The Tahitian Experience
Over-water bungalows are synonymous with Tahiti and provide a memorable overnight experience. From the outrigger canoe breakfast delivered to your door, to the clear coffee table that allows you to watch lagoon fish from your living room, it is a hotel experience beyond the ordinary, worth doing at least one night of your stay.
Black pearls are Tahiti's largest export and are found only in French Polynesia. Visitors can explore black pearl farms in Manihi, Rangiroa, and Raiatea, and watch the grafting of the blacked-lipped oysters that create these exotic and highly prized pearls. Before buying pearls, it's a great idea to stop by the Tahiti Pearls Museum in Papeete to learn how to judge the value based on size, colour, and shape.
Shark feeding is a popular activity, inviting visitors into the water with hungry reef sharks as a guide carefully hand-feeds these misunderstood creatures. Even those who don't swim (if they're adventurous enough) can take part. Just put on a mask and snorkel and watch the excitement.
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. Parrotfish, ahi, mahi-mahi, and other fresh fish are divine in a light sauce made from vanilla beans.
Baguettes anyone? Check out those little boxes outside homes that look like mailboxes. Those are for residents' twice-daily delivery of French baguettes. Visitors can pick up a baguette at the market for about 35 cents. Grab a few things to go with it and have a marvelous picnic on a secluded beach.
Stop by the roulettes or catering trucks that gather at the wharf in downtown Papeete each evening. Hungry visitors can wander through dozens of roulettes to choose their fare. Unbelievably delicious meals -including stir fry, curry, roast pig, pizza, and flaming crepes - can be had at bargain prices in a fun 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 regatta throughout that week in mid-November.
Tetiaroa was Marlon Brando's private island that he graciously opens to visitors. It's just an hour's boat ride from Tahiti, so it's ideal for a day trip. Known as the bird island, this spectacular atoll was once the playground of Polynesian kings.
The Islands of Tahiti are known as a romantic paradise. Honeymooners and couples of all ages rediscover each other in the seclusion of the islands. More and more 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 and 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 make the backdrop. Tahitian music and dancers enhance the ambiance. A Tahitian priest marries the couple and gives them their Tahitian name and the Tahitian name of their firstborn. Same-sex weddings have also been legal in Tahiti since 2013.
Stone fishing tournaments are an exciting time 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 the schools of fish, driving them ashore, where they are easily collected for a feast.
Celestial navigation - the ancient Polynesians were geniuses in settling the South Pacific islands, guiding their way using only the stars, waves, currents, bird flights, sun, and wind. A visit to the Tahiti and Her Islands Museum on the island of Tahiti is a good way to explore this amazing bit of history.
Sharks of Tahiti and her islands - Rangiroa is known as one of the world's greatest shark dives. In its Tiputa pass, literally hundreds of these creatures create the famous shark wall. What intrigues people is that the sharks in Tahiti are non-aggressive - even docile. 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 worked its way into our language (taboo is another). This Ancient Polynesian custom dates back to the days of warring with neighbouring tribes. Full of symbolism, often done without anesthetic, and use of traditional instruments, this remains an important part of Tahitian tradition.
The rare tiare apetahi flower can only be found on one 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 her heart breaking. It takes a couple of hours to hike up the mountain but is worth every minute.
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. (Nothing like our javelin throwers - Tahitians aim at a single coconut, 60 feet away on top of a pole that's 40 feet high and tottering!) Visitors can see these events during the seven-week-long Heiva I Tahiti celebration in June/July.
Maraes, or stone temples, are found throughout the Society Islands. 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 the maraes.
Tamure means dance in Tahitian, and it's done with an energy and passion that is unsurpassed. From the slow, graceful dances to the fast, rhythmic action, visitors must see this manifestation of native culture. Even years after visiting Tahiti and her islands, travellers find that the mere sound of Tahitian music evokes powerful memories of the fervent tamure.
Pareus are seen just about everywhere. They are colourful pieces of fabric that are worn as a cover-up, a dress, shorts, or a shawl, or can be spread out as a picnic cloth or beach towel. Created with traditional designs and bright tropical colours, pareus are inexpensive and fun to shop for. The biggest variety is at the large indoor Marche in downtown Papeete. But visitors will find pareus throughout the islands. Some are hand-painted by local artists. Men and women wear pareus as the ultimate cool, colorful island garb.
Culture - how are the Tahitians keeping their culture alive? Although 75 percent of the population is Polynesian, 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 the schools, encouraging traditional sports and arts/crafts, and keeping dance and music alive.
Hospitality is a Tahitian way of life. They're proud of their islands and want to share their 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.
Tahiti Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-navigate travel information section dedicated to Tahiti.
Learn about the history and culture of Tahiti, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Tahiti's nature and wildlife, weather, and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information, will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Tahiti for yourself. Start exploring...book one of our Tahiti vacations today!
Extend Your Stay
Consider an additional stopover after or before your Tahiti vacation at one of Goway's other South Pacific destinations. You can choose from our selection of Australian vacations, New Zealand vacation packages, one of our Fiji resorts or perhaps take a Cook Island vacation.
Book your Tahiti vacation with Goway!
With a wide choice of Tahiti vacations and experiences, Goway’s Downunder wizards can offer you many ways to explore and enjoy the Islands of Tahiti. Relax with a romantic tropical island stay, enjoy a luxury cruise through turquoise blue waters, escape on an air-land getaway, and more. We want to be your first choice when next you go globetrotting to Tahiti.
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