Is there a single location in the entire world that can conjure feelings of luxurious relaxation like the idea of lying on a white sandy beach, an apple martini in hand, a frangipani behind your ear, beside the sparkling shores of French Polynesia?
For this is the home of the holiday destination to end all holiday destinations, a place where a wedding proposal on the sand and/or actual weddings is a daily occurrence, where the sea is a balmy 30 degrees, and the marine life is plentiful.
The St Regis Bora Bora Resort, Bora Bora
Then there’s its crowning jewel, Bora Bora, the playground of the rich and famous, and home to arguably the most social media-friendly backdrop in the Pacific.
The Tahitian way of life is epitomized by the mantra of the people: “aita pea pea” (not to worry). Wherever you go, you’ll be greeted with a smile from the locals, who impress their warm, generous and easy-going attitudes on all around them. Could there be a more alluring invite?
Tahiti, the largest of the 118 islands and atolls that make up French Polynesia, is a wonderful mix-match of culture, food and people. French is widely spoken, and the influence of the European country can be felt everywhere from the cuisine to the history. Located in the Society Islands, an archipelago that also boasts the islands of Huahine, Moorea and the prestigious Bora Bora, Tahiti has long been the fantasy holiday destination to the masses. No longer does it need to solely exist in your dreams.
And, there’s a host of different ways to explore it. Take a cruise around the islands, hop on a catamaran if you know exactly where you’re going, or float away on a seaplane to take it all in by air.
While mainland Tahiti boasts some incredible black sand beaches, snorkelling and kitesurfing possibilities, most travelers head straight for nearby Moorea for white sand, leafy greenery and crystal-clear water.
Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort Hotel, Moorea
Touted as one of French Polynesia’s most striking beauties, Moorea is easily accessible by plane or boat from the mainland, and boasts eight craggy mountain peaks, interesected by an azure lagoon. While its known to be a stomping ground for honeymooners and prospective honeymooners alike, a plethora of adventure sports and recreational activities on offer also make it a perfect place to whisk the family away for a spot of island quality time. Partake in ray feeding, a whale watching tour, swim with dolphins, or try the ultimate adrenaline rush – a skydive – for possibly the best views of the island.
But if you’d prefer to follow in the footsteps of the Kardashians, the Anistons and the Biebers, Bora Bora might be more up your alley.
It’s the locale that started the over water bungalow craze, with the first room on stilts built over the lagoon opening at Hotel Bora Bora in 1961. These days, the over water bungalow is a staple of most Bora Bora resorts – meaning that lifelong dream of throwing open your doors one morning, white curtains billowing in the wind, to see luminous green water underneath your toes, need no longer be a fantasy.
Public transport on the island is non existent, meaning your best mode of transport is to hire a bike and let the wind whip through your hair as you explore the pristine beaches and palm plantations. Snorkelling and scuba diving are on high order here, and if you’re brave, a shark feeding tour is sure to be one off the bucket list. But if you’re there for one thing, and that one thing is luxury, you won’t go without. Consider the fact that St Regis just created an island, Motu Marfo, on its Bora Bora property, and that’s the level of indulgence we’re talking about here.
But still, the mainland is not one to be sniffed at. While Papeete is small as far as capital cities go, the bustling food scene should not be missed. Head along to Le Marche, the city’s premiere market place, where you can find anything from lunch to fresh fruit and vanilla beans to jewellery to Monoi oil, a souvenir must-buy. A visit to Papeete wouldn’t be complete without a stop by the waterfront food trucks either, a bevy of stalls for fresh seafood, authentic French Polynesian fare, and a spot to try the island’s famous poisson cru – fresh fish marinated with limejuice and coconut. It’s a perfect spot to take in the sunset, with a plate of delicious food.
A short, or long, stint in Tahiti and you’ll return home a new and revitalized person. Whether you’re a couple looking for a romantic holiday, honeymooners searching for the perfect post-wedding break, or a family wanting to create some lifelong memories, Tahiti is waiting for you.
Aita pea pea, after all.