WHY IS IT FAMOUS: TAHITI
Sunday 11 July 1999
Jewel in the crown of French Polynesia. Top people's deluxe honeymoon destination. Tahiti is one of those lush tropical islands you read about in kiddies' adventure novels, a Mutiny on the Bounty-style Eden of coconuts, pearls and bikinis. Tahiti is to be found in the Windward group of the Society Islands. Ah, Society? Top Society, innit? Yes - the pearly king and queen of the celebrity rag, David Beckham and his gracious lady wife Posh, are rumoured to be honeymooning on or around said glamour islet. Princeling Brooklyn can play with the native pearls. As we know, Becks 'n' Posh sat on golden thrones for their nuptials. Now they're (apparently) on "the Island of Love". The point is, readers, to us stuck in Blighty, it's all meant to be jolly exotic.
Angled palm trees, shallow turquoise seas, white sands, panoramic skies. You get the picture. Tahiti is shaped like an almost-perfect circle with a lump stuck on one side. Think atolls, lagoons, Technicolor floral arrangements. Now think Gucci, Prada, sarongs, thrones, leather catsuits, hairdressers, Vuitton bags and Rolex watches, innit.
The largest and most important island in French Polynesia is chocka with rainforests, black pearls, waterfalls, tropical blooms, scuba divers and honeymooners. Paul Gauguin escaped day-to-day existence for boho life in the raw. "I knew right away that there was the place I'd been looking for all my life," said W Somerset Maugham. Our South Seas top spot became a French protectorate in 1842 and a colony in 1880. That's the historical bit done, then.
Well, there's plenty to keep the likes of Posh and her peroxide spouse busy in Tahiti. The capital, Papeete, sports plenty of lovely boutiques. And black pearls set in 18 karat gold, know what I mean. There are Mountain Rodeo Jeep Safaris and nightclubs called things like Le Calypso and Le Lido, some of which stay open till 3am of a weekend. Ooh, cheeky! It's music all the way. Music, massive blooms, all them pearls, and sea, sand and all the rest of it. Lovely.
Tahiti is pretty famous, even if you can't tell a South Sea atoll from a Scilly Isle. As long as Vuitton-happy honeymooners don't turn it into Bali-on-Benidorm, it should remain a paradise on earth. There's only one little image problem. If the Poshes conceive their second child on honeymoon, we all know what it'll be called.
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