Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia, the South Pacific archipelago. Shaped like a figure-8, it’s divided into Tahiti Nui (the larger, western section) and Tahiti Iti (the eastern peninsula). With black-sand beaches, lagoons, waterfalls and 2 extinct volcanoes, it’s a popular vacation destination. Explored by Captain James Cook, it was also frequently painted by French artist Paul Gauguin.
Tahiti is the ultimate “Fantasy Island” destination for many couples, one they often opt to splurge on for a romantic occasion such as a honeymoon or anniversary.
The azure-hued realm of French Polynesia is indeed a tropical Eden ideally suited for two and its sights and activities appeal to hedonists and adventure-seekers alike.
But here are some must-try ways to really enjoy these islands’ bounty.
1. Sleep in an Overwater Bungalow
Every island is dotted with them—thatch-roofed huts poised on stilts above a blue lagoon.
Check in, change into your swimsuits and savor your own private frangipani-scented paradise: Wake up and fall asleep to the soothing lullaby of softly lapping water. Enjoy a refreshing dip or invigorating snorkel right from your private sun deck. Ogle Technicolor reef fish through strategic glass panels in the bungalow’s floor.
Oh, and you can have your breakfast delivered via a traditional dugout canoe by Tahitian women wearing leis of fragrant tropical blossoms—just like in a Gauguin painting.
2. Take Photos and Feed Sharks and Stingrays
Man isn’t the only creature that enjoys Tahiti’s crystalline lagoons. Stealth black-tipped reef sharks and prehistoric-looking southern stingrays like to splash about, too.
You can interact with both during a shark and stingray feeding tour, available on most islands. But you won’t just watch the food toss from a boat.
Following your guide’s lead, you’ll actually get in the water as three-foot sharks circle while waiting for hand outs (don’t worry—they have no interest in snacking on you) and curious rays scamper about even rub their velvety bellies up against your legs like playful puppies.
3. Swim and Snorkel in a Blue Lagoon
There’s water, water everywhere and some of the islands’ best scenery lies beneath its glassy surface.
Slip on snorkel masks and fins (after applying liberal sunscreen to each other’s backs) and float above wavering gardens of pastel-hued coral as silver-striped and neon-spotted fish dart amid the salty flora.
Also keep an eye out for starfish, sea turtles and even the occasional eel.
4. Enjoy a Monoi-Oil Massage
There’s nothing better than a soothing Tahitian massage, which combines long, smooth strokes and fragrant monoi oil scented with vanilla, coconut or tiare blossoms.
Whether on the beach at sunset or in a five-star spa’s couple’s suite, such as this one at the Mane Spa at the Bora Bora Pearl Resort, an hour of pampering is the perfect way to transition from active day to amorous night.
5. Take a 4×4 Tour of Moorea
Emerald-peaked, heart-shaped Moorea is the ideal isle to explore via land, and the best way to see its many nooks and crannies is to bounce around in an open-air 4×4 truck.
From atop Magic Mountain, where the lagoon spreads out before you in a mosaic of every possible shade of blue, to Belvedere Overlook, where twin Cooks and Opunohu bays jut out below like almost perfectly symmetrical fingers, you’ll be awed by the spectacle the South Pacific’s forces of nature created.
6. Try Poisson Cru
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