Fly into Tahiti at Faa'a International Airport. This airport can be your launching point to explore other Tahitian islands. Hop on Air Tahiti for an hour-long flight to Fakarava (there's only one flight per day, so don't miss it). Or go to the Marquesas Island of Nuku Hiva (a three-hour flight departing just once a day, except twice on Fridays). Fly to Huahine on multiple flights per day. airtahiti.aero
Stay on those Tahitian islands at these inviting places. On Fakarava, the name says it all at Le Maitai Dream Fakarava, which has just 30 units overlooking a tropical lagoon, 689-93-41-50. On Huahine, venture off the beaten path to Te Tiare Beach Resort, where you'll find 11 deep over-water bungalows and five shallow over-water bungalows, which all face west for optimal sunset viewing. The resort is only accessible by boat (catch it in Fare, the main town on Huahine), tetiarebeachresort.com. Maurii Pension on Huahine features traditionally built beachside bungalows. But to experience overwater bungalows, Le Meridien on Bora Bora is a celebrated place to stay, lemeridien.com. On Papeete, try Le Méridien Tahiti, which may have one of the best beaches on the island and is close to the Museum of Tahiti, lemeridien.com. The InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa is a sprawling property with dolphins, turtles and superb views of water breaking on the reef, intercontinental.com. Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort is the luxe cast- away dream: overwater bungalows and isolation, pearlresorts.com. The Novotel Rangiroa Lagoon Resort has bungalows in one of the largest lagoons in the Southern Hemisphere, novotel.com. The Bora Bora Lagoon Resort & Spa is laid-back, wonderfully luxurious and has the best views of Mount Otemanu you'll find. orient-express.com
Play "pearl lottery" at the Pearl Guest House Havaiki where you swim out, choose a pearl oyster and keep whatever is inside. Black ones are the most common. Get a green one, and you've hit the jackpot.
Day trip to Tetamanu on the southern coast of Fakarava, where you can snorkel completely surrounded by sharks, rays and lagoon fish. Then visit one of the first Catholic churches built all of coral in 1874.
Eat a low-key island lunch at Tetamanu Village on Fakarava. On Huahine, head to Te Marara, a waterside restaurant in the town of Fare. Try its renowned fresh-caught grilled mahimahi with a sauce made from locally grown vanilla. And, of course, wash it all down with Hinano beer.
Explore the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, which has a great collection of outriggers and plenty of displays to give an idea of just how far the great ships went. In Rangiroa, book an excursion through your hotel concierge to visit the Blue Lagoon, located at the far side of the main lagoon from town. While there, walk out to the bird sanctuary and get a close-up look at the brown nod- dies -- birds used by navigators and utterly fearless on land. On Bora-Bora, take a private lagoon tour with Patrick Tairua, which includes the chance to swim with sharks, feed sting rays and a picnic on a private motu. maohinui.net
Learn more at tahiti-tourisme.com.