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French Polynesia

French Polynesia

It is a long way from home, but Papeete, capital of Tahiti is familiar enough to aid the dramatic transition from Western grind to sunny Pacific Island meltdown. The port retains a whiff of French colonialism; cafés serve Franco-Polynesian dishes, while luxury yacht crews do their final preparations for crossing the waters to one of the 100 plus remote islands that constitute French Polynesian territory.

From Tahiti's tallest peak, Mount Orohena, a web of spidery hiking trails fan out across the undulating jungle, but nobody walks far on anything but sand.

With the bravado of modern-day Captain Blighs, visitors can catch a ferry to the island of Moorea, just an hour from Tahiti. There is little in the way of noise or people, or, for that matter, traffic, but scooters and bikes are available for exploring the sandy coves.

The popular Bora Bora island entices visitors with a picture-perfect natural lagoon and a wide range of animal petting activities: shark feeding, manta ray tickling and whale and dolphin watching. More demanding scuba divers can go down to the coral gardens and deep blues of Rangiroa in the Tuamotu island group, due north of Tahiti.

Unmissables

  • Take an early ferry from Papeete to Moorea, and explore the island by scooter
  • Dive with black-tip sharks and manta rays around Bora Bora
  • Discover Fatu Hiva, the island that tourism forgot
  • Visit the great Marae Taputapuatea stone ruins on Raiatea
  • Embrace an ancient Polynesian custom and get a traditional tattoo