Introducing Tahiti And French Polynesia
Lake Gunn, South Island © Jocelyn Kinghorn
Captivating Tahiti and her 118 attendant islands and atolls, all radiant with iridescent green and turquoise, make up the country of French Polynesia, a French overseas territory that is spread across an area of the South Pacific that is as big as western Europe.
The earliest explorers thought they had found paradise on earth when they came across these picture-perfect islands, and today's travellers are no less entranced by the volcanic mountain peaks clothed in lush tropical vegetation and exotic flowering plants, the coral reefs, warm waters, white sand beaches and stunning turquoise lagoons. Add to this the warm hospitality offered by the friendly locals, a collection of world-class resorts, spas, fine restaurants, nightclubs, vibrant markets and enticing boutiques, and one would imagine the islands would be over-run with exuberant vacationers.
It is surprising then, to discover that there are more hotel rooms in a typical Las Vegas hotel than on all the islands of French Polynesia, and that Hawaii receives more visitors in 10 days than Tahiti does in a year. This means it is possible to tuck a tiare (Tahiti's national fragrant white flower) behind your ear, pack your pareu (sarong) and swimsuit, and head off to find your own idyllic piece of Polynesian paradise, which will doubtless have a melodic ancient name meaning something like 'island of the long sky' or 'place of the double rainbow'.
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