Tahiti and Her Islands – Islands of Love
There are 118 islands and atolls that constitute French Polynesia, of which Tahiti is the largest and most well known. The islands are located south of the equator, in the same time zone as Hawaii. Tahiti's Faa'a Airport is just 7 hours by air from Los Angeles.
The island of Tahiti, with its capital city of Papeete, is located in the Society Islands, an archipelago that includes the lofty islands of Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Taha’a and Bora Bora. Other popular destinations in French Polynesia are the Tuamotus, with the slender coral wreaths of Rangiroa, Manihi, Tikehau and Fakarava, and the Marquesas, with the massive mountains of the Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa islands.
Tahiti rises unexpectedly out of the ocean and is crowned by a circle of majestic peaks. The mountainous interior shelters deep valleys, clear streams, soaring waterfalls and mysterious caves. The flat coastal lands edged with a rugged coastline are home to fields of tropical flowers and most of the island's population.
Papeete, meaning "water basket" was once the gathering place where Tahitians came to fill their calabashes with fresh water. Now it is the bustling capital city and the gateway to the islands many treasures. Papeete boasts world class resorts and spas, vibrant markets, fine restaurants, pearl shops and boutiques.
Soaring dramatically out of the ocean in an explosion of green velvet is Moorea. A wide, shallow lagoon surrounds the island’s vertical mountains, where delicate threads of waterfalls tumble down fern-softened cliffs. Pastel painted houses surrounded by gardens of hibiscus and birds of paradise circle the island, while aromas of pineapples and vanilla hidden in peaceful meadows fill your senses.
Honeymooners and romantics from around the world have laid claim to the island of Bora Bora, where the castle-like Mount Otemanu pierces the sky. Lush tropical slopes and valleys blossom with hibiscus, while palm covered motus circle the lagoon like a delicate necklace. Perfect white sand beaches give way to emerald waters where fantastically colored fish animate the coral gardens.
The Tuamotus Islands are Tahiti's strand of pearls. Each atoll is a delicate band of palm-laden coral beaches and motus surrounding a lagoon with water so clear, it seems infinite. These oceanic wonders are only a few feet in elevation, and are sparsely dotted with tiny villages.
Rangiroa is a slender string of coral encircling a luminous turquoise and jade lagoon. The endless horizon is dotted with more than 200 tiny motus winding along the fragile reef. Inside, countless species of marine life fill the iridescent waters of the world’s second largest lagoon and one of the greatest dive destinations.
Fakarava is a protected and untouched nature reserve, where nesting birds and other forms of life live in harmony with the land and water. The rich ecosystem is home to rare birds, plants and crustaceans, and the dive sites are virtually untouched.
South Pacific Island Travel recommends Top Dive Resort, Iti Diving, The Six Passengers, Boroa Bora Blue Nui, Sheraton Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels and Pearl Beach Resorts.