Luxury Holidays to Tahiti
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7 nights from £1699pp
Travel: 01 Oct 15 - 14 Dec 15
Garden Bungalow With Pool - Breakfast - Air Tahiti Nui - Airport Tax - Private Transfers
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5 nights from £2885pp
Travel: 01 Oct 15 - 20 Dec 15
Overwater Villa – Breakfast – Virgin Atlantic & Air Tahiti Nui - Airport taxes - Private transfers
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Offer subject to availability
Believe us - there are times in French Polynesia when you could imagine you had strayed on to the set of a James Bond movie. Through the window is not the usual house across the road – but a surreal palm-fringed South Seas panorama of blue lagoon waters nuzzling a dazzling white beach, the blooms of frangipani and gardenia, thatched bungalows built over the sea, jagged mountains shimmering on the distant horizon, an outrigger canoe passing lazily by . . . or was it a dolphin? Difficult to tell when the sound of the sea is lulling you to sleep.
The joy of being in French Polynesia, of course, is that when you wake up all this is still there! Few corners of the world have a more romantic escapist setting and mood. Can anywhere else on earth rejuvenate body and mind so effortlessly – and so unforgettably?
Island AdventureThere could hardly be a corner of the world further removed from the everyday than the South Pacific islands of French Polynesia. Over 25,000 of them lie scattered here across the ocean in a vivid green-and-gold jigsaw – the magic of their extravagant beauty and beguiling mood inspiration for Gauguin, Stevenson and countless many more. A helicopter tours over French Polynesia’s stunning scenery offer a pulse-quickening experience. You can hike on a number of the islands, or explore by mountain-bike or on horseback. Jeep-safaris can take you further inland to discover the exotic Polynesian interiors. The lush motu islets surrounding many islands are perfect settings for unforgettable picnics. Or why not try some close encounters with dolphins and sharks? Watersporters can enjoy just about every activity from canoeing to jet-skiing.
Nightlife & Party with LocalsThe scattered nature of the islands and resorts means that, except in Papeete, most entertainment is provided by the hotels – the larger of which provide varied programmes that include traditional – often spectacular - dance shows and feast nights. Many hotels arrange themed buffets with live entertainment and dancing in a romantic setting of almost surreal beauty; combined with the warm breezes of the tropics, these are the perfect ingredients for a romantic evening in paradise!
Gourmet Cuisine & Dining OutAgain, apart from Papeete (where there are several fine restaurants and many good cafés, notably along the waterfront) opportunities for ‘dining around’ are often limited. French Polynesian cuisine is renowned for its fresh fish and exotic fruits and vegetables, prepared with Polynesian influence and a touch of French flair.
World''s Best Scuba Dive SitesThe islands of French Polynesia host hundreds of dive sites, including lagoon dives, amazing drift dives, oceanic drop-offs and wrecks. You’ll find plenty of curiously shaped coral, a rainbow assortment of fish and rich undersea plant life. The waters are normally very clear and close encounters with such marine life as gigantic manta rays are especially thrilling.
Family HolidaysThough the journey is long, French Polynesia offers a safe and welcoming environment and mood for children.
Events in Tahiti
French Polynesia’s major cultural festivals are the July ‘Heiva i Tahiti’ and the ‘Crafts Heiva’ - but the rest of the year is studded with events devoted to handicrafts or cultural events. Sports figure, too, with surfing and canoe racing the highlights. Don’t pack your paddle or surfboard, though – you can hire them here . . .
JanuaryTahiti’s Chinese community celebrates the New Year at the end of the month. Papeete’s festivities showcase Chinese song, dance, martial and culinary arts. The month also sees the Tahiti Tere Fa’Ati – a party day out by traditional public ‘truck’ transport around the island, with entertainment on the way and a Tahitian meal for a finale.
FebruaryFebruary is the month of the Moorea Marathon. It attracts hundreds of participants from around the world and coincides with a week of entertainment and cultural activities. Moorea also stages a Tere Fa’Ati to match Tahiti’s January celebration.
MarchThe Tahiti Tourisme Body Surfing & Skimboarding (Fa’ahe’e Tino & Fa’ahe’e Iri) Competition is just the thing for watersports fanatics to prove their talents.
MayThe world’s top surfers meet for the Billabong Pro Surfing Competition riding Tahiti’s legendary waves at Teahupoo. May also brings the Va’a Tea Eco boat race from Raiatea to Tahiti (with craft powered by primary energy competing against boats driven by man-made fuel) and the Tahiti Pearl Regatta from Raiatea to Taha’a, Bora Bora and Huahine, with each day ending with a Polynesian dinner and a dance show. Later in the month comes the Arii Mata Tini outrigger canoe race in the Tuamotu Archipelago, most notably in Rangiroa.
JuneThe International Golf Open is held at the end of June on French Polynesia’s sole course - Tahiti’s Olivier Bréaud course on Tahiti.
JulyThe Heiva I Tahiti, a month-long gathering of choral and dance groups, is held in downtown Papeete and elsewhere. Heiva of the Artisans is a major crafts exhibition this month, based around the theme of Polynesian legends and featuring artists from all over French Polynesia. Tahiti and Moorea are the venue for the Friendship Tour cycling race for competitors from around the Pacific Rim.
AugustAugust features the Te Vai Ari’I or ‘Super Aito’ Maraton three-day outrigger cane race featuring the best hundred rowers of the moment.
OctoberIn the Leeward Islands, Va’a (canoe-racing) is the classic traditional sport and this month’s Hawaiki Nui Va’a sees over 100 canoes racing between the islands of Huahine, Raiatea, Taha’a and Bora Bora.
DecemberWhile in Papeete you can visit ‘In Gauguin’s Footsteps’, an exhibition in celebration of the life and works of Gauguin, a name indelibly associated with Tahiti.
