First Day in Paradise!

Tahiti Travel Blog

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We were up at 7:30 and I promptly watched the drain go down clockwise! Being an engineer, the fact that I hadn't done it the moment I walked in the room is an indication of how tired I was! (Hopefully, everyone knows it is NOT a myth that, left to their own devices,  drains rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere. )

We had breakfast at the hotel, rented a car from the EuropCar rep in the hotel lobby and headed out. First we went to the airport at Faaa (pronounced "fah-AH-ah") to see about renting a plane but struck out.  That was a bit of a bummer 'cause I'd REALLY have liked just flying around dowwn there!  Driving back past the hotel, we passed through Papeete (pronounced "Pa-pay-AY-tay") and on eastward around Tahiti Nui, the big island.

Traffic was bad but not as bad as I’d feared. The vistas were spectacular and I stopped innumerable times to take pictures. Arriving at the isthmus, we took the road along the east side of Tahiti Iti, the small island, until we got to the end, then retraced to the isthmus where we had lunch at Chez Loula & Rémy in Taravao.

After a lunch of sole for Lin and absolutely fantastic dish of escargots in Roquefort sauce for me, we followed the road down the west side of Tahiti Iti to its dead end and then back, then along the west side of Tahiti Nui. We neared Papeete at rush hour so the traffic was a bit thicker but still tolerable. After we turned in the car, Lin rested in the room as I put on my suit for a swim, then read by the pool until I ran out of daylight.

Before dinner, we had a drink at “Le Quinn’s Bar” in the hotel.

The ambiance was reminiscent of Trader Vic’s but this is for real! The pricing in Tahiti is definitely not for the faint of heart; two tropical drinks came to 2300 cfp or about US$23.00. The Moevai Restaurant in the hotel is located over the water and the water is illuminated at night so you can watch the many beautiful fish. Lin had Mahi Mahi and I had a disappointing dish of curried shrimp. The Crème Brulée was huge.

It so happened that this was the night of the semi-finals of the Miss Tahiti contest and it also turned out that our balcony overlooked the stage! While there was security limiting access to the event, we had great box seats. The pageant was still in full swing when we returned to the room so we watched it to the end. Great evening!

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Tahiti is the largest and most heavily populated island in French Polynesia. It has a population of 150,000 out of the 220,000 in all of French Polynesia. Tahiti is essentially two islands, Tahiti Nui (Big Tahiti) and Tahiti Iti (Little Tahiti), joined by an isthmus. The main town, Papeete, has a population on the order of 100,000. Papeete is a bustling city and traffic can be a bit of a snarl but I didn't find it as heavy as I expected based on some other commentaries. I've not yet visited Nice but the waterfront in Papeete reminded me of pictures I've seen. I don't know whether the comparison is really valid. Some didn't like Papeete a lot but I did. Even here where people are crowded together, we found them warm and friendly.

Our drive around Tahiti revealed some magnificent vistas but nothing like those on some of the other islands. There were a number of beaches but none appeared drop-dead gorgeous. Most of the sand is black. While it has all the other properties of white sand, I can't get it out of my head that it looks like dirt. Being volcanic, the center of the island is mountainous and almost always (at least when we were there) shrouded in clouds. It's quite stunning.

Tahiti is a beautiful island but I wouldn't recommend it as a vacation destination in and of itself. The other islands are much better for about everything but shopping and restaurants. However, I strongly recommend a few days there.

photo by: wagslikeadog