Flying in French Polynesia is Spectacular

Taking off in Bora Bora
Taking off from Bora Bora

It’s no secret I’ve always struggled with flying.

Which, yeah, is kind of ridiculous for someone who travels for living. I’ve taken well over a hundred flights during the past five years, but stepping on a plane makes me nervous. I’m practically guaranteed to dream about being in a plane crash the night before a flight.

I hate relinquishing my sense of control, I start worrying whenever I look out the window and realise just how much nothingness there is between me and the ground, I’ve been known to start crying over a patch of rough turbulence, and I’m permanently bracing myself to come face-to-face with a hijacker.

I know my fear is irrational. I know how planes work. I understand all the technical stuff. I know they don’t just fall out of the sky. I know that turbulence isn’t dangerous. I know that if flying was as unsafe as driving, there would be hundreds of crashes a day.

The planes were small in French Polynesia — a fear of mine — but I’ve travelled a lot over the past few years and I’m not as frightened these days.

Which was great in French Polynesia, because flying there was spectacular. Every single flight took me over sharp volcano peaks, dense jungle, bright blue lagoons, and white sand beaches.

Here are some of my favourites views from the window:

Raiatea from the air

My very first glimpse of French Polynesia came when I passed over the island of Raiatea. I love this shot because it shows just how far out the lagoon stretches, and you can see a small yacht sailing in its waters.

Arriving in Tahiti by flight

Tahiti is the most built-up island in French Polynesia, so this photo, taken as we were arriving in the capital of Papeete, gives you some idea of how untouched the rest of the islands are.

Moorea from above

When I return to French Polynesia, the island of Moorea is going to be right at the top of my list. I’d avoided it on this visit because I’d heard it was popular with tourists (I wanted to spend the majority of my time on lesser-visited islands), but places are popular for a reason. It looked stunning from above.

Moorea from above

Here’s another photo of Moorea. I couldn’t get over how many jagged peaks it has!

Huahine from above

Huahine was my favourite island in French Polynesia, and this photo was taken shortly after taking off. I spent much of my time on the island cycling around the small lagoon you can see alongside the runway.

Palm trees in Maupiti

A close-up of a palm-tree lined beach in Maupiti as we came in to land.

Maupiti's lagoon

Even on a stormy day in Maupiti, the lagoon was still a vibrant shade of turquoise!

Raiatea and Tahaa

These are the islands of Raiatea and Tahaa, which share the same lagoon.

Bora Bora when landing

Flying over Bora Bora before we came in to land was one of the most incredible sights of my life. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park!

Taking off in Bora Bora

And then, sadly, it was time to say goodbye to beautiful Bora Bora and leave French Polynesia. Going…

Bora Bora island


Bora Bora from above


Where is the prettiest place you’ve ever flown over?

Related Articles on Travel in French Polynesia

💰 How to Plan a Budget Trip to the South Pacific
🇵🇫 What’s it Like to Travel in French Polynesia?
🏖 How to Travel Bora Bora on a Budget: It’s Possible!
Meet Maupiti: the Bora Bora of 50 Years Ago
🙈 Stranded and Afraid in Maupiti
🏝 How Not to Travel Raiatea
💗 Huahine Travel Guide: My Favourite Island in the South Pacific

About the author

Lauren Juliff

Lauren Juliff is a published author and travel expert who founded Never Ending Footsteps in 2011. She has spent over 12 years travelling the world, sharing in-depth advice from more than 100 countries across six continents.

Lauren's travel advice has been featured in publications like the BBC, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Cosmopolitan, and her work is read by 200,000 readers each month. Her travel memoir can be found in bookstores across the planet.


  1. June 18, 2016

    French Polynesia is really starting to shoot up to the top of my dream travel destinations! Every one of those islands looks super impressive from above – and judging by your previous pictures from up-clos-and-personal too! Amazing!

    • June 20, 2016

      Yay! I’m thrilled to hear that, Dominique! :-)

  2. June 18, 2016

    Flying over Indonesia leaving Lombok was easily one of the most beautiful flights I’ve taken. The color of the water was similar to your photos, but the islands were even smaller so that from above, they almost looked like abstract paintings… unreal.

    • June 20, 2016

      That sounds amazing! I definitely need to see more of Indonesia at some point :-)

  3. I definitely need that book you mentioned!
    I used to love flying, but after a really bad flight from Auckland to LA, I am terrified! I have a bunch of flights coming up and have been having panic attacks just thinking about them.

    Thanks for the book recommendation!

    • June 20, 2016

      No problem! It really did do so much for my fear of flying. It’s written by a pilot and he makes flying sound so simple and safe, so it really helped put my mind at ease.

