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This itinerary takes you to all the main spots: Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, and Bora Bora -- plus a few days in Rangiroa, the largest atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago. I suggest going to Rangiroa first because, after seeing the awesome mountainous beauty of the Society Islands, it may seem anticlimactic to end your trip at a flat atoll. Tikehau, Manihi, or Fakarava, Rangiroa's Tuamotuan sisters, are also worthy alternatives to Rangiroa.

An exceptional alternative -- or a terrific add-on if you have a month to spend here -- would be a cruise from Papeete to the Marquesas Islands on the Aranui 3.

For the typical 10-day highlights tour (or honeymoon, as the case may be), leave off Rangiroa and forget Tahiti except while waiting for your flight home. Begin your visit on Moorea, then go to Bora Bora, and finish on Huahine (or Tahaa if you can afford to stay at Le Taha'a Private Island & Spa).

Day 1: Circling Tahiti

Unless you arrive in the afternoon or early evening on one of Air Tahiti Nui's flights, you'll probably get here in the wee hours, so spend your first morning on a guided half-day circle island tour of Tahiti. You won't have to drive or find your way around, so it's a good method of recovering while seeing the island. After a long French lunch, take a walking tour of downtown Papeete. Even if you aren't staying in a hotel on Tahiti's west coast, head over there to watch the sunset over Moorea, one of the region's most awe-inspiring sights.

Days 2-4: Riding the Rip on Rangiroa

The world's second-largest lagoon demands a full day's excursion by boat to one of its two key sites: Les Sables Rose (Pink Sands) or the Blue Lagoon. Devote a full day to one of these trips. My choice would be the Blue Lagoon, actually a small lagoon within the large lagoon, though it's hard to pass up the Pink Sands, one of the great beaches here. On another day, don your snorkeling or scuba-diving gear and ride the riptide through the main pass into the lagoon. Be sure to watch the dolphins playing in Tiputa Pass at sunset.

Days 5-7: Feeding the Sharks on Bora Bora

A nonstop flight from Rangiroa will bring you to beautiful Bora Bora, which many consider the world's most beautiful island. Spend part of your first day here exploring the interior by four-wheel-drive "safari expedition". Devote a full day to a lagoon tour by boat, the top thing to do on Bora Bora. You'll get a fish-eye view of the island's dramatic peak, snorkel while watching your guide feed a school of reef sharks, and enjoy a fresh-fish lunch on a small islet on the fringing reef. Have dinner one night at Bloody Mary's Restaurant & Bar, another night at Villa Mahana.

Days 8-10: Touring Old Polynesia on Huahine

After the mile-a-minute activities on Bora Bora, Huahine will seem like a reserved Polynesian paradise. Spend your first morning on a tour of the historic maraes (ancient temples) at Maeva village with Paul Atallah of Island Eco Tours. The next day, tour the lagoon, swim, snorkel, or go horseback riding. I always have a sunset drink while watching the boats coming and going at Fare, the island's charming main town.

Days 11-14: Sightseeing on Moorea

While the lagoons are the highlights at Rangiroa and Bora Bora, the ruggedly gorgeous interior draws my eyes on Moorea. Whether it's via a regular guided tour, a four-wheel-drive safari excursion, or on your own, go up to the Belvédère overlooking Cook's and Opunohu bays. Moorea's lagoon does have its good features, especially dolphin-watching excursions led by Dr. Michael Poole. And don't miss a nighttime show at Tiki Theatre Village, one of the region's best cultural centers. Moorea is only 7 minutes by plane from Tahiti, which makes it a snap to connect to Papeete and your flight home.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.