Tahiti: Choose your paradise
Where would you rather be – enduring our chilly mornings, rainy days and grey skies or lazing in the sun, white sand and turquoise waters of a Pacific paradise with irresistible French food and style?
When you and your loved one have to choose between hiding under the duvet or lying on a beach, the “tres exotique” option wins every time – especially when Air New Zealand can land you on the beach with only a five-hour flight from Auckland.
Two cultures collide on The Islands of Tahiti (also known as French Polynesia). Turquoise waters and Pasifika heritage blend effortlessly with French culture and cuisine to make the 118 islands a haven for water lovers, foodies, explorers or anyone who just wants to chill.
Tahiti can mean the last word in luxury or an affordable-yet-stylish Pacific escape in one of the most spectacular and diverse environments on earth.
Your holiday can be tropical adventure or blissful relaxation. Stay in overwater bungalows, snorkel with the local wildlife, swim with sharks, shop for cultured pearls, take a cruise, enjoy an island picnic.
Pick your paradise. On idyllic Moorea, eco-friendly Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa nestles between two bays beneath mountains which melt into a crystal lagoon. Stylish bungalows and overwater units are decorated in contemporary Polynesian style. Moorea Lagoon Spa offers a range of treatments and the resort boasts the only overwater eatery in French Polynesia.
Conrad Bora Bora Nui is located on a private island – Motu To’opua, where guests laze on the longest private stretch of soft white-sand beach or relax in spectacular overwater villas, six restaurants and bars, or hilltop Hine Spa. Ultimate indulgence: a private champagne picnic on the beach prepared by resort chefs.
A true gem
One of the Pacific’s best-kept secrets, Tikehau is a crown of coral islets that form a 26km lagoon. The name means “peaceful landing”, perfectly translated into the Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort nestled in a wild coconut grove on a pink sand beach. Choose from 24 suites and overwater bungalows, and 13 beach bungalows; chill in the bar and restaurant in the “fare pote” (communal house) by the infinity pool.
No prizes for guessing that you’re never far from an amazing underwater experience in one of the world’s top snorkelling and diving destinations. Tahiti’s warm waters (average water temperature 27C, 30m visibility), teem with more than 1000 species of marine life from flirty clown fish to more than 20 species of sharks and the humpback whales, which arrive between July and November.
You’ll only have to walk into the warm, still waters of a lagoon off a sandy beach to snorkel among coral beds. Moorea’s Coral Gardens, Bora Bora, Taha’a and Raiatea islands are famed for both their beautiful reefs and volcanic mountains while Rangiroa is the world’s second largest coral atoll, so large that a smaller lagoon has formed inside it. The Blue Lagoon makes the perfect day-trip.
For divers, Moorea and Bora Bora offer perfect sites (and lessons) for beginners, as well as spectacular deep ravines for those seeking a challenge. Advanced surfers heard for big-wave reef breaks like the world-famous Teahupo’o; gremlins and grommets will find plenty of easy beach breaks.
Sound too energetic? Catch a ride in a traditional outrigger canoe, kick back on a sunset cruise, paddle a kayak or hire a jet-ski.
Relax and recharge
With its special blend of French and Pasifika culture, two worlds collide in a delicious way. In Papeete you’ll see Tahitians cycling past with baguettes, buttery croissants, deli meats and a couple of cheeses in their baskets. French-style eating is part of the islands’ culture, but it has become entwined with Polynesia’s breadfruit, coconut, bananas, taro, umara (sweet potato), papaya, pineapple, fish and pork.
You’ll find exceptional French Polynesian cuisine at Sofitel Moorea’s K Restaurant, aiming to win Tahiti’s first Michelin star, L’Auberg’in, Le Cocos and L’O a la Bouche.
Traditional dishes are delicious and readily available. Look for poisson cru, raw fish marinated in lime juice and served with finely chopped tomatoes, onions, cucumber and coconut cream. The best fast food is casse-croûte, a meat and salad sandwich in a crusty baguette; at village feasts, don’t go past suckling pig roasted over an open fire or in an ahi maa earth oven.
Every evening, the waterfront of Papeete becomes a festival of flavours as food trucks (les roulottes) serve street food to the sounds of live music. The Municipal Market is a fun place to browse for fresh food, flowers and souvenirs.
Head to the Robert Wan Pearl Museum, across the road from Paofai Gardens waterfront park, to admire, learn about and perhaps buy the renowned cultured pearls.
YOU Travel is ready to help to create your own bespoke Tahitian experience. We’re totally focussed on creating holiday experiences that fit you, rather than trying to fit you to an off-the-shelf holiday. That means we take the time to listen carefully to what you’re looking for in a holiday.
For more information on the many exciting adventures in Tahiti, go to youtravel.co.nz