WARNING: You will be tempted to stay forever . . .
It's no surprise that when you mention French Polynesia visions of paradise dance in your head. Close your eyes, and go with me . . . South Seas Isles, romantic sunset sea, giant turquoise waves breaking onto the colorful reefs, tranquil lagoons of warm, bright-emerald waters and white coral-sand beaches. Tahiti seduces not only honeymooners, romantics, but also adventurers looking to escape busy lives. Disconnect from screens and connect with nature.
The islands, which include Bora Bora, Tahiti and Moorea, are still largely quiet and move at a slow pace outside Papeete, Tahiti's busy capital city. The lagoons of French Polynesia are still amazing shades of blue or green; the mountains still rise dramatically above the sea. The surprise might be . . . Tahiti's Faa'a Airport is under 8 hours by air from Los Angeles airport, with daily nonstop flights. Tahiti is halfway between California and Australia.
Overwater Bungalows - Enjoy the drama and comfort and dreamy experience of the world's perfect hotel room while sleeping above soothing lagoons.
Cruising - Sail within the legendary South Pacific aboard luxurious cruise ships or super yachts that travel between Tahiti's most beautiful islands.
Sightseeing - Most visitors go to French Polynesia to play in its crystal clear lagoons, but don 't miss the islands themselves, a sightseeing extravaganza. The mountainous Society group, where Bora Bora and Moorea are two of the world's most beautiful islands. Tahiti, Huahine and Raiatea aren't far behind. Many islands are crowned with jagged peaks while others appear to barely float above the breaking waves. Regardless of the islands, their magical beauty often appears on postcards and travel posters as well as movie and TV screens.
Recreation - Scuba diving and snorkeling are the most popular recreational activities in French Polynesia, with well-established dive shops on all the main islands. Many of the scuba operators also will take nondivers out for snorkeling upon request. On Tahiti and Moorea July-October, there are many whale-watching tours available, and dolphin tours are available year-round.
Numerous opportunities for surfing exist in the Society Islands, usually on the north shores of the islands October-March and the south shores April-September. Tahiti's beach breaks are more suitable for beginners than the more distant reef pass breaks there and on Moorea and Huahine.
On Tahiti and Moorea, serious hiking trails travel up into the mountainous interiors. All the islands other than Tahiti offer excellent coastal walks. Some resort areas offer horseback riding, and Tahiti and Moorea have 18-hole golf courses. The yacht charter companies of Tahiti and Raiatea allow those with sufficient funds to enjoy sailing.