Tiki Theatre Village

The best cultural experience in French Polynesia is at Tiki Theatre Village, at PK 31, or 2km (1 1/4 miles) south of old Club Med (tel. 55.02.50; www.tikivillage.pf). Founded by Olivier Briac, a Frenchman whom the local Tahitians call Le Sauvage Blanc (White Savage), it's built in the fashion of ancient Tahitian villages. This cultural center has old-style fares (houses) in which the staff demonstrates traditional tattooing, tapa-cloth making and painting, wood and stone carving, weaving, cooking, and making costumes, musical instruments, and flower crowns. There's even a "royal" house floating out on the lagoon, where you can learn about the modern art of growing black pearls.

Tiki Theatre Village will even arrange a traditional beachside wedding. The bride is prepared with flowery monoi oil like a Tahitian princess, and the groom is tattooed (with a wash-off pen). Both wear traditional costumes.

The village is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 3pm. Admission and a guided tour cost 1,500CFP (US$19/£9.50).

Not to be missed is the authentic Tahitian feast and dance show here on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights. They pick you up from your hotel and deposit you on the beach for a rum punch and sunset. After the staff uncovers the earth oven, they take you on a tour of the village. A buffet of both Tahitian and Western foods is followed by an energetic 1 1/2-hour dance show with some of the most elaborate yet traditional costumes to be seen in French Polynesia. The dinner and show cost 8,700CFP (US$109/£55) per person, or you can come for the 9pm show for 4,300CFP (US$54/£57). Kids 3 to 12 pay half-price. Add 1,150CFP (US$14/£7.25) for round-trip transportation.

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.