Discover the interior of the island of Tahiti by 4 wheel drive vehicle. The tour will take you to Mount Marau. You'll be taken to an altitude of 3600 feet, stop for a bird's eye view of Punaruu Valley, once a fortress built by the French during the Tahitian uprising of 1844 to 1846. The site is now used as a TV relay station. At 4320 feet, there is a magnificent panorama of the island's highest peaks: Orohena, Aorai, Tetufera and Teamaa. Tour continues to the Tiarei Arahoho Blow Hole, Tahiti's biggest roadside attraction. It's unmarked and located at the base of a steep cliff on a narrow shoulder on the mountain side of the road. Over countless years, battering surf has undercut the basalt shoreline and eroded a passage to the surface beneath the road. When waves crash against the rocks, the result is a geyser-like plume of sea water that showers on lookers. You'll enter to the Fa'aurumai Valley to visit the three waterfalls. The rainforest on both sides of this small valley is thick, nearly impenetrable and filled with "hutu" and "mape" trees (chestnut trees, only found in the Society Islands). If you look carefully, you'll notice star fruit, guava and "mape" along the trail. From the parking lot, it's several hundred yards to Vaimahutu, the first fall, which cascades 100 feet to the earth and empties into a pool. Continue the rainforst walk and within 20-minutes will reach the other two falls : Haamaremare Iti and Haamaremare Rahi.

Start your 2.5-hour Bora Bora snorkeling tour in the afternoon, departing from your hotel or Vaitape Pier. Then hop aboard a motorized covered boat that takes your across Bora Bora’s magnificent lagoon. Your guide makes several snorkeling stops along the way for an up-close look at sharks, rays and other fish. Stop near the barrier reef and discover a coral garden and marine park teeming with nearly 700 species of tropical fish (weather permitting). Snap on your provided snorkel equipment and slip into the aquamarine water that makes French Polynesia famous. Black-tip reef sharks are another highlight of Bora Bora. Watch your guide jump into the water to attract and hand-feed more than a dozen sharks. Observe this feeding frenzy from the boat, or experience the thrill through your snorkel mask while in the sea. Continue your excursion to a shallow bay where you’ll come face-to-face with hungry stingrays under your guide’s expert supervision. Enjoy fantastic photo ops before re-boarding the boat for a trip around the island of Bora Bora and a return to your hotel or the port.
Compared to the other islands I visited, it wasn’t. It’s built up, it’s developed, there’s traffic and trucks and it’s busy and there are enormous shopping malls and supermarkets. And a Mcdonald’s. When you compare that to a place like Maupiti, which has no ATMs, where everyone rides bicycles, where there’s a population of 1000, and where there’s not a single resort, there’s no competition. I much preferred the laid-back, go-slow, way of life outside of Tahiti.
Tahiti: just the word conjures up centuries’ worth of images: hibiscus flowers; bronzed dancers in grass skirts; a humid breeze over turquoise sea. The islands of French Polynesia became legends the minute the first European explorers reached their home shores with tales of a heaven on earth where the soil was fertile, life was simple and lust was guilt-free. While the lingering hype is outdated, French Polynesia is still about as dreamy as reality gets. The lagoons are just as blue but there are freeways, more conservative values and nine-to-five jobs. It’s not the untainted paradise of explorer lore, but at least there’s an internet connection.
Within the framework of this treaty, France recognised the sovereignty of the Tahitian state. The Queen was responsible for internal affairs, while France would deal with foreign relations and assure the defence of Tahiti, as well as maintain order on the island. Once the treaty had been signed there began a struggle for influence between the English Protestants and the Catholic representatives of France. During the first years of the Protectorate, the Protestants managed to retain a considerable hold over Tahitian society, thanks to their knowledge of the country and its language. George Pritchard had been away at the time. He returned however to work towards indoctrinating the locals against the Roman Catholic French.
Home to the capital city of Papeete, Tahiti is the economic center of French Polynesia. Since all flights arrive through Faa'a International Airport, your tailored Tahiti vacation will begin and end in Papeete. While you may be tempted to jet off immediately to the other islands, we recommend staying at least a day or two. Tahiti strikes an interesting contrast to some of the more quiet, secluded islands in the region; and with a selection of wonderful and convenient Tahiti resorts available, you will never regret staying.

