The Best of the Society Islands are the most visited archipelago in the French Polynesian Islands. The Society Islands lie halfway between Australia and California in the South Pacific. The islands are divided into two groups: the windward islands, which include the archipelago’s largest island, Tahiti, and the leeward group, which is home to the popular honeymoon island Bora Bora.
Settled by seafaring Polynesians before the 9th century, the Society Islands have attracted visitors ever since English explorer Captain James Cook first landed on the shores of Tahiti in 1769. The 1935 classic film “Mutiny on the Bounty” and its 1962 remake cemented the archipelago as the quintessential island holiday destination. Formed by volcanoes eons ago, the Society Islands are steeply mountainous, covered in lush jungle greenery and surrounded by crystalline beaches and turquoise lagoons.
To learn more about the different islands and there beaches, visit our French Polynesia Beaches page here, or visit us on Pinterest.
Society Islands Weather – When to Visit
French Polynesia is at its best between June and August when the climate is the driest and the weather is still comfortable with temperatures between 68°F to 95°F. This can be busier, and the months either side of this time can still has comfortable temperatures, but lower prices. French Polynesia can be visited year-round, but between November and April there will be tropical showers passing more often than other times of the year. This is also a humid time of year, and can be uncomfortable. It is recommended to choose a hotel with air-conditioning if vacationing here during these months.
The Eight Most Beautiful Society Islands
Idyllic Bora Bora owes its tranquil turquoise lagoon and white sandy beaches to the protective coral reef that surrounds its perimeter. Bora Bora is one of the world’s premier honeymoon destinations, but the over-the-water bungalows that perch on stilts over the lagoon offer an enchanting experience for any visitor. Snorkeling and scuba diving among the clownfish, lemon sharks, green turtles and other sea life that inhabit the coral reef are the most popular activities on Bora Bora. Some visitors prefer to spend their visit relaxing on coconut-tree-shaded sands like those found on Matira Beach. Best Bora Bora Resort: Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
Located just a 30-minute catamaran ride away from Tahiti, Moorea boasts some of the most spectacular scenery of the Society Islands. The island’s ancient volcano, Mount Tohivea, was blown in half by a cataclysmic explosion ages ago, earning the jagged peak the nickname “Shark’s Tooth.” A hike up to Belvedere Point near the summit offers visitors breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain peaks and the island’s peninsulas with its two deep blue bays. Only 16 km (10 miles) wide from east to west, Moorea is nevertheless filled with hidden gems, including ancient Polynesian temples and small villages surrounded by brightly blooming hibiscus. Best Moorea Resort: Linareva Moorea Beach Resort
Actually two islands, Big Huahine and Little Huahine are surrounded by a coral reef and connected to each other by a short bridge. Nicknamed “Isle of the Bays,” Huahine is dotted with secluded coves, and features some of the best surfing spots in the Society Islands. Avea Bay on the southwestern coast of Little Huahine has one of the most beautiful beaches in French Polynesia with crystal-clear water ideal for snorkeling. Huahine also has many important archeological sites, including Faahia, a village first settled around 650 A.D. Best Huahine Accommodations: Bee & Bee Wild Island – Nature Song
Sharing a surrounding coral reef with sister island Tahaa, Raiatea is the second largest of the Society Islands and the administrative center for the archipelago’s Leeward island group. Often referred to as the “Sacred Island,” Raiatea is believed to be the place from which outward migrations to Hawaii and other parts of East Polynesia began. Visitors can explore ancient shrines and artifacts at Taputapuatea, the best preserved historical site in French Polynesia. Best Raiatea Accommodations: Villa U’upa
Located between the islands of Bora Bora and Huahine, Tahaa shares her encircling coral reef with the nearby isle of Raiatea. Known as the vanilla capital of French Polynesia, Tahaa has an economy that isn’t as dependent on tourism as the other Society Islands, and has only a limited number family-operated pensions and resorts. Tahaa lacks the broad stretches of powder-soft sand found on other islands as well. It’s an ideal destination for travelers interested in native Polynesian life, and is a great place to purchase exquisite black pearls. Best Tahaa Resort: Le Taha’a by Pearl Resorts
Lying 25 miles to the west of Bora Bora, pretty little Maupiti is a miniature replica of its larger neighbor. Like Bora Bora, a coral atoll surrounds the volcanic island, but because the locals have restricted development, the landscape looks much the same as it did when it was first discovered by Europeans in the 18th century. Most visitors stay in pension-style accommodations located in Vaiea, the island’s main village. Mount Hotu Parata, a volcanic cliff that rises above the village is a migratory home to thousands of seabirds.
