12/21/2012 08:03 am ET | Updated Feb 20, 2013

Exploring Tahiti and Moorea in French Polynesia

When you hear Tahiti, the typical response is to say, "far." But, in actuality, the amazingly authentic islands of French Polynesia are only a few extra hours from Hawaii, our go to tropical island destination as Americans. The eight-hour non-stop flight from Los Angeles via Air Tahiti Nui, one of the only options in getting there, is quite pleasant if you are not expecting an over-the-top, luxury experience. The in flight crew is exceptionally courteous and responsive to all your needs, and although the aircrafts are close to approaching vintage status, they still do provide in flight entertainment. The food is the same of what you would expect on any international flight, and it's important to mention that alcohol is complimentary. It's also entertaining to watch the flight crew change from very professional uniforms to the more traditional Tahitian clothing throughout the flight. From the moment you board your flight, you feel like you are in another part of the world as announcements are made in both Tahitian and French. The beautiful mixture of both languages helps you to escape and truly adds a special touch to this exotic travel destination.

Tahitians are known for their accepting and chill attitude towards anything and everything. Aita pe'a pe'a, translated in English is, "no problem." This is a phrase commonly heard by anyone visiting Tahiti. Hotel options on Tahiti itself are endless, but a very fun and upscale option is the Manava Suite Resort which can easily be compared to the caliber of a W Resort Hotel. The suites are oversized luxury spaces that provide kitchens, living areas and over the top restrooms. The hotel also boasts the largest infinity pool in Tahiti.

The island offers beautiful beaches, hotels and all the kitschy shopping one could ask for. The local market has pearl shops on every corner and they are reasonably priced. It's almost a prerequisite before leaving the island to experience hand picking pearls from piles of thousands, as it's extremely daunting in the best way possible.

A short 30-minute ferry ride from Papeete, the capital French Polynesia, located on the island of Tahiti, is the island of Moorea. This popular island known for it's many outdoor adventure activities and beautiful scenery is the perfect place to jump in the lagoons and try paddle boarding for the first time. Scuba, snorkeling and kayaking are also available at most resort hotels. Taking a jeep tour of the entire island, offered by Inner Safari Tours, is a must as the tours end by taking you to the highest points of the island for breathtaking photo opportunities. Moorea resorts also offer the picturesque over the water bungalows that French Polynesia is known for. The Hilton Moorea offers both over-water and garden-level bungalows.

If you are island hopping, save your over-the-water experience for another island, and enjoy the spacious garden bungalows at this resort. The bathrooms are the size of a New York City studio apartment and the private dip pools in each room's garden provide a great space to enjoy some alone time outside.

The private beach at the Moorea is known for lavish wedding or commitment ceremonies for a relatively budget-friendly price. The executive chef at the Hilton even makes the typical breakfast buffet a gourmet experience, offering up made to order crepes and omelets for guests. For a slightly more affordable option, the Pearl Resort Moorea offers similar lodging and activities as well as provides couples an option to have ceremonies on their property.

A typical honeymoon or visit to French Polynesia for seven nights will average between 10 to 15 thousand dollars on the conservative end. It's best to book your vacation package via a travel agent that will work to save you costs by bundling your lodging, activities and flights. Selecting at least two islands to visit is the best way to visit as you will want to experience what each resort and island has to offer.

French Polynesia

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