The paradise islands of French Polynesia are famous for their rich cultural heritage and towering volcanic mountains. The surrounding coral reefs make them one of the best places in the world for scuba diving, and their clear turquoise lagoons are perfect for watersports, from snorkelling to paddle boarding and kayaking. Holidays in French Polynesia are typified by the romantic overwater bungalows at luxury hotels on the island of Moorea, a perfect base to experience the islands’ tranquility and natural beauty.
Polynesian culture and customs are celebrated and shared, and visitors are welcome to tuck a flower behind their ears to signal their romantic status (left for taken, right for single), don a cool cotton pareu (sarong) and relax in the informal ambiance.
Bora Bora is one of the South Pacific’s most beautiful islands. Inhabited by seafaring Polynesians since the 4th century, the island has officially been an overseas collectivity of France for almost 60 years. The official languages are French and Tahitian, but English is also widely understood.
In Vaitape, Bora Bora home to many of the best beachside hotels, Mount Otemanu rises dramatically 2,000 feet above a blue lagoon. Lovers of adventure can opt for a challenging hike up the inactive volcano, or sign up for a helicopter tour that delivers a fabulous bird’s-eye view.
On land, rental bicycles and scooters are popular means of getting around in Bora Bora. For an added thrill, you can keep an eye out for weathered bunkers and cannons, remnants of the island’s WWII history, and then catch a stellar sunset on a 4x4 island tour.
Bora Bora’s main attractions include snorkelling excursions and diving trips that let you get within kissing distance of giant sting rays and black tip reef sharks, if you dare. After all that excitement, enjoying a freshly prepared lunch on an intimate motu (small island) is the perfect way to end the day.
On Matira Beach, you’ll have all the room you need to enjoy the uncrowded, one-mile stretch of pristine white sand and warm turquoise water, within a gentle stroll of beachside restaurants serving up local and fusion delicacies.
For the best shopping in French Polynesia, look out for exquisite Tahitian black pearls at the boutiques in Motu Piti Aau. Vaitape’s central marketplace is a great place to pick up souvenirs, with stalls selling colourful local handicrafts, printed pareus, assorted jewellery and woven baskets.