Home to grass skirts, Gauguin, and crystalline waters, The Islands of Tahiti are your archetypical South Pacific island paradise. These 118 islands are almost a pastiche of tropical relaxation with their white sand beaches and turquoise lagoons.
Unsurprisingly, water-related activities take centre stage, with everything from outrigger canoeing to snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and sailing amongst the myriad activities on offer. That, combined with a rich and expressive culture passed down from ma’ohi ancestors, makes these islands a perfect holiday destination.
Here’s our round-up of the best of the best in this land of cocktails, hammocks, and coral reefs.
Where to stay:
Five-star luxury on Tahiti’s main island. This resort is centered around a garden along with the more exclusive overwater bungalows on the lagoon. It also boasts two infinity pools, one with a sand bottom. The resort has two restaurants and three bars as well as jacuzzis, a fitness centre, jogging track, and their Deep Nature Spa to keep you fulfilled in body and mind should the cocktails not be enough to keep you occupied.
The island of Moorea is a short 10-minute flight from its sister island of Tahiti, or less than an hour on the ferry.
This four-star resort is on the shores of the beautiful Temae beach and boasts magnificent views of Tahiti Island on one side and verdant, volcanic mountains on the other.
The resort is made up of 113 bungalows spread out amongst tropical gardens, on the beach or directly over the water, so you can roll out of bed and take a dip in your own blue lagoon.
Tahiti & the Society Islands Cruise aboard the Paul Gauguin
For a proper taste of what Tahiti’s islands have to offer, why not try a seven-night cruise taking in the sights and natural beauty of Huahine, Bora Bora, Taha’a and Moorea.
Starting and ending in Papeete, on the main island of Tahiti, this cruise is as relaxing or action-packed as you want it to be. From discovering archeological sites, sampling local markets, dolphin watching, kayaking or snorkeling, or simply lounging around taking in the view, there is sure to be something to suit every taste.
An hour’s flight away from Tahiti’s main island, Rangiroa really is the place to get away from it all. In a region known for its clear blue waters, Rangiroa takes first prize. When flying in it’s worth getting a window seat as the island is formed from over 240 inlets and is said to resemble a stringed necklace from the air.
This resort rejoices in the simple life – bare feet and hammocks, lazy days and cold beers on the beach – but hasn’t skimped on the luxury when it comes to accommodation. There are Private Pool Villas, and even overwater bungalows with glass floors.
Food and drink:
Predictably, seafood is a staple of the Tahitian diet, fresh fish – especially tuna, mahi-mahi, grouper, and bonito – is on every menu. Most places also offer more exotic offerings such as parrotfish, barracuda, octopus and sea urchin.
Depending on your destination island here are some of the culinary highlights:
Le Mayflower has the reputation as one of the best gourmet restaurants on the island of Moorea. Famous for the lobster ravioli, other specialties include octopus salad with fresh coconut milk curry and mahi-mahi with pumpkin.
Embracing Tahiti’s French colonial past, Le Grillardin offers up only slightly reconstructed classic French cuisine. Escargots, foie gras, duck breasts and steak tartare abound – perfect for a luxurious, if rather filling, evening in paradise.
For casual seafood dining with a great view, you could do a lot worse than La Plage de Maui. It has a surf-shack ambiance and the crowds coming every day for the superb lunch menu obviously love it.
Restaurants don’t get much more private than this. La Villa Mahana on Bora Bora only seats six couples a night – so best to reserve about the same time you book your holiday. This intimate dining experience features French-interpreted Polynesian dishes made with local ingredients presided over by Chef Damien Rinaldi-Dovio, a French native who trained under Paul Bocuse. If you are going to dress up on holiday – this is the place.
The unique culture of these jewels of the South Pacific has always been a draw for visitors. Ancient dances and songs are still performed – passed down the generations, often accompanied by traditional drums and nose flutes.
The Islands of Tahiti also gave us the word “tattoo” from the local “tatau”, and tattoos remain important to Tahitian culture. Their symbols tell the story of each person’s history with different island populations having their own specific designs and motifs.
Things to do:
Embrace your inner Jacque Cousteau with a chance to snorkel with rays and sharks in the tropical paradise of Moorea.
Set your sights downward for an excursion that makes the most of Tahiti’s unbelievably clear waters and discover the amazing marine wildlife that thrives in Moorea’s lagoons.
For a change from the water, take an ATV into Moorea’s wild rainforest interior.
This article is sponsored by Tropical Sky – Holidays to Tropical Places