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Because You Can! Hole Up in Tahiti

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Your entrée to French Polynesia

PLAN TO VISIT IN JULY not only for the whale-watching (July to October) but for Heiva! The spectacular, dance-heavy festival, being held this year at Papeete’s Maison de la Culture from July 6 to 22, is a highpoint of every Polynesian’s calendar. The event kicks off with an umutī (fire walking) ceremony and is big on traditional sports like coconut-tree climbing, stone lifting and canoe racing.


ALL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS to French Polynesia land at Faa’a International Airport (PPT) in Papeete on the main island of Tahiti. There are five archipelagos in the French overseas territory, and over 100 islands to visit but it’s well worth spending some time in Tahiti, the heart of the islands, before heading out to other dream destinations like Bora Bora and Moorea.


YOU’RE IN THE CENTRE OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN, 6,000 kilometres from the nearest major landmass (Australia), so you can expect big waves. Head to Teahupoo on the southwest coast to glimpse or catch (if you dare) six- to 25-foot waves. The tiny village hosts the Billabong Pro Teahupoo, reputably one of the world’s ‘heaviest’ surfing competitions.


PAPEETE MARKET IS THE PLACE TO BE on a Sunday morning, when it’s packed with locals doing their weekly food shop. You’ll likely be more interested in the pareu (sarongs), tifaifai (quilts), shell necklaces and black-pearl jewellery. Make your way upstairs to find plenty of hawker stalls supplying freshly squeezed fruit juices and fish-heavy snacks.


TAHITI’S LUXURY OVERWATER BUNGALOWS exceed expectations. You’ll find them off any one of the beautiful, black-sand beaches that encircle the island; off white-sand Maui Beach on Tahiti Iti, the island’s south-eastern tip; and inland, stretching out over sheltered, emerald-green lagoons. Imagine yourself sitting back with a Mai Tai and a plate of Poisson Cru after a morning dive.


VENTURE INTO THE INTERIOR BY 4WD to climb waterfall-laden mountains and see petroglyphic rock carvings, dating back 20,000 years. The third-highest peak on the island, 2,066-metre Mount Aorai, delivers one of the most breath-taking – and demanding – hikes in French Polynesia, and is rightly celebrated for its incredible views.


DRIVING AROUND THE ISLAND on the coast road, stop off at Arahoho Blowhole where huge sprays of water shoot up when the ocean swell is big enough. A little further south, you can explore the lush gardens, overhung caverns and crystal-clear pools of Maraa Grotto – a fairy-tale spot favoured by painter Paul Gauguin, who lived in nearby Mataiea from 1891 to 1893.

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