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The tree houses on the water.
The tree houses on the water.
Catriona checks out a tree house.
The view from your tree house.

Tahiti Iti

Thursday, February 7, 2002
Catriona heads back to the French Polynesian Island of Tahiti — this time, though, we head to Little Tahiti for a touch of paradise.

Tahiti, the largest of the Society Islands and gateway to French Polynesia, forms a figure eight. The larger loop is Tahiti Nui — Big Tahiti — and the smaller is Tahiti Iti — Little Tahiti. Tahiti Iti has just three roads — two are 18km long. One goes along the north coast to Tautira, the other along the south coast to Teahupoo and the third goes up the centre to a lookout.

Tahiti Iti remains the way all of Tahiti was 30 years ago — unspoilt and lush and very few houses. About three-quarters of the peninsula is inaccessible, and in some cases you have to leave the road and take a boat to your pensione or the local homes.

Most visitors to the peninsula are professional surfers. Teahupoo is one of the world's best places for waves — between March and October, they are 6-8m high. The waves might be huge, but the water is shallow, so it is not recommended for novice or amateur surfers.

Fare Nana'o is a small family pensione located on the isthmus of Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti. Fare is Tahitian for bungalow and Nana'o means sculpture. It is owned by Monique Meriaux and has been run as a pensione for 10 years.

Twenty years ago, she was sent by the French Government to Tahiti as a teacher. She and her eight children fell in love with the Tahitians and their country and stayed on after her teaching contract was over. They built an enormous house, and when she needed a new profession, Monique built kitchens and bathrooms and opened to tourists.

There are six fare, built amongst the trees, right on the water's edge. They differ from each other but are alike in that they are built of nature's building materials — wood and roofs of thatched leaves.

Monique cooks breakfast, and will make a French family dinner for anyone who wants it. Some of them have a kitchen so some visitors can be totally self-sufficient. The atmosphere is very friendly and relaxed, and Monique is a great hostess.

Some people choose to relax around the property — some take out the sea kayaks — some hire a car and take tours around the island. Hikes and boat trips around the peninsula can be arranged, and there is a famous dive site nearby.

Eric Lenoble runs Tahiti Evasion. He has two 8m outrigger canoes with outboard motors. They take six people each and are very stable. Basically, they are a modern version of the traditional French Polynesian boat.

You will see dramatic scenery — massive cliffs called the Te Pari drop straight into the ocean. There are beautiful waterfalls, and the mountains are usually shrouded in mist. The boat takes you into the valley, and its lush, volcanic landscape in every shade of green with heavy tropical aroma is something you will see nowhere else. The uneven green, vertical walls are covered with thick vegetation and waterfalls.

Taravao is the closest village to Fare Nana'o. It is the centre for the 30,000 people in the area, and has several supermarkets and five banks.


French Polynesia in the South Pacific.


Qantas flies three times a week to Papeete on code-share services.
Orient Pacific has five-night packages, including return economy airfares, all transfers and three nights at Fare Nana'o, starting at $1375 from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Prices are per person, twin share. Taxes, levies and charges are extra. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Tahiti Tourisme
Ph: (02) 9281 6020 or 1300 655 563
Fax: (02) 9211 6589
Fare Nana'o
Ph: 0011 689 57 1814
Fax: 0011 689 57 7610
To book: Jetset Travel: Ph: 136 383
Orient Pacific Holidays: Ph: (03) 9690 1500
For a safe and healthy journey, talk to the travel doctor: 1300 658 844 or visit
Vaccinations: Tetanus/Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Measles if under 30 years. Malaria is not a threat. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydratiion. Gut problems are common so be prepared – take a medical kit such as The Tour Kit so you can treat travel health problems quickly. Be sure you have plenty of sunscreen and an insect repellent containing DEET. Both can be hard to find out of Australia.

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