Heiva simply means “community assembly” in Tahitian. But when the locals get together in Papeete, on the big island of Tahiti, it means song, dance, sporting events, and lots of traditional food. The first Heiva was held in 1881 to coincide with Bastille Day (July 14). And these days, it’s the largest and longest festival in French Polynesia. The celebration includes beauty pageants, competitive stone lifting, and outrigger canoe races; tahiti-tourisme.com.
While you’re here: Spend an afternoon touring the home of expat American author James Norman Hall, who co-wrote Mutiny on the Bounty. His seaside bungalow in Aure is now a small but unique museum.
Where to stay: With its serene lagoon and private beach, over-water bungalows, luxurious spa, and sunset views across the water to Moorea, the InterContinental Resort Tahiti wows. Rates start at $191; ichotelsgroup.com.