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- French Polynesia
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Located in the beautiful Pacific Ocean
Just 7 1/2 hours from Los Angeles, you'll find the crystal clear turquoise lagoons and pristine beaches of the islands where love lives. To discover more about the 118 breathtaking islands that make up Tahiti, just watch live and begin a dazzling journey through this exotic Eden.
For the unapologetic hedonist, inter-island cruises offer an elegant way to explore French Polynesia. Combine the region's breathtaking natural resources with the luxuries and services offered aboard cruises, and the result is an unforgettable tropical experience. Indeed, Tahiti's cruise industry has spared no expense in providing guests with the finest accomodations, including live entertainment, superb dining, Jacuzzi, casinos, gyms, billiards, salons, libraries, society games and other accoutrements. Choose from deluxe cabins to suites. Enjoy all the ammenities of home -- and some you might not find in the average house - while taking in the remarkable Tahitian surroundings. Tourists can choose from week-long cruises, to lengthier and more comprehensive 14-day excursions. For tourists with more modest tastes, several sailing charter services offer sailboat cruises. These excursions are especially popular with tourists seeking a more personal means of exploring Tahiti.
Ancient Polynesian charm and new world luxury are both manifest in the hotels and lodges of Tahiti and Her Islands. The lodging possibilities here are many. Thatched roofed fare, overwater bungalows and modest inn-style rooms. Our hotels offer the most intimate and authentic Polynesian ambiance. To make visitors feel right at home, we supply all the creature comforts, including small shops, bars and restaurants. Many hotels' main buildings are air-conditioned; most overwater bungalows have ceiling fans and sliding doors that let in the delightful Tahitian breeze. Upscale resorts may provide swimming pools, tennis courts, bicycles and free snorkeling gear. Budget accomodations on the islands are plentiful. Some of the more inexpensive resorts offer campgrounds or dorm facilities with such accomodations as small bunks, kitchenettes and shared bathroom facilities.
Whether you're looking to hike into mountain beauty, dive amoung multi-colored schools of fish, tour the islands or set sail at sunset, you'll find it here. Bon voyage!
Canoeing - Outriggers, or racing canoes, are popular in French Polynesia. Racing canoes that are eligible for international competition weigh no more than 400 pounds (181 kilos), and are made of fiberglas, but visitors will find traditional canoes made from local hardwoods. Some hotels and rental agencies around the islands offer outriggers, and visitors can even sign up for outrigger tours. In the late afternoon, it's common to see teams of paddlers practicing or racing against other teams in lagoons throughout the islands.
Deep Sea Fishing - Fish, fish, everywhere fish. The waters outside the barrier reef are home to an eye-popping assortment of fish -- marlins, mahimahi, yellowfin tuna and others. Both experienced anglers and curious visitors will find deep sea fishing here to be particularly rewarding.
Diving - Tahiti and her neighboring islands are renowned for their superb dive sites. Here you'll find plenty of curiously shaped coral, a rainbow assortment of fish, and astounding undersea plant life. The underwater attractions vary from island to island, and many guests choose to take in a number of dive sites. On Moorea, visitors can experience the undersea world in a miniature submarine. Bora Bora offers an underwater walk, where visitors age 7 and up can don a special scuba helmet and walk around on the bottom of the beautiful lagoon!
Glass Bottom Boat Tours - Reserve a seat on a glass bottom boat, and explore the colorful underwater world of French Polynesia. These quaint boats are a wonderful and easy way for visitors to get acquainted with the coral gardens and undersea life of Tahiti and Her Islands. Peer through large windows that offer splendid views of the area's exotic fish and aquatic vegetation. For photographers, a roof provides protection from glare, guaranteeing great pictures. As Tahiti's marine inhabitants far outnumber the native population on land, these tours are always filled with spectacular sights.
