The islands of French Polynesia are scattered across two million square miles of the South Pacific Ocean. Its five great archipelagos offer every variation of the dream island paradise; some rise dramatically out of the blue waters, their jagged peaks stark outlines against the blue sky, others seem to barely float above the surrounding surf.
There may be more than a hundred islands to choose from, but the three archipelagos most visited are the Society Islands, comprised of Tahiti, Mo'orea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Ra'iatea and Taha'a, and tiny Maupiti; the Tuamotus, also known as 'Tahiti's Strand of Pearls'; and the Marquesas or 'Mysterious Islands', a long-loved escape of artists, writers, adventurers and musicians.
The two other island groups, the Austral Islands and the Gambier Archipelago, may well be less visited but are as postcard perfect as the rest.
The Society Islands are home to more than three-quarters of French Polynesia's population, as well as its main island, Tahiti, and administrative capital, Pape'ete.
Most visitors head straight for the white-sand bliss of Mo'orea or Bora Bora, which novelist James Michener described as ‘the most beautiful island in the world', but there's plenty to see on Tahiti too, including coastlines dotted with wild passion fruit, shadowy mountains and green river valleys, black-sand beaches and ancient archaeology.