Late in April of 1789, mutineers led by Fletcher Christian put Captain William Bligh and a little less than half the crew into the launch of the HMS Bounty, taking control of the Bounty herself, thus assuring among other things profitable film careers for Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson. The official reason for the uprising was harsh treatment of the crew, but an underlying element was that, having seen Tahiti, many members of the crew did not want to leave. In fact, once the Bounty was seized, the very first place it went was back to Tahiti.
Over the years, countless travelers including the painter Paul Gauguin have shared the crew's sentiments. Once you've seen Tahiti and its people, it's easy to think you've finally reached the last perfect place on earth. And the divers who travel here agree. In fact, it's hard to tear yourself away from the waterfalls, rugged green terrain and myth-shrouded archaeological sites here. But once you do, the water waits with its own wonders.
First of all, visibility here averages just over 100 feet, year-round. Second, while soft corals tend to be the rule in some islands of the Pacific, Tahiti has a mixture of hard and soft corals, giving you twice as much to see. And third, well did we mention the sharks?
Tahiti has been called the shark capital of the Pacific, and it lives up to the title. Grays, whitetip and blacktip reefs and hammerheads can all be found here in abundance. Their distant cousins, spotted eagle rays and manta rays, also show up, sometimes even venturing inside the lagoon. That's why Tahiti is such a great destination for people who are normally skittish around large marine animals not because you won't see the big critters, but because you'll see them on practically every dive. After a while, having a shark swimming next to you is like swimming next to coral they become so ubiquitous that you get used to them. Turtles, dolphins and (if you are lucky and you come between July and October) humpback whales complete the big-animal review.
On the smaller scale, Tahiti's electric-blue waters are also home to humphead wrasse, bigeye jacks and Napoleon wrasse and, yes, you can find Nemo here; clownfish are virtually everywhere.
Tahiti and its neighboring islands are also the site of wrecks dating back to the second world war and earlier, including an intact Catalina flying boat just minutes from Papeete. Venture beyond the reef and you will find wall dives to satisfy even the most demanding drift-diving junkie.
Learn about the life of French impressionist painter Paul Gauguin in the Botanical Gardens and Gauguin Museum. It's not an art museum it has only a few of Gauguin's original works but it offers lots of information about his life in Tahiti.
MUST DIVE1. Stingray World (Moorea)
2. The Roses (Moorea)
3. Anau (Bora-Bora)
4. Tiputa Pass (Rangiroa)
5. The Flying Boat (Tahiti)