Our first overseas trip since covid starts with 6 Days in Tahiti. We left Brisbane at 2:00pm 22 Aug, overnight in Melbourne and arrived at papeete airport at 8:55pm that night but the day before we left 21 Aug.
This caused a problem. I booked everything for the 22 Aug not the 21st. Fortunately our Airbnb host could accommodate us a day early but there was not a rental car to be had.
Our base while in Tahiti is an AirBNB the Residence Les Bougainvillier at Paea on the West coast.
This is only 20km south of Papeete airport however not all taxi drivers want to take this ‘long’ fare at night preferring to stay in the city. Some in the taxi que in front of us going further away were refused by several drivers before getting accepted. Taxi’s are all metered but expensive. A$75 for 20 km at night.
Important to note when visiting here that unlike Australia most of the coast and beaches here are private property.
Paea has the only large white sand beach in Tahiti and our AirBnB has private access to the beach.
There are only a few public access places to beaches and unlike the other islands most of the beaches in Tahiti are black sand.
Paea is a typical community here with a Mairie (Town Council and Mayor), a church and just a couple of small shops and food outlets. Pizza being the typical focus. Opposite the Mairie is a public area with a breakwall where you can watch the sunset.
A small river carrying the rain from the mountains passes through the town and is home to what look to be lots of very large eels.
Our first outing was on Monday morning taking a local bus back to Faa’a International Airport, Papeete to collect the rental car. As per usual the first drive on the wrong side of the road was into the very busy Papeete city centre to the Papeete Markets.
Trish did a great job as co driver navigating and making sure I did not stray onto the wrong side of the road. That first hour or so driving on the other side of the road into a busy city can be tricky. Amazingly found a parking spot opposite the market entrance!
The Papeete Market can be considered as the heart of the city. There are freshly caught fish from the lagoon and the offshore, local fruits and vegetables and handicraft products.
We were also looking for a most unusual geocache here. One where we had to find a person in the market who had the cache. The clue ‘jam’ enabled us to find Elvis at a stall selling jam. When asked Elvis gave us the cache to log.
Unlike the other Islands of French Polynesia Tahiti has a rocky coastline with black sand beaches which makes for a striking contrast between the many shades of blue of the ocean and dense green forest covered mountains.
We explored most of the black sand beaches. They seem to be where there is a break in the fringing reef and the waves can get through to the shore to create a surfing beach. One of the most famous surfing areas is at Teahupo. This will be the site of the next Paris 2024 Olympic games surfing competition. Furthest event away from any Olympic venue ever.
The Tirah River at Teahupo is the end of the road. To continue around Tahiti Iti you have to travel by boat.
Tahiti is a mountainous volcanic Island Sharp peaks steep sided valleys. We were looking to spend a little more time exploring the accessible inland areas unfortunately as you would expect of a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean except for the first day all the mountains were covered in cloud and rain. We took a chance and crossed the isthmus to Tahiti Iti and drove up through the clouds and rain to Belvedere de Taravao.
From the Belvedere de Taravao lookout we walked up to the top of the Plateau de Taravau and around Lake Vai’Ufa’Ufa on the way back. We were lucky and the clouds parted for a while and we were able to see some of the view and imagine how the fringing reef, blue lagoon and rainforest covered mountains would look on a bright sunny day.
We had our 47th Wedding Anniversary dinner at the Restaurant Bar du Musée Gauguin
The island is limestone and volcanic lava and has some underwater caves. The Grottes de Mara’a were just south of Paea and well worth a visit. You can only see the entrances to water filled caves.
We saved our circumnavigation of the Island until our last day to use the time between the 11am checkout and out 9pm flight.
Headed around to the rocky west coast the visit the waterfalls.
The road on the West coast provides much more access to the ocean than the East coast it seems quieter and less inhabited.
As we head North towards Papeete there is one final stop we must make at Point Venus. It was here Captian Cook came ashore to observe the transit of venus across the sun in On June 3, 1769, navigator Captain James Cook, naturalist Joseph Banks, astronomer Charles Green and naturalist Daniel Solander recorded the transit of Venus from the island of Tahiti during Cook’s first voyage around the world.
To learn more NASA has a great site at James Cook and the Transit of Venus
The view from Point Venus, Tahiti, where Cook and his men observed the transit of Venus. Oil on canvas, William Hodges, 1744-1797.
Credit: National Library of Australia.
One final drive through the city of Papeete to the airport, return the car and wait for our United Airlines flight to San Francisco.
Some more photos