Published: 14 November 2013 by: Joanna Hall

Tahiti With the mythical peaks of Bora Bora as the backdrop, the show quickly moves into full swing. From yellow to orange, pink, red, blue, purple - and various outrageous hues in between – the multi-coloured palette moves through the sky and glassy ocean. It’s not surprising that Tahiti attracted the attention of artists like Paul Gauguin. fIn addition to France’s greatest Post-Impressionist painter, many other artists, explorers and writers made the arduous journey to French Polynesia, sometimes spending months at sea to answer its alluring call.

From the time European adventurers and sailors returned with tales of a land, and people, of incredible beauty in the 19th-century Tahiti and Her Isles have been a real life tropical fantasy for people around the world. Today these islands remain picture-postcard perfect: white-sand beaches, turquoise lagoons and jagged mountain peaks. While Bora Bora and Moorea rest on their reputations as the most beguiling islands in the world, the Marquesas Island group is where the real heart and soul of Tahitian culture survives.

Located nearly 1500 kilometres north-east of the main island of Tahiti Nui, the Marquesas’ isolation means they are relatively untouched by tourism. A smile from a local is genuine, and when they want to take you around their village they don’t expect to get paid – they’re just showing off their lifestyle and heritage. The Marquesas possess a powerful and overwhelming physical presence and sheer volcanic cliffs rise dramatically out of the Pacific Ocean. The jagged peaks rise side by side more than a kilometre up, creating plateaus at high altitude and steep valleys with lush vegetation. Most of the Marquesan Islands feature partly sunken caldera, which create a natural amphitheatre among the towering mountains and this is where the villagers choose to settle.

It would be a very jaded traveller who wouldn’t fall for French Polynesia’s beauty and charm; the dramatic landscapes, the exotic flowers, the crystal clear waters, and the infectious warmth of the Tahitian people.

Photography: Ben Hall

NEED TO KNOW:

DO a motu (or coral cay island) tour where you get to swim with sharks, feed stingrays and picnic on an idyllic beach with very few other people around.

DON’T leave without sampling poisson cru, a fresh tuna dish which is a fusion of South Pacific and European cuisine.

COUPLES WILL LOVE staying in an overwater bungalow with tropical fish right underneath.

STAY visit our Tahiti page for great options

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