In The Islands of Tahiti, you can choose how deep you want to dive into the many adventures the destination offers. You can plunge right into a pass dive and ride the currents with the big pelagics or snorkel along the patch reefs, and waltz with rays and moray eels. You may choose to sample poi poi (fermented breadfruit or banana with coconut milk), poisson cru (the national dish, of raw fish marinated briefly in lime) or, if you are very curious and undeterred by unfamiliar flavors, order fafaru (fish or shrimp “cooked” by being marinated in fermented seawater).
Adventure is part of life here, born naturally. The national sport is open-ocean outrigger canoe racing, an evolution of the way Tahitians once traded among islands. Free-diving to spear fish or collect langouste is the Tahitian equivalent of grocery shopping. Hiking to a thousand-foot waterfall is just another way to commingle with the ancestors who came to revere the natural power that pervades these places, the life-force Tahitians call mana.
Whatever adventure means to you—a Tahiti & the Society Islands cruise on a Paul Gauguin Cruise, sailing uninhabited atolls, golfing South Pacific greens, stand-up paddle boarding through crystalline lagoons, zip-lining through the jungle canopy, hiking mountain trails to dizzying waterfalls, or exploring the culture of long-ago and far-away—The Islands of Tahiti will fuel your enthusiasm with its beauty and a constant sense of discovery.
In this ancient land, the best adventures emerge from learning, then doing. After you know something about the terrain of caves and cliffs of the Austral Islands, you can choose where to watch for humpback whales and their calves. Once you understand that Tahitian vanilla is the product of an epiphytic orchid, pollinated by hand, and a complex mélange of a hundred flavor compounds, you’ll appreciate its floral flavor and aromatic complexity that much more. And, for the truly adventurous, it’s likely a good idea to learn about the tradition of tattoos here before you have an artist draw one on you.
On Raiatea, in the Society Islands, you’ll hear the stories of excavated maraes that are hundreds of years old, the stones carved by ancestors who used this place to commune with their gods. You’ll know what it means then, later, on Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands, when a local guide hikes you into the mountains to a similar site still overgrown with jungle ferns and fronds. These holy places exude an undeniable power, the moss-felted rocks holding you rather than the other way around.
Of course The Islands of Tahiti invites you always to go a little further. When you see the amazing athletes riding the great green curl of the famous wave at Teahupo'o, you want to feel it hurtling you forward as it roars beneath your board. Sensing the rhythms of the Otea dance is not enough; you will want to learn it in your feet, cradle it in your hips. When you can see so far through the crystal-clear water of the Tuamotu reefs, of course you’ll be tempted to continue deeper into the blue.
That’s how you get to pass diving. The Tuamotu atolls lie like huge, shallow swimming pools in the middle of the deep ocean, shining like prisms made only of blues. On incoming tides, the current pours through gaps in the low-lying ring of land. Diving the passes then is an effortless seven-knot glide, and soon you’ll be coasting eye-to-eye with schools of tuna, lazy sharks, and carnivals of reef fish in glinting and flashing streams of color. Take a tour with a Top Dive Diving or Snorkeling package.
These are the fish you’ll be served everywhere you go, the mahi-mahi drizzled with vanilla sauce, the dogtooth and yellowtail tuna sashimi on the fin. They’re the snapper and grouper and jacks that might be sliced into slivers, fermented in seawater and served to the adventurous eaters as fafaru—a challenge to even the most adventurous palates, although one with a unique reward.
Every morning, the South Pacific sun—glancing off broad, verdant slopes, or sizzling on the warm, sandy shallows—signals that a new adventure is within your reach. The new day, the fruits and fish you’ll taste, the coralscapes you’ll see, the cooing sounds filtering through the foliage, and the knowing smiles awaiting your next discovery—each day is an open invitation to expand the edges of your known world.
No matter how you spend your time, The Islands of Tahiti is an adventure that chooses you.
Start your adventure with Air Tahiti Nui, which has daily nonstop flights to Tahiti from Los Angeles. Thanks to its codeshare program with American Airlines, the tropical paradise of Tahiti is easy to reach from everywhere in North America.