To equate the Islands of Tahiti with utopia isn’t a stretch. There are the otherworldly bright-emerald waters; the Garden of Eden-like verdant landscapes; and the people…oh, the friendliness of the people is, as Paul Sloan, CEO of Tahiti Tourisme, puts it, unmatched anywhere on Earth.
“The French Polynesian spirit cannot be replicated. Our destination is a paradise,” Sloan says, “with beautiful beaches, friendly people.” He adds that for those seeking a truly relaxing vacation and ample time to reconnect, as well as an authentic experience and genuine interaction with the locals, the islands deliver. In this secluded destination, visitors “will be embraced by Mana, the life force that connects all things in Tahiti.”
With 118 islands and atolls spread out over five archipelagos—with a total landmass that’s only slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island—it’s not surprising for romance-seekers to find a spot of their own in this earth-bound paradise. “Privacy options as well as diversity abound,” Sloan points out, “making it ideal for honeymooners and wedding parties/ceremonies.”
Each island offers a variety of activities and accommodation experiences, including those world-renowned overwater bungalows. These unique accommodations are currently celebrating 50 years since their invention, having been created in the lagoon of Raiatea by three American hotel owners. And Sloan is quick to point out that the Tahiti “overwater bungalow experience is unique from other areas in the world,” surrounded by those mesmerizing Tahitian lagoons, with views of the area’s striking coral reefs and colorful fish.
At the newly opened Conrad Bora Bora Nui, guests will find 86 overwater bungalows, as well as two Presidential Villas, Bora Bora’s only 2-story overwater accommodations. Located in a private cove on an islet off the coast of Bora Bora, the property offers an additional 28 tropical garden and beach villas, as well as an overwater lounge and the Hina Spa with indoor treatment rooms and an open-air space overlooking the lagoon. Rates start at $912 per night.
With weddings in Tahiti being legally binding in the U.S., there’s no reason your clients can’t opt for an authentic Tahitian wedding. It’s a feast for the eyes with couples bedecked in bright pareu (a sarong), flowers, and shells. The groom is brought to the beachside location in a canoe while the bride is carried on a rattan throne. There’s music and traditional dancers, and a Tahitian priest performs the rites and gives the couple their Tahitian name. A host of hotels throughout the islands offer traditional weddings, including the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, where wedding couples can choose from a Traditional Polynesian Beach Ceremony on a stretch of beach covered in a carpet of tropical flowers; a Traditional Chapel Ceremony, which takes place in an overwater, glass-bottomed chapel; or a Traditional Ocean Ceremony, in a jungle setting on the reef side of the islet.
Cruising & Getting Around
The Islands of Tahiti offer eight ports of call, welcoming 33,418 cruise passengers and 20 cruise lines in 2016. In the next few years, the cruise offerings in Tahiti will get even more robust, with work on a new international cruise terminal in Papeete beginning in December, and set to be operational by 2020. It will be able to accommodate up to three liners simultaneously, and more than 2,000 turnaround passengers.
Those dreams of sailing Tahiti don’t have to wait until then, though. You can currently book your honeymoon clients on Windstar Cruises’ 148-guest Wind Spirit, a 4-masted sailing yacht. It sails on numerous voyages in Tahiti, including the aptly named 7-day Dreams of Tahiti (from $4,299 pp; cruise, air + hotel included).
And less than two miles from the cruise terminal, Faa’a International Airport is getting a revamp, undergoing a $12 million upgrade that is expected to be completed by 2020.
Conrad Bora Bora Nui: boraboranui.conradhotels.com
InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa: thalasso.intercontinental.com
The Islands of Tahiti: tahiti-tourisme.com
Windstar Cruises: windstarcruises.com
Did You Know?
Tahiti is halfway between California and Australia, on the same side of the International Date Line as North America and in the same time zone as Hawaii. And it’s under an 8-hour flight from LAX to Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport, with daily nonstops.