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There is so much more to The Islands of Tahiti than just overwater bungalows and vibrant hues of blue.

Courtesy of Tahiti Tourisme, Air Tahiti Nui and Windstar Cruises I joined six other agents from Australia and four from New Zealand to enjoy the spoils of a trip around the islands.

Flights aboard Air Tahiti Nui connected smoothly from/to Australia and the comfortable aircraft and great level of service made it an enjoyable part of the journey in itself.

We then enjoyed a 10-day trip, including a seven-night voyage aboard Windstar’s newly positioned Star Breeze, to discover this magical region.

What a superb way to experience the Society Islands aboard this luxury vessel. With spacious cabins, five-star dining, fun entertainment and plenty of activities on and off the ship, it’s the ideal option to see more of this dreamy archipelago.

Waking to the view of a warm sunrise over a new island daily was an incredible treat before a quick gym visit, a sumptuous breakfast spread and then embarking on a day of exploring.

Commencing in Papeete, taking in the renowned Moorea and Bora Bora islands, then the lesser known Huahine and Raiatea islands, each with their own unique features, we were spoilt with experiences and interactions with the ever warm and welcoming, smiling locals.

On each island we had the chance to visit all types of accommodation, from bucket list overwater bungalows like those at the St. Regis Bora Bora or at Manava Moorea, to modern hotels like the Kon Tiki Tahiti, and also guesthouses.

We discovered that Papeete is not just a stopover on route to the outer islands – it is a destination to explore. You can take in bustling markets, lush waterfalls, botanic gardens, scope out famous surf breaks or, for a bit of fun, dine like a local at the ‘Roulottes’ (food trucks).

Circumnavigating Moorea by road and stopping at various properties allowed us to appreciate the diversity of accommodation options and how the landscape and beachfronts vary as you journey around.

Among the many activities you can enjoy here; hire scooters, drive ATV’s, kayak or float about the lagoon snorkelling, or cuddle up to friendly stingrays, spot small reef sharks and shy turtles.

The highlight was a daytrip with Corallina Tours and their passionate local owners. We stopped at the best marine-life vantage points before enjoying lunch at the Coco Beach island restaurant and finished the day floating in the crystal clear current.

Bora Bora, home to some of the most luxurious resorts and turquoise waters over white sandy cays, also has brilliant coral gardens within easy reach to explore.

With their shallow draft, a local outrigger allowed access to this semi-secret, vibrant coral lagoon where we whittled away an afternoon snorkelling in tranquil, mesmerised silence.

Travelling the Tahitian Islands includes many enriching cultural experiences. We learnt how to row a traditional va’a (canoe), make shell bracelets and had a very special visit to the spiritual centre of Polynesia on Ra’iatea Island.

Ra’iatea is home to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient Taputapuatea marae. This stone formation bears witness to centuries of sacred gatherings and is of pivotal significance to the origins of Polynesian culture.

Mythical stories, harmonious singing, historical instruments, ancestorial stories and practises (some still used today) were enjoyed under the shade of age-old trees.

Deb Oliver

On land, we dined heartily on delicious fresh seafood presented with a distinctive Polynesian style and a hint of French influence. There is no missing vanilla and coconut dishes and a word of warning, all servings are HUGE!

Beyond the magical marine life, the culture, the ample delicious food and beautiful people – there was pearl shopping!

Stopping at a floating pearl farm we learnt the skill and art of how these beauties are cultivated and harvested. The variety of colours made choosing a favourite difficult, so buying more than one helped solve this!

The Islands of Tahiti is not a bucket-list destination: it’s a must-visit destination!