How many superlatives does it take to describe Paradise?
Visitors to Tahiti and her Islands ponder this weighty question while strolling on world-class sunny beaches, snorkeling over stunning coral reefs, or idling away the day on the balmy, secluded quiet of their over-water bungalow. Whatever the answer, no one goes home unimpressed.
"Tahiti" names both the largest island and, in common parlance, the five archipelagoes comprising French Polynesia, officially a French Territory. The ratio of water to land area is amazing. Spread across an astounding 1.5 million square miles of ocean are 118 islands with only 1,544 square miles of land, Tahiti is not only vast, these are truly wide open spaces.
Tahiti may be "down under" (below the Equator), but surprisingly it is in Hawaii's tme zone, just 2 hours behind US west coast / Pacific Standard Time (three hours during Daylight Saving time, April through October).
Upscale, commercial and westernized French Polynesia is what visitors find on the islands of Tahiti and Bora Bora where luxury and conveniences match anything in America or Europe. The bustling capital, Papeete (pah-pee-ay-tay), sets the tone for the island of Tahiti. But there is another "Tahiti", the one adventurers may find more enchanting. On the outer islands such as Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Manihi and Rangiora, fewer conveniences also mean less traffic, fewer tourists, lower prices and, in some cases, even more beautiful natural settings. Getting closer to to native French Polynesians, say, in the street markets, may be easier on the remote islands.
Wherever one goes in French Polynesia four things stand out as life enchantments: memorable landscapes and seascapes, diverse recreational options, delicious and interesting food both in restaurants and on the streets, and smiling, friendly local people. A winning combination.