Having now reopened borders to international tourism and marine traffic, French Polynesia, also known as The Islands of Tahiti, offers the perfect getaway for luxury travel off the beaten track. These southern hemisphere islands also provide an ideal superyacht stop-off on your journey to New Zealand to watch the next Americas Cup Races.
The Islands of Tahiti are a group of 118 paradisiac, Polynesian islands in the South Pacific. The remote location of these far flung idylls means that natural beauty abounds wherever you choose to visit, and with plenty of pristine bays to moor in – as well as professional marina facilities on site – the islands are well equipped to welcome superyachts of any size.
The Islands of Tahiti cover a total area equivalent in size to western Europe, so visitors planning an itinerary are spoilt for choice. To help you decide where to drop anchor, we round up our favourites below…
Best for Nature and Wildlife: Mo’orea
Mo’orea showcases the nation’s unique landscape and exotic wildlife at its best. Below the surface of the lagoon’s crystal-clear waters, snorkelling and diving experiences will reward swimmers with kaleidoscopic visions of tropical fish or close encounters with peaceful sting rays. The island’s quiet, protected waters also make it an ideal location for watersports such as kayaking, catamaran sailing or water skiing. On land, sky piercing peaks, verdant forests and thundering waterfalls set the scene for days spent hiking, exploring on a 4x4 safari or taking the views in on horseback. The romantic landscape and vibrant colouring of the area has provided continual inspiration for artists, meaning that the atoll is also home to a blossoming art scene.
Best for Culture: Tahiti
The island of Tahiti is home to the nation’s capital of Pape’ete, and the cultural centre of the Society Islands. For those looking to learn about Polynesian traditions and to pick up some unique souvenirs, Tahiti makes for an excellent first stop on your island-hopping tour. To experience colourful cultural shows, head to the InterContinental hotel to watch a showcase of traditional dancing and music. The vibrant markets are also a great way to take in the local atmosphere and pick up regional products, such as woven baskets, hand made sarongs and rare black pearls that are completely unique to this region of the world. For those arriving into Faa’a airport, expect an immersive experience as hosts welcome you to the island with the sounds of music and wreaths of locally-grown, fragrant tiare flowers.
Best for Food: Taha’a
Taha’a is the agricultural centre for vanilla production, and Tahitian-grown strands of the spice have long been acknowledged by chefs around the world as having superior quality and aroma. The lush lands and well-stocked waters of Taha’a mean that the island is a dream destination for food-centric travellers, with plenty on offer besides vanilla beans. To sample the local flavours, book an over-water bungalow at the Relais & Chateaux Taha’a Island Resort. While looking over at the mountains of neighbouring islands, guests can indulge in Polynesian delicacies throughout their stay, including the nation’s famous “poisson cru” dish made from freshly-caught tuna tartare, lime juice and fresh coconut milk.
Best for a Couple’s Retreat: Bora Bora
Bora Bora may be one of the most romantic destinations on earth. Untouched, white sand beaches and peaceful coves await exploration, while a selection of luxury resorts make the island even more Edenic. The island’s reputation as a honeymooner’s paradise means that celebrities have oft descended on the charming motus. If you’d like to follow in the footsteps of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, the Brosnan family or Mr and Mrs Buzz Aldrin, book a table at the sandy-floored Bloody Mary’s restaurant. Built from natural materials for rustic charm, the atmospheric eatery is the perfect spot for dining on the catch of the day or sipping on cocktails. Parties arriving by boat can even anchor at the restaurant’s very own yacht club. For a five-star experience, retreat to a traditional-style bungalow at the Four Seasons Resort and discover the island’s beauty via helicopter rides, sunset cruises or submarine excursions.
Best for Diving: Rangiroa
Rangiroa in the northern Tuamotu island chain is an unmissable destination for those who want to experience underwater adventures. Made up of more than 240 pristine islets, the expansive Rangiroa atoll serves as the meeting point for the still waters of a cobalt-blue lagoon and the wild waves of the South Pacific ocean filled with abundant marine creatures. Life below the surface is remarkably vibrant here, as whales, rays, dolphins and sharks await deep divers, while those who only scratch the surface with snorkelling will still catch sightings of kaleidoscopic fishes and vibrant coral gardens. On land, rich colours continue with pink-sand beaches, vineyards bursting with purpled grapes and brightly-feathered birds cutting through the skyline.
For more information, visit tahititourisme.com.FIND OUT MORE