7. Nuku Hiva
Nuku Hiva is best suited for adventurous types who'd rather forgo the sun lounger and spend their vacation hiking through jungles or horseback riding across the island's desolate roads.
Nuku Hiva is filled with natural wonders from volcanic cliffs to thousand-foot waterfalls, with water that evaporates before it touches the ground.
The island is a key spot for archaeological sites, with Taipivai Valley housing several temples and large tiki, and the village of Hatiheu offering walking tours of petroglyphs and ruins.
Pension Koku'u, Taiohae, Nuku Hiva; +689 920774; from $57 a night for bed and breakfast
Huahine is good for exploration by canoe or glass-bottom boat.
The island's crisp waves attract surfers year round.
Huahine also features the world's longest and largest open-ocean canoe race.
The island's lush vegetation includes giant bananas and melons. Lively bike tours will take you straight through fragrant vanilla plantations.
Lakeside villas atop lily pads and palm trees at the Maitai Lapita Village provide a serene alternative to the typical ocean bungalow.
Maitai Lapita Village Huahine, Huahine; +689 688080; bungalows from $268
Another large coral atoll, Manihi offers a true castaway vacation, where few tourists venture.
If you don't mind the occasional power outage and lack of imported food, you'll love this place.
The airport is a simple straw hut, with an airstrip that doubles as the site of the best stargazing in the area.
Manihi's salty waters provide the perfect environment for growing pearls. French Polynesia's first pearl farm was started here in 1968.
But pearls are best bought back to Tahiti. The pearl farm prices are surprisingly inflated.
Nanihi Paradise, Manihi; +689 933040; rates start at $121
At the far west of the Society Islands, Maupiti is a small volcanic island surrounded by a coral atoll.
With its own high peaks, Maupiti is like a mini Bora Bora, without all the glitz.
Its five islets seem created for boat rides and beach-side picnics.
Mount Teurufaaitu is the highest point on the island, with incredible views of Raiatea, Bora Bora and Taha'a.
As the oldest of the Society Islands, Maupiti is covered with archeological remains dating to 850 AD. Incredible turtle petroglyphs tell the story of the island's birth.