Made up of 118 geographically dispersed islands, French Polynesia is an overseas country attached to the French Republic. Situated in the South Pacific Ocean, it is perched halfway between California and Australia. This archipelago is no doubt considered to be among the globe's most romantic destinations for several couples like to visit this exotic paradise either for their honeymoon or for a mushy escapade.
French Polynesia is split into five groups of islands: the Society Islands archipelago (made up of the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands), the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands and the Austral Islands. Do visit the burial spots of eminent personalities such as Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel on the Marquesas Islands, both of whom are buried on Hiva Oa. To learn more about the life of the renowned French Post-Impressionist artist of the 19th century, drop by at the Paul Gauguin Museum on Tahiti.
Those with an adventurous spirit can indulge in mountain climbing. Trek the two mountains of Pahia and Otemanu on the island of Bora Bora. Trekkers will be rewarded with an incredible view point across the Leeward Islands. Fan of marine life? Attend the shark and ray feeding sessions on Moorea and Bora Bora. Humpback whale watching is possible between July and October in the water Rurutu.
Do make it a point to visit Papeete - capital of French Polynesia. The commune of Papeete is housed on the island of Tahiti. One of the top attractions of Papeete is the town's public market - Le Marche. It is operational all week but becomes a bustling hub on Sunday mornings when out-of-town merchants visit to sell their goods. One will find everything from flowers to spices, fabrics to fresh produce and so forth.
Don't forget to explore the magical Tahaa Island. It is often nicknamed as 'Vanilla Island' for the breeze carries the sweet fragrance of vanilla, emanating from the island's several vanilla plantations. Tahaa shares a coral reef with the island of Raiatea, and provides a serene and sedate lifestyle for those craving for some peace and quiet. Do take a trip to the stunning Opunoho Valley, an ancient dwelling place. It is replete with 500 old structures, including temples, a few of which have been restored. Make it a point to visit the Marae (open -air temple) of Mahaiatea, on Tahiti.
When it comes to shopping, be on the look-out for souvenirs such as Marquesan woodcarvings, dancing costumes, shell jewellery, Tahitian perfumes, Monoi Tiare Tahiti (coconut oil scented with Tahiti's national flower), vanilla beans and brightly patterned pareu fabrics that are used to make the traditional Tahitian pareo.
As for cuisine, do indulge in local fare such as smoked breadfruit, mountain bananas, Fafa (spinach) served with young suckling pig. The stay options in French Polynesia are abundant with the best luxury hotels, cheap accommodations and rental apartments available for the tourists to decide which kind to opt for depending on their budget and taste.
French Polynesia experiences temperate climate. The best time to visit is during the cool and dry season from April to October.