Read More: A trip to Tahiti

Guided Tours in Tahiti

The most comfortable and popular way to travel on the island and be impressed by it is with a full day guided tour. Here some reccommended tours.

 

 Unique Tahiti Tours

 Particularly recommended is the Tracy’s company Unique Tahiti Tours – Authentic, who is also the guided tour of all the tours. Tracy is an English woman who married a local and has been living in Tahiti for over ten years and manages to describe the island and its locals from an inspected western perspective, yet she is also well connected with the locals and very friendly. Every local she meets on the tour she stops for regards and a cordial conversation in French mixed with Tahitian.
She offers various tours in Tahiti, a walking tour in the capital of Papeete, half a day tour of the eastern part of the island and the most popular of all is: A full day tour to the western part of the island, which includes the large part of the island Tahiti Nui and the small part Tahiti Iti and also go to places outside of the regular tourist path. Throughout the tour you will see very few tourists and a lot of locals.
The tour begins by a collection from the hotel in a spacious and air-conditioned van. From the hotel you will drive southwest and drive pass a small town where you can see the town hall and the post office painted in bright colors and of course the old Catholic church.

 

the church

 

The vast majority of the locals are Christians and most of them, including the very young are believers. Along the road, you pass occasionally by vendors who offer fruits and vegetables and some even offer large fish they caught the same day and are hanging on a hook in the open air (fresh but without refrigeration…). You can stop to buy bunch of tasty bananas, mangos and papayas.

 

fruit stand

 

During the tour and meeting with the locals you will learn a lot from the guide about their lifestyle. The youth here are quite promiscuous sexually and whoever gets pregnant does not have an abortion but the family raises the baby. There is almost no crime here, there are only light drugs like marijuana and a tendency to drink alcoholic beverages. Overall it is a very safe island and the locals are cordial.

 

During the tour you will learn a few basic words in Haitian:

“Mauruuru” – thank you
“Nana” – goodbye
“Maeva” – welcome
“Ia ora na” – hi, good day

 

 

After a few minutes’ drive south, you will stop by an estuary where the guide throws a few pieces of bread into the water and immediately appearing are a lot of large eels attacking the bread. The island of Tahiti is surrounded by a coral reef that is blocking the waves and the open passage to the sea, but where the river pours into the sea there will not be corals and therefor there are sections where the reef is open to the sea.
Later you will stop for a visit in the holy site called Marae of Arahuruhu which includes an old Polynesian temple with Tiki statues and all that with the dramatic background of the green cliffs.

 

Polynesian Tiki statue

Polynesian Tiki statue

 

It is an open place surrounded by a low wall built entirely from basalt stones found mostly around the island. The locals today, as I have mentioned, are Christians but many of them believe (just in case) also in the ancient Polynesian gods. The place is surrounded by rich tropical vegetation as well as the entire island is rich in vegetation and trees with flowers and mostly tropical fruits.

 

 Polynesian temple in nature

Polynesian temple in nature

 

You can see everywhere mango, coconut and papaya trees and trees with round fruits the size of a grapefruit with bulges called the Bread fruit, which you can eat this fruit after cooking it and it is their national dish, which is a substitute for bread and rice.

 

The Bread fruit

The Bread fruit

 

There is also a lot of sugar apple fruit trees , which is a stinky fruit but with different healing properties and also a mosquito repellent (and people)….There are a lot of hibiscus flowers on the island, which is their national flower. There are also flowers from the ginger family, different types of Heliconia, a variety of water flowers and mainly purple and white Lilies and their fragrant flower Tahitian Gardenia or in their language Tiare Tahiti, from which they tend to make fragrant bouquets with which they greet tourists and for their celebrations.

 

 Tahitian Gardenia flower or in their language Tiare Tahiti:

Tahitian Gardenia flower or in their language Tiare Tahiti

 

With the Polynesian flowers, they also tend to specify their status: a married woman will wear a flower on her left ear (close to the heart), a single woman on her right ear (the same with men, but they usually wear a bud).

 

flower

 

The guide explains about the flora and fauna, and their different usages, such as the preparation of skins for dancing and bouquets from different leaves, building thatches over the roofs, hats, mats, baskets etc.

The tour passes along the beaches which are mostly quite but not particularly available for swimming because this is a geologically young island therefore there aren’t any white sand beaches except for one. It has very few beaches with basalt black sand and most of the beaches are with rocks and fragments of shells and corals.


