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A collection of paradises

The Society Islands

Collection of paradises

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The Society Islands

The Society Islands in the south of the Pacific Ocean are one of the most beautiful destinations in French Polynesia. These gems are covered with sharp volcanic peaks, jungle-clad mountainsides, white palm-lined beaches and turquoise lagoons: this is the quintessential tropical island paradise.

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Vadim Antonov / EyeEm

Tahiti

Bienvenue à Tahiti

Most visitors to the Society Islands arrive at the international airport of Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia on Tahiti. From here, you can catch a ferry or plane to numerous magnificent islands, each with their own unique character. This is the perfect starting point to island-hop your way around the south Pacific.

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Matt Anderson Photography
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Papeete is a melting pot of Polynesian cultures. Especially in July, when the spectacular Heiva festival takes place, it is not recommended to venture off too quickly to the smaller islands. This vibrant celebration with music and dance is the best introduction to Polynesian joie de vivre. Outside of the city, the island boasts stunning mountains with glorious waterfalls and black beaches nestled along blue lagoons. This is also a great whale-watching destination. Between July and October, pods of the largest sea mammals visit these warm coastal waters.

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The Heiva festival is so lively and exuberant that it was once banned by French missionaries.

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Bora Bora

Romantic Bora Bora

In a nutshell, Bora Bora has all of the ingredients for the perfect honeymoon: tropical sun, magnificent beaches, spectacular nature and world-class luxury resorts. As an added bonus, this idyllic setting in the middle of the Pacific is far away from nosy in-laws and the daily grind. It's easy to see why newlyweds make a beeline from the ceremony straight to this earthly paradise.

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But Bora Bora is more than romantic walks on the beach. Visitors can fill their days with a host of activities, like diving and snorkelling, a jungle hike or a boat ride across the lagoon.

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Book one of the 53 luxury cabins on the National Graphic Orion and explore Polynesia on a cruise, accompanied by a real expedition team and top-notch guides.

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Maupiti

Authentic Maupiti

There is so much more to this region than Bora Bora. The pristine beauty of nearby sister island Maupiti will redefine the meaning of paradise. For a long time it lagged behind in development and seemed to have been overlooked by the growing tourism industry. Those days are gone, but the island still exudes an authentic vibe of casual friendliness that is a hallmark of Polynesia.

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Visit a spectacular lagoon sparkling with every shade of blue, dotted with sandbanks full of swaying palm trees. There is only one road, mostly used by pedestrians and cyclists. Instead of upscale resorts, visitors stay in charming inns where they are embraced as part of the family.

Hike to the top of Mont Teurafaatiu for a breathtaking view of the lagoon and Bora Bora in the distance.

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Raiatea

Holy Raiatea

Without many beaches, Raiatea receives far fewer visitors than the rest of the archipelago. But Raiatea is certainly worth a visit, especially for travellers interested in exploring the local culture and history. This is where the Marae Taputapuatea, a thousand year old shrine that was once the most important temple in all of Polynesia, is found. Its existence was largely unknown to the rest of the world. Only in 2017 did the temple receive a UNESCO World Heritage designation.

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Although most islanders converted to Christianity a long time ago, the Marae is still seen as ‘tapu’ (sacred) and treated with great respect and reverence. This lends the island a unique atmosphere, enhanced by its steep mountains that tower high above the sea.

The ‘marae’ are found all throughout Polynesia: for the Māori in New Zealand these are still an important part of their everyday life.

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