Overwater bungalows are Tahiti’s
signature accommodation, and provide an incredibly memorable
experience. From the outrigger canoe breakfast deliveries
to the glass coffee tables that allows for fish viewing from
the living room,looking straight into the lagoon, an overwater
bungalow is a hotel room beyond the ordinary.
Tahitian Cultured Pearls are
Tahiti’s largest export and a local specialty. and are
found only in French Polynesia. Visitors can explore Tahitian
cultured black pearl farms in the Tuamotu atolls Manihi, Rangiroa
and on the islands of Raiatea, Taha’a, and Huahine,
and can watch the grafting of the blacked-lipped oysters that
create these exotic and highly prized pearls. Before buying
pearls, stop by the Tahiti Black Pearl Museum in Papeete to
learn how to judge the value based on size, color, luster,
Shark feeding is a popular
and memorable experience in which visitors watch a guide carefully
hand-feed docile reef sharks. The guide strings a rope to
hold on to, and participants just don a mask and snorkel toand
watch the magnificent creatures feed.
The Cuisine of Tahiti is a
delectable array of fresh fish, exotic tropical fruits, and
vegetables, with a Polynesian influence and unmistakable French
flair. Not to be missed is poisson cru – fresh fish
marinated with lime and coconut, mixed with vegetables. Parrott
fish, ahi, mahi-mahi and other fresh fish are divine in a
light sauce made from vanilla beans and coconut milk.
Baguettes anyone? Check out
those little boxes outside homes that look likethat resemble
mailboxes…they’re for residents’ twice-daily
delivery of warm French baguettes. Visitors can pick up a
baguette at the market for about 35 cents. Grab a few things
to go with it (such as a good French Bordeaux!) and have a
marvelous picnic on a secluded beach.
Stop by the Roulottes, or
catering trucks, that gather at the wharf in downtown Papeete
each evening. Hungry visitors can wander among the dozens
of Roulottes to choose local fare. Unbelievably delicious
meals – including stir fry, curry, roast pig, pizza,
and flaming crêpes – can be had at bargain prices
in a fun, local atmosphere.
The Hawaiki Nui Va’a
could best be described as the Super Bowl of outrigger canoe
races. It’s the world’s largest, longest, and
most exhilarating international open ocean outrigger canoe
event, and is the ultimate test of strength and endurance
for both men and women. Six-person crews race 72 miles from
the island of Huahine to Raiatea, then to Taha’a and
finally to Bora Bora. An entourage of avid fans follow by
canoes and boats, creating a colorful regatta throughout the
week in mid-October.
Tahiti and Her Islands are best known as a romantic
paradise. Honeymooners and couples of all ages rekindle their
love and rediscover each other in the seclusion of the islands. More
and more couples are renewing their marriage vows in a traditional
Tahitian wedding ceremony. Though not a legal ceremony,
the ritual is deep and meaningful. Couples are bedecked in
pareus, flowers, shells, and feathers. The groom approaches
the beach in an outrigger canoe. His bride, who was carried
in on a rattan throne, awaits him on the white- sand beach.
A spectacular sunset and lapping lagoon create athe stunning
backdrop. Tahitian music and dancers add to the ambiance.
A Tahitian priest “marries” the couple and gives
them their Tahitian names and the Tahitian name of their first-born.
Stone fishing tournaments are an exciting spectacle on the
island of Taha’a. In the method of their ancestors,
the villagers wade into the lagoon, beating the water with
stones tied to ropes. The frenzy frightens schools of fish,
driving them ashore, where they are easily collected with
nets for a feast.
Celestial navigation is tied
to the ancient Polynesians who settled the South Pacific islands.
These early settlers were adept at guiding their way using
only the stars, waves, currents, bird flights, sun, and wind.
A visit to the museum on the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands
on the island of Tahiti is a good way to explore this amazing bit
Rangiroa, also known as “The Endless Lagoon,”
is home to one of the world’s greatest shark
dives. In Tiputa pass, literally hundreds of these
creatures create a shark wall. Travelers are often intrigued
by the sharks in Tahiti, which are non-aggressive. Divers
who swim with a variety of species are amazed that they can
get so close without being harmed.
“Tattoo” is one
of the few Polynesian words that has worked its way into our
language (“taboo” is another). This ancient Polynesian
custom dates back to the days of warring onwars between neighboring
tribes. Full of symbolism, often done without anesthetic,
and using and often done with traditional instruments, tattoos
this remains an important part of Tahitian tradition.culture.
The rare tiare apetahi flower can
only be found in one place in the entire world, on a mountain
peak on the sacred island of Raiatea. Botanists have tried
to grow it elsewhere without luck. It has a wonderful Tahitian
legend tied to it and is prized by all Tahitians. Legend says
the delicate petals of the tiare apetahi represent the five
fingers of a lovely Tahitian girl who fell in love with the
son of a king and died of a broken heart because she could
not hope to marry him. The petals close at night, and at daybreak
they open with a slight crackling sound – thought to
be the sound of her heart breaking. Reaching the peak is a
couple hours’ hike up the mountain, but worth every
In the spirit of their ancient ancestors, Tahitian
sporting events include stone lifting, fruit carrying
(running through the streets with hundreds of pounds of fruit
carried on a pole), grueling canoe races between the islands,
and javelin throwing, where contestants aim at a single coconut,
60 feet away, on top of a totteringsuspended from a 40-foot
high pole. Visitors can see these events during the seven-week
long Heiva I Tahiti celebration in June and July.
Marae, or religious stone temples,
are found throughout the Society IslandsTahiti. These sites
were sacred and very important places of political and social
gathering in ancient Polynesia. Experts are learning more
and more about the early Polynesians as they restore and uncover
Tamure means “dance”
in Tahitian, and it’s done with an energy and passion
that is unsurpassed. From slow, graceful dances to fast, rhythmic
movement, visitors must see this demonstration of native culture.
Even years after visiting, travelers find that the mere sound
of Tahitian music evokes powerful memories of the fervent
Pareus are seen just about
everywhere. These colorful pieces of fabric are worn as a
cover-up, a dress, shorts, a shawl, or can be spread out as
a picnic cloth or beach towel. Created with traditional designs
and bright tropical colors, pareus are inexpensive and make
the perfect souvenir. Visitors can find pareus throughout
the islands, but the largest selection is at Le Marché,
the downtown market in Papeete. Many are hand- painted by
local artists. Men and women alike consider cool and colorful
pareus to be the ultimate island garb.
How are the Tahitians keeping their culture
alive? Although 75 percent of the population is of Polynesian
decent, the French influence is profound. In the past few
years, Tahitians have made a dedicated effort to keep their
culture alive by teaching the Tahitian language in school,
encouraging traditional sports, arts, and crafts, and keeping
Tahitian dance and music alive.
Hospitality is a Tahitian way
of life. Tahitians are proud of their islands and want to
share the beauty with visitors. Even tipping is contrary to
their beliefs – it’s simply not expected. Every
visitor to Tahiti should take the time to chat with locals
and learn about their culture and lifestyle. It can make the
experience of this beautiful paradise even richer.
Note to reporters, writers, and editors: please list the following
information for readers/viewers to obtain additional information:
Tahiti Tourisme North America
300 Continental Blvd., Suite 160
El Segundo, CA 90245
Tel: 310-414-8484 Fax: 310-414-8490
Web site: www.tahiti-tourisme.com