The outer islands of Tahiti are the most beautiful in the South Pacific attracting royalty and movie stars alike with beautiful lagoons, palm-covered atolls, beautiful people and exceptional handicrafts and wood carvings. They are also the final resting place of French artist Paul Gauguin.
Maupiti is a small tranquil island 40 kilometres west of Bora Bora, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful islands in the South Seas. The main island is surrounded by lagoon, with long motu islets offshore which provide coral gardens for watermelon and cantaloupe plantations.
Tetiaroa, formerly the playground for Royalty, is now the private domain of actor Marlon Brando. Twelve islets enclose a protected lagoon with superb snorkelling and diving inside the 100 foot deep coral gardens.
Huahine is north-west of Tahiti in the Leeward Society Islands. Offshore motu islets lie inside the barrier reef providing efficient gardens for the watermelon and cantaloupe industry.
Riatea/Tahaa are two islands enclosed in a single barrier reef. Here you can see lush green valleys, cascades, pineapple and vanilla plantations. Marae Taputapuatea, Raiatea's most famous landmark, is an open air temple made up of seven marae built of stone, once a religious homeland for the Polynesian Maori.
Shuttle boats take you from Raiatea to Tahaa where you can choose to take a panoramic hike through mountains and visit a vanilla plantation.
Tuamotu is an archipelago comprising 78 low islands or coral atolls scattered over several hundred miles of the Pacific Ocean. Life on these remote atolls is simple and quiet. Interior lagoons are a haven for black pearl farms, fish parks, snorkelling and scuba diving.
The Austral Islands are located south of Tahiti spread across one thousand two hundred and eighty kilometres of the South Pacific and straddle the Tropic of Capricorn. The combined population of 6,500 Polynesians live on the islands of Rurutu, Tubuai, Rimatara, Raivavae and Tapa.
Far removed from the distractions of civilisation, these hard working fishermen and farmers live quiet, contented lives in their villages where houses and churches are often built of coral limestone.
THE MARQUESAS ISLANDS
The Marquesas Islands lie 1,400 kilometres north-east of Tahiti and comprise twelve volcanic islands, the smaller six are uninhabited, the other six are home to 7,000 people.
Nuku Hiva is the main island in the northern archipelago with the town of Taiohae serving as the administrative and economic centre. It is best known for its 550 metre Ahuii waterfall in the Hakaui Valley.
Ua Pou has imposing jagged cliffs rising from the sea and the most populated island with a population of some 2,000 people.
Ua Huka is the smallest island and famous for its wood carvings which are considered the best in Polynesia.
Hiva Oa in the south-eastern group is the final resting place of French artist Paul Gauguin and there is a museum dedicated to him. In the village of Puamau are the largest 'tikis' found in Polynesia.
Tahuata is the visible remains of a huge sunken volcano.
Experience the natural wonder of the Bay of Virgins on beautiful Fatu Hiva, the most southerly island.
Accommodation is offered in small pensions and family homes on each island and activities include hiking on mountain trails, horseback riding, deep sea fishing and sailing.