Marlon Brando, starring as Fletcher Christian in the 1962 version of “Mutiny on the Bounty,” fell in love with French Polynesia while scouting locations for the film. Brando was so enraptured with the beauty of the Society Islands that he purchased one for himself: a 2-square-mile atoll known as Tetiaroa. The island passed into the hands of a Tahitian development company after Brando’s death, and after years of planning, the Brando Resort opened to the public in July 2014. The eco-friendly upscale resort features 35 luxury villas next to a private beach. The resort offers an array of activities that range from snorkeling and paddle boarding to Polynesian dance, music and cooking lessons.
The largest island in the Windward group of Society Islands, Tahiti is also the most developed. The party-loving city has a vibrant nightlife scene with venues that range from rustic bars to private nightclubs. Whether it’s black pearls and shell jewelry or traditional “pareu” clothing, Papeete is the best place in the Society Islands for shopping excursions too. Cultural points of interest include the Paul Gauguin Museum and the Museum of Tahiti. Scenic mountains, tumbling waterfalls and black sandy beaches are the island’s star natural attractions. Best Tahiti Resort: InterContinental Tahiti Resort
Best Bora Bora Restaurants
La Villa Mahana $31 – 60
Ten minutes from the Vaitape dock is one of the best places to dine in all of French Polynesia. Only a handful of tables are peppered throughout this quaint two-story restaurant, which means personal service and exquisitely crafted dishes are the standard. Make reservations in advance. Telephone: 689 40 67 50 63 Web: La Villa Mahana
Lagoon by Jean-Georges $31 – 60
Aside from the illuminated water on the deck, the thoughtfully designed main dining room and perfect view of Mount Otemanu, this Jean-Georges Vongerichten-helmed restaurant at The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort packs a delectable punch with its first-rate cuisine. Telephone: 689 40 60 70 88 Web: Lagoon by Jean-Georges
Fare Manuia $11 – 30
This roadside thatched-roof pit stop has more than meets the eye. A French Polynesian blend of East meets West, with its own unique island spin, results in rich flavors and a wide variety of choices. Go hungry, leave fulfilled. Telephone: 689 40 67 68 08 Web: Fare Manuia
Le Matira Beach Restaurant $11 – 30
Enjoy a casual lunch or a romantic dinner atop this unbeatable terrace overlooking the beach. Mouthwatering pan-fried foie gras followed by chocolate-covered banana cake is enough to keep you coming back night after night. Telephone: 689 40 67 07 79 Web: Le Matira Beach Restaurant
Kaina Hut $11 – 30
This sandy-floored hut is home to excellent pastas in fresh sauces, breadfruit gnocchi and New Zealand meats. You certainly won’t want to skip dessert here; the fruit panna cotta is not to be missed. Telephone: 689 40 67 54 06 Web: Kaina Hut
Best Tahiti Restaurants
L’O à la Bouche $31 – 60
L’O à la Bouche has a strong reputation for delivering top gourmet food in French Polynesia. Enjoy unique dishes made with freshly caught seafood and an extensive wine selection. The food is always beautifully presented, with a warm and romantic ambiance throughout the restaurant. Telephone: 689 40 45 29 76 Web: L’O à la Bouche
Le Coco’s $31 – 60
Considered one of the most romantic dining spots in Tahiti, Le Coco’s offers diners French cuisine with the best local French Polynesian produce and ingredients. Other dishes include influences from Spain, Portugal and Italy, as well as China and Asia. A waterfront setting with views out to Moorea, Le Coco’s is a beautiful spot to watch the sun go down over a fine meal. Telephone: 689 40 58 21 08 Web: Le Coco’s
Le Lotus $31 – 60
This restaurant is part of the InterContinental Tahiti Resort, situated over the water, looking out to the lagoon and the resort’s sandy-bottom swimming pool. Dine on freshly caught seafood as well as a selection of meat dishes, with a wide selection of French wines. Live piano helps set the mood. Telephone: 689 40 86 51 10 Web: Le Lotus
Blue Banana $11 – 30
Blue Banana is a fun and vibrant restaurant with gorgeous views out to the lagoon. Seafood is the specialty, the poisson cru is a favorite with many, but they also offer a variety of meat dishes as well. There’s seating both indoors and outside, so you can enjoy the fresh ocean air as you feast on the fruits of the sea. Telephone: 689 40 41 22 24 Web: Blue Banana
Le Carre $31 – 60
Located within Le Meridien Tahiti, Le Carre restaurant offers diners stunning views of the lagoon, as well as views out to Moorea. The restaurant’s distinguishing features from other resort dining areas is its stylish decor and low lighting, adding to the ambiance. French cuisine features heavily on the menu as well as a variety of fresh seafood dishes. Telephone: 689 40 47 07 23 Web: Le Carre
Best Huahine Restaurants
