"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us."            



























FRENCH POLYNESIA is made up of five groups of islands: Austral Islands (including the Bass Islands), Gambier Islands, Marquesas Islands, Society Islands, and Tuamotu Islands. In spite of the fact that there are 118 fabulous islands scattered across five far-flung archipelagos, each with its own particular character, they are often referred to collectively by the name of the largest and most populated island, Tahiti.

As far as tropical islands go, nearly everyone has heard of Tahiti. With its idyllic beaches, welcoming locals and astounding views, Tahiti is at the top of many vacation wish lists. From the well-known islands of Tahiti and Bora Bora to the lesser known Manihi and Fakarava, what makes Tahiti so perfect and unique is its variety.

Tahiti extends over such a large area that it took explorers many years to discover and chart all 118 islands and atolls. But today, visiting several islands on one vacation is easy and convenient.  Many start their vacation on Tahiti, Bora Bora or Moorea. It is these islands that afford visitors quintessential tropical paradise and their stylish resorts offer the famous overwater bungalows. Onshore, visitors find a colorful array of diversions: surfing, boating,and other water sports, shopping at open-air markets and boutiques, fine dining, spas, and nightlife.  But once you venture off of these three mainstays, Tahiti becomes even more special.

Huahine, nicknamed the “Garden of Eden,” is the perfect place to experience Tahiti’s ancient culture, with artfully restored Marae (temples) and the world’s largest outrigger race, October’s Hawaiki Nui Va’a. As an agricultural island, Huahine is sparsely populated. Vanilla, coffee and taro plantations are plentiful and visitors will fall in love with the remote, unspoiled scenery and the relaxed pace of this island.

A short plane ride from Tahiti, the pair of islands, Raiatea and Taha’a, encircled by a colorful barrier reef, is where ancient kings gathered for their most important ceremonies, which today are re-enacted for visitors. Raiatea is also home to the rare tropical flower Tiare Apetahi, which, despite the efforts of botanists the world over, only grows on the slopes of Mt. Temehani on Raiatea.

The Tuamotu Atolls, made up of 76 islands and atolls, include Rangiroa, a ring-shaped coral island whose perfect conditions make it one of the world’s greatest shark and dolphin dives. Nearby Tikehau’s pink-sand beaches are also known for great dives; showcasing everything from barracuda to sea turtles. And Fakarava’s natural beauty is so rare and diverse that it has been classified a UNESCO biosphere natural reserve. It is also home to one of Tahiti’s first Catholic churches, constructed of an unlikely building material: coral.

Perhaps the most remote of Tahiti’s islands are the Marquesas, where some of the country’s most dramatic scenery is found. There are no lagoons here. Rather, these 12 islands are home to dense jungles teeming with wildlife and dotted with immense waterfalls—some as tall as 1,100 feet—that tumble over gorgeous sheer rock cliffs. The Marquesas’ incomparable beauty has been well-known for over 150 years: Herman Melville ended the cruise that inspired Moby Dick here; and Paul Gauguin, after drawing inspiration for his greatest masterpieces from other Tahitian islands, retired to the Marquesas in the late 1890s.

In the Islands of Tahiti, there is truly something for everyone, and in a place that gets fewer visitors in a year than Hawaii does in a week, you are guaranteed a relaxed atmosphere and a pace that allows you to do whatever you like whenever you like.

The Society Islands:

The Society Islands is a group of high tropical islands encircled by coral reefs and lagoons.  

The main island is Tahiti, the largest of the Polynesian islands, with Papeete as its administrative capital. Tahiti is composed of two majestic volcanic mountain ranges topped by clouds. Their highest points are Mount Orohena (more than 2000 feet) on Tahiti Nui and Mount Mairenui (around 1300 feet), the smaller volcano located in the heart of Tahiti Iti, Tahiti's peninsula. The two islands are linked by the isthmus of Taravao. 

This group of islands also includes:  

The famous island of Moorea, the magical island, separated from her sister island, Tahiti, by only an 11 mile channel. 

Huahine, the Garden of Eden, a wild island situated 110 miles Northwest of Tahiti, which still maintains a very lively, traditional culture.

Raiatea and Taha'a, two sacred islands with lush vegetation, enclosed in the same lagoon, and offering perfect sailing conditions.

Famous Bora Bora, the romantic island, with her breathtaking lagoon and beaches fringed with coconut trees.

Maupiti, the forgotten island, nestled in a jade lagoon, the smallest and the most authentic island of the archipelago.

Tuamotu Islands:

The Tuamotu group is a collection of low islands or atolls. A very special world, situated between sea and sky.

Each island encircles its own lagoon with a ring of coral and beneath the crystal-clear waters of each are spectacular underwater gardens and fish of every imaginable size, shape, and color. It rarely rains and is a perfect environment for pearl farming. Rangiroa, Tikehau, Manihi, and Fakarava are the most frequently visited atolls and provide classified hotel accommodations.

The Marquesas:

"Enua Enana" or "Land of Men", is a group of high islands near the equator, 950 miles away from Tahiti. Their steep mountains are inhabited by wild horses, goats, and pigs.

The most well known islands of the Marquesas are Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Ua Pou, and Ua Huka, which offer the tourists, among many other points of interest, a magnificent arboretum.

The Austral Archipelago:

Situated far to the south, the Australs are made up of high islands: Rurutu, Tubai, Rimatara, Raivavae, and Rapa.

The last inhabited islands of the South Pacific, these ancient volcanoes with soft relief are far off the beaten track.

With their "marae", ancient sacred places, and majestic centuries old stone "tiki", these mysterious islands still have not revealed all of their secrets.

A special attraction on the Austral Islands occurs every year from June to October when the whales meet in the warm, shallow waters.

The Gambier Archipelago:

Rarely visited and situated in the far eastern corner of French Polynesia, the Gambier Archipelago consists of the high island of Mangareva and its fringe of islands, which are the eroded remains of its former gigantic crater.

The focus of this website is the most often visited islands, the Society Islands the Tuamotu, and the Marquesas; however, we will be happy to provide you with information on any of the islands of French Polynesia. 

                                  For more information or reservations for any of these islands,
a Lighthouse Travel Certified Tahiti Specialist.
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