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The Tahitians believed in the afterlife, a paradise called Rohutu-no'ano'a. When a Tahitian died, the barkcloth wrapped corpse was placed on a funeral bier, fare tupapa 'u, which was a raised canoe awning on posts surrounded by bamboo. Food for the gods was placed nearby to prevent them from eating the body, which would condemn the spirit to the underworld. Mourners would slash themselves with shark's teeth and the blood smeared on barkcloth placed nearby. Most importantly, the Chief Mourner, donned the parae, an elaborate costume composed of an iridescent mask made of four polished pearl shell discs. One disk was black signifying Po, the spirit world, while one was white, signifying Ao, the world of people. A crown of red feathers signified 'Oro. A curved wooden board, pautu, below the mask contained five polished pearl shells, which signified Hina, the moon goddess. Hanging below were more shells in rows, ahu-parau, signifying the Pleiades, considered to be the eyes of former chiefs. Finally, a ceremonial garment, tiputa, covered the body and was decorated with an apron of polished coconut shells, ahu-'aipu.[11]:151-152,177-179,308
French Polynesia was one of the last places on Earth to be settled by humans. Scientists believe the Great Polynesian Migration happened around 1500 BC as Austronesian people went on a journey using celestial navigation to find islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The first islands of French Polynesia to be settled were the Marquesas Islands in about 200 BC. The Polynesians later ventured southwest and discovered the Society Islands around AD 300.[6]
However, the island saw no combat as the American presence on Bora Bora went uncontested over the course of the war. The base was officially closed on 2 June 1946. The World War II airstrip was never able to accommodate large aircraft, but it nonetheless was French Polynesia's only international airport until Faa'a International Airport opened next to Papeete, Tahiti, in 1960.[8]
Followers of 'Oro were called ariori, and each district in Tahiti had an ariori lodge led by the avae parae, black leg. These leaders had legs tattooed from thigh to heel. The first 'Oro lodge was established around 1720 by Mahi, a representative of the high priest of Taputapuatea marae and Tamatoa I, the high chief of Ra'iatea. The first 'Oro marae was established at Tautira.[11]
At the same census, 94.9% of people whose age was 15 or older reported that they could speak, read and write French (up from 94.7% at the 2007 census), whereas only 1.4% reported that they had no knowledge of French (down from 2.0% at the 2007 census).[32] 87.8% of people whose age was 15 or older reported that they had some form of knowledge of at least one Polynesian language (up from 86.4% at the 2007 census), whereas 12.2% reported that they had no knowledge of any of the Polynesian languages (down from 13.6% at the 2007 census).[32]
What did I skip over? The Tuamotos, a string of 80 atolls stretching roughly over the size of Western Europe. These are all low islands: sand bars atop coral reefs and look ridiculously beautiful. There’s the Marquesas, one of the most remote island groups in the world, 900 miles and a 3.5 hour flight from Tahiti. Unlike the Tuamotos, these are mostly tall, volcanic islands, and unlike most of French Polynesia, aren’t surrounded by coral reefs. Finally, there’s the lesser-visited Gambier Islands, which consist of 14 volcanic islands inside a large lagoon, and the Austral Islands, quiet islands with a few guesthouses and (supposedly) the most authentic Polynesian culture.
While many tourists flock to the island seeking a tranquil wedding or honeymoon spot, there are also plenty of activities to be enjoyed by those seeking an adventure - including various water activities (surfing, scuba diving, fishing) as well as visiting the Tomb of King Pomare the Fifth, hiking to the Les Trois Cascades, and wandering around the shops and restaurants of Le Marche, to name but a few.

