It’s cold and wintry this week in Portland, so to take our minds off the rain we’re taking a quick look at some of our favorite warm spots of the globe—Fiji, the Cook Islands, and Tahiti. Many of our Willamette Intl Travel agents have been to all three destinations, and we love any excuse to share our expertise!
First up, a geography lesson: Tahiti strictly refers to the main island of Tahiti in French Polynesia, but it also popularly refers to the Society Islands, an archipelago that includes Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, Huahine and many more. In this article we use the popular term, preferred by locals and travelers alike. Tahiti, known locally as the “Islands of Love,” is just an 8 hours’ flight from Los Angeles.
There are dozens of unique accommodations throughout the islands, ranging from lodges, family hotels, and pensions. Properties usually are small, offering from 1-12 rooms, suites or bungalows on the beaches, in the valleys or in a village. There are also a few all-inclusive properties available. A popular attraction in Tahiti is the world-famous overwater bungalow. Peer through your glass floor onto the tropical fish below; indulge in an early morning swim before breakfast in the warm waters that are just a step off your balcony.
Tahitians have a rich culture similar to other Polynesians like Hawaiians and Maori. During your stay you can learn about the canoes, dances, lei, tattoos, and marae, open-air religious sites, that are a part of the cultural heritage. If you’re lucky to be on the islands from June to July, you may participate in the Heiva I Tahiti, the largest Polynesia cultural event with an array of celebrations, educational displays, musical events and dance performances.
There’s no danger of island fever here, as activities abound. For the active vacationer, there’s a plethora of water sports to choose from: powerboating, sailing, cruising, kayaking, surfing, kitesurfing, outrigger canoeing, glass bottom boat tours, sport fishing, and of course diving. (For more info on dive travel, check out our post on Top Ten Diving Destinations.) Divers love this part of the world—Tahiti is home to incredible canyons, sunken vessels, reefs, lagoons and colorful marine life from stingrays, pufferfish, reef sharks, to Moorish idols, moray eels, and unicorn fish. For birdwatchers, there are some great opportunities to catch glimpses of the kingfisher, myna, heron, and the murphy petrel.
Prefer the more idle vacation? Head over to one of the many luxurious, world-class spas on the islands. Enjoy fresh flower baths and a body wrap in banana tree leaves. Go shopping for iridescent pearls of shimmering green, blue, bronze, pink, and aubergine, or tour a pearl farm to learn how they are cultivated from oysters. Feast on traditional fare from fresh seafood to juicy tropical fruits, or sip a maitai on a breathtaking beach. For a treat, try the poisson cru, raw fish marinated in lime-juice and coconut milk, or chicken fafa, sautéed with taro leaves.
Looking for a unique itinerary in Tahiti? This past year Willamette Intl Travel organized a group traveling to Tahiti on a Paul Gauguin cruise. These small, destination-focused luxury cruise ships were built to sail the waters of Tahiti, French Polynesia and the South Pacific. The staff does a wonderful job onboard, from enrichment lectures and entertainment, to excursions and gourmet dining. Our clients sailed the lagoons of Raiatea and Taha’a, onto the isles of Bora Bora and Moorea, and absolutely loved it!
Thinking about heading to the islands of love? Our agents Linda and Nancy have both been to Tahiti and would love to share their knowledge with you! Call us up for a chat at 503-224-0180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.