Sightseeing in Tahiti
Tahiti and its 118 islands span an area of ocean as large as Europe. Each island has its own unique geography and character. The largest, volcanic in origin, are divided by emerald green valleys clothed in dense rainforests. They push skywards almost sheer from the ocean, framed by seas of improbable blue, sparkling invitingly within their own protective necklace of coral. What they all have in common, though, is a capacity to dazzle the sun-starved visitor with the eye-numbing brilliance of their colours and their vast ocean horizons.
WHAT TO SEE
TahitiLargest and most developed of the Society Islands archipelago is Tahiti, which combines the unmistakable ambience of the South Seas with the no less indelible style and chic of a former French colony. Papeete the busy, sprawling waterfront capital, where you’ll find chic shops, a fascinating market, and a lively mix of French, Polynesian, and Chinese cultures and museums (including the Pearl Museum and the Paul Gauguin Museum in the Botanic Gardens). A 70-mile circular drive takes you through lush tropical scenery, villages, plantations and forests, past lovely beaches, volcanic mountains, the Arahoho Blowhole, Faaruumai Waterfalls, Fern Grottos, Lookout Point, Point Venus and Marae Arahuruhu’s ruined temples.
MooreaJust 12 miles away, is Moorea, a vision of James Michener’s mythical Bali Hai, with jagged mountain peaks, stunning bays, lagoons and pristine beaches. You can encircle mountainous Moorea (by taxi or bicycle) on a 38-mile journey around the coast. Take in the Belvedere viewpoint, for a superb panorama of Opunohu and Cook''s Bays, then travel through coffee plantations and pineapple fields, visiting amazing ancient marae temples en route. Papetoai church, built by early 19th century missionaries, is the oldest European building in the South Pacific. Visit Fare Vanilla to see how Tahitian vanilla is grown and processed.
Bora BoraBora Bora lies amid the bluest of lagoons, with a filigree of tiny coral reef-ringed atolls. Bora Bora’s beguiling mood may incline you not to stray from the pool or beach – but seeing more of your surroundings is a ‘must’. Travel the 19-mile road that circles this incredibly beautiful island, past mysterious open-air marae temple sites. Wonder at the old American naval guns that recall South Pacific''s part in World War II. Then, from the spectacular views of Paopao and Matira Points, continue past groves of coconut palms and tiny villages hugging the shore.
RangiroaRemote Rangiroa is not a single island but an atoll, a coral necklace encircling a vast lagoon so large that you cannot see the other side. Sightseeing? Well, on one side of the atoll is the main village of Avatoru, separated by a 45-minute boat ride from Tiputa, the only other village, with houses ringed with bleached coral and fenced with flowering hedges. Some of the small islets within Rangiroa''s lagoon are important bird sanctuaries – among them Paio, easily accessed by boat.
WHAT TO DO
TahitiA good way to take in the island’s lush scenery is on a 4x4 expedition that passes rivers and waterfalls as it climbs into the mountains – while a helicopter tour is even more spectacular. The energetic can try some surfing, fly-surfing (parasailing and surfing combined!), scuba-diving, sailing, horse riding, and even 18-hole golf. Downtown Papeete is a good place for shopping, with black pearls, arts and crafts, vanilla beans, soaps, perfumes and much more. At day’s end make your way to the city’s waterfront area. It comes alive with roulettes (mobile dining vans) displaying an amazing array of steak-frites, grilled fish and more, On the waterfront strip, too, are the majority of Papeete’s lively bars, discos, nightclubs, restaurants and cyber cafés. Several resort hotels host weekly spectacular music and dance shows.
MooreaIt’s hard to resist the temptation to do absolutely nothing – but Moorea’s grand scenery demands discovery. Seek out some of the best beaches – at Teavaro and Haapiti, for example, and by Hauru Point. Walk a mountain trail. Hire a car or bike. Take a 4x4 safari. Or enjoy the finest views of all from a helicopter. There’s watersports of almost every kind, and the chance to swim with some of those friendly dolphins! Visit Moorea’s intriguing Pearl Farm - and Pao Pao market for locally made handicrafts. Other than these, the only serious buys are those (expensive) black pearls. Entertainment is mostly confined to the hotels – though not to be missed is the Tiki Village near Haapiti, which features authentic Tahitian feast and dance shows.
Bora BoraDo spare some time and energy to explore – especially for a circular island tour by car or bicycle. Don’t miss the fabulous beach that stretches for over two miles around the coconut-studded peninsula of Matira Point. Bora Bora’s lagoon is breathtakingly beautiful and snorkelling and swimming in it (and sailing to the islands on its outer edge) are definite ‘must-dos’. Lagoon tours take you out in fast outrigger canoes and include shark-feeding demonstrations. Some go to the Bora Bora Lagoonarium, where you can swim with (and perhaps even ride) the manta rays and observe the sharks. If you prefer to stay dry, then semi-submersible vessels will show you something of the lagoon’s underwater world. Shopping and nightlife are pretty low-key here, though there are programmed hotel Tahitian dance shows by staff!
RangiroaMost visitors come to Rangiroa for French Polynesia''s best scuba-diving and snorkelling. Unless you''re an aficionado of either, there isn''t a great deal to do here – except to relax, walk around Avatoru and Tiputa and enjoy the fantastic lagoon. Boat excursions are easily arranged, with two popular destinations the Lagon Bleu (Blue Lagoon), full of vibrant coral and marine life, and Les Sables Roses (The Pink Sands). Experienced snorkellers and divers can ‘ride the rip’ tide through the passes, an exhilarating waterborne experience. Look for the wild dolphins on the surface of Tiputa Pass and sharks below. From July to October, you may even see humpback whales that frequently visit.
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