“Heaven on Earth!” said Bougainville when he discovered Tahiti in 1768.
From that point onwards, there has not been enough words to describe the islands of French Polynesia: the Island of Love, the New Cythera, the myth of the “noble savage” of Rousseau, all evoke the beauty of these islands and the gentleness of their inhabitants which one associates to French Polynesia as a whole.
Scattered over two million square miles of the South Pacific Ocean and spread over five great archipelagos, the 118 islands & atolls of French Polynesia have been fascinating generations of explorers, travellers and painters… Cook, Gauguin, Herman Melville, Pierre Loti, Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson and so many more
The surroundings, exceptionally beautiful, continuously feed the paradisiacal myth: romantic sunset sea sends giant curls of turquoise breaking onto the colourful reefs that protect the tranquil lagoons of warm, bright-emerald waters and white coral-sand beaches.
Many islands are crowned with jagged peaks while others appear to barely float above the breaking waves.
Environment protection is essential and since 2006, Fakarava and six other atolls around the Tuamotu islands are listed by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve, covering 270,000 hectares of land and sea.
Romantic Holiday and Accommodation
It is therefore easy to understand why Tahiti & its islands attract so many couples looking for a romantic holiday.
A traditional Tahitian wedding ceremony is definitely one of the most beautiful gifts for future couples or newly-weds, on their honeymoon, to re-confirm their vows or to simply celebrate an anniversary. Couples can now get married legally without having to live in the territory for one month before the wedding.
The accommodation on offer also contribute to this wonderful setting: hotels are generally made up of luxurious, traditional thatched-roof bungalowsbuilt with all the amenities of a first-class hotel room and perched above the turquoise lagoon waters. These ‘islets-hotels’ are completely integrated into the landscape without being confined to one space, and provide a discreet service, meaning each couple can enjoy this paradise in privacy.
In addition to their legendary hospitality, these unique hotels now also offer such classic services as water therapy and wellness services, based around the legendary Monoi oil. This fragrant oil is produced using the Tiare flowers, and has been known for its healthful benefits for over 2000 years and is found in many body and soul treatments.
Activities for all budgets
After many centuries of the traditional pirogue, Polynesia has recently enjoyed a huge rise in popularity for nautical tourism.
Polynesia now offers a wide range of travel possibilities, from short voyages to longer trips, no matter what level or budget: whether it is on an ocean liner, a luxury yacht, a private cruises with or without a skipper, a sailing boat or a catamaran, there is an option to suit everyone.
Scuba diving is a way of discovering priceless treasures, particularly in Moorea, Bora-Bora and in the Tuamotus.
Surfing is popular too: beside Papeete, the internationally famous Teahupoo giant wave is reserved for only the best surfers.
For the ones who just like snorkelling, flippers, a mask and a snorkel are all that’s needed to locate and observe the natural treasures only two or three meters deep in the safe crystal-clear lagoons that are scattered around this romantic getaway.
The Turtle Protection Centre, as well as the Turtle’s Clinic based in Moorea and the coral nursery was created by the management of the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa are all worth a visit.
Experienced oarsmencan learn how to use the Va’a, the Polynesian and ancestral version of the “pirogue” (dugout canoe). With this light boat carved out of wood, the Pacific peoples crossed the ocean. In October, more than 100 dugout canoes and 400 oarsmen take part in the “Hawaiki Nui Va’a” race towards the Leeward Islands.
The Tahiti Pearl Regatta is an international event that takes place each year in May.
Traditions and Identity as Art
Rooted in the mists of time, dance and music in Polynesian culture are a genuine means of communication.
In recent years, the Polynesian people have been able to refresh the island’s identity by reviving many of its traditions.
Power and charm, symbolic gestures, beautiful ornaments (costumes, crowns of flowers) are characteristic of these arts, that express social togetherness during festivals and ceremonies, culminating in the Heiva i Tahiti festivalin July.
This yearly event is also the opportunity to celebrate the community’s sports and artists. The bravest will fight during traditional sporting events: a stone lifting competition, a javelin- throwing event, coconut climbing and husking, a copra competition, and a fruit carrying race as well as outrigger canoe races.
Another form of Art is tattooing, the word even originated in French Polynesia!
For the Pacific people, this great art means far more than an aesthetic wish: tattooing defines the individual’s social status even if nowadays many tourists return after a holiday there with a ‘Made in Polynesia’ tattoo.
The “Tatau i tahiti tattoonesia” festival is an annual event which, in November, brings together in Papeete the best tattooists in Polynesia, the Pacific islands and the rest of the world, as well as attracting more than 15,000 visitors.
Art and history lovers should not miss the numerous museums in Tahiti related to its traditions: the Museum of Tahiti and its islands, the Robert Wan Pearl Museum, the Shell Museum as well as one dedicated to the painter Paul Gauguin.
Get on with the locals
For those who want the simplicity and authenticity of a local experience living with the Tahitian, small family hotels provide travellers the opportunity to share their daily life, including fishing and cooking with the mother of the house. Over 250 establishments (B&Bs, guesthouses, faré and family hotels) offer the opportunity to live by the gentle rhythm of the Tahitians.
Concerning the local cuisine , the most popular dishes feature raw fish prepared ‘Tahiti style’: freshly caught tuna, red mullet and bonito diced and marinated in lemon juice and coconut milk.
Breadfruit, dozens of varieties of bananas (including the incomparable orange fei) as well as the taro, tarua and ufi’s tubers also forming the basis of the local cuisine, not to forget the legendary Tahitian vanilla!
And last but not least, did you know that some Tahitian wine is produced in the heart of the South Pacific, in the Tuamotu Archipelago?
The 11 hectare vineyard is located in Rangiroa near the village of Avatoru.
Tiare flowers necklace, safe crystal-clear lagoons, bright-emerald waters, white coral-sand beaches? Let’s dream far from the windy spring right now, and book your evening on the 12 June to have a taste of this “heaven on Earth”!