We're soon approaching the peak of winter, and it's only natural that Americans will look to the Global South if they're hoping to escape the chilling temperatures and seasonal bleakness.
A majority will be heading to neighboring Mexico, but a significant number is, in fact, dreaming of somewhere else.
Somewhere far more exotic, exclusive, and where the turquoise waters reach far beyond the horizon: a paradisaical group of islands belonging to France, French Polynesia (shortened to FP) has seen a 227% uptick in Skyscanner searches from U.S. travelers for 2024.
It is officially the second biggest year-on-year increase for any destination served by the popular travel company, but where is FP exactly, to begin with, and why is it suddenly so popular?
Where And What Is French Polynesia?
As stated above, FP is an overseas territory of France, meaning it is administered by the European country despite not being in its contiguous landmass.
To all effect, despite their native Polynesian heritage, Its inhabitants are full French citizens with French passports.
It is the most remote region of France, with New Zealand as the closest neighbor, and that's still 1,988 miles southwest.
That's the technical, most boring bit, but what does French Polynesia actually have to offer, and why would Americans be booking trips there anyway?
If you're thinking ‘Maldives', you might want to consider resitting your Geography exams, as that's an entirely different country a whole 9,375 miles from here. We will let you off this one time, as FP and the Indian Ocean gem are part of the same category of remote island destinations.
Ever heard of exotic-sounding Tahiti, where the lowest average temperature in a calendar year is 70°F? Or perhaps Bora Bora rings a bell, with its overwater bungalows and shiny blue waters: one could argue French Polynesia is the modern equivalent to Eden.
Due to its remoteness and unique nature, there is truly nothing quite like it in the world. Tahiti and Bora Bora are the most famous islands, but they're only two out of 118 that form the wider archipelago, which has a wide range of landscapes.
Unspoiled Nature With A Touch Of Luxury
There are volcanic islands, islands dominated by dense jungles, fringed by colorful reefs, and uninhabited islets with turquoise lagoons and open stretches of virgin sand to walk, all of that with a touch of luxury: FP may be isolated, but it is by no means inaccessible, nor underdeveloped.
On the contrary: it is best known for being a luxury wellness destination for those who feel that the Mexican Caribbean, Punta Cana, Jamaica, or other typical resort hotspots have become too crowded or simply ‘too popular'.
If you're not exactly keen on socializing, and jam-packed beaches are not your idea of relaxation, you have no business in those places, anyway. In French Polynesia, the volume of tourism is much lower, and you are unlikely to be disturbed by raucous youths partying into the night.
It is somewhere you go for unwinding, blocking out the external noise, and completely letting go of your mundane worries in a luxurious enclave surrounded by jungle. If you want to access this level of exclusivity, you should be prepared to shell out the dough.
Paradise On Earth Can Be Quite Expensive
Traveling to Bora Bora, or even the most offbeat, untouristy island in French Polynesia, overnights in hotels can easily cost up to over $800 per night, but this shouldn't be an issue for high-end travelers actively expecting only the highest standards in hospitality and top-notch amenities.
The top-rated resort in all of French Polynesia is the St. Regis Bora Bora, a landmark listing straddling the iconic island's beachfront, built in traditional Polynesian-overwater-bungalow-style, accompanied by exquisite dining, award-winning spa services, and wellness-centered activities.
If splurging on a tout compris does not fit your budget, there are plenty of far more affordable, breakfast-only options: the Maitai Bora Bora has room rates starting from $222 per night, and the Oa Oa deluxe bungalows are still an acceptable $225.
In tropical Rangiroa, famous for its palm-lined beaches and status as the largest atoll in the world, the local Maitai has overnight prices from only $197, while the ultra-luxurious Kia Ora Resort & Spa welcomes guests to the tune of $528 per night.
French Polynesia Beyond The Luxurious Overwater Resorts
Can't stay put in a resort for long? As the largest island and the one with the greatest concentration of attractions, Tahiti should be on your radar:
Traversed by hiking trails that lead to towering waterfalls and otherwordly grottoes and with black, volcanic sand beaches lapped by warm waters, it is the adventure-filled tropical getaway you might be missing.
A short catamaran ferry ride away from Tahiti, Moorea is not to be missed, either, with its imposing, densely forested peaks, jungle footpaths, and crystalline waters. Mt. Totui is the highest peak on the island and one of the highest in the archipelago.
Just pick an island of your liking, define the level of comfort you need, and escape into this earthly paradise.
Fly Nonstop To French Polynesia From America
French Polynesia is on ‘the other side of the world', but it still hosts a number of nonstop flights from America, namely cities like Los Angeles, Seattle-Tacoma, San Francisco, and Honolulu in Hawaii.
The international airport is located in Tahiti, near Papeete, the French Polynesian capital. There are no nonstop flights from America to Bora Bora or other islands in the archipelago, so tourists visiting other destinations will typically use Tahiti as a transit hub.
The average price for a nonstop flight from LAX to Faa'a International, in French Polynesia, is $733 one-way.
↓ Join Our Community ↓
The Travel Off Path Community FB group has all the latest travel news, conversations, and Q&A's happening daily!
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR LATEST POSTS
Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path's latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox.
This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.