Palm trees and beach in Tahiti (Corbis)

Beach in Tahiti (Willie Holden)

Over-water Bungalows in Tahiti (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)


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What to do in Tahiti

“I leave to be quiet, to be removed from the influence of civilization,” artist Paul Gauguin wrote on the eve of his first trip to the isle of Tahiti in 1891. To Gauguin’s dismay, the bustling port town of Papeete was not exactly off the beaten path. Yet the beautiful women and lush landscape proved to be the muse he needed to create a frenzy of art. The Gauguin Museum has none of the artist’s major paintings, but it does possess several sculptures, wood carvings, and a ceramic vase. Across the road, the Harrison Smith Botanical Garden, founded by a former MIT physics professor, houses a collection of tropical plants from around the world. Many of the island’s resorts recreate Gauguin’s vision of Eden: Thatched huts are surrounded by pools, palms, and waterfalls, and overwater bungalows make for easy morning dips in the popsicle-blue waters.

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