Political life in French Polynesia has been marked by great instability since the mid-2000s. On 14 September 2007, the pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru, was elected president of French Polynesia for the third time in three years (with 27 of 44 votes cast in the territorial assembly).[20] He replaced former president Gaston Tong Sang, opposed to independence, who lost a no-confidence vote in the Assembly of French Polynesia on 31 August after the longtime former president of French Polynesia, Gaston Flosse, hitherto opposed to independence, sided with his long enemy Oscar Temaru to topple the government of Gaston Tong Sang. Oscar Temaru, however, had no stable majority in the Assembly of French Polynesia, and new territorial elections were held in February 2008 to solve the political crisis.
Whether it's Bora Bora, Tahiti or Moorea, a trip to French Polynesia is unforgettable. The shades of blue are hypnotic and the sharp volcanic landforms enchanting. The heady vegetative luxuriance commands respect, contrasting with the beaches draped in coconut palms. No words can describe the feeling of eternity and immensity that you feel as you walk on the soil of one of the 118 islands of French Polynesia. Your gaze is easily lost in the horizon. A grandeur that, as much as it tries to tempt you to relax and unwind, is also uncovered by getting to know the culture and way of life, which are as refined as they are emblematic. Put on your flip flops and set off to discover the Polynesian arts and folklore that continue to resonate, like the tattooing, the 'upa'upa dance and songs such as the fakanau. Taking part in the famous Heiva festival will give you a flavor of that culture in all its vivacity. But a trip to French Polynesia wouldn't be complete without taking full advantage of its fauna and flora, its world-renowned natural resources like the seabeds that are so popular with divers. Just grab yourself a mask and snorkel and you'll be ready to go off and meet the graceful manta rays and moray eels. When you visit the Leeward islands, how about lacing up your sneakers and hiking along some of its heavenly paths, maybe discovering an idyllic waterfall hidden among a tangle of ferns. Finish up by trying your hand at the most beautiful sport there could be in this garden of Eden: surfing. Novices will head for the beach breaks, while experienced surfers who are used to riding the tubes will seek the reef breaks for ultimate excitement!
The Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island is found on a small botanical garden surrounded by water. Located on a private island enclosed in the southeast end of the lagoon, the resort is only two minutes away by boat from the main island. Unlike many other reef resorts that have lagoon on one side and ocean on the other, this retreat is completely encircled by the lagoon, creating an all-around gorgeous view of Bora Bora. It is also reserved exclusively for adults and children over the age of twelve, maintaining a quiet and intimate oasis for couples and honeymooners.
I picked up an island hopping pass from Air Tahiti, which gave me close to a 50% discount on what I would have paid if I’d booked all of my flights individually. In total, I ended up paying just over $400 for seven flights. There are several options for island hopping passes, ranging from around $280 for three stops in the Society Islands to a whopping $750 to visit several islands in the Marquesas.

French Polynesia was relisted in the UN List of Non-Self Governing Territories in 2013, making it eligible for a UN-backed independence referendum. The relisting was made after its indigenous government was voiced and supported by the Polynesian Leaders Group, Pacific Conference of Churches, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Non-Aligned Movement, World Council of Churches, and Melanesian Spearhead Group.[19]

Cook and Banks circumnavigated the island from 26 June to 1 July. On the exploration, they met Ahio, chief of Ha'apaiano'o or Papenoo, Rita, chief of Hitia'a, Pahairro, chief of Pueu, Vehiatua, chief of Tautra, Matahiapo, chief of Teahupo'o, Tutea, chief of Vaira'o, and Moe, chief of Afa'Ahiti. In Papara, guided by Tupaia, they investigated the ruins of Mahaiatea marae, an impressive structure containing a stone pyramid or ahu, measuring 44 feet (13 m) high, 267 feet (81 m) long and 87 feet (27 m) wide. Cook and Endeavour departed Tahiti on 13 July 1769, taking Raiatean navigator Tupaia along for his geographic knowledge of the islands.[11]:149,186–202,205
Summer is from November through April, with a warmer and more humid climate and winter is from May to October, when the climate is slightly cooler and drier. When you step out of the airplane, you'll immediately notice that the air is warm and humid. Consequently, besides your camera and your extra memory cards, do not forget to pack lightweight cotton clothes, sunscreen lotion and a baseball cap or a wide brimmed hat. Synthetic fabrics can get hot and sticky in the tropics.
Tahiti: just the word conjures up centuries’ worth of images: hibiscus flowers; bronzed dancers in grass skirts; a humid breeze over turquoise sea. The islands of French Polynesia became legends the minute the first European explorers reached their home shores with tales of a heaven on earth where the soil was fertile, life was simple and lust was guilt-free. While the lingering hype is outdated, French Polynesia is still about as dreamy as reality gets. The lagoons are just as blue but there are freeways, more conservative values and nine-to-five jobs. It’s not the untainted paradise of explorer lore, but at least there’s an internet connection.
Snorkeling in Bora BoraBora Bora reefAcross the lagoon from Mount Otemanu, Bora BoraMeeting the localsBora Bora below the surfaceArrival in Bora BoraShopping in VaitapeFour Seasons Resort Bora BoraTurtle Sanctuary at Le Meridien Bora Bora Bora Bora, jetskiingBora Bora Dinner at Villa MahanaHammock timeBora Bora, sunset diningBora Bora 4x4 adventureBora BoraBora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa, Aerial ViewSofitel Bora Bora Private IslandAlone time at Motu Tapu, Hilton Bora Bora Nui's private motuFire Dancers at the InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Snorkeling in Bora BoraBora Bora reef