The islands of French Polynesia are like the Ferrari of travel destinations: Not a necessity, but if you get the chance, you best not say no.
The islands of French Polynesia, which number more than 100, are like a paradise, but they’re not a cheap destination. The most famous island group is the Society Islands that includes Tahiti. Here, the hotel prices can seem almost ludicrous, some of them costing more than US$1,000 (RM4,180) a night.
Another well-known island is Bora Bora, a volcanic place with Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu at its centre. The volcano Mount Otenanu is 727m high, and is no longer active.
Surrounding Bora Bora is a barrier reef dotted with islands with palm trees, that create the lagoon with its clear turquoise water. The place looks like it was taken from a postcard, and not reality.
Seeing as Bora Bora’s natural geography is so unique, tourists often take helicopter flights to see it from above. But often, the island is more fascinating up close, for instance during snorkelling sessions in the lagoon.
In the lagoon, snorkellers can see stingrays, reef sharks and all manner of colourful fish. If you go out with a guide, they will make sure to attract the black tip reef sharks with bits of fish for food.
The island Raiatea and its neighbour, Tahaa, share a coral reef, but are less of a cliche than Tahiti or Bora Bora. But Raiatea has other great things to offer, for instance Marae Taputa-puatea, one of Polynesia’s most important cultural sites and a Unesco World Heritage Site.
A Marae is an important religious site, and the one on Raiatea was likely the religious centre of Eastern Polynesia. Ceremonies were held here and Polynesians prayed to their god, Oro.
The island of Moorea, also part of the Society Islands group, was created by magma coming through the Earth’s crust and creating land. This jungle island is reminiscent of the setting of blockbuster film Jurassic Park – but none of the 16,000 inhabitants have seen any dinosaurs lately.
One thing to do on Moorea is to go walking in the jungle. Guides will take you through the volcanic rainforest and lead you to the fantastic viewpoint Belvedere, which looks over Cook’s Bay. The jungle is full of banyan trees, metre-high bamboo – and mosquitoes. – dpa
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