WHEN I was told we were going for a walk on our first day in Tahiti, I imagined a gentle stroll through the lush green jungle that covers much of the island.
I hadn't imagined that a couple of hours later I would be waist-deep in gushing water dressed in a wet suit with a harness strapped round me, scrambling up a slippery ravine.
Like most people, my image of Tahiti and her 118 islands scattered over five archipelagos in the South Pacific was of sun-soaked shores lined with bamboo bungalows perched on stilts over turquoise-blue sea. I expected the sort of destination that mainly attracts honeymooners drawn to the island by its romantic isolation.
That is certainly on offer. However, as my day spent hoisting myself up waterfalls proved, there is far more to the islands than first meets the eye.
I had never been canyoning before and the experience was both terrifying and exhilarating. When I did manage to look up from where I was putting my feet, I was stunned by the incredible beauty.
Green mountains densely covered in what looked like large broccoli heads sloped up to the sky. Below, the land dropped down dramatically to the sea.
In an effort to promote Tahiti's unique cultural identity, the Radisson Plaza Resort Hotel in the bustling capital city, Papeete, has its own full-time 'cultural animator' who puts on daily demonstrations of traditional dance and crafts as an introduction to Tahitian culture.
Each guest has the chance to attend two cultural events during their stay. I tried my hand at weaving coconut fibres into a hat but the result bore little resemblance to anything I'd ever seen adorn a person's head.
The day after our canyoning adventure, with aching limbs but a distinct sense of achievement, we boarded a sea catamaran for the half-hour trip from Tahiti to the even greener island of Moorea. Every inch of this island's mountainous interior is covered in thick foliage.
The island's Sofitel beach resort does live up to the honeymoon brochure billing with individual bungalows all either standing on stilts over the water or lining the beach front with the most breathtaking ocean views.
One of the great attractions of Tahiti and her islands is how easy it is to travel between them. Besides the frequent catamaran services, daily flights link no fewer than 50 of the 76 inhabited islands.
Tahiti and her collection of islands may be the epitome of the South Seas holiday hide-away - but those keen to do more than lie on the beach can enjoy a fantastic choice of leisure options.
* Turquoise Holidays offers a 10-night package to Tahiti from £2,295 (two sharing), including flights, three nights at Radisson Plaza Tahiti (room only), four nights at Sofitel Moorea (room only), three nights at Relais de Josephine (half-board), domestic flights and transfers. Call 01494 678 400 or visit www.tur quoiseholidays.co.uk.