Huahine Yacht Club $11 – 30
In a great location right on the lagoon, this lively restaurant is a favorite local watering hole and the best place to eat around Fare. With polished oyster shells nailed to the walls and lights strewn from the thatched ceiling, it has a beach-bar vibe and cooks a mean shrimp curry. Telephone: 689 40 68 70 81 Web: Huahine Yacht Club
Chez Tara $11 – 30
One of Huahine’s unexpected gems, Chez Tara is easily the best place on the island to sample Tahitian specialties. Head here on Sundays for its legendary ma’a Tahiti (traditional Tahitian food, served buffet-style at noon; 3500 CFP), which should satisfy all but the hungriest of visitors. It’s in a great location, right on the lagoon. Bookings essential. Telephone: 689 40 68 78 45 Web: Chez Tara
Pizzeria Roulotte Italia Under $10
Follow the sign from the main road about 1.5km north of Fare to find this Italian-run mobile food van serving Huahine’s best pizzas plus a few extras such as saccotini (small fried pizzas) lasagne and tiramisu. Try the ‘Huahine’ pizza with fresh tuna and Roquefort cheese or the ‘lobster’, which as the name suggests, is topped with fresh, local crustacean. Telephone: 689 87 31 41 89 Web: Pizzeria Roulotte Italia
Best Society Islands Nightlife
Fare Manuia – Bora Bora
Fare Manuia likes any excuse to party so most ‘occasions’ are celebrated. Staffed by young & knowledgeable team the wooden bar with its extensive list of spirits on display is backed by a large full-screen TV – this is where Bora Bora gathers to watch major international sporting events with an owner/operator sufficiently flexible to ensure the bar is humming irrespective of the time of such events. Telephone: 689 40 67 68 08 Web: Fare Manuia
Bloody Mary’s – Bora Bora
Bloody Mary’s is Bora Bora’s most famous bar – visited by the rich & famous, by celebrities from all over the world. This is a huge traditional style fare made from local timbers with a thatched pandanus roof & its famous white sand floor. The bar is crafted from coconut, the stools on which you sit bar-side likewise made from the trunks of coconut trees. Telephone: 689 40 67 72 86 Web: Bloody Mary’s
The Piano Bar – Tahiti
The Piano Bar is the most popular of the “sexy clubs” along this street, especially for its late-night strip shows featuring female impersonators. It’s open daily from 3pm to 3am. Telephone: 689 40 42 88 24 Web: The Piano Bar
Morrison’s Cafe – Tahiti
Have a drink, watch the sunset, and check e-mail at this popular bar just across the road from the cruise dock. There’s live music on the terrace on weekends. Telephone: 689 40 42 78 71 Web: Morrison’s Cafe
Le Chaplin’s – Tahiti
You’ll find more than 50 cocktails on the bar menu at this Centre Vaima bar. There’s music and video clips to keep you entertained. Telephone: 689 40 42 73 05 Web: Le Chaplin’s
Hi! I have been wanting to visit Bora Bora all my life. And just reading about it excites me.
I really like it’s strategic location between Australia and California in the South Pacific. I have always heard of Matira Beach’s incredibly blue waters and about the gorgeous coral reef. I also love snorkeling and Bora Bora is a great place for it too. I believe we finally may be able to go this year.
Great Henry! If you need any additional information or I can help you in anyway with your vacation plans, please let me know. Thanks for visiting my Society Islands Travel Guide.
Glad I found this site. Me and my family are booked in to stay in Bora Bora 3 months from now. Thanks for all of the great content you have come up with, has helped a lot!
Great! I am glad I could help with your planning! Have a wonderful time 🙂
Great site! I have not heard of the Society Islands before, but have been looking for a good beach destination. I am glad I found this post, as the Society Islands looks like a great fit for a vacation for me. I would like to travel there in December. How will the weather be this time of year?
I am glad you found this information useful and that you have decided to make the Society Islands your next vacation destination. The weather is pretty much ideal year round. December is a great time as the rates are a little lower and the weather is still beautiful. You will have a wonderful time. Please let me know if I can provide you with any additional information.
I could not have stumbled on this post at a better time than this. My best mate and I are planning a lovely holiday but we’ve been undecided on the destination, but now, I know Bora Bora is a place to behold.
Better yet, the info you supplied on lovely hotels with car hire service is just a life saver.
I have shared this post with my mate hoping she approves.
Thanks for sharing.
You are very welcome! Yes, Bora Bora is a beautiful destination and I don’t think you will have a hard time “selling” this destination at all. Thank you for visiting my Society Islands Travel Guide.
