5 places in Polynesia you have probably never heard of

Polynesia is a location of islands dedicated to luxury hotels, and the very finest coral and white-sand beaches. The islands throughout Polynesia remain stunning and the beaches wholly untouched whilst being home to a port of resorts and hotels, most of which are maintained and managed using the economy powered by the influx of tourism in the area. There’s not a single place in Polynesia you’ll regret visiting. Step aside Tahiti and Bora Bora, we count down the top 5 places in Polynesia you have probably never heard of.

Hiva Oa


Sunshine in Hiva Oa at the Hanakee Resort. Photo by Rita Willaert flickr

Located in the archipelago Marquesas Islands is Hiva Oa, the second largest and almost isolated area of simplicity. The island is entirely without major tourism and yet it manages to cater particularly well to honeymooners and those who prefer peace and quiet. The island is known for its proud national culture, and has a series of giant stone tiki located all over the island.

The best things to do in Hiva Oa are diving, snorkeling and hiking. There is incredible coral that surrounds the islands, creating vast ecosystems of sea life – and in land there are a few archaeological sites for tourists to visit. Also hike to visit the Tehueto petroglyphs, but go with a local guide as they can be difficult to locate.

How to get there and where to stay


Enjoy a beautiful poolside view in Hiva Oa. Photo by Rita Willaert flickr

You can travel to Hiva Oa via Tahiti on daily flights. Often the flights are direct, but in some cases you may need to organise connecting flights from Nuku Hiva – the biggest island of the Marquesas. On your arrival to Hiva Oa, and in the duration of your stay, find a temporary home at the beautiful Hiva Oa Hanakee Pearl Lodge. It’s the most luxurious resort on the island and you’ll definitely live in luxury in the duration of your stay. It’s a small resort of only fourteen bungalows, but it offers fine French cuisine, a swimming pool and stunning views of surrounding Hiva Oa.

MORE: Staying at the InterContinental in Bora Bora



Overwater bungalows at the Manihi Pearl Beach Resort. Photo by Haxtorm flickr

A coral atoll located in the Tuamotu Island region, best known for its salty water and great pearl farming. The area surrounding Manihi is great for snorkeling as the coral is a pretty sight. The island is particularly great for travellers who want island lifestyle without the hustle and bustle of tourism, as it’s almost entirely isolated. It’s also great for travellers who are keen to eat local – imported food is a rarity and water and electricity are scarce resources.

There are limited to no lights at Manihi, so it’s best to go stargazing whilst you’re there. You won’t get the same view anywhere else. Also make sure you shop for black pearls either in Manihi or in Tahiti which is where you must travel to and from for international flights.

How to get there and where to stay


Paradise found in a sunrise at Manihi. Photo by xdegarmox flickr

There are no direct international flights to Manihi. However, you can get in on an Air Tahiti flight once a day from Tahiti. Make sure to organise flights so that you can make the connection flight. At the airport you will be met by a driver from your resort or hotel, or by an airport shuttle bus. The Manihi Pearl Beach resort is the best place to stay on the island. There are about 50 rooms at the resort, but it remains quite secluded and there are collection of bungalows both beachfront and overwater.



Overwater bungalows over stunning clear water in Tikehau. Photo by Tahiti Tourisme Espana flickr

Tikehau is a stunning ringed island that lay part of the Tuamotu island archipelago, as part of the Pallister Islands group. It is said that the beaches are the best in Polynesia and the area is particularly good for snorkelling. There are also beaches around Tikehau which have pink sand.

How to get there and where to stay


Polynesia is known for having the clearest and cleanest water in the world. Photo by pvarney3 flickr

Tikehau has resorts that have overwater bungalows, but if you want to experience resort living differently, try the Tikehau Ninamu Resort for bungalows hand crafted using shells, palm leaves and coral. The Tikehau Ninamu resort is great for those who want to relax on the beachfront without a care for the world they have left behind. Complete simplicity and serenity! There are daily flights from Tahiti that take you directly into the airport of Tikehau. There are also flights from nearby Papeete and Rangiroa.



A view of Mo orea from the mountains.-The view fit for the Gods Photo by vgm8383 flickr

Part of the Society Islands archipelago and the Windward Islands group, Mo’orea is laden with coconut trees, beaches to die for and sunsets that explode with color. This could be one of the most beautiful islands in the world. During the day you can go hiking through the dense jungle in search of waterfalls, none of which are particularly big, but most of them attract colourful birds and other small wildlife. The island is also known for having a mix of both black and white sand beaches. Make sure to venture to high points to get great views of Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay. Legend has it that the view here was created for the Gods.

How to get there and where to stay


An aerial view of Mo orea a high mountain island. Photo by dany13 flickr

The best way to reach Mo’orea is using the high speed ferry from Papeete or by Air Tahiti flight via Tahiti which run several times a day. For travellers on a budget, opt for the Vai Mo’orea budget hotel resort. It’s cheaper than most but still offers you amazing beachfront bungalows. For accommodation on the more luxurious end, try the Sofitel Ia Ora Beach Resort. It has stunning bungalows both beachfront and overwater, a pool and a lagoon full of amazing reef and coral.



Squeaky white sand at Maupiti the island of serene isolation. Photo by D. SansPretentionAucune flickr

Maupiti is a coral atoll and volcanic island, smaller in size to neighbouring Bora Bora. It is a great island for tourists though as it is smaller, less occupied and cheaper than Bora Bora but still has all of the natural and tourism perks of the larger island. It’s most notable feature is the stunning clear blue lagoon in the centre of the island which is surrounded by mountains of luscious greenery.

Visit Tereia Point is the loveliest beach on the island – no broken coral here, just all white fine sand and beautiful clear water. Whilst at Maupiti, ask the concierge of your hotel or resort to arrange a guided tour of the Haranae petroglyphs to get a glimpse at the culture and history of this island.

How to get there and where to stay


An aerial view of Tereia beach on the island atoll of Maupiti. Photo by SF Brit flickr

Flights to Maupiti leave daily from Tahiti, Bora Bora and Raiatea. Make sure that you double check connecting flights, as they often run sporadically and from different locations on different days. For example flights from Tahiti depart on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Whereas, flights from Bora Bora only run on Friday and Sunday. Maupiti is made up entirely of small villages and pension accommodation – budget bed and breakfasts run by families or couples. The best ones to try out are have Pension Ludo et Moyra or the Pension Teheimana.