Made famous by the American soldiers during World War II who returned home with stories of its beauty, Bora Bora has been a dream destination for nearly a century. Over the years, the wild mountain island and its blue lagoon has filled up with luxury resorts and overwater bungalows, attracting the majority of tourists in French Polynesia. The sight of Bora Bora as you approach from the water is jaw-dropping, but the island’s crowds can also make it less than ideal for wildlife encounters, as sea creatures like the giant manta rays tend to be more wary of people around the busier islands.
Fortunately, French Polynesia is made up of over a hundred islands, all equally as stunning and just begging for exploration. You can find luxurious resorts and villa stays on just about every island, plus plenty of adventure and wildlife. Here are some of the best remote islands in Tahiti where you can get away from the crowds and experience the wild side of the South Pacific.
Although it’s the second most populated island in French Polynesia, Raiatea is one of the most underrated. Home to wonders like lush mountains with rare flowers and almost daily rainbows, Raiatea is a sacred island and considered the cradle of Polynesian culture. With a tour guide from Polynesian Escape, a visit to Raiatea is an opportunity to learn about and be mesmerized by stories of the ancient Polynesians who navigated the vast ocean using nothing but the stars and traveled as far away as Hawaii and New Zealand in canoes.
In addition to learning about the island’s history and Polynesian culture, there are also towering waterfalls to hike to and translucent snorkeling and dive spots out in the lagoon. One of Raiatea’s most mysterious attractions is the Tiare apetahi, a rare white flower that only grows on Raiatea and has not been successfully planted anywhere else in the world. The flower is endangered and fiercely protected and the hike to see it is often difficult, even for experienced hikers. So if you want to catch a glimpse of the petals, make sure you’re in shape and traveling with a guide.