Lesson # 2
how are you?
holy religious site
nana (or parahi) -
Ori Tahiti -
Papeete.com and Tahiti Sun Travel are Basecamp International members.
Discover more fascinating travel and tourism destinations around the globe by visiting the Basecamp International homesite or by clicking on the links below:
> Mildura, Australia
This region is known for its wineries & river-centered recreational opportunities.
> Puno, Peru
The folklore capital of Peru lies on the shore of Lake Titicaca.
> Chiclayo, Peru
Peru's fourth largest city is an archeological treasure chest.
> Piura, Peru
South America's oldest Spanish city and the Piura region.
> Gustavus, Alaska
Your gateway to Gustavus and magnificent Glacier Bay Park.
> Burkina, Africa
Guide to the fascinating Country of Burkina Faso.
> Patan, Nepal
Visit one of the 3 Royal cities in the famous Kathmandu valley.
> Bhaktapur, Nepal
One of 3 of Nepals "Royal cities" and a cultural gem popular with travelers.
> Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
The famous island known for its pivotal role in WW2- the Battle of Guadalcanal.
> Krumlov, Czech Republic
Traveler's info for the UNESCO world heritage site Cesky Krumlov.
> Tokelau, New Zealand
A non-self-governing territory consisting of three coral atolls in the South Pacific.
> Tulcea, Romania
One of the larger cities in Romania located at the mouth of the famous Danube River.
Although travelers visit Tahiti for a variety of reasons, newcomers are o
ften quite naive about most of the facts and facets of the Island, including its people, culture, flora and fauna, history, economy, etc.
They often arrive with the simple desire to just relax and take in the Pacific
Island charm. Not long after arriving, however, does the true nature of French Polynesia begin to unfold for them.
A couple of days on Tahiti or exploring the city of Papeete and they begin to recognize the country for its many faces beyond a mere vacationland.
This French owned territory is filled with a unique energy unto itself. There's no place on earth quite like it.
Of course return travelers and local inhabitants know that. Each lives or
returns to Tahiti for their own reasons...
This page unviels information, facts, and insight
for discovery of your OWN reasons to become enchanted with Tahiti, her capital city of Papeete, and her fantastic surrounding islands.
Note: This page works in tandem with the TAHITI NEWS & GENERAL INFORMATION section where you'll find lots more additional generic information for ALL the Tahitian Islands.
PAPEETE- A UNIQUE CITY
PAPEETE is a unique city like no other in the world. French Polynesia's capital and center of business, it's population is reported to be between 90 -120,000 people, depending on where the city limit is defined, accounting for well over half of the Island of Tahiti's overall population
of 180,000 people.
Although virtually ALL travelers arriving in
French Polynesia inevetably venture into Papeete (due to it's having Polynesia's
only international airport), very few stay for very long or attempt to explore
or experience it's unique flavor.
Opinions vary as to the "likeability"
of the city. By far the majority of tourists arriving in Tahiti use Papeete
as a mere stopover point for getting to the outerlying smaller and less populated
Who can blame them for wanting to experience Polynesia's
famous "island paradise" as soon as possible?
We at the TSTN certainly
acknowledge the allure of Tahiti's outerlying islands but say now to any would
be traveler: Like it or not, Papeete is always INTERESTING AND DEFINITELY
UNIQUE and well worth spending some quality time exploring it's flavor...
Undeniably, there is no other place like it in the world.
Info coming soon...
The only maps we have for Tahiti and the surrounding Society islands are below. We realize this isn't a great choice, but eventually we will try and do better.
1) Large scale map- Basic map for the South Pacific in regards to its relation to the world's continents.
2) Nautical Chart- Large scale chart showing the layout of the Leeward Islands of the Society Archipelago including Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora bora, Maupiti, Huahine, and Tupai. (Of course, Tahiti is a Windward island, so it won't really help you with this area much except as a general point of interest.)
