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Where Island Paradise Awaits

Tahiti lies in the South Pacific. It is the largest of the 118 islands and atolls that comprise French Polynesia. Tahiti is in the Society Islands, an archipelago which includes the islands of Bora Bora, Raiatea, Taha’a, Huahine and Moorea, and has a population of 127,000 people, about 83% of whom are of Polynesian ancestry. The legendary name ‘Tahiti’ not only identifies this island but also the group of islands that make up French Polynesia. Tahiti is composed of two volcanic mountain ranges. In the shape of a ‘turtle’, it is made of Tahiti Nui (the larger part) and Tahiti Iti (the peninsula). The two islands are linked by the isthmus of Taravao and skirted by black beaches. Papeete is the capital city of Tahiti and is the administrative centre. Once a sleepy town, today its harbor is busy with cargo freighters, copra ships, luxury liners and ocean-going yachts. There are sidewalk cafes, shops overflowing with French fashions, shell jewellery and handicrafts and a wide variety of restaurants serving Tahitian, French, and Asian cuisine.

Photo: View of Papeete, Tahiti

  It was about 5am and early morning sunrise was in its glory as we headed into the port of Papeete, the capital of Tahiti. With the early morning glittering sunrise created a picturesque island. As we got closer to the port, we were greeted by thousands of dolphins and I’ve never seen so many dolphins in one particular place at any one time. At first glance, it looked like it was an enclosed area for dolphins that are captive for research. This place was definitely a real haven for dolphins that are in their own natural environment. This island of paradise is the safe haven for millions of dolphins because of the natural formation of the atoll and dolphins can’t be threatened by sharks and they can’t be found there because sharks are resistant to shallow waters or areas. Since I was spending couple of days on this paradise island, I wanted to explore the whole island and learn about the history of the island and the native people. I decided to take a coach tour of the island which every visitors must do because the local tour guides take you to various places of interest around the island. However, self-drive is highly recommend and travelling around the island is completely safe. As you disembarked to do the island tour of Tahiti, you’re greeted by locals offering tours and certainly you have a lot of choice but you have to decide depending on your budget and you have to negotiate with them, for how long, what you want to see and do. Though, Tahiti, is a French speaking island due to colonised by the France but the indigenous people have their own Tahitian native language. Our tour guide was a local Tahitian, well solid built man, who spoke perfect English and greeted us as we board the coach. He had a great sense of humour and certainly he had at least a joke for every country in the world. With his great personality we all felt that we had known him for years. As we slowly drive around the island, he began to tell us about various things we saw along the way he also explained to us about different plants that were and are still currently used for native medicines and the different fruits growing there. He stated that years ago, many homes including his own were once made from coconut palms, but none of those houses are still around today. It was more like back home, where I came from, most of the house in the village were once made from bush materials but they have been replaced with modern form of roofs. Like most people going on a tour, we asked a lot of questions about the life-style, living standard, economy of the island, job prospectives etc. He said, when it comes to employment on the island, it is tough like anywhere else in the country but it is worse on the island because of its size. As I looked around and observe the locals, they all seems to be happy in their traditional lifestyle but the influence of western lifestyle has changed their way of living and thinking. Sadly, most of them prefer to have western style of food, like take-away meals, Mcdonalds has taken over their traditional style menu. Most of the shops are owned and operated by foreigners and the locals employed there are paid at a minimum wage. Most locals turn to selling local made sarongs, pearls and other traditional handmade crafts to the tourists as a form of their daily income. One of the place where we stopped which I found it very interesting and educational was “Point Venus”. It is a very significant landmark in the history of Tahiti, if not, the whole French Polynesia islands. The primary objective of James Cook’s first voyage, in Endeavour, was to observe the 1769 Transit of Venus from the South Pacific. Tahiti, recently visited by Samuel Wallis in Dolphin, was chosen for the observations. Cook anchored in Matavai Bay on 12 April 1769 and established an observatory, and a fortified camp called “Fort Venus”, at Te Auroa, which they named “Point Venus”. It was named because Captain Cook went there to study the movements of the planet Venus in hopes of gaining better knowledge of the earth’s distance from the sun. Point Venus was where all the early European ships landed including Louis de Bougainville who claimed Tahiti for France and Captain Bligh with the HMS Bounty of Mutiny on the Bounty fame. The mutiny happened not long after leaving Tahiti. Point Venus has the only lighthouse on Tahiti, built out of coral in 1867. As we began to come to the end of our tour, I began to reflect on what I have seen and witnessed on this beautiful island called “Tahiti”. The island not only has its beautiful landscapes and pristine beaches but the thing that captured my heart most is the people on the island, especially indigenous Tahitian. I found them very family and so accommodating which they regard as part of their way of living or culture when the time began. They still continue to carry on that tradition. Like many other islands I have seen and visited throughout Melanesian islands, there is nothing compared to what I have seen and experienced in my tour of Polynesian and Micronesian islands. They seems to be more friendly, accommodating, welcoming and living in a more relaxed lifestyle. From my personal perspective: Travel certainly does broaden your mind. I not only experience the activities that I engage in or places that I visit but it is the Diversity of cultures, lifestyle, people and their way of doing things that I want to experience whether I am visiting a developing or undeveloped countries but my goal still stands the same. Visiting different countries is like turning a page to a different chapter or reading a different novel everytime. I am excited and want to learn more what’s ahead of me. For more information, click Tahiti here for best accommodation deals.

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