The islands of Tahiti boast famous black sand beaches, and have claim on the concept of the overwater bungalow huts which are now scattered across the South Pacific. It is part of the country known as French Polynesia, situated 8 hours by plane from Los Angeles. It is made up of five main island groups called archipelagos.
Tahiti is famous for seducing honeymooners, romantics, adventurers and vacationers looking for an escape. Each island group has its own unique character and the inhabitants successfully blend the 21st century with the ancestral rhythms of sun and sea.
Experience hand feeding sharks in the lagoon, snorkel to the oceanic drop off, indulge in a Polynesian spa treatment, or even tie the knot with your loved one right here in Tahiti. Intimate resorts, small peaceful villages and miles of quiet pristine beaches explain why Tahiti is known for its ‘alone time’.
A strong French influence, combined with ancient Polynesian traditions, has created a unique culture in Tahiti and Her Islands; a way of living, full of warmth and love for the islands, which can be seen through music, dance, and art.
Attractions & Activities
Tahiti and Her islands are a relaxed and casual destination but offer myriad land and sea activities. One of the highlights of a visit of Tahiti and her Islands is visiting the small villages on an island tour or a trip to the island interiors and lush green peaks on a 4x4 safari, guided nature hike, or horseback ride. Tahiti and the remote island of Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas, have some of the best hiking trails. One of the most scenic trails leads hikers from the south coast of Tahiti-Iti to the Te Pari Cliffs, almost at the eastern point of the island. The walk passes several hidden valleys and meanders along the stunning coastline. Another great trail on Tahiti leads to the summit of Aorai at over 6000 feet.
SIMPLE AND SHORT HIKES
The entrance is generally easy with wide and sufficiently developed paths.
- Mount Marau: accessible by car for beautiful walks to the summit(vertiginous crests, a nice hike for experienced walkers).
- The Belvedere: panoramic viewpoint of the peninsula (Tahiti Iti).
- The three waterfalls.
- The Spring Gardens of Vaipahi and its crestline path.
- Afareaitu Waterfalls.
- The 'pathway of the ancestors', which joins up with ‚'the pineapple route'.
- The pedagogical circuits of the Professional High School of Agriculture.
- The three coconut trees pass from the Belvedere.
- The winding paths in the Opunohu Valley.
MORE DIFICULT HIKES
Due to the nature of the terrain or the unevenness, which requires good physical condition services of a professional guide are highly recommended.
- The Fautaua Waterfall.
- The crossing of the peninsula (Tahiti Iti) either by the interior or by the cliffs of the TePari, requires a minimum of two days of hiking.
- The ascent of Mount Aorai (2066 meters - 6714 ft): requires two days.
- The Faraura Waterfalls, a very aquatic and athletic hike.
- The Diadem pass.
- The ascent of Mount Rotui (900 meters): crestline.
- The ascent of the pierced mountain Mou'aPuta (830 meters).
- The ascent of Mount Tohiea.
- The crossing of the island East-South Vaiare-Vaianae (Haapiti).
Water-based activities include jet skiing, windsurfing, waterskiing, parasailing, canoeing, diving, and shark feeding. Tahiti and Her Islands of course offers some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. With hundreds of dive sites throughout the islands, divers can choose from the amazing drift dives, oceanic drop-offs, sunken ships, and lagoon dives with infinite marine life.
According to divers, there is no better place in the world to see such a wide variety of sea beds, whether you dive in the lagoons, around the mountain islands, the lower lying islands or around the atolls.. In almost all the main islands - Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea and Tahaa, in the Tuamotu Islands, the Marquesas and even in the Austral Islands, from the smallest to the largest, a large number of clubs have been created.
