 sacred sites to visit

The Islands of Tahiti in the arts and media

Poets, artists, traders, whale hunters, hoteliers, deserters, seamen, travelers and explorers, filmmakers and movie stars, have all contributed to the reputation of The Islands of Tahiti.

The legend of the ultimate paradise has fed the dreams of thousands for over 200 years.

10 things you didn’t know about Tahitian culture
Tiki from Nuku Hiva © Grégoire Le Bacon

An evolving history

The ancient Polynesians and the history of French Polynesia

The Māʻohi, the ancestors of today’s Polynesians, had settled throughout what is now French Polynesia. Ua Huka in the Marquesas Islands, has an archeological site dating from 300 years ago and research has traced the arrival of the first Polynesians in Huahine to 850 years ago. Historians believe that the Polynesians originated in Indonesia and migrated eastwards in two successive waves due to demographic pressure.

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Tahitian mythology

The origins of the Polynesian people may still be the subject of some debate, but they consider themselves to be the direct descendants of the Heavens (father) and the Earth (mother). Tahitian oral tradition tells that Ta’aroa, a kindly god, created a chain of other gods and semi gods to be in constant communication with man. The spiritual importance of this connection with the gods can be seen in cultural sites such as the marae, and the various archeological remains in the valleys. A cultural guide will help you discover these ancestral secrets.

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Tahiti before the European explorers

Long before Captain Samuel Wallis sailed into Matavai Bay in 1767, to claim the island for the King of England, Tahiti had been governed by a dynasty of Māʻohi kings, the Hui Arii. Polynesian society was at its zenith at a time when Europe was peopled by nomadic tribes at war with one another. As well as countless myths and legends, the Polynesians respected a very developed hierarchy, with chiefs and priests at its head. It was a structured society with its own customs and traditions, sophisticated craftsmanship and elegant rhythmic dances.

Top 5 museums to visit
Museum of The Islands of Tahiti © Tahiti Tourisme
Museum of The Islands of Tahiti © Tahiti Tourisme

Be inspired


Experience Mana, the mythical Polynesian force that animates every element. Let yourself be transported by adventures, enriching encounters and unforgettable discoveries through a whole range of experiences, each richer than the last.

History of Tahiti
History of Tahiti

The destination’s biggest assets

Tahiti today

In the age of the airplane a romantic vacation in the South Pacific has become a possibilty for travelers from all over the world. The Islands of Tahiti still have the same attraction that brought Melville, Darwin, Zane Gray, Somerset Maugham, Nordhoff and Hall to these shores. A land of romance, legends and magic. An unspoiled paradise, that has changed little since the great explorers first set foot here. Magnificent sandy beaches, with turquoise lagoons as crystal clear as they were when Robert Louis Stevenson observed them from his yacht. Welcoming faces of the islanders and bright colors everywhere are just the same as when Paul Gauguin painted them. The Islands of Tahiti is still a destination where the inhabitants live in perfect harmony with the incomparably beautiful world that surrounds them.

Vestige de Ua Huka© Tahiti Tourisme

Vacation packages

Cultural packages

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Book now and take your first step on a voyage back in time to discover the cultural diversity in The Islands of Tahiti.

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Bora Bora, Huahine, Moorea, Raiatea, Tahiti

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