Make exotic Tahiti your own special island paradise.
Story and photos by Tom Wuckovich

It doesn’t take much more than the mere mention of the name Tahiti to get one dreaming of secluded black-and-white sand beaches and tranquil translucent lagoons surrounded by lush green hills. Indeed, Tahiti is a place that deserves to be called paradise.

Visitors to Tahiti will be able to find secluded beaches and spaces to relax and enjoy the stunning natural beauty.
Tahiti is located between California and Australia and is about eight hours from Los Angeles international airport. It’s a destination that’s extremely popular with honeymooners. The 118 islands of Tahiti are located in five archipelagoes. Some islands have peaks rising several thousand feet above sea level; others, called atolls, often are held together by submerged coral.

Some of the more famous islands in the region include Moorea and Bora Bora, which has a lagoon that is world-famous for its beauty and distinguishing two main peaks: Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia. Both of these peaks provide a stunning view against the backdrop of ice-blue sky and cotton-white clouds.

The other lesser known islands–which make up the Society Islands chain as designated by English explorer Capt. James Cook–are Huahine, Raiatea, Maupiti, Tahaa, Rangiroa and Manihi.

Papeete is the capital of Tahiti and is the most populated city among the islands. It is a city whose modern infrastructure can be attributed to French investment. It features modern banking, shopping and resort facilities rivaling other popular destinations. But despite this, visitors will find that Papeete is not overrun with tourists. There are plenty of places to find solitude on the beaches, as well as uncrowded shops and restaurants.

Shopping for souvenirs–such as French perfume, jewelry or clothes–is a fascinating experience, but many tourists are enthralled by the island’s native black pearls, or aTahitian cultured pearls, which are very expensive. The pearls can be black, as well as gray, blue, green or brown. There are opportunities for visitors to actually dive for their own black pearls. While these gems are not as valuable as the pearls in the chic shops, diving for them is an interesting vacation activity.

There are other experiences on nearby islands that visitors should consider as well. Especially delightful is a visit to the Dolphin and Lagoonarium Expedition on Moorea. Here, tourists can swim with and feed sharks that range from two to four feet in length. There’s also an opportunity to swim with other varieties of fish, as well as handle loggerhead turtles and stingrays. Participants are picked up at their Moorea hotels and the cost is about $85 for adults, $52 for children.

BEFORE YOU GO
The official languages in Tahiti are French and Tahitian, but English is spoken in tourist areas. The currency is the French Pacific Franc. For more information, visit www.tahititourisme.com.

AAA members receive travel benefits from travel companies, including Pleasant Holidays. Book a five-night stay in Tahiti and receive $30 off the package price.

Click here for information on AAA travel packages or cruises to Tahiti.
The various islands contain a series of spectacular mountains and waterfalls, and they are accessible through hiking, horseback riding or car. Helicopter tours are popular; a 40-minute flight will take passengers over the many lagoons and coral reefs, as well as a flyover of Papeete.

Whether accessed by plane or cruise ship, Tahiti is a paradise that will leave you breathless.

Tom Wuckovich is senior editor of AAA Going Places.
Sept/Oct 2007 Issue

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