Polynesia draws visitors with the promise of its dazzling beaches, coral coves brimming with tropical fish, rich Tongan heritage, and warm hospitality. Whether you are walking in Gauguin’s footsteps on Tahiti, exploring the underwater world while diving exquisite reefs, or simply getting away from it all beneath a warm South Pacific sun, these books will enrich your journey to the South Sea Islands.
The Happy Isles of Oceania
By Paul Theroux. In this wickedly funny and open-minded travelogue, Paul Theroux flies off to Australia and New Zealand with a kayak and ends up exploring much of Melanesia and Polynesia, including Tonga, Fiji, and the Marquesas.
By Peter Hendrie. A striking portfolio of 330 color photographs of the island countries of Melanesia and Polynesia, from Papua New Guinea across to Easter Island, chosen from the Australian photographer Peter Hendrie's 30 trips in the region over the last 20 years.
Kon-Tiki, Across the Pacific by Raft
By Thor Heyerdahl. The hugely popular account of a daring 1947 voyage that sailed along the Humboldt and Equatorial currents from Peru to Tahiti. Apart from the sheer adventure, Heyerdahl wanted to show the world that Polynesians could have settled the region.
Noa Noa, The Tahitian Journal
By Paul Gauguin. Originally published in 191, this insightful journal reveals artist Paul Gauguin's impressions of two years in French Polynesia. With 24 black-and-white illustrations.
Lonely Planet Tahiti & French Polynesia
By Lonely Planet. A practical guide to Tahiti and French Polynesia, featuring 29 maps, a good overview of culture, history, and nature, and much nuts-and-bolts information on excursions, dive sites, and Tahitian and French languages. With color photographs and excellent travel information, this guide includes all the archipelagos, as well as the outer islands.
Reef Fishes of the Indo-Pacific
By Matthias Bergbauer. A handy field guide to over 800 species of reef fish common to the Indo-Pacific. In beautiful John Beaufoy style, the guide's colorful and high-quality photographs are accompanied by detailed information on identifying features, size, biology, and distribution. Bergbauer's introduction focuses on specific types of fish behavior like mimicry and the symbiotic relationships between various species.
For more reading recommendations from Fiji to Easter Island, visit Longitude Books.