Tahiti is the largest island and the gateway to all other islands. It rises sharply from the ocean, defined by jagged peaks, thick rainforest and distinctive black-sand beaches. The population is centred around the small capital of Pape'ete, the closest thing to an urban centre.
Pape'ete, meaning ‘water basket', relates to the capital's history as the gathering place where Tahitians came to fill their calabashes with fresh water. Still a central gathering place today, locals and tourists now descend on the city for its fine dining, vibrant markets, nightclubs and pearl shops.
Tahiti is the main transport hub of all French Polynesia and is easier to travel to than you might think, with regular departures from both Los Angeles and Auckland with Air New Zealand and its partner airlines. Air Tahiti and Air Moorea operate flights to the other islands from Tahiti.