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Scattered around Tahiti are a number of island groups, mainly just specks of land in the vastness of the world's greatest ocean, but each a tiny green oasis. Some of the last places on earth to be discovered and settled by Europeans, they attracted famous explorers like Captain Cook, Bligh, and Ingraham. Later on, artists the like of Gauguin and writers such as Stevenson were to fall
under the spell of their year-round hot weather, warm tropical waters, and splendid isolation. Today, the Islands act as a magnet for the discerning tourist. Raiatea, largest of the Leeward Islands and second only to Tahiti in size, is a respectable 20-minute flight northwest from the capital and with neighboring Tahaa forms a popular holiday spot.