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Tahiti & French Polynesia

Tahiti covers over two million square miles of the South Pacific Ocean and is comprised of 118 islands spread over five great archipelagos.
 
Many islands are crowned with jagged peaks while others appear to barely float above the breaking waves. Spread over an area as large as Western Europe, the total land mass of all the islands adds up to an area only slightly larger than the tiny state of Rhode Island.
 
The three archipelagos most sought by visitors are the Society Islands, comprised of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea and Taha'a; The Tuamotu Atolls or "Tahiti's Strand of Pearls", include the atolls of Rangiroa, Manihi, Tikehau, and Fakarava; and the Marquesas, or "The Mysterious Islands."
 
The two other archipelagos, the Austral Islands and the Gambier Islands, lie to the south and the southeast, respectively, of the Society Islands. While very few travelers venture to these remote islands, those that do are not disappointed by the pristine environment.

 
MY TRAVEL AGENT'S suggested things to do in Tahiti:
 
 
1.  STAY IN AN OVERWATER BUNGALOW
 
Unlike any other hotel room you've stayed in before, these traditional thatched-roof bungalows are perched above the turquoise lagoon waters. In many of the rooms, tropical fish swim below as you look through the glass floor or coffee table. With all the amenities of a first-class hotel room, here on your private balcony surrounded only by water and sky, you can enjoy both breakfast (often delivered by canoe) and the sunset (seemingly delivered by the heavens).
 
2.  TAKE A TOUR ON AN ISLAND
 
There is no better way to gain a sense of everyday Tahitian life and experience the culture of French Polynesia, than passing through the small villages on a circle-island tour. As nearly every island has a coastal road following the lagoon shores, you can either drive around the island by rental car or take a guided bus tour. Explore the island interiors on a 4x4 safari, guided nature hike, or horseback ride. Skim across the lagoons on a motorized canoe, sailboat, or powerboat. For dramatic views above the islands, take a helicopter tour.
 
3.  GET IN THE WATER AND EXPLORE
 
World-class snorkeling and diving in Tahiti is one of the South Pacific's best-kept secrets. Both experienced and beginner divers and snorkelers are amazed by how clear the waters are and how close they can swim to the marine life, such as the gigantic manta rays. With hundreds of dive sites throughout the islands, divers can choose from the amazing drift dives, oceanic drop-offs, sunken ships, and lagoon dives with infinite marine life.
 
4.  FEED A SHARK -- YIKES !!
 
This excursion is one of the most thrilling and popular and can be enjoyed on most of the main islands. After a short trip into the lagoon by powered outrigger canoe or powerboat, you'll float or stand in four to seven feet of clear water behind a secure rope as the docile sharks are hand-fed by an experienced guide. Even non-swimmers can enjoy this exciting scene from the boat.
 
5.  SHOP FOR PEARLS
 
The world-renowned iridescent luster of Mother Nature's most perfect gem can only be created in Tahiti warm lagoon waters. Commonly known around the world as Black Pearls, each Tahitian Cultured Pearl ranges in size and shape and the colors range from the darkest black to shimmering shades of green, blue, bronze, aubergine, or even pink. Tour a pearl farm on Manihi, Rangiroa, Raiatea, Huahine, Taha'a, Tikehau, and Fakarava or visit one of the many pearl shops.
 
6.  PAMPER YOURSELF AT A SPA
 
Tahiti is now a world-class spa destination with many of the resorts offering new luxurious spas. Surrounded by a backdrop of natural beauty and floral fragrances, there is no better setting for relaxation. Enjoy fresh-flower baths, herbal rain showers, or even a body wrap in banana tree leaves.  You can also rejuvenate your romance at the spas aboard the cruise ships including the Parisian-influenced private Spa Villa for two on the m/s Paul Gauguin.
 
7.  TAKE OR RENEW YOUR VOWS
 
A traditional Tahitian wedding is a meaningful yet legally non-binding ceremony for couples wishing to wed or renew their vows. Couples are bedecked in bright pareu, flowers, and shells. The groom is brought to the beach side location in a canoe while the bride is carried on a rattan throne. Music and dancers enhance the ceremony while a Tahitian priest performs the rites and gives the couple their Tahitian name.
 
8.  HAVE A PRIVATE PICNIC
 
Enjoy a private or group picnic on your own motu (tiny islets in the lagoon.) Your resort or cruise ship can provide an unforgettable experience where gourmet meals are prepared and enjoyed on a table set either under a coconut tree or in the warm, shallow waters along the beach as shown here with Bora Bora Cruises.
 

 
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