Weather- (& When to Travel)
The climate on the Island of Tahiti and Papeete is considered tropical and can be divided into
two basic seasons: the wet season and the dry season.
The wet season (Polynesian Summer), is between the months of November to April, receiving approximately 3/4ths of the annual rainfall
of French Polynesia between these months. The humidity during this time can be quite heavy and muggy and cloud cover is common. Storms are frequent,
brief, and unpredictable.(Average rainfall for Papeete is 1800mm).
Temperatures will range from 27 - 30 degrees C, with the hottest months being February and
March. Day to night temperature fluctuations are minimal.
This "wet season" is considered the "off season" for tourism.
From a travelers standpoint, this "off
season" may not be the most favorable weatherwise, however the benefits
may tip the scales to the travelers advantage in many other ways: There's
less competition for lodging, activity and sightseeing schedules. With the additional advantage
of lower average pricing for most products and services, it can be considered
that this wet season is easier to travel, explore, and generally, get things
done. There's always the trade-offs to consider...
For you sunworshippers out there, keep in mind that the sun is not on vacation,
but merely less commonly seen than in the drier months. Being a French Polynesian
Island, and tropical, even in the "wet season" you'll definitely get
your fair share of sun on Tahiti Island. (There are between 2500- 2900 Sunshine
hours per year.)
By contrast, the "dry season" - May
through October, is the "on season" for tourism. This is the Polynesian
winter. Temperatures generally range from between 24-28 degrees C, and rain
is rare. Day to night temperature fluctuations are minimal.
As to be expected, these favorable weather conditions
also bring out the tourists. July is most likely the favorite and most heavily
traveled month for all the Tahitian Islands because of its many festivals and
celebrations during the month long holiday that occurs at that time known as Tiurai.
For those interested in Scubadiving in Tahiti and her surrounding islands, the dry season is favorable due to increased
Winds will be present in Tahiti Polynesia no matter the season. The basic geography of all the French Polynesian islands
will always insure this. Most days in Tahiti will include some type of light wind, oftentimes picking up toward the latter part of the day. For the most
part, these winds will always be considered a blessing. The feeling of a nice
pacific breeze on a hot day is very refreshing and will always be appreciated.
There are two common trade winds affecting Tahiti Polynesias
weather and travelers: The dry season's mara' amu, and the wet
seasons toerau. The mara' amu is a southeasterly blowing tradewind
most common during the winter months (dry season), of June, July, and August. These winds can be a bit more persistant than you may be prepared for, bringing
with them sudden downpours and cooler temperatures. Be advised to pack an extra
(For more info on what to pack, see the Travel Tips section)
As for the toerau, these winds are less common and blow
in a north- northeast direction and occur during the wet season months.
The Pacific Ocean surrounding all the Tahitian Islands, with it's thermal currents interacting with the various jetstreams
(air currents) can produce winds of terrific magnitude. Cyclones (another word
for Hurricanes) are always a cause for concern for those inclined to worry.
French Polynesia has had its share of cyclones. (although the frequency
of them seems to be far less than other parts of the world which are prone to
them, such as the southeastern seaboard or midwest states of the United States).
The last powerful cyclone that caused considerable damage to Tahiti and many surrounding islands was in 2010 (Hurricane Olly) and before that in 1982.
Tahiti Sun Travel provides you with this telephone number to check on weather updates for the region: (689) 36.65.09
And here's a good online weather source for the region: Weather.org's South Pacific Forecast
Because of relentless marketing efforts, one of the most common tourist perceptions about Tahiti is that the entire island is a white sand beach paradise. Although there are indeed some truly wonderful sandy beaches on the island, the fact of the matter is that they are not always as "vacationer friendly" or accessable as many would hope.
The reality and facts of the beach situation on Tahiti are as follows:1) Tahiti is the only Society Island (besides Moorea) that has both black and white sand beaches along it's coast.
