I feel the need to preface this blog with a note that it’s nearly impossible to talk about spending a month in Tahiti without sounding like a spoiled brat. So sorry in advance!
There is a Tahitian proverb which all people seem to live by in Polynesia, “harre maru haere papu,” which translates to “take it slow, take it steady.” This basically explains why I haven’t posted in so long and why I am only finally getting around to sharing our amazing time in Tahiti while sitting in an Auckland airport bathroom with Nu asleep next to me.
Tahiti is in my opinion the definition of paradise. Contrary to the images you might conjure in your head when you hear the name, Tahiti isn’t in fact known for its beaches or blue lagoons as the other French Polynesian islands like Bora Bora are. However, whatever it lacks in these areas it makes up for in its dramatic lush landscape.
Our stay in Tahiti was made extra amazing by our apartment, which was by far the best Airbnb experience we have had yet. It was in a gorgeous complex right on the only white sand beach on the island. The apartment had a huge balcony with sliding doors so that you could open up the entire apartment to the outdoors.
The beach was wild and lined with palm trees strung with passion fruit vines. The lagoon was shallow, calm and bright turquoise. We could walk out only ten feet into the water and see more than 20 varieties of tropical fish. We actually discovered this by accident when Nu one day decided that he could not part with his peanut butter cracker and dropped a few crumbs in the water.
Of everything we did during our time in Polynesia, this was probably Nu’s favourite activity. It could also explain why Finding Nemo is replacing Cars as his favorite film of all time (THANK GOD). He even learnt to say fish and has perfected his puckered fish face.
Circling the Island
We began our amazing adventure on Tahiti by circling the entire island – something which not many visitors do and it’s a shame! Most cruise ships dock in Papeete (Tahiti’s subpar capitol) and spend just enough time to be exposed to its poverty and obvious drug abuse issues. The real beauty of the island lies beyond the city borders where chicken roam literally everywhere, the roads are lined with fruit trees and real Polynesian culture sparkles. The island is dotted with churches that remain from the early days of the first missionaries and could not be more picturesque with the rugged green mountains in the backdrop. After a rainfall there are waterfalls everywhere you look and there are always thick puffy clouds dancing over the mountain peaks.
Watch out for those tikis!
We visited the largest and best preserved Marae in Polynesia called Arahurahu, which was the place of worship and gathering in ancient times. This was the Marae of the King and the entire population in Tahiti used to meet in this spot. The place really does have a strong spiritual feel to it. It could be the massive Tikis that greet you as you enter or the folklore attached to this place. It’s said that a famous warrior was burned on these stones and that his spirit still lurks in the gardens. We were sure not to disturb the tikis because word on the street is that you don’t want to upset these guys!
A bit of Tahitian history
We visited the Museum of Tahiti and the Islands, where there are also several Tiki statues. Legend goes that when these Tikis were moved to this location in the 1950’s the three men that were responsible for their transport mysteriously died within a week. Lesson: never touch a Tiki!
The museum, though small, had lots of really interesting information about how the islands of Polynesia were formed, and the way of life before and after British and French contact. We also learnt about this guy King Pomare…and from this point forward Sami was referred to as King Pomare.
Learning to love Papeete
Though it’s true there is lots of not so amazing stuff about Papeete, I actually kinda grew to like it. It has a beautiful waterfront and its central market is the beating heart of the island. It’s the place to buy colourful pareos, woven goods and famous Tahitian pearls. It’s also an amazing place to just observe how locals live their lives. Like how they take long lunches with pitchers of Hinano beer and actually wear those massive floral crowns you see on postcards to go to the grocery store or out for a coffee.
A trip to the roulottes
My favourite part of Papeete though was the roulottes (food trucks) which set up in Vaiate Square every night at dusk and offer the only affordable cuisine on the island. Sami and I both fell in love with the national dish called Possion Cru (raw fish). It’s so simple – just raw tuna, coconut milk, lime juice, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions – but it’s soooo delicious.
The highlight of our Tahiti stay was our Valentine’s Day celebration at a Polynesian performance. Of course I had to wear something red so I wrapped a sheet from our apartment around myself. The food was amazing but what really blew us away was how these people can shake their stuff!
A visit to Tahiti’s little sister
As if Tahiti wasn’t magical enough, we found an even more striking paradise in Moorea (Tahiti’s little cousin about 45 min away by ferry). There isn’t a ton to do in Moorea but it’s a great place to just relax. We visited beaches, sipped on free samples of pineapple and coconut rum, and had an amazing photo shoot on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (more to come on this soon).
We had a few little hiccoughs in our last week in Polynesia…like an Airbnb host trying to make us replace his pool (?!!!), a terrible fire aunt attack and a massive flood which shut the airport…but we just kept smiling because literally nothing could spoil this paradise for us.