With over 100 islands spread throughout five archipelagos, French Polynesia is as varied as it is exotic. Island hopping allows you to see every landscape, from geometric ridges strung with waterfalls on the high islands to flat, desert-like atolls where lagoons far outsize the landmass. Spanning an area as large as Europe, French Polynesia can be intimidating to the first-time visitor. Technically an overseas collectivity of France, this globally renowned destination is considered by many to be a slice of heaven on earth. With its idyllic beaches, postcard-worthy sunsets, and incredible turquoise waters filled with abundant marine life, French Polynesia’s Society Islands, most notably Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Raiatea, and Taha’a, attract the majority of the region’s visitors. Yet there’s all this – and more – to discover in these halcyon isles.
Sculpted by sky-piercing, moss-green peaks and lined with vivid turquoise lagoons, sultry French Polynesia is a place to take it slow and experience warm, laid-back island culture. The slim stretches of white-, pink- and black-sand beaches in French Polynesia are really just pretty springboards into the real draw – the lagoons. Most high islands are surrounded by a fringing reef that creates a protected swimming pool of the most intense aqua imaginable. Coral atolls have this same calibre of lagoon minus the big island in the middle. Fish, dolphins, rays, sharks, turtles and more inhabit these clear-water coral gardens that are as excellent for snorkelling as they are for diving and swimming. Surfers ride glassy wave faces at reef passes while kitesurfers fly across the water with the trade winds.