Respect for the earth and their immediate surroundings is as inherent to the people of The Islands of Tahiti as the decadence of stunning white sand beaches and crystalline waters are part of their lifestyle. It’s no wonder that luxury tourism and hospitality throughout the 118 islands have been way ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainability, long before “green” or “eco” travel became a buzzword or global imperative. When you live in paradise, of course you’d want to protect it.
To help preserve the magic for generations to come, environmentally responsible five-star hotel and resort groups and conservation organizations have pioneered efforts to ensure The Islands of Tahiti remain one of the most pristine and bio-diverse travel destinations in the world. And plenty of opportunities to engage with local communities here, and deepen your connection to the lands you’re visiting, are the kind of luxury you won’t soon forget—you can feel good about traveling here in more ways than one.
Staying green without skimping on first-rate experiences is easy on The Islands of Tahiti, with multitudes of premium eco-adventures available all throughout the islands. Choose environmentally friendly tours such as the four-hour private charter from Island Eco-tour with dolphins, whales, rays, and sharks in the snorkel safari from Moorea Éco-Tours. Or on Huahine, check out one of the many high-quality, detailed offerings from Island Eco Tours, whose owner-operator holds degrees in Polynesian Anthropology and Pacific Island Archaeology.
Love boating but concerned about the environmental impact on the spectacular lagoons and crystalline waters here? Opt for solar-powered boats, such as the two-hour sunset cruise on the Okeanos Pearl Catamaran when you’ll marvel in the magical beauty of the sun setting in Bora Bora on this region’s first solar-powered deluxe catamaran. Guests of Le Bora Bora can hop aboard the sleek catamaran for an unforgettable cruise into the golden hour, complete with a selection of rosé, white or red wine, beers, and soft drinks. Unlike any other on the lagoon, this sunset cruise has zero emissions, making for chic ambiance in addition to stunning views at every turn. (Note: it is only available to guests of the Le Bora Bora.)
Go a step further and spend the entire holiday on a solar-powered catamaran. Cruise through the lagoons with the ELYT Charter Tahiti on the first floating houseboat in French Polynesia, moored in Bora Bora. This eco-friendly, luxury catamaran runs on solar power and only has a thermal generator for emergencies. Bonus points: the boat has its own water treatment facility to reuse water, and it barely makes a sound, which helps keep coral and other marine life calm and comfortable. And forget about any carbon footprint here: It was designed locally and built in a local shipyard.
For the active travelers, skip the rental car and go human-powered as you bike around the resorts and islands—there’s perhaps no bigger luxury than taking your time. On Moorea, upgrade your bike journey with an e-bike rental. And while you’re here in this aquatic paradise, adopt a coral: Coral reefs, the lungs of the ocean, are endangered. Coral reefs regulate global climate, protect coasts against storms and provide the habitat for about 25 percent of marine life. Help Coral Gardeners educate the public on the importance of reefs and restore those that have been heavily impacted off the island of Moorea.
While you’re here, enjoy the bounty of the islands by relishing the freshest local produce and seafood, which help deliver elevated dining without imported ingredients. When you skip the fine dining with far-flung materials in favor of meals made with locally sourced ingredients, you lower your carbon footprint making it healthier for you—and the planet. At Le Tahaa Island Resort and Spa, meals feature local vegetables, fruit, fish and pork that can be found in abundance on the island. Better yet, vegetable waste goes into the compost, and the rest goes to a pig farmer in exchange for ten piglets a year.
A personalized tour allows the opportunity for local engagement, giving yourself and your traveling companions even greater connection to the islands you’re visiting. When you book the Cultural Lagoon Tour Bora Bora, the owner brings you to his family’s private motu for lunch, which is served on woven plates with sustainable flatware and locally grown fruits and vegetables from his family’s property. After lunch he’ll guide you around the island to learn about the plants they grow there.
On Moorea, book a cultural and taste journey at CookLab. The CookLab offers a tour of the ingredients and their history—and best of all, it’s a hands-on experience, as you’ll pick all the ingredients needed from outside the CookLab when possible. You might even take some cooking tips home with you, as you discover the use of the plants and the vegetable parts (banana leaves) in the preparation and the cooking.
An abundance of magnificent resorts put the environment first, without skimping on luxury. Look for those built with sustainable materials, that run on coconut oil or have deep seawater air conditioning (SWAC) systems, or are designed so that trade winds providing natural “air conditioning.”
The most famous of them all, The Brando is a conservation leader. Along with LEED Platinum Certification, innovative eco-programs and technologies include SWAC, reducing energy demands by almost 70 percent. The resort is also fully biofuel capable and has a coconut oil-powered electric plant, organic garden, bee hives, and solar panels. Along with an onsite conservation society, which manages sanctuaries and conducts scientific research, all of the resort’s buildings were created using materials that are either recycled, local, or of certified origins. Through its dedication to the environment, The Brando is very close to reaching its goal of being self-sustainable and carbon neutral.
Another eco-first luxury option is the Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, which pioneered the world’s first private SWAC, one of the most sustainable air conditioning technologies, using cold deep-sea salt water to cool the resort without the need for fossil fuels or CO2 emissions. And at the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, the Ruahatu Lagoon Sanctuary—which is exclusively accessible to Resort guests—protects some of the fragile coral colonies that are crucial to the ecosystem.
You can even head out with the resort’s expert marine biologist, Denis Schneider, on a two-hour excursion where you’ll snorkel among unicorn fish, spotted pufferfish, clownfish and more than 100 other species of marine life. You’ll also learn how to graft bits of coral which, when they grow large enough for planting, can become a permanent part of the lagoon’s delicate ecosystem. As with all of the eco-travel opportunities you take, you’ll leave paradise knowing that you’ve played a part in helping the environment—ensuring that fellow travelers and locals alike will continue to be able to enjoy the natural splendor of The Islands of Tahiti for years to come.