Heading for Tahiti with the ATR 42-600S
On 9 October 2019, ATR officially launched the ATR 42-600S. S for STOL, or Short Take-Off and Landing, the new variant able to take off and land on runways a mere 800 metres long. Air Tahiti will be the first airline to operate this new version. A great opportunity to indulge in a virtual flight over French Polynesia, a chain of heavenly islands where nature abounds, scattered across the Pacific Ocean.
Bringing islands and people closer together
Comprising five groups of islands (the Society Islands archipelago, the Tuamotu Archipelago, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands and the Austral Islands), French Polynesia includes 118 islands dispersed over an expanse of over four million square kilometres at the heart of the South Pacific. You would need to travel some 6,000 km to reach the Australian coast, and 7,000 km to get to America! This is isolated, fragmented territory that is sparsely populated… and yet it is home to one of the richest natural environments in the world.
Tahiti, the largest and most populous island (part of the Society Islands, 183,000 inhabitants), houses the capital, Papeete, as well as French Polynesia’s only international airport. Although tourism is the country’s primary economic resource, the specific challenges faced by this dispersed territory mean that reliable inter-island air connections, adapted to the local topography, are absolutely essential. To prove the point, Into life invites you on board for a quick reconnaissance flight!
8 unmissable experiences in Tahiti and its islands
Drop anchor in Cook’s Bay, Moorea
Known for its butterfly shape, the volcanic island of Moorea (Society Islands archipelago) is home to the majestic Cook’s Bay. Marked by a deep opening in the landscape, and jagged peaks reflected in shimmering waters, this is a picture-perfect sight to behold.
Try out a bungalow on stilts
What could be more exotic than a bungalow on stilts set in the crystalline waters of a lagoon that embodies the Polynesian dream? Many resorts in Bora Bora, Tahaa, Moorea and the Tuamotu Islands offer this option…the hardest part is choosing which one to visit!
Bora Bora and its 50 shades of blue
The lagoon around Bora Bora, one of the Leeward Islands in the western part of the Society Islands archipelago, seems to offer an infinite array of shades of blue. In addition to its magical beauty, the “Pearl of the Pacific” guarantees an unforgettable experience, since bathers can swim in just a few metres of water alongside blacktip reef sharks, common stingrays and butterflyfishes. A real-life open-air aquarium! Watch this clip if you don’t believe us! www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-TAMm5sspA
Rangiroa and Reef Island
Just a 1-hour flight from Papeete, at the heart of the Tuamotu Archipelago, Rangiroa is one of the largest atolls in the world and one of Polynesia’s most prised dive spots. Reef Island is found here – a coral reef shaped by erosion, reaching a height of up to two metres in some places, forming fabulous natural swimming pools… A labyrinth of coral in which to unwind and get away from it all.
Swim with whales and dolphins
From July to October, impressive humpback whales can be seen frolicking in the waters not far from the coastlines of Moorea and Tahiti, as well as in the Austral Islands. Spinner dolphins, easily recognisable by their characteristic long, thin snouts, are present all year round, just like the blacktip reef sharks that may send a shiver down your spine!
Unlock the secret of Tahitian pearls
Familiar to Polynesians well before Europeans arrived in 1767, the Pinctada margaritifera black-lip pearl oyster is the source of the famous black pearls of Tahiti. A visit to the Pearl Museum in Papeete is a must, followed by a tour of one of the country’s pearl farms – of which there are no fewer than 800, scattered across 30 islands!
A voyage for the senses – vanilla from Tahaa
Known as the “Vanilla Island”, Tahaa produces almost three quarters of all French Polynesia’s vanilla! Grown using traditional methods on small family farms, it is said to be the most fragrant in the world. Depending on the time of year, you can observe the “marriage ceremony” – hand pollination of the flowers, giving birth to the precious beans.
A beginner’s guide to Polynesian customs
Polynesia, and more specifically the Marquesas Islands, is the birthplace of the ancestral art of tatau, from which the English word tattoo is derived. Here, tattooing is an art form (Patutiki) and Maohi drawings based on symbolic shapes are steeped in meaning. Another deep-rooted tradition, tumu ti (walk on fire) involves treading on stones that have been heated by flames. Traditional practices also include the ritual songs and dances through which the Maohi call up Mana (spiritual energy contained within the group).
By adding two ATR 42-600S aircraft to its fleet, Air Tahiti aims to provide better inter-island connections throughout its territory, a great way of bringing us all a step closer to paradise!