Jet Ski Tours - The calm waters and temperate climate of French Polynesia make for perfect Jet Ski conditions. Guides will show you some of the most remote and lovely spots in the region, and the still, clear waters make the trip easy and safe. No license is required to pilot a Jet Ski during these guided tours. Visitors wishing to share a Jet Ski with another guest should consult their tour agent.
Parasailing - An increasingly popular activity, parasailing is a very easy watersport for all ages. The special platform used allows visitors to take off and land on the boat without getting wet. Take in spectacular views as you soar up as high as 300 feet above the lagoon on a parasail pulled by a 28-ft boat. Parasailing is available to everyone, and no training is required.
Sailing - The is no better way to explore French Polynesia than by yacht. Navigation is generally easy throughout the archipelagoes. Our temperate climate is quite conducive for sailing. Steady trade winds and an abundance of anchorages make this region one of the great destinations of the seven seas.
Shark & Ray Feeding Tours - The sharks of Tahiti and Her Islands are non-aggressive and docile, and the best way to get acquainted with these pet-like creatures is through a feeding tour. Visitors are in the water with hungry reef sharks circling about as an experienced guide carefully hand-feeds these magnificent beasts. Even non-swimmers can participate as the guide strings a rope to hold on to; participants don a mask and snorkel and watch the excitement. Visitors are sure to see sharks in any of the island lagoons. Under the supervision of an experienced guide, one will also find rare species of ray.
Snorkeling - Snorkeling is a popular Tahitian watersport. The reefs surrounding the islands of French Polynesia abound with tropical fish of every color and description, and diving here is a discovery. Among the sealife to be found here are rays, eels, sharks, tunas and barracudas. Snorkeling is easily learned, and is a safe means of exploring our waters. Mask and flippers are readily available at most hotels. Generally, the best snorkeling is found on the outer islands, where the undersea resources are more plentiful.
Sunset Sailings - For the romantic at heart, a sunset sailing excursion is the ideal Tahitian experience. Marvel as the waning sun casts its amber rays against billowy Pacific clouds. The gentle sway of the water, the crisp tropical air and the company of friends and fellow visitors help make this an essential Island experience.
Windsurfing - Another watersport that's grown in popularity has been windsurfing. The warm water and calm tropical breezes in French Polynesia make it an excellent windsurfing spot.
Surfing - In recent years, an increasing number of visitors have discovered the excellent surfing opportunities in French Polynesia. Though conditions are good throughout the islands, the best surf can be found around Tahiti, Moorea, Raiatea and Huahine. The best time for quality surf is during the winter months from April to October.
Windsurfing - Another watersport that's grown in popularity is windsurfing. The warm water and calm tropical breezes in French Polynesia make it an excellent windsurfing spot.
Yachting - Imagine the ocean spray on your skin as you sail the waters of Tahiti and Her Islands. Ponder the delights of scuba diving from your very own boat. Enjoy meals, music and the company of friends while watching the sunset from aboard a luxury sailing vessel. These and many other experiences can be yours by chartering a yacht during your stay in French Polynesia. Yachts allow tourists to customize their sailing experience. Skippered cruises are available for visitors who would rather leave the sailing to professionals. But visitors with sailing experience can pass on the skipper, and assume the helm themselves. No matter what option you choose, you can look forward to a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Charters run the gamut from one-night rentals to 14-day excursions. By yacht, visitors can explore one or all of Tahiti's many islands. Hire a hostess and/or cook, and you've got the perfect tropical getaway.
Bike/Scooter Rentals - Rent a bicycle or scooter, and see French Polynesia up-close and personal. Rentals are an excellent way for curious visitors to mix with the natives, take in the sights, and customize their vacation experience.
Camping - The campgrounds of French Polynesia are popular with backpackers, students and other visitors who enjoy "roughing it." Campgrounds are always private, and there are no facilities in parks or other public areas. Visitors interested in spending time camping in the wilderness, there are guides on Tahiti that will take you on camping trips.