A successful attraction during the tour is a tour by foot at the botanical gardens with the waterfalls called: Vaipahi Botanical Garden and Waterfall which in addition to a typical rich vegetation that you will see, you will meet with local students ages 14-15 from two classes divided into groups who will join the guided tour and ask the tourists different questions ( and the tourists ask them) and all this in order to expose them and us to their lives and ours and practice their English which is quite weak.

 

The students’ wildlife tour:

The students’ wildlife tour

 

The guide participates in a special project with the school and is trying to integrate it in her tours. If you are interested in it, you should coordinate it a head of time.

 

The guide (on the left) with the students on a tour:

המדריכה עם התלמידים בסיור

 

For lunch, you stop at an authentic seafood restaurant on the beach with a beautiful view called: Beach of Maui.

 

Seafood restaurant on the beach:

Seafood restaurant on the beach

 

The dishes include different fish and seafood cooked with local vegetables. One of their national dishes is a completely raw fish! The food is tasty but expensive just like all the restaurants and hotels on the different islands.

 

The interior of the restaurant:

The interior of the restaurant

 

The island if filled with natural spring water, in some of them the spring creates a stream with clear waters and the area is a pastoral recreation and bathing place for the locals. In many other local places on the island the residence connected to the spring wall tubes from which there is a free flow of water and they tend to fill up bottles and containers of water. Mineral water is free from nature! I drank from there a full bottle, but unfortunately the next day I got sick with diarrhea and vomiting! I do not know if it was the water or something else but I do recommend anyways to drink water only from sealed bottles water and not from those where the cork is already open.

 

A spring with a hose:

A spring with a hose

 

We continue driving towards Tahiti Iti and passing local villages where extended families are living in nearby homes on a piece of land they also are working on.
While driving through the pastoral landscape we go up high to a beautiful lookout point on Tahiti Nui and over the segment that connects the two.

 

Tahiti Nui:

Tahiti Nui

 

Later in the tour we stop at a factory that produces their famous scented coconut oil Mooi Oil. This is a small private factory with several containers crammed with oil crushed with different flowers which give the oil its aroma. They manufacture here different cosmetic products and mainly scented massage oil.

 

A factory for scented oils:

A factory for scented oils

 

The tour includes a stop on a beach with black sand suitable for swimming by a river in which it is also possible to swim. On the beach, there is a surfing school. It is one of the only places in Tahiti where there are waves near the beach because the island is surrounded mostly by a reef that blocks the waves.

 

Swimming in the estuary:

Swimming in the estuary

 

Another stop is at a cave called Caves of Maraa

 

A cave called Caves of Maraa:

A cave called Caves of Maraa

 

A large and dark cave mostly surrounded by ferns in which there is a water pool and many drop of water dripping off the ceiling into the water. It is told that the painter Paul Gauguin who lived for two years in Tahiti at the end of the 19th century and painted here some of his beautiful pictures, used to bathe in the cave with the island girls.

 

A cave called Caves of Maraa:

A cave called Caves of Maraa

 

On the way we pass by gardens and museums of Gauguim which have been closed for two years for renovations (typical of the rhythm of the locals known for their slowness and tranquility. Nothing is burning….).
You can combine in tour a visit to The Museum of Tahiti and her Islands, a small and modest anthropology museum located close to the Le Meridian hotel, but it is not necessary. If you are interested, you can visit it another day independently (only if there is free time or it is raining).

 

The Anthropological Museum of Tahiti:

The Anthropological Museum of Tahiti

 

Segway tour in Papeete

It is recommended to also spend half a day to visit the capital of Tahiti – Papeete which is its commercial, cultural and political center, is filled with markets, shops, government offices concert and events halls.
The most comfortable and enjoyable way to be impressed by this vibrant and diverse city (in which you mainly meet locals and not tourists) is by a Segway tour of the Discover Papeete by Segway.
The company has an hour to two and a half hour's tours. It is recommended to join the longer tour: in the two and a half hour(s) tour which begins at the visitor center in town, you visit an indoor market in which you find fruits, vegetables, flowers, hats etc.

 

Papeete city market :

Papeete city market

 

The prices here are reasonable relatively to the expensive Tahiti (it is recommended to return to the market at the end of the tour, wander around and shop independently).