2) If you aren't staying at a hotel with it's own beach, you'll be best off to rent a car or scooter (or you could take Le Truck), to gain access to the beaches described below.
3) Of the entire Tahitian coastline, the most useable,
desireable and accessable "sandy beaches" on the island can be divided into 2 basic categories: Public or private.
NOTE about PUBLIC BEACHES:
All beaches in French Polynesia are technically public property, although, as mentioned in detail below in the private beaches section, getting to them is often the difficulty.
That said, here are a few recognized or easily accessed "public beaches" on Tahiti:
PLAGE DE TOAROTO
Near the Hotel Meridien: Decent stretch of white sand beach open to the public running nearly a half mile in the area of the Hotel Meridien. (The Meridien has its own small private beach for its clients.)
Located at approximately PK 15,5, (West of Papeete) this beach is an excellent place to hang out if you're staying at any of the pensions in this area. (Armelle, Te Miti, Taaroa, and others). Snorkeling is excellent here and laying about is the norm.
Access: Off the main road, look for a truck stop called "Tapeara'a Pereo'o Mataeinaa" near PK 15. You'll see a little parklike area where there is parking and public toilets and showers available. Ask someone about it or your hotel or pension if you need to.
Notes: This area looks as if the Tahitian government might eventually develop something here. Between the sand and road are some old building foundations, dirt piles, etc. that lead one to this thought, but who knows?
(We're calling it that, but its exact name is unknown)
Just past the Faaa airport, (West) there's a small public beach near the Sofitel Resort.
Access: Pretend like you're going to the Sofitel Resort and get off at the "Outumaoro" Le Truck stop.
Just head for the water from there. A nice place for swimming, relaxing and snorkeling.
FROM PK 3 TO AROUND PK 10...
EAST OF PAPEETE, there are a few different public beach areas that one can explore from within a fairly close range of Papeete. In the suburb of Pirae, (at around PK 3), there's a stretch of black sand beach by the Royal Tahitien Hotel, and farther along at PK 7 there is a better beach leading up to the Hyatt Hotel.
Another beach can be found at Point Venus located at approximately PK 10. You should be able to see signs for Venus Point from the main coastal road.
In addition to these public beaches, there are various other nice stretches along the coastal road of Tahiti and its lessor developed Tahiti-Nui coastline to explore. If you make a day or project out of finding them, and you keep the right attitude, you will have an enjoyable time of it! Don't forget your towels and swimming shorts!
NOTE about PRIVATE BEACHES:
There are quite a few beautiful beaches on Tahiti that are situated on private property! Many are located on resort, hotel, or private Pension or homeowner's property.
If there's not a beach on the location you're staying, then getting to these private beaches can be a frustrating experience. Their entrances are often difficult or impossible to find and often as not involve asking a hotel's or family's permission to pass through. (If you can find the owners, their answer is not always a guaranteed yes).
If you insist on pursuing these private beaches, your choices include:
1) Just going for it and walking across someone's property to get to the sand. This method is successful roughly 50% of the time without being busted. (If you do encounter an owner, speaking French and smiling a lot definitely helps...)
2) Swimming or walking to them on the lagoon or ocean side... (not always an easy task)
3) Staying at the owner's facilities. (always the recommended method)
TST Comment and Advice: BEACHES
Don't be dismayed by the above information on private beaches on Tahiti! Your first day may have you searching around for beach access, but after a little quality time on the island, if you ask around, you'll figure out where to go. Most people are quite content to stay on the beach of their own hotel, pension or resort, but if you want to go exploring and search for the elusive "perfect beach"- just go for it! It's there, just not always easy to find...
So what if you end up on someones property looking for a beach entrance! If you're not rude, you'll probably end up making friends with the owner anyway... Just keep smiling!
Many ask about nude or topless beaches on Tahiti. It's the same here as anywhere else in Polynesia: accepted and quite common to go topless. Bottomless is seldom seen except for on private or hard to find beaches, but not unheard of on the public beaches either.
