1. FABLED ISLE
Hang the expense – everyone needs to see Bora Bora once in their life. The awe begins even before landing, when the spectacular main island – with its eerie cloud-swathed peak, Mount Otemanu – comes into view, surrounded by a lagoon that is seven shades of blue. More than 30 small islands (motu) circle the lagoon, and dozens of resort bungalows float on the water like tiny broken rosary beads. Its allure captivated James A Michener, who called it “the most beautiful island in the world”. See tahiti.com/island/bora-bora.
2. MAGIC MOUNTAINS
Bora Bora has the knockout lagoon, but Moorea has mountains to take your breath away, with climbers rating them as some of the most rugged in the world. Some have hiking trails, such as the highest peak of Mount Tohiea and also Mount Rotui, the hulking mass that rises between Cooks Bay and Opunohu Bay. Other impressive peaks are Mount Mouaputa, which means shark tooth and has a hole at its summit, and the jagged Mount Mouaroa – called Bali Hai, which is often depicted in postcards. See tahitievasion.com/ang.te.com/moorea-1. The awe begins even before landing, when the spectacular main island comes into view, surrounded by a lagoon that is seven shades of blue.
3. TANTALISING TAHITI
Towering jagged mountains, waterfalls, black sand beaches and even a blowhole, the island of Tahiti has it all. However, most travellers don’t linger beyond a day and head to the other islands soon after arrival at Papeete airport. Stay awhile and discover how easy it is to drive around Tahiti’s 114-kilometre coastal road, although the most attractions are found on the west side. Along the way there’s a grotto, the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, the Paul Gauguin Museum, a golf course, several coral-and-lime churches and le trou du souffleur (blowhole), and that’s before heading into the jungle-clad interior. See tahiti-excursions.com; tahiti-safari.com.
3. RANGIROA: HOW BIG IS THAT LAGOON?
Rangiroa, way off in the Tuamotu Archipelago, has the largest lagoon in French Polynesia, so big the entire island of Tahiti could fit into it! Within this huge expanse is another watery enclave, evocatively called the Blue Lagoon. After an hour’s boat ride from the main town of Avatoru, you’ll swear you’ve finally found that South Seas paradise: turquoise water, palm trees bending down to brush the soft sand, fish en masse and on the lunchtime barbecue, too. See tahiti-tourisme.com.
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