Tahiti delivers an enticing combination of topside beauty and underwater excitement. The setting is the seductive stuff of daydreams. Verdant volcanic peaks rise above palm-studded beaches that line an electric-blue lagoon. It is the land of flowers in the hair and pareo-clad dancers, of bold tribal tattoos on bronze skin and ritual offerings to the shark gods. Adding to these iconic notions are luxurious thatch-roofed bungalows that perch on stilts above clear shallows, and resorts that deliver five-star vacation experiences with a unique flair for barefoot luxury. Private waterfront terraces encourage languor, but the reefs are never far away, and blue waters promise adventure above and below the waves.

Reef life and dramatic walls are in the mix, but the big draw for many is the sharks. Encounters are common, but not threatening. Whitetips and blacktips are often joined by lemon sharks on feeding encounters within lagoons, while walls and current-washed channels attract gray reefs, silky, bulls, hammerheads, silver tips and more. These same spectacularly clear waters hold manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles and swirling schools of jacks, tuna and barracuda. Divers less interested in the ocean’s apex predators can relax in sheltered coral gardens, where rays and reef fish gather.

Seek a topside thrill; you can paddle to a deserted beach. Ride a four-wheeler to a scenic peak or bike backroads and forests. Cruise into blue water to meet whales and dolphins. Hike into the Valley of the Kings and zip through the jungle.

No matter the adventure you find yourself in, you always have the option to indulge in treatments that tap the vitality of Polynesian oils, flowers, and plants grown in Tahiti. Book a massage in an open-air pavilion overlooking the lagoon. Wake up to a private yoga session in an over-water bungalow.

Dive packages start at $1,194 per person, based on double occupancy.

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