French Polynesia

How do you picture paradise? Velvety turquoise lagoons? Diamond beaches on sapphire seas fringed with hibiscus flowers? A canvas of emerald peaks cutting into billowy clouds? Do you imagine a land where the pace is dreamy, and the ocean breezes caress the soul into a state of bliss? Sounds like French Polynesia – a laid-back island culture of sunning, swimming, snorkeling, sailing… and just letting go.

The many islands of French Polynesia with their luscious postcard perfection make it easy to slow down time to perhaps one or two decisions a day. Sun or surf? Dine indoors or out? As the waves gently lap at your overwater bungalow, reflecting another glowing sunset, each perfect day blends into the next.

This paradise is a world of islands – 118 in all, clustered into five island groups. You may never agree on which is the prettiest, but almost all are spectacular, adorned with white, pink or black sand beaches. And the lagoons! Perhaps the most recognizable feature of French Polynesia is the myriad aquamarine lagoons dotting the islands. The reefs that fringe these languid pools create a protected haven of calm waters filled with dolphins, rays, turtles and a kaleidoscope of colorful fish for you to discover.

You’ve heard of swimming with the dolphins? You can certainly enjoy that here but how about swimming with the whales? Imagine paddling alongside a 40-ton, 50-foot humpback whale as it gracefully slips about you, or even a pod of multiple whales! This is the stuff of indelible memories, an awe-inspiring moment to be retold again and again. Partake of this experience on the islands of Moorea, Bora Bora and Tahiti.

Perhaps no island in the south seas is better known than Tahiti. This is the center of French Polynesia’s many islands and is a bountiful mix of black-sand beaches, waterfalls, deep blue lagoons as well as Papeete, the capital city. Throughout the island, you can take 4 x 4 tours, visit archeological sites or just float away in the shimmering lagoon.

If it’s romance you’re after, head for the honeymoon capital of the world, the spellbinding beaches and indigo blues of Bora Bora. There’s plenty of indulgence in this magical spot, and the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’ offers luxury trappings for those looking to cuddle away in their own little piece of tropical heaven. Should you want to venture out from your private nirvana, there’s diving, snorkeling, tours, hiking, and even parasailing to add to the enchantment.

Be as active as you like here but no one would blame you for just lounging away the gorgeous days as you feast upon the painting that is Polynesia.