French Polynesia is a very, very long way from London. Almost 24 hours, to be exact, with an eleven-hour flight to Los Angeles and a few hours in the airport followed by an eight-hour flight to Tahiti. This might be the epitome of long-haul travel but trust me when I say it is more than worth it. French Polynesia is one of the most amazing places in the world.
Live in Colour
On our arrival, we decided to take a half-hour flight direct from Tahiti to the neighboring island of Taha’a. It’s very underdeveloped and totally unspoiled – island life and exotic travel at its finest.
Taha’a island itself is large and beautiful, covered in a blanket of forest and jungle. It’s nicknamed Vanilla Island as it is one of the biggest exporters of vanilla in the world. We spent some days hiking through the mountains and jungle, past waterfalls and vanilla plantations embraced by some of the most vibrant colours I have ever seen.
Our local guide accompanied us on the hike and told spellbinding stories behind the landscapes and the local wildlife. Believe me when I say that anything you need to treat any medical situation can be found in the jungle!
We stayed on the Taha’a Island Resort, located on an atoll next to the main island. There is only one resort on the island which makes it feel so exclusive. One of the best features was our over-water bungalow with views of Bora Bora -Taha’a is the ideal destination to avoid the crowds at Bora Bora but still have the option of a day trip to see what all the fuss is about.
If you’re looking for a more active holiday, then Moorea is the place to go. Another beautiful island and the closest to Tahiti, its volcanic landscapes are wild and hilly. You can hire a quad bike to explore the terrain and travel to the deepest corners of the island. Staying on different terrains is a great way to experience all that French Polynesia has to offer.
For pure and utter luxury with an eco-edge, Tetiaroa is the place to be. Just 25 minutes’ flight from Tahiti, it’s home to The Brando - a super-luxurious eco resort built by Marlon Brando, Hollywood’s original golden boy. Truly one of the most pristine places in the world, it is embraced by an idyllic lagoon and sweeping oceans.
We spent our days diving and playing water sports, swimming alongside turtles, reef sharks and manta rays. We explored the islands of the lagoon all the while keeping our eyes peeled for the rarest marine life in the world.
The Brando has only been open for two years but it teaches a valuable lesson about how eco living evolves and operates whilst retaining that luxurious feel and ambience. The story about the infrastructure and ecosystem on which the resort was built is truly inspiring.
It prioritises clean, renewable energy sources with a water supply 1000-metres deep in the ocean. Almost all power is supplied by solar panels and all waste is shipped away from the island to be recycled. Ongoing eco research and development is a priority.
The feeling of absolute privacy means that you may well rub shoulders with a celebrity while staying on Tetiaroa. As the favourite of the Hollywood elite and royals alike, Leonardo DiCaprio stays at the resort twice a year while Pippa Middleton has just spent there her honeymoon.
Before we took our flight home, we had an overnight stop on Tahiti itself. While the island is unquestionably beautiful, I recommend staying for just one or two nights and seeing it more as a gateway to the other islands of French Polynesia.
Having said that, the trips deep into the jungle and the forest were quite beautiful and a lovely way to spend some downtime. We also took a tube tour through the frozen lava tunnels to explore the island from the inside – highly recommended!
In the evenings, we were enthralled by the local Tahitian dancers. Local men and women covered in exotic tattoos engaged in a type of warrior dancing and showed just why so many artists have been captivated by the beauty of this location. The people are so beautiful, kind and always smiling – like a breath of fresh air!
As we took our flight out of Tahiti, I still had one item left on my local bucket list – the Marquesas Islands. This group of volcanic islands is part of French Polynesia but a four-hour flight from Tahiti. Truly remote with unique, dramatic landscapes that are totally out of this world, I imagine the islands to blend Jurassic Park-style jungles with the faraway landscapes of the Galapagos.
The French Polynesian locals were all in agreement that this is one of the best places to go in the area. I’m already looking forward to going back!
Before I sign off this latest installment in the madebywave travel diary, I must add that I packed a selection from the madebywave collections on my travels. The charming beach accessories fit perfectly into the colourful, vibrant island life while my selection of bags made sure I always had perfect beach style. Last but not least, the sarongs brightened up an already-exquisite landscape.