Frans-Polynesie | Gezelschapseilanden | Huahine
In his adventure novel 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Jules Verne praised the beauty and high mountain peaks of the Society Islands. It is also easily the most varied archipelago of French Polynesia, with a vast abundance of both nature and culture. The largest of the islands, Tahiti, has far more to offer than merely an airport; a jeep safari on Moorea yields breathtaking views; Bora Bora is quite rightfully referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Pacific'; Huahine Iti is largely undiscovered; Raiatea is a former spiritual centre; and Taha'a gives you insight into former traditions.
Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia, is often only used as a stopover location; which is actually a shame. The capital of Papeete is somewhat reminiscent of the South of France and you can stroll along the harbour and visit the cathedral, or Temple of Paofai. Alternatively you might like to visit the covered market, where the local people do their daily shopping. Fruit and vegetables are sold here, as well as wood carvings - both kitsch and class! And those who have not yet purchased any pearls are guaranteed to change their minds by the time they leave Tahiti. Tahiti Iti Peninsula is also unjustly unknown and is the ideal place to go for stunning walks through the overwhelming nature and across the black lava sand beaches.
To get to one of the vantage points on your jeep safari on Moorea, you will need to reverse uphill for quite some distance, as there is no opportunity to turn at the top. It's worth the effort though, since these vantage points offer incredible views across the fjord-like lagoons of Cook Bay and Opunohu. This spot also offers you the best views of the dramatically formed volcanic peaks, the most famous of which is Mou'a Puta, or ‘the pierced mountain'. A village has been built in traditional Polynesian style on Moorea - ‘Tiki Village' - and this gives account of the way the local people lived before the westerners set foot ashore. A ‘Tiki' is a large statue carved out of stone that stands near a ‘Marae' (sacred place).
A dolphin excursion is a fun and impressive experience for children at Moorea and, while the dolphins swim up close to visitors, a biologist is on hand to provide insight into these fascinating mammals.
Bora Bora is Tahitian for ‘firstborn'. In the 18th century, James Cook described the island as the ‘Pearl of the Pacific' and Bora Bora is still a stunning unmissable location. The flattened green volcanic mountain peaks of Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu contrast vividly with the most beautiful lagoon in the world. You can enjoy the white sandy beaches and unforgettable walks on the surrounding ‘motus' (uninhabited islands). A half-day boat trip is also a lovely way to gain an impression of the island. Exploring the island in a rented two-seater go-kart is also a very unique experience.
Tradition has it that the half-god Hiro spilt this island in half using his canoe. In spite of its rugged landscape and beautiful beaches, Huahine Iti, the smallest part, is largely undiscovered. This is surprising really, considering the fact that Huahine is only 175 kilometres from Tahiti.
Exploring Huahine Iti by bike is a fun and unique experience that will take you from valley to valley, with the constant backdrop of the sea. In just over three hours you can gain a wealth of divergent impressions, from to fruit trees and primeval forests to a fish farm, vanilla plantation and small shops where you will be treated like one of the locals. A boat trip across the lagoon is the ideal way to visit the island's various snorkelling sites or pearl farm.
Raiatea means ‘soft light skies' and the island was one of first islands to be inhabited by the Maoris, making it a very important cultural and spiritual centre. You can visit the ruins of Taputapuatea Marae on Raiatea, which is one of the most important archaeological excavation sites in French Polynesia. The warriors flocked from here to form the so-called Polynesian Triangle. On the flower-shaped island of Taha'a you can gain an impression of the laid-back, traditional lifestyle of the inhabitants of French Polynesia. The rolling mountain landscape is very welcoming and watermelons, copra and vanilla (the scent of which lingers sweetly in the air) are grown in the valleys. There are various motus around Taha'a where you can swim and sunbathe.
Maupiti, the smallest and most isolated of the islands, is located 40 kilometres to the north-west of Bora Bora. This island is largely undiscovered by tourists and is often considered as a less developed version of Bora Bora; yet its steep cliffs and lagoon are equally as impressive as those of its bigger sister. The island has five motus, all of which have unspoilt white sandy beaches. Here you can leave the inhabited world right where it is: far far behind you.