Tahiti, Maldives, Fiji. They reel off the tongue like pampered stars in a tropical island movie. Sun-kissed beaches, gin-clear waters, palm trees dancing in the breeze are all mandatory props in any self-respecting topical island holiday. But what makes Tahiti so special? Why not holiday in the Maldives or Fiji? What's the difference between them all?
It's a good question. So we decided to find the answers for you, which wasn't an easy assignment, believe me. Gosh, those cocktails day after dreary day really take their toll. And all that sunshine bouncing off the ocean is dazzling!
Tahiti's charms are draped across the South Pacific Ocean like a string of scattered black pearls the country is famous for. Her topography is instantly recognisable thanks to craggy volcanic islands with peaks clad in lush forest. Outer reefs circle the islands creating dreamy tranquil lagoons where most holiday dreams are played out.
Tahiti offers a beguiling melting pot of French and Polynesian cultures – a delectable combination that is particularly evident when it comes to food. French sophistication melds with an abundance of seafood and tropical fruits to become foodie heaven, particularly for the health conscious. Let your holiday hair down and toss in crusty baguettes, aged soft cheeses and French wines and helloooo holiday, goodbye diet.
Some of the experiences you'll find in Tahiti can't be replicated elsewhere. Like diving into a wall of sharks or crawling into lava tubes (admittedly not high on most people's holiday list of 'must do's'). But diving off your own private over-water bungalow is! Swimming in shallow turquoise lagoon waters inhabited by kaleidoscopic tropical fish within metres from your bed is a 'must do', whether daytime or night.
Our tip: Check into an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora for unrivalled holiday romance
One of the most popular tropical holiday hot spots for Australians, Fiji has something for everyone. From budget beachside bures with few facilities beyond a sand floor thatched roof bure to exclusive resorts favoured by the rich and famous that start with a private jet transfer, Fiji delivers.
Famous for its warm, friendly people, families travelling with young children will not find a better family holiday spot. Many resorts offer full time Nannies combined with kids clubs with a full program of nurturing and entertainment. It's not unusual for kids to happily totter off hand in hand with their Nanny after breakfast and not be seen again by their parents until its bedtime! With the kids taken care of parents get to nurture their own holiday needs, whether that be reading a book by the pool, learning to scuba dive or sail or simply spending quality time together as a couple.
Fiji is also a top spot for a Girls Getaway. It's rare for foreign women to be harassed or feel threatened, making it easy for women travelling alone or in groups to relax and unwind in safety.
Our tip: Malolo Island in the Mamanuca Group has luxury Likuliku Lagoon Resort for loved up couples or Malolo Island Resort for family groups of all ages
Barely rising above the Indian Ocean (average elevation is a tiny 1.5m above sea level), the Maldives comprise over a thousand islands and atolls, some little more than a wisp of sand that disappears at low tide. The Maldives are a water baby's Nirvana.
With so many island resorts to choose from, a Maldivian holiday can at first seem a little overwhelming. If choosing an island to bunker down on seems too hard you could always move on board a boat and cruise within the sheltered waters of an archipelago. Maldivians are great seafarers and are at home on the sea so you'd be in good hands. For divers this is particularly attractive but is also an option for those preferring to escape the confines of an island resort.
Overwater bungalows are the poster child for a Maldivian holiday so you'd be foolish not to indulge, if only for a few nights if the budget is tight. Many have glass panels built into the floor as a sort 'marine TV' alternative. Pull up a comfy cushion on the floor, crack open a bottle of bubbles with your loved one and watch the mesmerising show below!
Our tip: The tropical monsoon climate plays a big role in this island nation which lies just north of the Equator. The best time to visit is January to April which is traditionally the dry season.
Now, which will you choose?
Fiona Harper is a travel writer specialising in cruising, active and soft adventures. Follow her at www.travelboatinglifestyle.com