Circle Island Tours - Get a sense for the "local color" by registering for a circle island tour. These bus tours, which are available on selected islands in French Polynesia, visit the small villages, fields, hills and plantations of the region, giving tourists a feel for everyday Tahitian life. Our knowledgeable guides help make these tours enriching as well as stimulating.
Handicraft Shopping - Tahiti and Her Islands are a shopper's dream featuring a mind-boggling array of merchandise: exquisite, one-of-a-kind black pearl jewelry, decorous, hand-crafted garments, gorgeous woven goods and stunning carved items. For art lovers, our galleries brim with a variety of paintings, sculptures and crafts. From primitive to contemporary, the artisans of French Polynesia are as inspiring as the Islands themselves.
Helicopter Tours - To thrillseekers looking for a pulse-quickening experience, helicopter tours offer bird's eye views of Tahiti and Her Islands. Soar above velvety-green volcanic peaks, past sprawling crystalline waters and sparkling sands.
Hiking - There's something about the notion of hiking through French Polynesia that appeals to the explorer in visitors. Trails are numerous on all our islands, and it's a good idea to seek out a guide to ensure against getting lost.
Horseback - Few experiences in this world are as magical as exploring the French Polynesian countryside by horseback. Examining our mountains, hills, valleys and volcanic peaks on horseback is a marvelous way for visitors to commune with nature. The Tahitian Islands are home to some of the finest riding stables in all of Polynesia. The horses here are usually of Marquesan or New Zealand stock. Information on local stables can be obtained at your hotel.
Jeep Safari Tours - Discover the inland regions of French Polynesia by taking a jeep safari tour in a rugged 4-wheel drive vehicle. With capacity for up to 40 guests, Jeep excursions allow visitors to explore the mysterious and exotic Tahitian interiors. High-altitude peaks, rushing waterfalls, lush bamboo forests, emerald valleys and a staggering multiplicity of trees and plants await visitors who embark on these unique tours.
Mountain Bike Tours - Don your helmet and take to the hills when you sign-up for a mountain bike tour. Guided excursions are available, or rent a bike from a car rental agency.
Motu Picnics - The lush "motu" islets surrounding Tahiti and Her Islands are just right for an outdoor feast. These miniature, palm-covered paradises offer a getaway from the bustle of city life. You won't find roads, cars, markets or restaurants, just secluded atmosphere, pristine surroundings and a romantic ambiance.
Museum Tours - No visit to Tahiti is complete without a visit to the Island's unique and fascinating museums. From cultural relics and exhibits chronicling the exploits of famed Tahitian explorers like James Cook and Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, to the earthy art of Paul Gauguin, Tahiti's rich historic legacy begs to be explored. The Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands is world-renowned for its comprehensive exhibits detailing the history of French Polynesia, while the Gauguin Museum features photos, documents and art by the legendary painter, Paul Gauguin. The Tahiti Perles Museum in Papeete displays the most beautiful black pearl creations in the world. There's even a qauint colonial-style museum, Musee des Coquillages, that showcases seashells from the region.
Rental Cars - Travelers wishing to explore French Polynesia on their own can rent vehicles from the many automobile rental agencies serving the Islands. French Polynesia boasts a number of world-renowned rental car agencies including Avis, Budget, Hertz and others. Rentals include everything from compacts, 4x4 vehicles, minivans, and luxury automobiles such as Mercedes and BMW.
Tahiti Marketplace (Le Marché) - Tahiti's premiere marketplace, Le Marché Papeete, is a great place to pick up handicrafts and souvenirs. Shoppers will find an assortment of jewelry, hats, skirts, carvings, mats and weaving here, as well as small cafes and vendors offering tempting fruits, vegetables and fish. All in all, a visit to Le Marche is a shopping experience to remember.
Black Pearl Shopping - Black Pearls are Tahiti's largest and most unique export - indeed, they can only be found in French Polynesia. Visitors can explore black pearl farms in Manihi, Rangiroa and Raiatea. Before purchasing pearls, it's a great idea to visit the Tahiti Perles Museum in Papeete to learn how to judge value based on size, color and shape.