Tahiti 101: A quick guide to this hidden paradise
Deep in our hearts, it's a place we dream of, long for, and imagine that one day we'll visit. See the natural beauty with our own eyes. Smell the essence floating through the air. Sail where explorers centuries ago, once sailed. Yet in our minds, we rationalize it away. Saying it's too far, too difficult to get to, I don't have enough time, it won't live up to the "hype", or it's only for the wealthy, celebrities and jet setters. This was my thinking too.
It could not be further from the truth though! Trust me! I've had the pleasure of visiting 4 times and it has been amazing, every. single. time.
I'm not going to lie or sugar coat it. French Polynesia is not a "cheap" destination in itself, and probably never will be. To gain the experiences that you dream of, there is a cost, like everywhere else. Know that it is very different from what you may have experienced in Mexico and islands in the Caribbean. It Is Worth It! You would be missing out (big time) to travel all that way and not do what you've always dreamed of.
My simple advice: Save up for this trip. Ensure your time in these islands is everything you've imagined it would be, and then some.
By not visiting this island nation, you are doing yourself a disservice. How do I know? Because I've been, and experienced it, and wished I had done something I passed on when I had the chance. I've had many colleagues who have been as well. And over the years have sent many couples, and families, to experience this part of the world. Everyone has raved and was touched by their unique experience in the islands. Having been touched by what they call the Spirit of Mana. It becomes ingrained in you, calling you back, again, and again.
With lush islands boasting rugged mountain peaks, crystal clear lagoons in countless shades of blue, and pristine beaches lined with palm trees, the islands of Tahiti make a picture-perfect backdrop for any celebration - Honeymoon, Anniversary, Birthday, Retirement or anything you desire to celebrate! Really, life is worth celebrating!
The Islands of Tahiti (also known as French Polynesia), boast 118 islands and atolls. Comprised of 5 major island groups, the Society islands are the most well-known. All of the islands span over 1.5 million square miles. That's a lot of space! Leaving plenty to do and explore.
Each island group is comprised of multiple islands and atolls, each with vastly different landscapes, activities, culture, food, and history. Imagine how much opportunity there is to literally dive into this area of the world and experience just about anything you want.
The Islands of Tahiti are located as far south of the equator as Hawaii is north, in the same time zone as Hawaii, and halfway between California and Australia. There are daily flights from California to reach the main island of Tahiti. Flying time is approx. 7.5 hours. From there it's very easy to visit the nearby Society Islands, hop on a cruise, or jet off to somewhere a little more remote.
Most first-time visitors will island hop in the Society Islands. This group is the most well-known, including the Islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, and Taha'a. This is where most of the larger (although not large at all) hotels and resorts are located. Perfect for the couple or family who wants to be pampered in paradise, yet still feel connected to the nature and culture of the island. Don't be fooled though. There are some incredible, low-key places throughout the islands, with a few private island stays as well.
Island-hopping in this area is an excellent way to assure a more well-rounded Tahitian experience. That's part of the reason you are vacationing there, right? Sure, you can fly 8+ hours to stay at one resort on one island if you want. I would recommend visiting at least 2 islands minimum. If your time is short that will vary of course.
The most famous and photographed island in all of Tahiti is the stunning Bora Bora. And for very good reason. Nonetheless, other islands in the chain rival this jewel of the South Pacific for many reasons. I'm in no way saying one island is better than any another. They are simply, different. All incredible. All desireable. All unique. Think of them as having different personalities, different characteristics, different beautiful features. All waiting to be seen and discovered.
Now... for my Oklahoma and Texas friends, it's easier than ever to connect with flights to Tahiti. Read that again! It's truly easier than ever! Getting to LAX and other gateways on the west coast has improved greatly over the last couple of years. Literally, you are one (1) connection away from reaching paradise! Just one! Traveling to French Polynesia is just as close as traveling to Europe for us. You heard it. In some cases, it's less travel time. Count me in!
Here are a few experiences you can look forward to when visiting the Islands of Tahiti:
The incredible views from everywhere!
Staying in unique accommodations
Hiking to a hidden waterfall
Snorkeling in crystal clear lagoon
Immersing in local traditions
Sampling incredible local cuisine, a fusion of French and Tahitian
Breathing in the fresh Tiare flower on every island
Shop for pearls of all shapes, sizes, and colors
Stargazing right from your overwater bungalow
Practice your French, and learn some Tahitian
So much more!
What an incredible place this is. There is something evident, yet unseen, that grips your heart. It's difficult to explain. You'll have to visit for yourself to know.