 

Flower bouquets in the market:

Flower bouquets in the market

 

Pedestrians on main street pass by a variety of stores such as of black pearls which are a famous product of the French Polynesia, souvenir and cloths shops. You arrive at the government building where in the yard there is a special market (the market is there only once a year for 15 days) in which the islanders from across the French Polynesia display their typical products, especially very beautiful and expensive products from a quality straw such as hats, bags, rugs etc.

 

Handcrafts in the market:

Handcrafts in the market

 

Next to the parliament building there is a garden with very beautiful flowers and plants. While we were walking there the gardeners were working and amongst them was the head of parliament who found time to give them instructions. At the end of the gardens there is a natural spring with fish and by it was the ancient royal house and therefore the Polynesians believe that the waters there were pure.

 

Spring and gardens:

Spring and gardens

 

You will visit the large church in town, in which the statue of Mary holding Jesus, they both have Polynesian facial features carrying fruits of the bread tree.

 

The interior of the church:

The interior of the church

 

During the tour, you pass by the police building and the presidential residence, built in a French style and resembles the French Quarter in New Orleans.

 

The presidential residence:

The presidential residence

 

Later you pass by beautiful murals, once a year there is a festival in which walls are being painted.

 

murals

 

ציור קיר

 

The next destination is the promenade along the beach, the marina and across the commercial harbor of the city.

 

The promenade on the Papeete pier:

The promenade on the Papeete pier

 

Cruise ships arrive to the city bringing the tourists to the island. Later you can see a lot of canoes on the beach and a few in the water.

 

Rowing in a canoe in Papeete:

Rowing in a canoe in Papeete

 

On the way back you pass by a large stadium being used both for sports events and different festivals, two theaters and plenty of tropical vegetation (yes, also in the heart of the city) .
People who pass by are courteous, friendly, greet others and cars stop for pedestrians who want to cross over. The guide talks a lot during the tour about the local residents, the flora and fauna and the history of the islanders who arrived here from Southeast Asia about a thousand years ago and spread on the different islands across the Pacific Ocean. He also tells about the Europeans who arrived here and the missionaries who converted the residents into Christianity and erased signs of their previous culture and only a hundred years ago they began to recover parts of their previous language and culture.

 

Robert Wan shop and museum

The tour ends with a visit in a store which is also a small, interesting and recommended museum of black pearls by Robert Wan, who is of Chinese origin and who developed greatly the subject of growing pearls from shells in the French Polynesia. There is an impressive display of very expensive and special pearls and jewelry.

 

Pearls in various colors

Pearls in various colors

 

Pearls on a designed chain:

Pearls on a designed chain

 

This museum /store in the past was visited by very famous people such as: Queen Elizabeth, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama...

 

The pearl museum:

The pearl museum

 

After you become wiser and impressed by Tahiti, its culture and residence, it is time to indulge – fly (or sail) to one or more of the famous resort islands in their turquoise lagoons: Bora Bora and Moorea.

 

Recommended hotels in Tahiti:

Le Meridian

A quality and luxurious hotel located on the beach with a small strip of white sand beach, the only one in Tahiti. The beach is pleasant for swimming but it also has rocks, sea cucumber and strange sea snakes resembling a sea cucumber but thinner and longer with short hair.
However, the hotel has a large sandy pool excellent for swimming.

The hotel has large and spacious rooms and cabins on the water but no descent to the water. The view from some of the rooms overlooks the ocean and other rooms to the pool and garden. The hotel has a tennis court, beach volleyball, ping pong and kayaks. There are two restaurants and two bars in the hotel, the hotel also offers in some evenings different musical performances, including typical Polynesian music. It is located fifteen minutes’ drive south of the airport, close to the museum of Tahiti and the islands and about a 20 minutes’ drive from Papeete.

 

InterContinental Tahiti Resort and Spa

A luxurious spa hotel close to the airport in the town of Faaa, about a ten-minute drive from Papeete. The hotel has a swimming and a private artificial sandy beach. It also has regular rooms and cabins on the water. The hotel has a diving center, an aquarium, tennis courts, a spa and a beautiful restaurant on the water.

 

 

More articles on French Polynesia:
Bora Bora - Vacation and Travel Attractions
Trips and tours in Bora Bora
Vacation on Moorea island
A trip to Tahiti


 

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