Moorea, French Polynesia

The tall, verdant peaks of Moorea, rising from the dazzling blue sea, embody a perfect daydream vision of a South Pacific Paradise. In fact, it’s said the island’s profile was the inspiration for the fictional Bali Hai. A sortie on the local Le Truck open-sided busses along the island’s roads does nothing to deflate the image, passing under great, spreading boughs of breadfruit trees, past extravagant cascades of brilliant bougainvillea and hibiscus, scented rows of pale pastel frangipani and constellations of white tiare. After an hour or two on the island, the relaxed, traditional pareu wrap starts to seem like an eminently sensible garment, and the next thing you know, you’re well on your way to “going native.” Glass-bottomed boats -- or better yet, a snorkeling excursion -- reveal the jewel-bright fish that dart among the coral gardens beneath the surface.