Among the flora of Tahiti are many beautiful and interesting species of tropical plants, such as tree ferns, pandanus, coconut trees, mape (which produce a chestnut-like fruit), the miki miki redwood bush and fe'i or wild banana plants. Flowers abound on the island and are beloved by the local culture, especially hibiscus, gardenias, heliconias, orchids (including the non-native but famous Tahitian vanilla) and temple flowers.

The best wildlife-spotting to do on the island itself is bird-watching. There are around a hundred species, some of the more notable being the Murphy petrel, the Tahitian sandpiper, the little heron and the Pacific swallow.

One thing you will not see is a lot of large or exotic mammals; the only such beasts on these isolated volcanic islands are the ones brought there by humans, such as dogs, cats, sheep, horses, cows and pigs. There is, however, a population of wild pigs, whose forebears probably made a break from their pens many centuries ago.

Of course, only a small portion of Tahitian animal life can be found on land. The real action in these parts is underwater. The crystal blue waters of the South Pacific are teeming with a tremendous amount of life and activity, and the best way to see it all is to snorkel or scuba dive.

Diving around Tahiti, you can expect to find colorful and fascinating creatures such as sharks, tuna, barracuda, jackfish, moray eels, rays and the Napoleon fish or humphead wrasse: a peculiar fish with a narrow face, full lips and protruding brow. Sea turtles can also be seen, though mostly in the open waters rather than along the reefs. Whether you choose to dive or stay topside, the natural beauty of Tahiti is striking.

Find a Bargain