Very informative article about Society Islands. I was really ignorant about these beautiful Islands earlier. If I get the chance to go out of my continent for leisure travel definitely I’ll choose Society Islands first as I’m living in India.
Your site is really very informative for travel purpose. And I’ll tell my country people about Society Islands and it’s attractive tourist places.
Great! I am glad I could provide an informative post with information that you can use in the near future. The Society Islands is really a great travel destination! Thank you so much for stopping by my Society Islands Travel Guide.
Your site drew my attention, and was very informative. I too have lived in Florida all my life,but Leahrae, you provided me with so much information I didn’t know. I did not realize there was so much to do in Naples, but then again I guess it’s just like any other small town in Florida. The night life is going strong, as does the rental cars. I’ve always thought Tampa or Orlando were considered in the middle,what’s your opinion on this? We sure could have used your suggestions last July when we started making plans to go to Germany. But none the less, we had a ball.I’d like to tell you an amazing story that happened to me. This pertains to the specific part on your destination packages page where you referred to the part about watching the sun set . One evening my late husband and I had driven over to St. Petersburg Beach to see the sunset. As we sat on the beach watching the sun go lower,lower,lower into the water, he says to me in his most serious voice…..Now if you listen closely, you’ll hear the ssssssssssssssssssssss as the sun goes all the way down!
Now to the Society Islands page. I was reading all your pages and came across this particular post which intrigued me as I have never heard of the Society Islands before. Sounds like a wonderful destination, and so many great beaches! It is now on my bucket list! Thanks for sharing such an informative post, and website!
I totally agree that Orlando is in the middle. I consider Tampa just a hair more west. And I have been told that too….to listen to sssssssss as the sun goes down. A lot of people have not heard of the Society Islands which is really a rather beautiful and unique destination. You would absolutely love the beaches and the just the culture there. It is a rather great experience!
My fiancée wants us to go to Tahiti and Bora Bora for our honeymoon and it would be our first time traveling together. I didn’t think about getting all the right details for restaurants, car rentals and hotels. I am very glad I came across your travel guide it is very thorough! Bookmarked 🙂
Glad I could help and have a wonderful time! Please let me know if you need any other information for your trip. I would be more than glad to help! Thanks for visiting the Society Islands Travel Guide.
Leahrae, I thought Bora Bora was a myth! Boy was I wrong. It is absolutely beautiful and untarnished. Your videos are phenomenal and allows me to see from an arial viewpoint just how lovely, peaceful, and luscious the island is. I have got to go there!
Yes, Bora Bora is one of those exotic beautiful beach destinations that everyone who loves beaches needs to visit at least once in a lifetime for sure. I am glad you enjoyed reading the Society Islands travel guide.
Beaches in Exuma Bahamas is also a great travel destination for the entire family. Have you visited there? This looks to be a wonderful beach destination, which is what brought Exuma, Bahamas to mind. You have done a wonderful job, and I have been looking for information on the Society Islands and you have provided everything!
I have not visited Exuma in the Bahamas but I do have information on it 🙂 I am glad I could help you with the Society Islands. The beach of French Polynesia are wonderful! Thanks for visiting BeachTravelDestinations.com!
I have never been to any island let alone get out of my country, and when I saw the picture of the Society Islands I was blown away, I am definitely gonna reference back to your page by bookmarking it, and when we are ready I am gonna set a course for Bora Bora. thank you for sharing this..
Yes, Bora Bora is probably the best out of all the French Polynesia Islands. The hotels there are 5 star and phenomenal. Glad you enjoyed reading and thanks for visiting BeachTravelDestinations.com!
Wow, you made me wish to book a flight and get to one of these islands! Loved the pictures you choose and you structured your text very well, so that I could really have an Idea what to do and where to go. Also the order of your content made sense to me. Keep on going and growing, Mattysmom!
Thank you so much Andrea and I glad you enjoyed reading. The Society Islands in the French Polynesia is really like a dream spot as far as beach destinations goes. Thank you for visiting!
This is great. Once again love reading your material, you never disapoint. So much information and gorgeous places so hard to choose. You really know your stuff. Thank you, its a pleasure coming back to your site every time.
Thank you Agnes, and thank you for visiting again 🙂 Soon you will just have to get your beach destination planned! You won’t regret it!
Thanks for the info. My wife and I have been looking to go on a trip to get away from our hecktic and busy lifestyle, and by looks of some of the recommendations in the Society Island Travel Guide we may have just found our next vacation. Thanks for all the hard work and detail to your readers.
Thank you Tony and I hope you and your wife can get away soon. It is such a beautiful place, perfect for couples for sure. Also let me know if you need any additional information!