February 15, 2019
Last night we had dinner in Toscana and had a delicious pasta appetizer and then a tuna dish that was probably the best yet. Mario said he would try for more fresh fish in Tahiti.
Last time we were in this port, it rained hard the whole day and our snorkeling trip was cancelled. We stayed in Papeete and did a little shopping and visiting the markets.
Today the weather was beautiful, hot but sunny and nice. We were greeted by local women who gave us one of the Tiare Tahiti local flowers to wear. Behind the left ear means we are unavailable! Other musicians played for us as we came ashore.
Then we were greeted by a whole group of 8th graders from Mennais Junior High School. They have been studying English for 3 years and are doing a class project welcoming tourists and guiding them to several places to visit. Most seemed quite shy but eager to practice their English. They had a brochure that they made about local attractions and local fruits to sample. I spent a bit of time talking to them and their teacher.
We decided to try to find a local guide to take us around since we didn’t see any of the rest of the island last visit. We found Tom, and another couple from the ship joined us, Linda and George.
Tom was a delightful 74 year old who has 16 children from 3 different women. He said it was all because of not having any TV! He serenaded us, told us lots of local stories and seemingly knew everyone we ran into on our travels. He even knew this couple who was getting married in the botanical gardens.
French Polynesia has a total population of about 300,000 on all of its 118 islands, most of which are uninhabited. They are halfway between Los Angeles and Sydney. Tahiti has 197,000 and of that, Papeete has about 30,000 people. It is a bustling town with lots of shops and markets. Tahiti is divided into two parts – the larger portion to the northwest is known as Tahiti Nui while the smaller peninsula is Tahiti Iti. Nui means large and Iti means small.
Here is a picture of the island.
Tom took us around the whole island stopping at all of the beautiful spots. We started at the cave –the Maraa Grotto. This is the largest underground cave in Tahiti.
Next we went to the Harrison W. Smith botanical garden. The flowers and trees are just beautiful. There were beautiful lily pads too. Harrison Smith was an American physics teacher who created the gardens in 1919.
They even had flowers in the rest rooms!
We visited the Fautaua Waterfall, one of the tallest in the world. The water falls about 980 feet into a large pool below.
The views along the way were beautiful as the road around the island is between the sea and the mountains all the way. We also passed some pretty churches. Tom said the country is mostly Protestant.
There is a large blowhole near the waterfall stop. Tom told us the myth of this Arahoho Blowhole. The story goes that Queen sat down on it and went “ahhhh” and that is the sound you hear. I do have video but too large to load. When the sound is made, the sea mist comes up through the hole.
Our last stop was at Point Venus. This was the Tahitian landing spot for captains Cook, Bligh and Wallis. It is surrounded by black sand beaches. There is a lighthouse which dates back to 1868 and the Bounty monument which was erected by descendants of the ship’s crew.
Here are some of the fishing boats and I guess some resting fishermen?
We had a great day with Tom, Linda and George.
We also explored Marche de Papeete, the largest marketplace here. They have everything from fish and produce to hats, shell necklaces and local crafts. Many women are making these flower headdresses that I loved, so I had to have one!
So glad we got to experience more of Tahiti then just Papeete. Great day.