Is Tahiti good for families? It’s a question many parents ask and with good reason. The Islands of Tahiti are not a quick trip from anywhere on the globe. In addition, even with the strictest of budgets, it’s still going to cost you more than your typical family vacation. I’ve been to the Islands of Tahiti twice now, and I can confirm that not only is Tahiti good for families, it should be ranked high above your planned trip to any theme park. Here’s why.
Is Tahiti Good For Families?
Look, I love Disney as much as the next person, but when I think about how much money we spent over the years in a sanitized, make-believe, roller-coaster reality, I cringe a little. With the money spent at Disney over two trips, we could have done one big trip to The Islands of Tahiti, and my children would have returned a lot more educated and enriched. It is infinitely more gratifying to actually see the line where the sky meets the sea, than to stand in line for an autograph with Moana.
If there was an antithesis to a theme park for a family vacation, then The Islands of Tahiti are it. You’re not going to find large water parks in The Islands of Tahiti, massive roller coasters or fuzzy characters roaming about. What you will find are true life experiences and activities that will create memories that last a life time.
How About That Aquarium AKA The South Pacific?
In Moorea, we stayed at the charming Linareva Beach Resort. Situated overlooking the water, with majestic mountains rising up behind its small bungalows, you get way more than you thought possible when staying here.
At the end of the dock, just before dark every day, Lemon, Blacktip and Nurse sharks come in to feed. Safely seated above, we were obsessed with watching them glide effortlessly through the water. Sharks are unbelievably beautiful to behold, and it is a great reminder that this is where we should be observing them—in their environment, not behind glass in the middle of a city. Worth noting, we swam safely for hours here each day. The sharks are punctual, so it’s perfectly safe to be in the water when they’re not.
In one of my most obvious statements ever, this type of experience with nature is not easy to come by, and yet in The Islands of Tahiti, it’s seemingly everywhere. Within an hour of our arrival on the island of Moorea, we were swimming behind sea turtles and getting seriously up close with stingrays with Captain Taina Tours.
In Taha’a, our hosts at Fare Pea Iti, jetted us out to an almost* unspoiled coral garden. I’ve been lucky enough to dive and snorkel in some of the world’s most beautiful spots, but the coral gardens in Taha’a are unequivocally the best I’ve ever set eyes upon. Giant clams, vibrant reefs, and technicolor fish make this the perfect place to show your children what the ocean should look like, and what we’re so perilously close to losing if we’re not careful.
Step Away From the Fast Food
One of my biggest complaints about travel is trying to eat healthy with kids. In North America, at least, it seems like there are ten unhealthy options for every one healthy choice. Add to that the weight gain, the sugar high and the general feeling of unwellness that follows after a week of fast food, it can make for a frustrating travel experience.
The Islands of Tahiti are a great place to show your children what is means to live off the land and sea. In places like Taha’a for example, with a population of just 5000 spread over two islands, you simply don’t pop into the corner store for a bag of chips and a chocolate bar. At Fare Pea Iti, the hosts serve up the fresh catch of the day at dinner with locally sourced fruits and vegetables, like the Inga Bean, also known as Ice Cream Beans. And if you haven’t tried Passion Fruit in Tahiti, you haven’t really had Passion Fruit yet.
While on our excursion with Captain Taina, we moored our boat off a private island, while our guides whipped up a Poisson Cru so fresh, I’m pretty sure the fish came on shore when we did. Everything about this dish was made in front of our eyes – from the shredding of the coconut, getting the coconut milk through a cheesecloth, to mixing it with the fresh tuna, lime, and vegetables. My kids loved this dish, even my famously finicky youngest devoured it — no small feat.
From a parenting perspective, Tahiti is a great place to introduce new foods and expand your child’s food repertoire, simply because of the beautiful lack of chicken nuggets. It’s a little evil, and it’s not the only reason you’ll travel to Tahiti of course, but parents of picky eaters might just find that Tahiti turns their kids into foodies.
While you can certainly find unhealthy choices, I found this to be the exception rather than the rule. I’m not a monster by the way, I still enjoy my deep-fried foods and sugary treats, which are wonderfully accessible at the Food Trucks in Papeete. It’s all about balance, dear friends.
Embraced By Mana and Never Letting Go
In Tahiti, mana is the spiritual energy that exists in people, places, and things. Mana is bigger than you or me, and represents duality; life and death, old and young, love and loss – you get the point. Mana lives in and around us, but most importantly, mana is a feeling that lives inside of you.
For children who are being raised in the frenetic pace of North American society, The Islands of Tahiti expose them to a slower roll. Unlike holidays where your family tries to race through 5 European countries in 10 days, a vacation to Tahiti is about taking a breath and taking stock, in one of the most laid back places on earth.
There are 118 islands in the Islands of Tahiti, and you’ll want to take the time to really explore your options before you arrive, to ensure your family gets the most of your time here. The Tahiti Tourism website is the best places to start, but when you’re ready to go deeper, you should reach out to a Tahiti Specialist. On a personal note, I’d say to plan to visit 3 to 4 islands over a two week period. Tahiti is roughly an 8 hour flight from LAX and SFO, which is a long flight for adults, let alone kids. You want to make sure you give yourself enough time on the ground to really embrace it!
Adventures, Big & Small
Once you know what mana is you start to see it everywhere. For me, that duality exists with my girls. My oldest is the adventure seeker, who leaps before she looks, while my youngest likes to observe from the sidelines. Thankfully in Tahiti we were able to find enough soft adventure experiences to keep them both happy.
Our accommodations in Moorea and Taha’a both had complimentary bicycles. The roads are not busy, and it’s a great way to get out and explore on your own. Plan for early morning, or late afternoon to beat the heat.
In Moorea, you’ll find two adventures worth your time. The first is Tiki Parc Moorea, which is perfect for kids with varying degrees of comfort with adventure. Ziplines here range from just a few feet above the ground, to a heart pounding 20 metres. This family park also happens to be set in amongst towering palms, hibiscus flowers, and pineapple fields, providing a visually stunning backdrop to your adventure.
Don’t miss the opportunity to see Moorea on ATV with ATV Fun Tours. This tour winds through the Opunohu Valley, before taking you to two of Moorea’s most breathtaking lookouts; Belvedere and Magic Mountain. On the way back after your half day of adventure, you travel by stunning views on the water. Moorea is magical, and the best way to see it is on ATV.
If you’re thinking about visiting The Islands of Tahiti with your family, and are not sure where to start, read this post about what you should know before you go. Then start planning the trip of a lifetime with your kids!
*Steps on My Soapbox
Before you hop in the water in Tahiti with your kids make sure you pack rashers for swimming in the water or bring biodegradable sunscreen with you. Traditional sunscreen is one of the worst polluters in the ocean next to plastic, and in order for this wonderfully biodiverse destination to survive we all need to do our part.
Also, please don’t get in the water if you truly don’t think you can avoid touching things. While swimming in a coral garden in Ta’haa, I was crushed to see tourists hitting the reef with their fins. While their actions were unintentional, the damage is permanent. Please, PLEASE, teach your kids that even the smallest touch can hurt the reef.
Before you leave, consider adopting a coral with Coral Gardeners to ensure you’ve left the reef a better place. You’ll be provided with an adoption certificate and GPS coordinates of your baby reef, should you ever plan a return visit.