French Polynesia travel guide
A whisk away with the ferry from Tahiti lies laid back island of Mo'orea. Nothing much is going on here, which is exactly the reason to come here. The main thing is chilling out in the shallow, crystal-clear water of the lagoon, which can easily be stretched to a snorkeling trip, and exploration of the island on bicycle or scooter. There are several exotic bays cutting into the island, creating fine photo opportunity with the jungle covered jagged mountains as backdrop. Stretches of small white beaches fringed with the mandatory coconut palms can be found all along the coast. The slow pace and the light development (compare to other French Polynesian islands) make Mo'orea a very mellow destination, and is probably what you expect Tahiti to be in the first place.
Less developed than the west side with more vegetation and a rough shore that is not protected by an outer reef. The coast has some of the best surf around (and that says something), though not as terrifying big as the Teahupoo wave on the west side of Tahiti Iti. Hidden black-sand beaches can be found here and there, and the lush mountainous inland, which rise steep from the shore, offers excursions to tall waterfalls and lava tunnels among other attractions. So nothing mind blowing, just something to see one those days where you need to heal your sunburns.
Tattooing is again popular through out the Pacific after the missionaries tried to stop the practice a half century ago. On Tahiti they (Tahitian as well as the French) stick mostly to traditional Polynesian style made up of black patterns, though you will see the occasional heart or eagle. Though the fashion tattoos today, made with a modern tattoo-gun at one of the tattoo studios, are the most esthetically to look at, there is just something authentic about the elder's old and faded pieces that easily fill out a whole leg or back. These were made by hand with the use of crude tattooing instruments by repeatedly tapping a stick with a row of needles into the skin. So when you get tired of looking at the turquoise sea, turn your eyes to the walking skin art in the streets.
To grasp the charm of Tahiti you need to see the island as a whole, rather than a string of single sights. The west coast is the most groomed and have a handful of sights that cater to the few tourists that actually venture out of their resorts. This include the fine lighthouse at Point Venus, the pretty garden of Maraa cave and the lovely located Gauguin museum (yes, the French painter) that actually does not have a single original painting of the guy (understandable though, consider their values). The road from Papeete to Tahiti Iti (the sizable lump attached to Tahiti's southeast end) wind along the coast passing a range of small patches of beaches, where none are of the white-sand-palm-fringed-postcard-worthy quality that the French Polynesia is otherwise known for, and ending in Tahiti Iti, where the famous Teahupoo wave is breaking.