Of course this is a European thing. (Remember, Polynesia is a french owned territory.) At this time, TST is unaware of any "official" or especially marked "nude beaches" on Tahiti.
Fauna- (Wildlife in General)
Bad news for all you animal lovers... you'll not be photographing many wild or fascinating South Sea mammals here. The Polynesian islands don't have a lot of natural wildlife, aside from birds and of course, a magical array of Marine life creatures.
Why is this? The islands are so lush and their interiors so undeveloped, you may wonder...
The answer lies within the origins of the islands themselves. Volcanic in nature, these islands literally sprang up in the middle of nowhere, far from any surrounding land masses where any other land creatures could habitate from. The only mammals on the islands today are those that
were brought over by the human navigators who populated these islands, both
native Polynesian, and Europeans.
The list of land mammals is rather short. All the usual suspects are here: horses, cows, sheep, pigs, dogs, cats, and of course, rats. It seems there is one exception to this mundane list: the wild pig...
some of 'em must have got away from their captives long ago and hankered for
life on the wild side... good for them!
On the other hand, there are quite a number of bird
species here, with some of the less inhabitated islands such as Tetiaroa, Mehetia, and others having breeding grounds for future health of the species. Thankfully, most of the critical habitat bird breeding grounds are protected by the government and looked after with care.
Dogs, dogs, dogs, and more dogs! All Tahitian islands boast a fairly healthy dog population and "The big island" is no exception. As with most dogs of Polynesia, no matter what island they're on, they ALL SEEM TO HAVE THE SAME PARENTS!
They all have that "generic dog" look common in many third world countries. Basic browns, or spotted of a thousand colors, most are classic mutts, many of which seemingly wander around carefree and owner-free amongst the homes and businesses of the populace.
Most locals seem to regard them with a casual nonchalance- not unfriendly, but not particularly worried about their well being either... Occasionally, (more so on Tahiti than the other islands), you will see a purebred animal as a family pet, but not often.
Sadly, Tahiti and her surrounding islands are also known as one of the few places left on the planet that regularly eats dog.
So be it. Woof, woof. In Polynesia, compared to other countries, a dog's life could be worse...
Yes, crabs- Coconut and Hermit crabs, that is... Q: Why a separate section for crabs, you may ask?
A: 'Cause we like the little buggers... (and someday we hope to have lots of interesting facts and crab trivia here in the future.)
Of course, any time spent in Polynesia will reveal to the animal lover the true source of wildlife fascination here: the exquisite marine life.
There are nearly 500 species of fishes within the Tahitian waters,
along with other amazing creatures such as sea turtles, dozens of sharks species,
and the ever so popular dolphin (the "flipper" kind), porpoises,
and the hugely popular humpback whale topping the list of marine mammals.
Interestingly, there are no pinnepeds (seals or other flippered mammals) in Polynesian waters.
See Tahiti's scuba section for more specific information on Tahiti marine.
Flora- (Plants & Flowers)
Information on this subject coming soon...
(including information about the famous and sought after Noni plant...)
SOCIETY & PEOPLE and LEGENDS & MYTHS
Information on these subjects coming soon...
About the Other Islands of
An Internetwork of Travel and Tourism Guides
for the Main Islands of Tahiti Polynesia
An interactive bulletin
board covering a diverse array of Tahitian subjects.
Ask questions, get advice, meet people, be crazy!
It's fun, easy, and informative!
Check out our online store for the most interesting Polynesian products on the planet.
Books, travel guides, maps, Polynesian music, videos, gifts, pareos, soaps, oils, lotions, perfumes & clothing are just a few of the items available.
Find out Who's Who and Where - On the Tahiti Sun Travel Network.
Also, are they a Coupon Program participant?
We have many different linking members throughout our
pages and are adding more regularly...
This handy quick reference saves time when you don't have
time to explore the network. (Members are listed alphabetically
and categorized per/ island site.)