The other Society Islands
There are more than a dozen islands in
the Society archipelago, a few of which fly
under most tourists’ radar—but shouldn’t.
Here’s a look.
Huahine. It seemed at times that I
could hear ancient drumbeats playing percussion alongside the rolling Pacific’s bass
on this beautiful garden island, known for
its magnificent bays and sacred ruins.
Perhaps it’s because Huahine, formed by
two islands joined by a bridge, has the largest concentration of ancient sites, including
marae (communal and sacred meeting
areas) and temples, in the vast “Polynesian
Triangle” formed by Hawaii, Easter Island
and New Zealand.
Sleepy and authentic, it’s ideal for anyone who wants to seek bliss on beaches few
tourists visit or discover Polynesian history
while savoring local fish and freshly picked
watermelon, bananas and coconuts.
Taha’a. From precious pods drying in
the sun to creamy sauce drizzled over grilled
mahi-mahi, the exotic aroma of vanilla
(nearly 80 percent of Tahiti’s crop is grown
here) distinguishes this flower-shaped
island from its Society siblings.
I also discovered that Taha’a’s lagoon
produces Tahitian black pearls, which actually range from steely gray to luminous
green. Accessible solely by boat, Taha’a also
offers superb underwater sightseeing in its
gin-clear “snorkel garden” and a panoramic
view of nearby Bora Bora.
The Tuamotu Atolls. While the
Societies are known for their mountainous
beauty, the pancake-flat Tuamotus dazzle
with not much more than sparkling sand
The Costco Connection
Costco Travel offers a variety of packages
to Tahiti and its islands. To view details,
click “Travel” at Costco.com. To book,
and shimmering sea.
Rangiroa. The world’s second-largest
atoll (its lagoon is so vast that the island of
Tahiti could fit inside it) is like a Robinson
Crusoe daydream come to life. And while
I’ve never wanted to scuba dive, after hearing others talk about the drift dive at Tiputa
Pass, where you are swept along in a kaleidoscopic realm beside sharks, manta rays
and other lagoon residents, I admit I was
envious of their adventure. If you’re a diver,
Rangiroa is your playground—and if not, it’s
an idyllic spot to relax in a hammock and
power down your smartphone.
Tikehau. The moment I realized the
airport had no terminal I knew I was about
to enjoy the ultimate getaway. Sublimely
quiet, populated by just 400 people and
blessed with an oval of motus ringed by soft
pale-pink sand, Tikehau appeals to travelers
who crave low-key authenticity.
The best way to experience it is to watch
a resident make poisson cru (raw fish),
Tahiti’s national dish, from fresh tuna, coconut milk, lime juice, tomatoes and carrots.
Ask for a taste and discover why eating local
is Reap’s favorite Tahiti experience.
It’s mine, too—right after toasting the
sunset with a Hinano beer while barefoot on
a deserted motu. C
New York–based writer Donna Heiderstadt
specializes in romantic travel, cruises and
Pack light. Dress here is informal.
And ladies, leave your heels at home—
they get caught in the wooden walkways leading to over-water bungalows.
Travel off-season. Deals and availability abound from November to April,
when there are fewer honeymooners.
Sign up to snorkel or learn to dive.
These lagoons are from an entirely different planet and are so calm and clear
they’re wonderful places to learn.
Plan your “I do’s.” Getting married
in Tahiti isn’t difficult, but the paperwork takes about six months.
Don’t overlook garden bungalows.
Over-water is appealing, but garden
bungalows cost less—and some have
5 tips for Tahiti
Clockwise from left: Overwater bungalows in Bora Bora; wedding ceremony on
Moorea; diving with the sharks off
Rangiroa; a stretch of beach on Tikehau.
In our digital editions
Click here for a video overview of
Tahiti and its islands. (See page 12