  4. June 18, 2016

    These photos are absolutely stunning! I love how the islands seem to just jut up right out of the water. Despite the smaller planes, the views really must have been amazing!

    • June 20, 2016

      They really were! And because the islands are so close to each other (each flight is around 20 minutes) you were passing over islands all the time :-)

  5. jenaly
    June 18, 2016

    Wow, absolutely stunning. I definitely need to see that for myself someday!!

    • June 19, 2016

      I highly recommend visiting! :-)

  6. June 19, 2016

    Oh my god, these photos are absolutely stunning. Glad you are slowing becoming more confident with flying – it’s something that’s never bothered me but I sure can understand why some people are scared!

    • June 20, 2016

      Thanks so much Danielle! I’m slowly getting there :-)

  7. June 19, 2016

    Wow, what incredible views! I identify with the fear associated with flying. I used to have full-blown aerophobia when I was at university and had to teach myself out of it because I wanted to travel the world! Now, every so often, the fear creeps in out of nowhere, but I’ve learnt to deal with it with mindfulness techniques. I actually LOVE staring out the window now whereas for years I couldn’t bring myself to be even anywhere near one!

    • June 20, 2016

      I definitely have had a love-hate relationship with the window. I used to always need to sit next to one, but I couldn’t bear to look out of it, so I’d keep the shade down at all times. Dave loved flying with me! Middle seat *and* shrouded in darkness!

      Now I love looking out of the window!

  8. June 19, 2016

    Wow, so beautiful! I have said this before, but French Polynesia has made it’s way on my bucket list thanks to your raving posts:-). I am actually thinking about not going to Sri Lanka and the Maldives but to back to New Zealand and continuing to French Polynesia instead…

    Lol, the most beautiful place I have flown over was the Philippines. But reading your post about flying there makes me think you don’t agree;-)

    • June 19, 2016

      That’s amazing — I’m so happy to hear that, Lotte! And honestly, I much preferred French Polynesia to the Maldives ;-)

      Haha to the Philippines! I remember the views being beautiful there. When I wasn’t staring at the propeller and convincing myself it was going to fall off.

      • June 20, 2016

        Haha, Í can imagine that can be distracting;-). I have to say flying with Cebu Pacific was quite an experience…

        • June 22, 2016

          The games! I still don’t know if they were amazing or annoying, haha.

  9. June 20, 2016

    That’s amazing, Natalie! It definitely is within your grasp :-)

  10. Spencer Santana
    June 19, 2016

    Holy crap! French Polynesia looks like a freaking paradise! I want to go there..

  11. June 20, 2016

    Wow those views look amazing, i’ve never seen anything like that from a plane! It looks beautiful :)

  12. Jason
    June 22, 2016

    Hi Lauren,

    I was wondering about costs for flights New Zealand to Rarutonga and rarutonga to Tahiti? I always seem to find these ones expensive.

    Also I have been liking your photos. What camera are you using and do you like it?

    • June 22, 2016

      It was $215 to fly from Auckland to Rarotonga, and $330 to fly from Rarotonga to Tahiti.

      I use a Sony A7ii. I *love* it!

  13. Vidya Kavitkar
    June 27, 2016

    Its really thrilling experience. I would like to do so. But little bit scare of looking down from sky or from high. But once in a life I have do this. Thanks for encouraging us with this article.

    • July 23, 2016

      No problem! The good thing with flying in French Polynesia is that the flights are so short that you never go super-high up in the air.

  14. Luminita
    July 3, 2016

    How can the water look so turquoise and clear? I could stare at i for hours! Great pictures!

    • July 11, 2016

      I know! I definitely developed an obsession with lagoons after this trip!

  15. John Parker
    July 7, 2016

    Hey LAUREN i really really very much inspired by your travelling. Pictures are outstanding, i have no words how to describe only i can say it’s mind blowing. Please share some more blog , i am really being fond of your blogging..

    • July 9, 2016

      New post went up yesterday! :-)

    • July 15, 2016

      Lots of new posts coming up soon!

  16. Travelomatrix
    July 26, 2016

    Nice Post . Thanks for sharing real Photo and those views look
    Beautiful. I have not never seem this type view.

    • July 26, 2016

      I don’t think you’d be able to get these views in many places around the world! Definitely a reason to visit French Polynesia at some point :-)

  17. Shiraz
    August 9, 2016

    Like you I find those small planes to be so scary! I hate that you can feel every single movement and bump in the air – and it always has me reaching for the arm rest in fear. Having said that I think i could get over my fears to travel in FP – Gorgeous photos.

    • August 9, 2016

      Exactly! I think the descent is especially bad — it always feels like you’re coming in at such a sharp angle that a crash is imminent.

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