An ideal island getaway year-round, thanks to its unique location in the South Pacific, the islands of French Polynesia are revered for their pristine white sands, crystal blue waters, and gorgeous climate. However, did you know there’s much more to Tahiti vacations than beaches? Here’s an insider travel secret: Tahiti is a little-known food lover’s paradise. That’s right, this small tropical paradise packs a surprisingly diverse selection of cuisine from around the world, as well as distinctive local specialties (including delicious wines), that will tantalize your taste buds and create culinary memories to last a lifetime. Here is a foodie’s guide to Tahiti to make the best of your dining experiences.
Breakfast in Paradise
Thanks to annexation by France in 1880, French Polynesia has developed a rich tradition of fine French food. Today, they specialize in “nouvelle cuisine Française”, which is French food with a modern twist. Wherever you’re staying, be sure to opt for a true French breakfast of delicious pastries, muffins, and rich “pain perdu” or French toast. Pair this beautifully with some fresh tropical fruits like pineapple, passion fruit, guava, grapefruit, and lychee, grown locally.
If you’re looking for a truly unique foodie experience, you can have your breakfast delivered to you by outrigger canoe in Bora Bora, an island in French Polynesia just northwest of Tahiti. Bora Bora resorts offer a magnificent atmosphere of seclusion that are perfect to relax and recharge.
Most resorts in Tahiti have several on-site restaurants with meal packages available, preparing a wide range of cuisine from local Polynesian specialties to French and other international offerings like Italian and American dishes.
Alternatively, you can head out to a local restaurant to get a feel for the vibrant local cuisine and culture. Local restaurants range from casual open-air beach cafes to 4-course gourmet seatings with wine pairings at fine dining restaurants. There are so many options on offer, why not try something different each night?
It’s not surprising, Tahiti is one of the best places in the world for seafood fans to indulge. The seafood is fresh and simply prepared to bring out the best flavours perfectly. Try a local favourite, “poisson cru”, a Tahitian riff on ceviche with raw tuna marinated with lime juice and freshly-squeezed coconut milk, served with fresh veggies. Other favourites include crab, tuna carpaccio, mahi mahi, lobster ravioli, and sashimi platters.
Best Bars and Restaurants
One of the best places for exceptional French-style seafood dishes is a restaurant called St. James on Bora Bora. The romantic restaurant, set in a typical Polynesian hut-style design, is in a magical spot overlooking the sparkling lagoon.
Bloody Mary’s, one of Bora Bora’s world-famous restaurant-bars, is the perfect place for an evening drink or dinner. It features a soft white sand floor and coconut stump seating under a huge thatched roof. Your Bora Bora vacation wouldn’t be complete without a visit to both St. James and Bloody Mary’s.
On Moorea, another gorgeous French Polynesian island, there’s even a French-Canadian restaurant called Fare La Canadienne. This special restaurant is renowned for its burgers, and owned by an authentic French Canadian family.
Most Unique Foodie Experience
For the most unique foodie experience, head to Place Vai’ete in Papeete, Tahiti’s capital city. Here you’ll find a busy hub of street food vendors on the waterfront, known as “roulottes”. Each one has its own cuisine and distinctive charm. Roulottes are frequented by locals and visitors alike. They’re a casual and economical way to dine, and a perfect way to soak up the local culture.
Watch the chefs of these little stalls rapidly set up in the town square, and witness cooking techniques from barbecuing fresh catch to preparing a delicate crèpe. You’re totally spoiled for food choice here with everything from local Polynesian to French to Italian and even Chinese.
You’ll find some of the freshest seafood here, like salads of tuna caught that morning – dressed with coconut, cucumber, and citrus flavours. You can even catch live music in Place Vai’ete (except Mondays). There are a range of bars across the street from the square if you want to enjoy a drink before or after dinner. Just remember, the roulottes don’t take credit cards, so come with cash – and a big appetite!