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Tahiti is a couples' paradise. Honeymooners flock to the islands year-round to revel in French Polynesia's crystal-clear waters and bask in the beauty of its marine life perched on the decks of overwater bungalows. That's the typical image of Tahiti, anyway.
Yet, the islands have a lot more to offer than just secluded getaways on near-deserted beaches. Families, especially, will find that culture, adventure and fun in the sun await in this tropical paradise for them too. If you doubt this, just look to Air Tahiti Nui, the main carrier traveling to the islands, whcih offers a special year-round airfare for kids - they fly free.
Where to Stay
Admittedly, many of the hotels are designed with couples in mind. But most overwater bungalows sleep four and there are a number of larger land-based bungalows that are ideal for families - especially those traveling with small children. Most hotels will offer babysitting services and a few properties have kids clubs. Hotels, for the most part, are parked on near-private beaches where waves are gentle and watersports equipment is provided.
Le Meridien Bora Bora
This is an ideal spot for families. The resort has a variety of accommodations, including overwater bungalows. There is a children's program and childcare services available as well as an outdoor pool and a number of fun activities. But the highlight of this resort for families is the turtle sanctuary, where guests can meet, greet and learn about marine turtles. There are also kid-size windsurf boards, snorkeling gear for enjoying their private lagoon, stand-up paddleboards, paddleboats and more.
Parents will love being pampered in the Wellness Centre, and there are a number of other activities that can be booked through the hotel such as Jet Skiing excursions, aqua safaris, fishing trips and shark and ray feedings.
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Cruises with Paul Gauguin offer a unique opportunity for families traveling during school holidays. The ships offer a special program for junior explorers. The Ambassadors of the Environment family program is a unique way to engage in Polynesian culture on both land and sea, and was designed by Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society. The program includes activities such as snorkeling at a coral reef and onboard scavenger hunts.
Maitai Lapita Village Huahine
This hotel is like living out your dream to be Robinson Crusoe in large garden and lake bungalows that sleep four. The hotel provides snorkeling equipment and complimentary canoes for guests as well as a museum dedicated to the people of Lapita.
There is also an excursions desk to help visitors organize activities around this wild island as well as on-site scooter rentals, car rentals and bikes.
Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa
This beautiful resort is located close to the ferry port and convenient to the airport on a crescent beach with stunning, well-appointed overwater bungalows as well as garden bungalows. The property provides activities for children, babysitting services, kids menus, cribs, high chairs and kids movies for rent. The property features packages exclusively for families, and clans can keep busy with bike rentals, scuba diving, snorkeling, tennis, water skiing, windsurfing and more on site.
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What to Do
Tahiti has a number of activities well-suited for multigenerational groups. Beyond the pools and lagoons of resorts, popular excursions include snorkeling; 4X4 excursions; picnics under waterfalls; guided hiking and boating, museum tours; geology, art and history exhibits; local dance performances; and more.
For families visiting Moorea, the Tiki Village is a fun cultural experience. Visitors will get to experience traditional fire dancing, the making of heis (flower crowns), learn about Tahitian carvings, tattoo and pareo painting and have a traditional Tahitian feast cooked in an underground oven.
Vavau offers 4X4 tours in open-air safari vehicles around the island of Bora Bora for half-day morning or afternoon tours. Visitors gain a perspective of the history and culture of the island as well as see stunning panoramic views of Bora Bora.
If you are visiting during peak holiday times, make sure you have your travel agent book these excursions for you in advance, as sometimes the best times or activities may be booked.
Air Tahiti Nui offers roundtrip flights from Los Angeles to Papeete and children up to age 15 fly for just the cost of the taxes on the regular airfare - which range in price between $59 and $114 per person.
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