Spread across four million square-kilometres in the South Pacific, French Polynesia is the home of 118 eye-popping islands and atolls.
Tahiti Nui is the largest island in French Polynesia and home to the capital Papeete, the entry point for international visitors. While it is beautiful itself (and certainly worth spending some time exploring), it’s also the jumping off point for a range of luxe locations such as Bora Bora, Moorea, Rangiroa and the Marquesas.
While there’s no denying the difficulty of getting past the beauty of these aforementioned islands, push on through the shimmering lagoons and white-sand patchwork and your curiosity will be rewarded with a series of remote islands loaded with largely unknown experiences. For example The Gambier Islands are largely untapped by tourists and Huahine (180km north-west of Tahiti) is considered to be Bora Bora without the $2000-per-night hotel tariffs.
Overwater bungalows might be synonymous with a holiday to French Polynesia, but what say you to renting your own private patch of pristine waterfront or pitching a tent in a lush camping ground?
Dotted around some of the most spectacular parts of each island, campsites and Tahitian guesthouses (also referred to as pensions or fares) give visitors the opportunity to connect with locals and immerse themselves in traditional French Polynesian life.
Sailing these waters on a bareboat allows for dipping in and out of island life at any of these paradises, as well as offering up maximum indulgence in pursuits such as snorkelling and reef diving, while cruising with one of the more boutique operators is an equally stunning option.
A beguiling blend of Tahitian and French culture exists right across the country’s 118 islands and atolls. Residents speak French and Tahitian, serve French cuisine along with Polynesian specialties, and resorts incorporate European refinements with laid back South Pacific style.
This intriguing mixture of tropical island culture and French sophistication comes together to form the ideal holiday destination.
The warm nature of the Tahitian people and their rich culture is also something you’ll never forget. Taking in some of the traditional music, dance, storytelling and art (especially the tattooing practices), is a truly special holiday experience.
There’s plenty here to suit adrenaline junkies. Think swimming with pods of humpback whales in Moorea between July and October (in waters so rich with marine life you’ll feel like the bay leaf in ray and reef-shark soup), surf one of the world’s best known breaks, quad-bike along forested ridge lines, hiking the lava tubes of Tahiti, or enjoying drift dives in Rangiroa’s Tiputa Pass and Fakarava’s Tumakohua Pass.
Whether you’re into cycling, running, body ink or fashion, you can rest assured that somewhere, on one of the Tahiti’s stunning islands, there’s a festival that’s just right for you.
Will you ink up at Tatau I Tahiti Tattonesia, take part in one of the famed Moorea Marathons or take a front-row seat at Tahiti Fashion Week? The choice is yours – just don’t miss Heiva I Tahiti, the biggest cultural event on the calendar which engulfs the islands over a month-long celebration every July.