Relaxing Resort with Spa Overlooking Black-Sand Beach
The island of Tahiti, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, got its shape from ancient volcanic activity. You can still get an idea of the island's seismic legacy when you see the black, basalt sand that lines shores such as Lafayette Beach, where the Radisson Plaza Resort Tahiti stands among palm trees. From balconies in guest rooms, you can look outside to see the striking contrast between the chocolate-colored dunes and turquoise waves of this otherworldly landscape.
The nearest continent to Tahiti is about 3,000 miles away, and much of the experience at the resort is dedicated to relaxing amid this peaceful seclusion. The onsite day spa, Le Spa, offers massages that incorporate traditional Tahitian elements such as vanilla, hibiscus, and black sand. An 80-minute coconut-milk bath soothes skin ($7,500 XPF; about $79 USD), and a pedicure ($7,000 XPF; about $74 USD) prepares feet for barefoot beach walks.
The hotel also integrates Tahitian aspects into the signature restaurant, Hiti Mahana, which has fresh seafood and beach views; on certain nights, there’s a live show with drummers and grass-skirted dancers. Similarly, a free daily cultural program explores subjects such as cooking traditional fish dishes and dyeing a pareo, a type of sarong.
Inside deluxe ocean-view suites, bamboo floors and rattan headboards set a tropical tone. Behind a sliding-glass door, there’s a broad balcony where guests can watch for rogue lifeguards wearing cardboard shark fins swimming in the waves.
Arue, Tahiti: Tropical Beauty near Capital of French Polynesia
The remoteness of Tahiti can make you feel like a cast away. The beauty and exotic feel of the landscape has long attracted distant visitors—painter Paul Gauguin created iconic masterpieces there, and actor Marlon Brando's family still owns the atoll directly across from the community of Arue. And though the tropical scenery is the main draw here, Tahiti also has a compelling history and culture that's worth exploring.
Ruins of ancient religious sites such as the Arahurahu Marae, a ziggurat-style temple, give an insight into the centuries-old native Polynesian culture. Tahiti is officially a French territory, and that overseas influence is obvious in Papeete, the capital city. Take an open-air bus, known as le truck, to Papeete and you'll find imported wines, French cuisine, and patio furniture made out of stale baguettes. Meanwhile, roulottes, or wheeled snack carts, serve up cheap seafood. You can also browse through vanilla pods, taro root, and local oils at the Municipal Market every morning.
At Papeete's wharf, hop on a ferry for the neighboring island of Moorea. There, white-sand beaches face an encircling ring of barrier reefs that houses colorful fish and gently fanning coral.
Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.