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World > Oceania > French Polynesia

French Polynesia Cheap Hotel Bed and Breakfast Guest House Accommodation

Born from volcanoes around 20 million years ago, the 118 islands of French Polynesia are arranged in different groups within the pristine turquoise waters of the South Pacific. The ‘high islands’ are in the Society, Marquesas, Austral and Gambier groups, while the Tuamotu Islands are atolls, sunk below the surface of the ocean and existing only as a barrier reef. Amazingly, the total land area of the islands is equivalent to the total area of Europe.

Bungalows in Bora Bora, Tahiti
Bungalows in Bora Bora, Tahiti

Whilst the islands are still remote enough to be considered ‘exclusive’ as a travel destination, they have been visited by Europeans since the 1700s, while their indigenous peoples are thought to have originated in Southeast Asia, migrating across during the period from 1000BC and 1000AD to form their own distinctive enclaves of culture, language and traditions within the various island groups. The traditional religious practice is known as ‘marae’, and its rituals can still be witnessed in some areas. The best known island of the group is Tahiti, which was the focal point for much rivalry between Britain and France over many years until finally in 1944, it and the islands as a whole were declared to be a French overseas territory although they have begun to function with an increasing degree of autonomy during recent years.

There is a vast range of experiences which should seduce you to this paradisical wonderland, many of them unique to the region. Tahiti offers accommodation in superb ‘overwater bungalows’, for example, perched above the lagoon waters with a glass floor and coffee table to allow you to catch glimpses into the ocean of tropical fish beneath you as well as other gorgeous tropical spa and resort hotels and apartments which will suit every taste. The island interior can be explored by rental car, on a nature hike, or even on horseback. Cross the lagoons by motorised canoe, or witness the dramatic topography from a bird’s-eye perspective and take a helicopter tour for an unforgettable experience. It is the ocean itself which provides the focus for many other popular activities, whether you wish to take part in world-class snorkelling and diving in hundreds of sites around the islands, watch the spectacle of sharks being hand-fed from a boat or board a spa ship and luxuriate in a balcony cabin with spectacular views and a pina colada in your hand.

Highlights on other islands include Rurutu, where the geology of coral cliffs and caves is spectacular, and migrating humpback whales just add to the magic of the place. On Tikehau the islanders make a living from fishing, and its perfect beaches and crystal waters form the backdrop to many days spent in peaceful surroundings simply enjoying the sunshine and stunning scenery. Huahine is a little enclave popular with backpackers and set apart from the more developed of the resort islands with its more laid-back, authentically Polynesian vibe. For the other extreme, and the most authentically decadent luxury holiday, check out the dream location of Bora-Bora, named by Captain James Cook as the ‘pearl of the Pacific’ and with the style and beauty to match.

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