The 2010 edition of the Lonely Planet guide on Tahiti and French Polynesia gives you a pretty good description of gay friendly Tahiti and her Islands: "There are no networks or associations for gays in French Polynesia but French Laws prevail and there is no legal discrimination against homosexual activity. Homophobia in French Polynesia is uncommon. You will meet a lot of very camp 'mahu' working in restaurants and hotels and 'Rae Rae' are transvestites. The Dao Bar behind the Vaima Centre in Papeete is popular centre for popaa (western) gays as well as rae rae, but it's also frequented by heterosexuals."
On the island of Tahiti itself, there are a few bars that can be a lot of fun – most predominately for the gay and lesbian community would be the Piano Bar, which is located right in the centre of downtown Papeete.
The Piano Bar opens at about 10 PM, and generally gets busier right around midnight. You’ll find mainly locals there and the crowd tends to be primarily gay and lesbian on the weekends. However, the Piano Bar is better known on the island and to frequent visitors for their loyal clientele known as mahu or rae rae (visit FAQs for more information).
Although there is not much nightlife on the outer islands, these islands do offer a wonderful holiday experience for couples. Tahiti offers a low-key, tranquil holiday experience; it’s truly best experienced with your lover or some great friends.
That being said – it is also true that this holiday paradise is exactly what you make of it. Many of the resorts, restaurants, and small bar on the outer islands can be quite a bit of fun. Although none of the bars are specifically for the lesbian and gay community, they are very gay friendly.
There are plenty of activities to keep you busy during the day, most of which are concentrated in or around the lagoons: wake boarding, jet skiing, parasailing, shark and ray feeding, helicopter tours, windsurfing, scuba diving, snorkelling. However, everything tends to close up pretty early in the evening, and you’ll find that you and your lover will retire to your overwater bungalow early. The only exception to this is the island of Tahiti itself.
For those who enjoy shopping, there is plenty to choose from around Tahiti! Shops are opened from Monday to Friday 7:30 am to 11:30 am and from 1:30 pm to 5 pm/6 pm. Most of them are opened on Saturday mornings are closed on Sunday. But in Papeete the market is open every day. The food market is located on the basement but in this 3-floor building, you can find all kind of souvenirs, local clothing, accessories and beauty products: pareos, hats, pearls, perfumes, soaps, creams and body oils, flavoured teas and coffees and all these local items are available at very competitive prices. Tahitian black pearls are world famous for their quality and what better place to buy them than in their place of origin.
For lovers of fine food and romantic dining, Tahiti and Her Islands have a huge variety of restaurants to choose from, offering world class cuisine bringing together the influences of the South Pacific and France to create a uniquely Tahitian experience. What could be tastier than an eclectic meal, combining the delicious fresh produce of these lush islands, accompanied by delightful French wines to compliment the flavours, whilst, gazing across the lagoon to the silhouette of an island in the distance, as the sun drops to the horizon creating a spectacular light show to dine by. A romantic toast to a magical encounter...
The outer islands are much quieter and they are mostly renowned for their relaxing atmosphere and romantic sceneries. Each island has its own magical beauty, character and charm, from the volcanic mountain peaks of Tahiti and Moorea, to wild, rugged islands of Huahine and Marquesas, to the world's most beautiful island of Bora Bora. Each one offers some of the most private resorts and islets on earth while offering a wide range of activities: water sports, hiking, 4WD safaris, sailing, snorkelling and scuba diving.
Whether you're alone, a couple or a group, Tahiti and her Islands is the ultimate in a get-away-from-it-all destination. You can charter a boat, go with your friends on an exclusive lagoon cruise or chill out with them in the privacy of your own secluded island paradise such as the Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort. Tahiti also caters to gay groups, offering exclusive hotel book-outs at many resorts, providing full and private use of all services and facilities.
As an example, the gay-friendly 'pension' or guest-house Raimiti (pictured below) in the Tuamotu is run by Eric and Florian and is gorgeous. Located on Fakarava Atoll, it is very open and accommodating, click here - RAIMITI - to find out more.
As seen in:
DNA Magazine - a fantastic article and pics by Leandro for DNA Magazine's Traveller!