Where: The largest island in the French Polynesian archipelago, Tahiti is located nearly three-thousand miles due south of the Hawai’ian Islands, smack dab in the middle of the dreamy South Pacific.[IMAGE 1]
What: Shallow, hollow, left-hand reef passes that break over live coral. There are also several black-sand beachbreaks on the north side of the island and a few rights scattered around the 600-square-mile island.
When: April through October is when south swells march up from the South Pole and hit Tahiti’s more famous breaks, like Teahupo’o and Ta’apuna. North swells light up the north shore of Tahiti, but you’ll have to go there yourself to find those spots.
How: An eight-hour flight from L.A. will cost between 600—800 dollars. Air Tahiti Nui and Air France fly from L.A. and have special fares at times.
Best Place To Stay: Miss France has been known to show up at the Pension Bonjouir in Teahupo’o, so that’s a good place to look. Ralph Sanford, owner of the Taaroa Lodge, is a popular local surfer and offers centrally located bungalows at a fair price. Check out bonjouir.com and taaroalodge.com for rates and availability. It’s also a good idea to ask some locals if they know of anywhere to shack up—you may get hooked up with the most hospitable folks ever.
Eats: Poisson cru, Tahiti’s answer to ceviche, is a healthy and delicious way to fuel up and can be had for around ten bucks. Fresh mahimahi and yellowfin tuna can be purchased all over the island for around five dollars a pound.
Crowd Factor: At most spots, if you get out early, you’ll be the only one out. If you lag, be prepared to watch more than rip.
What To Bring: Trunks, pintails between six and seven feet, sunscreen, solid leashes, a first-aid kit for the unavoidable reef cuts (use a lime to clean your cut if nothing else is around), and stickers—they’re like freaking gold there.
If The Surf Is Flat: Snorkel the lagoons, hike up to the numerous waterfalls located throughout the island, take a ferry ride to Moorea (a small island seven miles off the coast), visit the Hinano brewery, or just relax poolside at the Sheraton during the water aerobics class.
What Else: Tahiti is notoriously expensive, so don’t stay at a resort. Do take public transportation, and throw as many shakas as possible—the locals will be stoked.—Justin Coté