Ever felt like you need a holiday after your holiday? As a Kiwi, there’s a slight desperation to long-distance trips – a need to pack in as much as you can, as you might not be back for a while. It’s enormous fun running from one exciting activity to another, but can be exhausting, especially for the younger members of the family.
This is when a stop on the way home is a great option, and Tahiti is perfect if you’re coming from Europe, as their national carrier, Air Tahiti Nui, stops en route from both LA and Paris.
Here are my suggestions for a relaxing French Polynesian family break after a million-miles-a-minute holiday in the northern hemisphere.
• Mo’orea: Enjoying Tahiti on a budget
• Tahiti: Out of the water
• French Polynesia: Insider tips for Tahiti
• Tahiti: A seductive and astonishing tropical hot spot
Where to stay
Tahiti can be more costly than other islands so consider Airbnbs or the charming local guest houses and “pensions”. Prices are often very reasonable.
We stayed at the Sofitel Moorea la Ora, 15 minutes from the airport and 25 minutes from the centre of Papeete. It has an enormous pool area and was right on the water, so the kids could flit from pool to beach and back again while we lazed on loungers. Moorea Ia Ora put on a vibrant cultural show, great for introducing kids to the beautiful music and dance of French Polynesia (oh to be able to shake my hips like that).
The InterContinental Resort is another great family-friendly option, again with an enormous pool area and plenty for children to do.
What to do
Check out the markets in Papeete where locals shop for meat, fish, fresh flowers, and produce – and a coffee and croissant of course – then take the 30-minute ferry to Moorea.
There’s ziplining (there are courses for kids as young as 3), paddling in transparent kayaks (amazing for turtle-spotting), swimming with sharks and manta rays, 4×4 safaris and hikes.
For a quieter day out, take a boat to a motu (“tiny island”) for lunch. We went to Coco Beach and spent a wonderful afternoon eating enormous plates of fresh poisson cru (raw fish salad) at the water’s edge. The sea was the iridescent blue of all my Tahitian dreams and was the perfect way to relax after a long journey.
Don’t miss a stop at Queeny for some of the best icecream you will ever have. Local flavours such as banana, mango, coconut, passionfruit and even tiare Tahiti (the national flower) are life-changing.
What to eat
Tahitian food is a wonderful mix of Pacific and French cuisine. Start your day with flaky pastries from any of the many boulangeries and switch between cuisines as the day and mood takes you. Tough choices will need to be made – gooey croque monsieur, oozing with ham and cheese, or fresh chunks of fish marinated in lemon and coconut milk and tossed with tomatoes, cucumber and spring onions?
If you want to eat like the locals, check out Papeete Central, where you’ll find all manner of outlets with cuisine from all over the world. And don’t miss Les Roulottes at night – a collection of street food trucks selling everything from Chinese stir-fries and Thai-style curries to Polynesian fresh and cured fish dishes, pizza, and French classics. Finish your evening with one of the famous nutella banana crepes your kids will love as much as the locals do.
Air Tahiti Nui flies from Auckland to Paris via Tahiti and offers discounts for children’s airfares to Tahiti.