WHY WE LOVE IT
- Spread across five archipelagos in the South Pacific’s French Polynesia, the islands of Tahiti are truly paradisiacal—the romance is off the scale.
- Sand islets and coral atolls dot the intensely blue, transparent waters, and the islands are verdant with palms and forests, vanilla farms and tropical blooms.
- Thatched-roof overwater bungalows (farés) propped on stilts are the signature accommodations here—and many of them feature tropical-luxe furnishings and glass cutouts in their floors to watch the undersea life below.
- New five-star resorts coming: The Four Seasons Bora Bora is set to open in 2008, and the Brando, a long-awaited eco-hotel, remains a work in progress on Tetiaroa, the island once owned by Marlon Brando.
- Gauguin’s isles are easier for East Coasters to access since Air Tahiti Nui inaugurated a 12-hour New York–Papeete nonstop flight.
- Good buys: black pearls, vanilla beans, pareus, Monoi coconut oil scented with tiaré, aphrodisiacal noni juice—and tattoos!
WHEN TO GO
There's no high season, though the best, slightly cooler weather is during the May-to-October dry season. Bargains are rare, but newly opened resorts may offer introductory rates.