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Photo Credit: Dive photos by Rodolphe Holler of Tahiti Private Expeditions
Tahiti offers; exciting scuba diving, beautiful smiling people, amazing flora and fauna in a riot of colours. Fascinating history, culture and tradition, exotic tastes of cuisine and tropical fruit, and the famous pearls, the jewel of the islands...
Tahiti and her islands offer something for everyone.
French Polynesia is a collection of several island groups in the South Pacific Ocean, roughly halfway between Australia and South America. Tahiti and its surrounding islands, (the Society Islands) is the most well known group in French Polynesia. The other groups are the Marquesas, Tuamotu, Gambier and Austral Islands.
The capital and largest centre is Papeete, in Tahiti, where most of the population lives.
The islands of French Polynesia are a semi-autonomous French overseas territory. People speak French, Tahitian and other Polynesian languages. Most people are Christian. Most people are Polynesian or a mix of Polynesian and European. There are also many East Asians and some French people. The traditions, cuisine, merchandise and other aspects of culture have a fascinating fusion of European and Pacific influences.
The Society Islands: Consisting of the Windward and Leeward Islands, the Society Islands are high tropical islands which offer fantastic cruising, diving and nightlife. They are the most visited of all the islands with Tahiti being the largest. This group also includes the famous islands of Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora and Maupiti. Each island is remarkable in its own way with spectacular scenery from every vantage point. A 7 to 10 day cruise from Tahiti allows a leisurely paced itinerary throughout this beautiful group of islands.
The Tuamotu Group: A collection of low islands or atolls which have first class diving and many pearl farms. Each island is encircled on its beautiful lagoon by a ring of coral. There are 76 atolls in total, extending over an area of 20,000 square kilometres located less than 200 miles from Tahiti. The most frequently visited atolls are Rangiroa, Tikehau, Manihi and Fakarava, these areas offer very exciting diving opportunities in the lagoon passes. Click here for further information on the Tuamotus.
The Marquesas: Around ten islands form the Marquesas group, located approx 700 miles NE of Tahiti. These islands of jagged mountain peaks feature stunning natural scenery. Very remote and untouched, you won't find many who have ventured into the area. Unlike the other areas of French Polynesia, the Marquesas are steep islands without a barrier reef. The most well known are Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Ua Pou and Ua Huka. The great advantage to the Marquesas is that you can land your private jet there!
The Austral Archipelago: Situated far to the south, the Austral Archipelago includes high islands with nature in the wild. A special attraction on the Australs occurs every year from June to October when whales meet in the warm shallow waters.
The Gambier Archipelago: Remote and very beautiful, the Gambiers consisting of the high island of Mangareva and its fringe of islands which are the eroded remains of its former gigantic crater. The Gambiers have many large pearl farms.
Activities and events include an array of sporting events, such as running, surfing, canoe races and many more, various traditional dance and music festivals and shows (including the famous ‘Heiva' festival in July), wildlife watching (turtles or rays, for instance) and numerous art and cultural exhibitions covering all sorts of topics from the painting of Gauguin to traditional tattoo designs.
International flights arrive at Fa'aa Airport, near Papeete, on Tahiti. Opposite the terminal, you can catch le truck: an open air taxi-van, to the city for only about $1US, or take a taxi for about $10
Getting there: Air France, Air Tahiti Nui and Air New Zealand are the main airlines that fly to French Polynesia. There are numerous weekly flights from L.A. and several from main centres in Europe. Flights also depart from Australia, NZ and elsewhere in the Pacific.
French Polynesia enjoys tropical, warm and humid weather all year round. There are often pleasant breezes to balance the heat and humidity. May through October is a popular time to visit: there is little rain during this time of year and less humidity.
Average temperatures in the Society Islands range between 16-35°C /60.8-95°F. The water temperature ranges from 26-29°C /79-84°F making for lovely swimming all year round.
The Marquesas Islands in the north are warmer than the main islands of French Polynesia and the Austral and Gambier Islands in the south are cooler (take a jumper for night/early morning).
For additional information on Tahiti, visit the official Tahiti Tourism website