Tahiti: Your French-Accented Paradise
By Ed Salvato
For gay travelers, especially those who?ve been to Hawaii, Tahiti offers something completely different: more wild and more exotic.
Old-timers say that modern Tahiti and her islands bear a striking resemblance to Hawaii around 50 years ago. The air and water are unbelievably clear and clean, and the islands themselves are largely untamed.
The notable exception is the urban sprawl of the bustling capital city Papeete on the island of Tahiti, which is home to about 70% of the island chain?s 250,000 inhabitants. Most direct flights from the United States will land you in Papeete, so spending at least one night there is almost inevitable.
Many travelers are surprised that Tahiti is only 8 hours nonstop from Los Angeles by air.
Smart travelers head straight to Bora Bora?s pristine atolls as soon as they possibly can. They come to dive or snorkel in the coral-filled lagoon brimming with fish and reef sharks, hike or jeep into the island?s electric green interior, or trudge up its three massive peaks: Hue, Pahia, and Otemanu. But most of all, they come here to luxuriate, relax, rejuvenate, and do nothing. The island has only one tiny town, Vaitape, home to a supermarket, post office, church, and a few other services.
Bora Bora?s outrageously luxurious resorts are sprinkled mainly on islets around Bora Bora. They create a harmonious landscape, with overwater bungalows perched above the sparkling lagoon, emphasizing the obvious: that Bora Bora is more water than land.
There are no gay owned or operated hotels at all throughout Tahiti but almost without exception all are gay friendly and some really go out of their way to invite and welcome lesbian and gay travelers. And you may be surprised at the number of gay and mahu (male to female translate) staff at the hotels and resorts.
On Tahiti Island, the Intercontinental Tahiti is a large mainstream hotel. However the all-male bell staff is buff, shirtless and clad only in sarongs. The Tiki in the lobby sports a pronounced phallus. Here, as soon as you arrive, you get a distinctly gay feeling.
On the island of Moorea, a short but lovely $15 catamaran trip from Tahiti, dolphins will follow you on your way to your resort, which may include the Hilton, with a great location between two bays. You?ll be able to jump out of your bungalow right into the crystal clear waters of the lagoons and go snorkeling.
On the idyllic island of Bora Bora, you have the option of staying at three sumptuous gay-popular resorts, the Four Seasons, with its necklace of water-skimming bungalows, the St. Regis, with top notch service and amenities, and the Bora Bora Nui Spa and Resort seemingly suspended between crystal clear waters and limitless blue skies.
Le Tahaa, an island spa and resort is a 15-minute helicopter ride from Tahiti and has become increasingly popular with gay men.
Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort is an atoll, with 40 bungalows. Incredibly chic and exclusive, the gay cruise company RSVP once visited here. The staff still talks about it as the best group that ever visited.
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