We arrived at our resort, Marava, after a 5 hour flight from Auckland to catch a quick and beautiful sunset. Our room is overlooking the largest infinity pool on the island and it looks like it connects to the lagoon. Most of the island is protected by a barrier reef where the surf pounds all the time but the lagoon itself is calm and we see many paddle boarders and kayakers taking advantage of this serenity. The island of Mo’orea is back lit by the sun and we look forward to visiting that island on our cruise.
Tahiti is one island in the French Polynesians, and it is the largest. The islands were formed by volcanic activity so the mountains are high and jagged looking and completely covered in green. It has been a colony of France since 1880 but not until 1946 were they allowed to become citizens. French is the official language and there are some native speakers as well. My 5 years of French were truly put to the test. I always ask, in French, if they speak English. Best to start that way as it tends to be more helpful if they think you at least are trying.
On our first day, we decided to drive round the island. It should take an hour or so as it is not large being only 28 miles across. Tahiti is not a wealthy island and we saw many living conditions that were very third world and so surreal in comparison with the luxury resorts on the island. We passed through several towns, many homes and….lots of chickens. And dogs. Typical island scenes! There are so many chickens and roosters walking around that there is enough food to last awhile. They are feral and they do not have any natural predators so that is why there are so many. It is amazing how slow, yet fast, they move. You can approach them with your car, they don’t move…still standing…and once you are a foot away they fly off to the side. Crazy roosters, too. They were even walking around the pool, apparently just passing by as we did not seem there again.
We made two stops on our tour. One at three waterfalls (tres cascades) and the other at a blowhole. Each one required a good 5 minutes to take it all in. Not much excitement here! Back to the resort to hang out at the pool as there were no other sites for us to see today.
We did have 2 boat rides scheduled, one by sail and the other to go in a boat and get up close with the surfers. Due to rain our sail was cancelled twice but we are thinking that they did not have enough people signed up to make it worth their while.
In the capital town of Papette, there is a market that I wanted to visit. We also wanted to get some local money. We went to the parking garage-full. Now, the cars here are very small and 85% seems to be white. You can park on the streets but you have to pay. Shawn had read somewhere that if you park, you have to get a ticket in the store. Well, we find a street spot and go into the stores. No one knows anything. Check the local wine store. They speak many languages! There are actually pay kiosks on the street and the very nice monsieur in the wine store was very happy to help us. He changed our American dollars and gave us coins to go into the pay station. Great. Easy peasy, right? Well, not for Bumble and Stump. We go up to machine and follow the idiots directions (pictures) and it will not take a coin. We cannot use our credit card on these kinds of things because it requires a signature. Cannot use debit card cause there is no place for a pin entry. EXCEPT..it keeps asking us for a credit card. So, we try it again and again, to no avail. Shawn is determined at this point. Finally, as he goes back one more time to try I notice DIRECTLY across from our car, a pay station. I walk over, put in the coin, get my little piece of paper and put it in the car. DONE! Obviously a fault with the first pay station. Such a fun start to the day.
Walked a bit around the market. Very large and you can buy anything from flip flops to ugly fruit. I do not feel very welcomed here so I do not really take any pictures. Some places are just that way and you do not want to cause any altercations. Especially in French. We see nothing of interest and we are hungry so we decide to go grocery shopping. First, we stop back at the wine store to buy some wine. The monsieur was so nice, how could we not repay him by buying some wine? We also had some of the local Tahitian Beer. Very good!
The grocery store we picked to stock up on some food for the week was similar to a super Walmart. OMG. Such chaos and too many choices but we managed to get out with a few days food. At least I can read some French so I think I know what I am buying. I did come prepared with bags as it is set up a bit like the grocer Aldi’s. You put your coin in the grocery cart and return it if you want it but we opted for the little hand carry one that had wheels and long handles. We packed our own groceries at the register and we are glad to be done and outta here!
Since the weather just did not cooperate much, we tried another place to visit that was recommended, a beach that was just down the road, that had kayaks and paddle boards. Well, they have these markers, occasionally, that mark the road in Tahiti km’s. The beach was at marker 18. We have not seen ONE marker yet but we have a hand drawn map that outlines, approximately, where you are by marker. As we are driving down the main road, we finally see a marker! It is a square stumpy post that is white with red trim and the marker number on it. At least we now know what to look for. We saw one more that was easy to read and another that was knocked down, but we need not have worried as there was actually a sign marking this beach. We drive in and there is plenty of parking so we head towards the beach.
The Tahitians are a rather strange lot. They like to stare at you and they are not shy about it. Our walk to the beach guided us past several areas where the locals had set up to spend the day at the beach. Passing each one you felt the stares. It is just not a comfortable feeling and they make you feel that you are invading there territory. As we got closer to the water, we saw that there were more tourists on the other side. Very strange indeed but I can see why there was such a dividing ling line.
We did see paddle boards but no kayaks, so that is where we headed. Two boards for an hour and you can head out into beautiful flat waters inside the reef. There was a lot of coral just below the surface with plenty of colorful fish for amusement. We found that standing on the board offers you a great view looking down, so we drifted with the tide over the coral, just watching this whole underworld of mystery as the fish floated in and out of entrances and exits we cannot see. The weather was not looking good so we packed it up and headed back to our room.
The rest of the week we took it easy. We did find at the local marina a shop that rented out kayaks so we hopped onto one and toured around the boats that are anchored nearby. There were a few VERY large boats at the marina and we checked them out as well. Interesting variety of boats and a few that were from America. Long way to travel!
Afterward kayaking we head back and we packed up to get ready as we were headed out to a cruise on the Windspirit, a “sailing” cruise ship from the Windstar line, and we would be sailing around to many of the Polynesian Islands for 10 days. Looking forward to not driving and unpacking every few days and truly glad to be off the island of Tahiti as it has not been a favorite spot.