Easier to travel than often imagined, Tahiti is eight hours by air from Los Angeles with daily nonstop flights on Air Tahiti Nui, Tahiti’s national carrier. Air Tahiti Nui has been selected as one of the “World’s Best” international airlines by readers of Travel + Leisure in 2011, 2010 and 2008 and as “Best Airline in the South Pacific” in 2012 and 2011 by readers of Global Traveler. Travelers’ Tahitian vacations begin the moment they step on board with their friendly Polynesian crew.
Tahiti is halfway between California and Australia, on the same side of the International Date Line as North America and in the same time zone as Hawaii. There are a total of 118 islands and atolls that comprise this beautiful South Pacific country.
Not to be lost in the legendary shadow of Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea are the “Hidden Paradise” islands of Tahiti—Huahine, Raiatea, Taha’a, the Tuamotu atolls, and the Marquesas islands, which are considered some of Tahiti’s “best-kept secrets.” Relatively unchanged by the modern world, these islands and atolls lure travelers looking for an authentic Polynesian experience, enhanced by world-class resorts, international cuisine and uncrowded beaches.
The Society Islands
Perfect for: couples in search of privacy and romance
Taha’a, also called “The Vanilla Island,” is well known for its many plantations of this sought-after spice, which sweetens the island air with its rich aroma. Reached by shuttle boat from Raiatea and located on its own secluded motu, Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa, a Relais & Chateaux property, is a romantic world-class resort. Surrounded by a spectacular lagoon and overlooking the beautiful island of Bora Bora, it is an idyllic escape for couples.
Perfect for: travelers looking for authenticity, history and adventure
Raiatea, meaning “faraway heaven” and “sky with soft light,” was first named Havai’i after the homeland of the ancient Polynesians and is the most sacred island in the South Pacific. The island is home to the historical site Taputapuatea, now considered a national monument.
Perfect for: travelers looking for romance, history and adventure
Huahine, known as the “Garden of Eden,” is just a 30-minute flight from the main island of Tahiti. A stunning crystal-clear lagoon surrounds the two islands while magnificent bays add drama to the scenery. Huahine is home to French Polynesia’s most extensive and well-preserved archeological sites including maraes (temples), and centuries-old stone fish traps that reflect the island’s ancient culture and proud descendants who still reside in this paradise. The island offers unique accommodation choices including Le Maitai Lapita Village and the Te Tiare Pearl Beach Resort.
The Tuamotu Atolls: Tahiti’s Strand of Pearls
The Tuamotu atolls, the largest of the French Polynesian archipelagos, are located northeast of Tahiti and include 76 islands and atolls spread over more than 7,500 square miles. The atolls of Rangiroa, Tikehau and Fakarava offer a host of lodging options and exciting activities, including world-class scuba diving, shark feeding and deep-sea fishing.
Perfect for: divers and marine lovers looking for seclusion
Rangiroa, a 1-hour flight from Tahiti, is the world’s second largest atoll. From the air it appears as a large pearl necklace gently placed on the water. Known as “The Infinite Lagoon,” Rangiroa’s coral ring creates a seemingly endless display of deep turquoise and lapis blue. Because there’s no island runoff, the visibility in the lagoon is over 150 ft., making the atoll one of the world’s best diving destinations. For the ultimate escape, recommend travelers stay at the Kia Ora Resort & Spa and the secluded Kia Ora Sauvage, which is located across the lagoon from the main village on a remote motu in a primitive, yet luxurious environment.
The bird and pink sand beach retreat
Tikehau, a graceful oval crown of white- and pink-sand beaches, can only be described as picture perfect. Considered to be one of the most beautiful atolls in Polynesia, the fragrance of the air is matched only by the abundance of life in the bright blue water. Tikehau boasts exotic pink-sand beaches and an abundance of sea life that make it a must for scuba divers. This diverse island is also home to a number of bird colonies that have sought refuge on the aptly named “Isle of Birds” motu. Travelers can experience this ultimate retreat and stay at the Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort.
Perfect for: divers and eco-travelers
Fakarava, “The Dream Island,” has a rich ecosystem, and is home to rare birds and plants, and the dive sites are virtually undiscovered. Fakarava is designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for the preservation of rare species. Perfect for anyone looking for the ultimate in privacy, there are plenty of isolated stretches of perfect beaches, and just 30 rooms available at the White Sand Beach Resort.
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