Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Island Lover’s Guide to French Polynesia

There’s a reason artists, musicians and filmmakers have been immortalizing French Polynesia for centuries. Filled with gorgeous landscapes and an unmistakably romantic atmosphere, this cluster of islands is a work of art all its own. Need help navigating the best spots for your style? We have you covered. 

Best for Divers: Rangiroa 
Home to one of the world’s most sprawling atolls, this Society Islands spot is paradise for undersea adventurers. Sneak a peek at a lush world of eagle rays and dolphins, and then head to one of the unparalleled wineries for a glass of locally produced vino. 

Honorable Mention: Rurutu’s underwater world is a close second to Rangiroa, and it’s also the area’s top spot for whale-watching jaunts. 

Best for Honeymooners: Moorea 
The entirety of French Polynesia seems designed for sweethearts, but Moorea has a special love-is-in-the-air vibe. Upscale resorts line the beach, natural wonders dot the landscape, and tropical flowers provide a lush backdrop to the most romantic dinners. It’s also just a short ride from Tahiti, so newlyweds don’t have to endure any extra travel hassles. 

Honorable Mention: Long the province of so-in-love couples, Bora Bora is still a fantastic place to celebrate your nuptials. 

Best for Adventure: Nuku Hiva If you prefer jungle hikes to spa retreats, Nuku Hiva is your new home away from home. Packed with volcanoes, waterfalls and jungles, this island offers a world of adventures for thrill-seeking tourists. Plus, history lovers can catch a glimpse of the Taipivai Valley’s archaeological treasures. 

Honorable Mention: Fatu Hiva is better suited for experienced adventurers — its tangled jungles offer more challenging treks — but the Polynesian tattoo culture here makes it worth the visit. 

Best for Culture: Tahiti 
Many tourists skip Tahiti for its more glamorous sisters, but we think some of the most inimitable culture is found in Papeete. This is where the region’s French influence really comes into play; you’ll find tropical bistros, local galleries and bustling markets vying for your attention. Check your single trip holiday insurance cover, and make your way to this unforgettable locale. 

Honorable Mention: The tribal history of Fatu Hiva is a culture buff’s dream, and Hiva Oa is packed with local traditions. Plus, the Paul Gauguin Cultural Center is a must-visit spot for anyone who adores the late artist. 

Best for Remote Getaways: Manihi Most of French Polynesia offers a certain castaway vibe, but Manihi has the market cornered on remote retreats. Comparatively few travelers visit this spot, and the accommodations reflect it; you’ll find little in the way of five-star resorts here, but the simple huts, lush scenery and wonderfully friendly locals make the island a sight to see. 

Honorable Mention: Tikehau toes the line between Manihi’s remoteness and Bora Bora’s charm. Visit this piece of paradise if you want a few more traditional amenities than Manihi can offer.

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