Maupiti Island, French Polynesia

Life moves at a slower pace on picturesque Maupiti. Locals call the tiny, reef-ringed island “Little Bora Bora,” its famous big sister that sits 25 miles to the west. The moniker also alludes to the laidback Polynesian lifestyle of years ago, before all the mega-resorts and tourist attractions arrived next door. Most people get around Maupiti on foot or bicycle, perhaps paddling a kayak out to one of the motus (islets), taking the time to fully appreciate the island’s endless white-sand beaches and lush, green interior dominated by 1,250-foot-high Mount Teurafaatiu. Scaling the extinct volcano pays off with jaw-dropping, 360-degree views over the lagoon, Bora Bora, and even Raiatea on a clear day. Terei’a Beach is particularly lovely, with powdery white sands and warm, translucent waters that never reach more than three feet deep; during low tide, you can walk across the lagoon to Moto Auria. Snorkelers can visit a manta ray “cleaning station,” one of several spots where large concentrations of manta rays gather to be cleaned by small wrasse fish that live among the coral patches.