Amongst the caves and the rocky depths, from lagoons to reefs, divers swim amongst spectacular coral formations and discover red sponges, multicolored polyps, gorgonian or luxurious gardens of all sorts of anemone, where schools of angel or butterfly fish, clouds of silver and gold formed by thousands of fish. The whole range of tropical underwater fauna is here: parrot fish, clown fish, butterfly fish, blue tang fish, triggerfish, morays, eagle rays and mantas. There are some impressive encounters: dolphins, manta rays, turtles and even barracudas.
The main attraction for the public, in all the islands, remains diving with sharks, the principal (and Pacific...) stars of each outing. The most spectacular diving is found in the passages of the Tuamotu Islands, particularly that of Rangiroa (but also at Fakarava or Tikehau) considered as the Mecca of deep sea diving.
A wide variety of cruises sail the waters of Tahiti and Her Islands. Luxurious cruise ships offering first-class meals and balcony cabins, Tahitian-owned "super yachts", passenger freighters to sail boats, they all provide the opportunity to explore a number of islands in a relaxed way.
Tahiti and Her Islands also offers many romantic get-aways and a quite unique and very popular activity is a traditional Tahitian wedding, a meaningful yet legally non-binding ceremony for couples wishing to wed or renew their vows. Couples are bedecked in bright pareu (local sarong), flowers, and shells. The groom is brought to the beachside location in a canoe while the bride is carried on a rattan throne. Music and dancers enhance the ceremony while a Tahitian priest performs the rites and gives the couple a Tahitian name.
Culture & Events
Tahiti and Her Islands were settled by Polynesians coming from Tonga and Samoa between AD 300 and 800. The islands were first spotted by a Spanish ship in 1606 but it took another 160 years till the islands were officially discovered by Samuel Wallis, an English sea captain. Wallis was followed in April 1768 by the French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, who made Tahiti famous in Europe when he published an account of his travel.
European fascination with the islands of Tahiti grew even stronger when news spread of both the mutiny of Capt. William Bligh's crew and when Capt. James Cook returned from his South Pacific explorations with thousands of illustrations of Tahitian flora and fauna.
In the 1800s, the arrival of whalers, British missionaries, and French military expeditions forever changed the way of life on Tahiti and created a French-British rivalry for control of the islands. The Tahiti's Queen Pomare ruled Tahiti until 1847, when she finally accepted French protection of the islands of Tahiti and Moorea.
The island remained a French protectorate until 1880, when King Pomare V was forced to cede the sovereignty of Tahiti and its dependencies to France.
In 1957, all the islands of Tahiti were reconstituted as the overseas French territory called French Polynesia. In 1984, a statue of autonomy was implemented and, in 1998, French Polynesia became an overseas country with greater self-governing powers with their own assembly and president.
Although 75% of the population is Polynesian, French influence is strong. Nevertheless, the Tahitians of the modern era maintain the heritage and traditions of their Polynesian ancestors. Traditions are kept alive by teaching the Tahitian language in school, encouraging traditional sports, arts, and crafts (tattoo, handicrafts, etc), and performing Tahitian dance and music.
Dances are directly linked with all aspects of life and accompanied by traditional musical instruments such as thunderous drums, conch shells, and harmonic nasal flutes. Open-air sanctuaries called marae were once the center of power in ancient Polynesia, a place to worship the gods, negotiate peace treaties, celebrate war, and to launch voyages to colonize other parts of the South Pacific. Today, these large stone structures still host the important events. Artistics skills are kept sacred and were passed on by both the ‚Äúmamas,‚Äù the guardians of tradition and the matriarchs of Tahitian society, as well as through traditional craftsmanship.
One of the most important cultural celebrations in Tahiti is Heiva i Tahiti held during June, July and August. In celebration of ancient traditions and competitions, Tahitians gather in Papeete from many islands to display their crafts, compete in ancient sporting events, and recreate traditional and elaborate dance performances.
The Hawaiki Nui in November is an international Outrigger Canoe Race from the island of Huahine to Raiatea, Tahaa, and Bora Bora. Over 100 teams from canoeing countries all over the world participate in this grueling open-ocean race.