Serving up a Robinson Crusoe-version of paradise, Maupiti seduces lovers and adventurers on a quest for the romantic Polynesia of lore. The smallest and most isolated of the Society Islands is an unblemished tropical playground; tranquillity reigns supreme on quiet motu and translucent lagoons resemble watery magic carpets, threaded with shimmering ribbons of emerald, turquoise and jade. A place to just get lost, where time moves at a crawl and days slide by in lazy hazes, Maupiti will easily satiate any fantasies about being marooned on a deserted island. Sunbathe in seclusion on silky beds of sand, snorkel amid rainbow-coloured fish and feast on coconuts, split open with a jagged rock, sucking out the sticky-sweet nectar.
The vibe here is exotica stripped naked, so if you're searching for paradise in its most basic form, void of luxury trappings and the crowds they attract, you'll definitely get into this island's slow-motion ambience. But if your idea of a great holiday includes plush digs, restaurants, boutiques or a few rowdy bars, Maupiti's not for you. Accommodation is in pensions, places meant for sleeping and little else - think places to watch the sun set over the water from the comfort of a slightly saggy mattress. While hardly glitzy, these family-run places usually boast loads of old-fashioned hospitality, gracious charm and stunning motu locales.
Maybe it's Maupiti's lack of souped-up sex appeal that has allowed it to remain so forgotten by the tourist hordes. Swanky resorts are not welcome here, and on more than one occasion locals have voted down hotel-chain requests to open luxury properties. Whatever the reason, the time to visit is now, before this shabby-chic creation's secret is let out of the bag and Maupiti becomes the new Bora Bora, a place on everyone's itinerary.