Five Great Reasons to Visit the Islands of Tahiti

Beaches, adventure, cuisine, culture—and oh, the romance.

Some say that the Islands of Tahiti, also known as the Society Islands and part of French Polynesia in the South Pacific, are reminiscent of their northern neighbor Hawaii about 20 years ago.

Not a bad recommendation if you prefer smaller crowds while you explore lush islands that offer everything one seeks in a fabulous island getaway: pristine beaches, mind-bending outdoor adventure, mouth-watering cuisine, rich culture and fairy-tale-caliber romance.

Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia and gateway to the rest of the region, greets visitors with majestic volcanic peaks rising from the ocean. Arriving in the bustling capital city of Papeete, travelers indulge in shopping, restaurants, museums and nightlife.

But everywhere on the Islands of Tahiti, the beach is the thing. On the south shore of Tahiti’s main peninsula is La Plage de Maui (plage is beach in French), a white-sand beach with a sparkling lagoon perfect for swimming. (Many Tahitian beaches feature volcanic black sand.)

Moorea, 12 miles from the island of Tahiti, is often called the “The Magical Island” for the way it emerges from the ocean in a burst of green with a broad lagoon surrounding the mountains. Its best-known beaches are Temae Beach, a nearly unbroken stretch of white-sand beach with a memorable view of Tahiti, and Mareto Beach, located between Cook’s and Opunohu bays among the coconut trees.

Bora Bora, described by late author James Michener as “the most beautiful island in the world” and often cited on lists of the world’s top honeymoon destinations, is a volcano sitting in a stunning blue and green lagoon. Its famed Matira Beach stretches all the way around slender Matira Point, which forms the island’s southernmost boundary.

Enjoy a 7-night stay—2 nights at InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa and 5 nights at InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort for $3,656. Roundtrip air on Air Tahiti Nui from San Francisco is included. Book now for a $300 discount. Plus, AAA Members save $80 per booking.

Adrenaline junkies can always find a fix in or around the water. Famous for warm, clear waters, coral gardens and large marine life, the Islands of Tahiti offer world-class diving adventures. Check out the wrecks on Tahiti—the remains of a large cargo ship and a flying boat airplane—and Bora Bora’s gorgeous lagoon, where you may be joined by huge manta rays. Snorkelers gravitate to the clear, shallow waters on Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti, and every imaginable water sport is available, including Jet skiing, paddleboarding, surfing, sailing and deep-sea fishing.

Those seeking thrills on terra firma take to Moorea’s jagged Magic Mountain on ATVs or tackle an ambitious hike to Tahiti’s Fautaua Waterfall, which plunges 985 feet into a large pool.

Indulge in the island cuisine, featuring fresh fish (mahi-mahi, parrotfish) and exotic fruits, at restaurants such as world-famous Bloody Mary’s on Bora Bora. You may spot a celebrity vacationer also enjoying the sand floors and charbroiled seafood there.

Savor a 7-night stay—3 nights at Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa and 4 nights at Conrad Bora Bora Nui for $4,389, including roundtrip air on Air Tahiti Nui from San Francisco. Book now for a $300 discount. Plus, AAA Members save $80 per booking.

The Islands of Tahiti are undeniably romantic. Swim together in a blue lagoon, enjoy a traditional Polynesian couples massage or take a horseback ride along a quiet beach. And the most romantic souvenir ever? One of Tahiti’s famed black pearls.

A Tahitian vacation would be incomplete without talking to friendly locals about their island history and “mana,” the spirit and life force they believe connects all living things. Shop for the perfect pareo (sarong-like wraps), enjoy a native dance performance, and visit the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, just south of Papeete, to learn more about the geography, history and natural wonders of this beautiful archipelago.

Heidi Kazemi, AAA Travel Counselor, Roseville, Calif.

Customization is always my top priority when planning a client's vacation. I ask about their family and where they've been before. Their preferences guide our planning so the vacation is perfectly tailored for them.

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