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Top 10 things to do in Tahiti and her islands

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Comprising of 118 islands and set at the heart of the Pacific Ocean, Tahiti and her islands welcome visitors from across the globe, drawn by the rugged mountainous scenery, white sand beaches and colourful rich culture.

From active outdoor pursuits, to water sports, to a range of cultural activities and beautiful sights, Tahiti and her islands offer something for everyone. Here is a suggested list of the top ten things to do on a visit to Tahiti and her islands...

1. Visit a Pearl Farm

The Tahitian Black pearl is French Polynesia’s biggest export, desired for their versatility and varied mix of colours. The Pearl farms in Taha’a, Huahine and the Tuamotu Atolls all welcome visitors, where they can learn about the pearl cultivation process, watch the grafting of the blacked-lipped oysters that create them and purchase their own pearl from the source itself. The Champon pearl farm off the island of Tahaa, offers tours for guests, displaying the most recent pearl harvest where guest can purchase the pearls set into jewellery. Find out more here

2. Snorkelling and Scuba Diving

Tahiti and her islands, set in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, offer a huge amount of marine life for visitors to explore. The clear blue waters and colourful sea life and coral make scuba diving and snorkelling a must for visitors. The Moorea Lagoon in the Society Archipelago is home to grey, yellow and black-fin sharks, whilst the yellow coral at the ‘Coral City’ and ‘Yellow Valley’ at the lagoons of Huahine is an underwater marvel. Take part in a snorkelling safari in Moorea’s Lagoon, where snorkelers can feed, pet and even hug the stingrays.

3. Visit the local markets

Spend a day wondering through the local markets, finding treasures and gifts to take a small part of Tahitian culture home. The downtown Papeete Marketplace is full of beautiful colours and a bustling atmosphere, offering a huge variety of Tahitian goods. Pick up items such as a colourful Pareo, a dyed sarong that many of the local women wear, fragrant vanilla pods, Monoi oil, or hand carved wooden bowls, drums and jewellery.

4. Discover local Islands and Villages

Tahiti and her islands is a place to be explored, with small islands and villages hidden away from the tourist trail. Visit the ancient village of Taioivai or find Ipona, an archaeological site guarded by the 2.43-metre high Takai’ tiki. The Society Islands offer a chance to explore traditional Tahiti. The small island of Pae’ao has ninth-century remains, whilst the stone monuments and coral slabs dedicated to the gods of fishing in the Haranai valley on Maupiti are well worth a visit.

5. Relax in one of the spas

It isn’t hard to find peace and relaxation in Tahiti and her islands. Even before the first man-made spa was built, Polynesians were accustomed to being rejuvenated by a combination of natural elements.  The beautiful setting, calm Pacific Ocean and natural surroundings make it the ideal place to unwind and rejuvenate. Many of the hotels across the islands have their own spas set in beautiful locations and offering a mix of western and traditional Tahitian treatments. Traditional Polynesian treatments included a full-body wrap in banana leaves involving natural emollients such as clay, papaya and pineapple, and a range of massages and facials using the natural oils found on the islands combined with age old Polynesian techniques.

6. Get a traditional Tahitian Tattoo

Tattoos in Tahiti have great symbolic significance, representing cultural identity and pride. Of recent years a new generation of gifted tattooists have been emerging on the islands, and appealing to tourists as well as locals. Commemorate a trip of a lifetime with a Polynesian tattoo and truly take back a part of Tahitian culture and art.

7. Surfing

The annual Billabong Pro Surfing competition takes place every year in August. A huge event in the surfing calendar, the week attracts surfers and tourists alike. From May until November the vast waves at Teahupoo also attract surfers from all over the world. Take a lesson in the calmer Papara or Taapuna channels on the east coast or those with experience can head to the south of Huahine and catch some waves with the local Tahitians.

8. Trekking and Rock Climbing

Tahiti and her Islands’ varied and beautiful terrain makes it the perfect destination for those wanting to explore the island on foot. Trek along the ‘Pineapple Road’ on the island of Moorea, crossing rivers and forests, leading to the islands highest peak at 1,200 metres. Climbers can head to Mount Rotui for strenuous terrain and panoramic views of the island. Adventurers should find the sacred Haukai Valley and discover the 350-metre waterfall hidden within the canyon.

9. Festivals

Throughout the year Tahiti and her Islands host many exciting cultural festivals and events.  In July 2012 the annual Heivā Va’a i Tahiti and Heivā i Bora Bora festivals take place, translating as ‘The Celebration of Life’. Heiva is the largest cultural festival in Tahiti and her islands, involving dancing, cultural celebrations, crafts, cuisine and the famous outrigger canoe race through the channel between Tahiti and Moorea. The Ukele festival on the 23rd June open to all level of musicians and styles, whilst the Hara Tapairu festival invites dancers to compete in different categories of traditional Polynesian dance.

10. Sailing

Raiatea, often referred to as the ‘sailing island’ is the ideal location for sailing and yachting. Beginners can learn the ropes in the calm sheltered lagoons close to the islands, whilst more experience sailors can seek out the inter-island channels and trade winds further out to sea. The exotic scenery and vast expanse of ocean brings endless possibilities for those wanting to sail around Tahiti and her Islands. The Tahiti Pearl Regatta takes place in May bringing sailors and enthusiasts from across the world.

For more information on Tahiti and her islands visit www.tahiti-tourisme.co.uk

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