Home to (almost unbelievably) beautiful beaches, lush greenery and coral-filled lagoons - not to mention the wonderful locals, unique culture and array of adventures on offer - a luxury holiday to French Polynesia (or the Islands of Tahiti) promises an experience quite unlike any other. Here's just a snapshot of what you can expect in this truly tropical paradise...
1. There's an array of islands to choose from
The Islands of Tahiti encompass no less than 118 islands that are scattered across the (beautiful blue) waters of the South Pacific. Amongst them is legendary Bora Bora - known for its white-sand beaches, impossibly clear seas and lush terrain covered in fragrant forest - as well as the eponymous island of Tahiti. Along with alluring black-sand beaches, Tahiti is dominated by three extinct volcanoes (including the tallest in French Polynesia), making hiking, 4WD tours and rock-climbing ultra-popular - and not to mention scenic. It is also home to the capital of Papeete, a vibrant and multicultural city with colourful markets, excellent eateries and more. Often dubbed the 'little sister' of Tahiti (and easily accessed from Papeete) the island of Moorea is scenically stunning and wonderfully welcoming, where gorgeous seascapes are joined by lush interiors. For utter exclusivity, Tetiaroa is an atoll that - once the holiday spot of choice for Tahitan royalty - houses just one private island resort: the iconic Brando.
We feature an array of luxury hotels across these islands in French Polynesia, all of which promise genuine hospitality, comfortable accommodation and seriously stunning scenery. Of course, you can explore more than one of the isles during your stay, and our Luxury Travel Specialists will be delighted to craft the perfect itinerary just for you. Or, for a little inspiration, check out the tours below.
2. Space and seclusion are guaranteed
Throughout the pandemic, having privacy and space has become more important than ever - and we don't think that's a bad thing on your luxury holiday! Remote, secluded and serene, The Islands of Tahiti invite you to redefine isolation and escape from the everyday to fully embrace paradise. Stroll along huge empty beaches with very few visitors, before returning to your super-spacious villa for a dip in your private pool.
3. The region is the home of the overwater villa
When you think about the overwater bungalow, your mind may wander to the Maldives or elsewhere in the Indian Ocean... but did you know that these secluded sanctuaries (set on stilts above the water) were actually first thought up in French Polynesia? Back in the 1960s, a trio of US expats rebuilt a crumbling hotel into stilted bungalows over the reef, in the style of traditional Tahitian fishing huts. To attract visitors, they wanted to compensate for the lack of beach by instead embracing the incredible lagoon location and offering something different. The overwater bungalow has since become a symbol of extreme luxury and can still be found across the vast majority of hotels in Tahiti.
4. The marine life is marvellous
French Polynesia rivals anywhere else in the world (from the Indian Ocean to the Caribbean) when it comes to clear waters, thriving coral reefs and magnificent marine life. In fact, due to its exceptional biodiversity, scientists consider the Polynesian sea zone to be the "richest aquarium on earth". So, it's unsurprising that the inspiring islands are adored by snorkellers and divers. The warm waters that surround The Islands of Tahiti teem with life from mind-blowingly colourful fish and ever-present sharks to awe-inspiring humpback whales, which arrive between July and November. If you wish to see the sea life for yourself - no matter if you're a first-time diver or seasoned pro - many of our featured luxury hotels house specialist diving schools, offering the latest equipment and expert instructors.
Average Water Temperature: 26°C
Underwater Visibility: 30 metres
Species of Marine Life: 1000+
Shark Species: 20+
5. The islands have a rich cultural heritage
Whilst the natural beauty of Tahiti is a given wherever you visit, this collection of islands also exudes an undeniable charm and uniquely Polynesian culture...
• Each island is connected by the Ma'ohi concept of 'Mana' - the spiritual life force energy or healing power that permeates the universe in Tahitian culture. Locals believe that a person may gain Mana by pono (right actions) and so this concept guides their life choices and actions.
• Tattoos are of great importance to the Tahitan locals. In fact, the word tatau originated here! Each inking symbolises that Tahitian's personal history, with each line drawn on the body connecting the ma'ohi of the past to the Mana of the present and future.
• Song and dance are also huge parts of local culture and they link back to - you guessed it - Mana! Through life-affirming movements and sounds, Polynesian people give their voice to Mana, inviting it to rise from the sea, descend from the hills and emanate from the soul!
• Another great way to connect to local culture? Through your stomach! The year-round sunshine allows a wide variety of fruits, spices and vegetables to be grown, which are transformed into flavour-filled dishes to delight the senses. Fresh fish from the South Pacific (ranging from perch to mahi mahi and parrot fish) also feature across many local dishes. Amongst the most renowned is Tahitian-Style Poisson Cru - a ceviche-esque dish in which raw fish is marinated in lime juice and coconut milk.
Recipe: Tahitian-Style Poisson Cru