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From Romantic Indulgences to Adrenaline Rushes
Tahiti is the ultimate "Fantasy Island" destination for many couples, one they often opt to splurge on for a romantic occasion such as a honeymoon or anniversary.
The azure-hued realm of French Polynesia is indeed a tropical Eden ideally suited for two and its sights and activities appeal to hedonists and adventure-seekers alike.
You could simply choose to relax all day on a gorgeous beach, such as the talcum-soft one pictured here at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. But here are some must-try ways to really enjoy these islands' bounty.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
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Sleep in an Overwater Bungalow
Every island is dotted with them—thatch-roofed huts poised on stilts above a blue lagoon.
Check in, change into your swimsuits and savor your own private frangipani-scented paradise: Wake up and fall asleep to the soothing lullaby of softly lapping water. Enjoy a refreshing dip or invigorating snorkel right from your private sun deck. Ogle Technicolor reef fish through strategic glass panels in the bungalow’s floor.
Oh, and you can have your breakfast delivered via a traditional dugout canoe by Tahitian women wearing leis of fragrant tropical blossoms—just like in a Gauguin painting.Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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Take Photos and Feed Sharks and Stingrays
Man isn't the only creature that enjoys Tahiti's crystalline lagoons. Stealth black-tipped reef sharks and prehistoric-looking southern stingrays like to splash about, too.
You can interact with both during a shark and stingray feeding tour, available on most islands. But you won’t just watch the food toss from a boat.
Following your guide's lead, you'll actually get in the water as three-foot sharks circle while waiting for hand outs (don't worry—they have no interest in snacking on you) and curious rays scamper about even rub their velvety bellies up against your legs like playful puppies. I kid you not.Continue to 4 of 11 below.
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Swim and Snorkel in a Blue Lagoon
There's water, water everywhere and some of the islands' best scenery lies beneath its glassy surface.
Slip on snorkel masks and fins (after applying liberal sunscreen to each other's backs) and float above wavering gardens of pastel-hued coral as silver-striped and neon-spotted fish dart amid the salty flora.
Also keep an eye out for starfish, sea turtles and even the occasional eel.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Enjoy a Monoi-Oil Massage
There's nothing better than a soothing Tahitian massage, which combines long, smooth strokes and fragrant monoi oil scented with vanilla, coconut or tiare blossoms.
Whether on the beach at sunset or in a five-star spa’s couple’s suite, such as this one at the Mane Spa at the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa, an hour of pampering is the perfect way to transition from active day to amorous night.Continue to 6 of 11 below.
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Take a 4x4 Tour of Moorea
Emerald-peaked, heart-shaped Moorea is the ideal isle to explore via land, and the best way to see its many nooks and crannies is to bounce around in an open-air 4x4 truck.
From atop Magic Mountain, where the lagoon spreads out before you in a mosaic of every possible shade of blue, to Belvedere Overlook, where twin Cooks and Opunohu bays jut out below like almost perfectly symmetrical fingers, you’ll be awed by the spectacle the South Pacific's forces of nature created.Continue to 7 of 11 below.
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Try Poisson Cru
Of all the traditional local dishes to sample—among them, breadfruit, taro, fish and pork cooked in a himaa, or underground oven—none is as addictively delicious as poisson cru: raw tuna marinated in lime juice and coconut milk.
It's a healthy and refreshing lunch or light appetizer.
You can enjoy it during a casual beachside luncheon or a romantic dinner for two, such as one at The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, shown here.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
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Visit a Pearl Farm
Aside from the freshest fish imaginable, Tahiti's most abundant salt-water bounty is its cache of precious black pearls.
Not all are black, but rather come in a range of lustrous shades of gray, blue, bronze, green and aubergine, and are farmed in waters off of several islands—namely Taha'a, Huahine and the Tuomotus.
Price depends upon size, symmetry and luster and ranges from a few dollars for a souvenir-stand bauble to several thousand for a perfectly uniform strand.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Get a Tribal Tattoo
Tahitian tattoos are legendary (the word tattoo is even a derivation of the Polynesian word tatau) and it's not unusual to see Tahitian men, especially those from the Marquesas, with elaborate tribal designs covering their limbs and torsos.
Tourists in the market for the real deal can be safely adorned by native tattoo artists working at certain resorts, while wannabes can try out the look with a temporary version that will wash off in a few days.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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Circle Bora Bora by Boat
Bora Bora is a chameleon among islands and the best way to appreciate its myriad profiles is to circle it by boat.
During a sail on a catamaran, you'll marvel as the rocky, green summit of Mt. Otemanu shifts from wide and fat to square and nubby to slender and needlelike as you view it from different spots on the lagoon.
Make sure you have ample megabytes in your camera's memory card, as you won’t be able to stop snapping photos.Continue to 11 of 11 below.
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Watch a Polynesian Dance Show
This may be the most touristy thing you’ll do in Tahiti, but it will also be the most fun.
Polynesian dance is a hip-swaying, pelvis-thrusting, leg-shaking celebration of the human body set to a thunderous drum beat and punctuated by sensual chants.
And it's not just for the locals as visitors are encouraged to join in the action—and many end up on YouTube shaking what their mama gave 'em.