Natalie is certainly off the tourist track in Tahiti in search of Papeete’s hidden treasures.
Mention of Tahiti brings to mind a lazy beach holiday, sipping drinks from coconut shells, lying by a sparkling pool.
Well, here is Tahiti with a difference, a way to discover the real Tahiti, the heart of it, off the beaten track.
Tahiti is the largest of the 118 French Polynesian islands and its scenery is magnificently dramatic cascading waterfalls, rippling pools, lush green peaks reaching higher than 2000 metres and a jungle-like interior. The contrast between the coastline of turquoise water and black and white sand beaches is starkly beautiful.
Natura Exploration can show you this part of Tahiti by 4WD. Their excursions give an overall presentation of geography, geology, demography, wildlife, flora (more than 400 types of fern), archaeology and religion in a choice of French, English, Spanish or Portuguese.
Full-day tours go across Tahiti Nui, the larger part of the figure-eight shaped island. You’ll see many waterfalls surrounded by lush tropical forest strewn with basaltic peaks. You’ll see maraes, religious temples of the Tahitians. These are built of stone and have a rectangular courtyard with three or more upright slabs facing a raised platform which were backrests for the gods. A maraes conferred prestige on its owner. Lunch is a picnic at a crater with natural bathing basins. You will also see interesting archaeological ruins.
You then cross a passageway and tunnel and discover the natural Vaihiria, Tahiti’s only real lake, a vast rain reservoir. The river water plunges down the outer wall of the Papenoo crater. It’s thought the original Hawaiians came from the Papenoo Valley. It is surrounded by luxuriant green mountains and banana plantations. The lake is home to Tahiti’s legendary blue-eyed sacred eels.
Half-day discovery tours are for lovers of waterfalls. Your vehicle heads for the heart of the island and climbs a winding road to 1400 metres.
Papeete, on the island of Tahiti
Natura Exploration half-day tours cost around $70 per person. They run from 8.30am to 5pm. Full day tours cost around $110. They operate from 8.30am to 12.30pm or 1.30 to 5.30pm.
Qantas flies daily to Auckland, with connections three times a week codeshare to Papeete operated by Air Tahiti Nui. Return economy airfares to Papeete start at $1373 from Sydney, $1407 from Melbourne, $1428 from Brisbane, $1906 from Adelaide, $2650 from Perth and $2609 from Darwin, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing, but may vary at time of booking.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.
Ph: 689 43 03 83
Fax: 689 43 03 99
GSM: 689 79 31 21www.natura-exploration.com
Ph: (02) 9281 6020, 1300 655 563www.tahiti-tourisme.com.au
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It is recommended travellers to French Polynesia see their doctor at least 6 weeks before departure. Prior to travel, travellers should be ‘in date’ with vaccinations listed on the Australian Immunisation Schedule, as well as vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, tetanus and typhoid fever. Depending on the time of year of travel and exact destination, other health precautions and preventions are recommended and best discussed with your doctor.