Explore the timeless beauty of the volcanic Society Islands. Between reef and mountain lie glorious lagoons, home to a stunning array of marine life that swim the calm, shallow waters. From the cosmopolitan island of Tahiti, cruise to the densely vegetated mountain of Bora Bora. Famous for a reason, this paradise island is as close to the tropical ideal as it gets. Two dark green mountains, Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia, rise out of the deep, blue lagoon, their peaks reaching up into the occasional clouds which huddle over the islands. The reef around the lagoon is clustered with desert islands, known as motus. Get dropped by your tender here and you really will feel like Robinson Crusoe.
From Bora Bora, cruise through the Te Ava Nui Pass and Pai Pai Pass into the lagoon that surrounds the islands of Taha’a and Raiatea. Both islands boast rugged interiors equally as impressive as their surrounding beaches. After a few days exploring, venture through the Iriru pass and on to Huahine – the final island in the Society Island archipelago. Huahine is actually formed of two islands – Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti, separated by a narrow isthmus. The slopes of both islands are smothered with hibiscus, while the lower, fertile lands are cultivated for watermelon and cantaloupe.
Further afield, the far-flung Tuamotu Islands are French Polynesia’s central archipelago. Comprising more than 70 low-lying islands and coral atolls, these UNESCO islands are a world-renowned scuba diving destination. Getting to the Tuamotus from the Society Islands can sometimes be difficult due to the prevailing wind and waves being dead-set against you, so it is generally better to begin your charter in the Tuamotus and then sail or cruise downwind towards Tahiti (cruising from the Tuamotus to the Society Islands is a 24-hour crossing). You can fly from Tahiti to Fakarava to discover rich ecosystems home to rare birds, plants and underwater life, with dive sites that are almost undiscovered.
The final two island groups in French Polynesia are the Austral Islands, which straddle the Tropic of Capricorn to the southwest of the Society Islands, and the Gambiers, which lie to the east. These islands remain very isolated and as a result they are largely uninhabited except for a few local tribes living in rural villages.