I visited Tahiti only briefly a few years ago but I immediately fell in love with it. The scenery is unbelievably pretty and the people are warm and friendly. So when Nicole – a French teacher, travel enthusiast and writer reached out to me about writing a guest post detailing the best of French Polynesia I was thrilled. If you weren’t interesting in going before – you will be after reading this. Merci Nicole!
Although it is spread through over 100 gorgeously shaped islands and atolls, French Polynesia is particularly known for its jewels from Society Islands archipelago – Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea. Heavenly coastal spots made Society Islands so irresistible, but what’s really special and unique here is rich Polynesian culture. Mixture of cultural heritage and tradition permeates every corner of Society Islands, which is why Tahitian journey, apart from paradisiacal beach pleasures, should include plenty of other, culturally featured activities:
Discover interesting things about Tahitians
Before you get a chance to introduce fascinating Polynesian culture locally, it’s not bad to know that the official language in Tahiti is French, but the native Tahitian alphabet has only 13 letters, and since a lot of letters simply don’t exist, don’t be surprised to hear Pora Pora, instead of Bora Bora. What’s even more interesting is that Tahitians are one of the friendliest people on the planet, and as well as men and women, here you can meet “mahu”, men who behave like women.
Watch and learn – divine Tahitian dance
Dance is among the most precious cultural features of French Polynesia, so spending time on Tahiti is great opportunity to attend traditional Tahitian dance called Ote’a and enjoy in exotic rhythms and picturesque dancing costumes. Rhythm and atmosphere is nothing but overwhelming, so I couldn’t resist trying some of the moves, and I would warmly suggest learning Tahitian dance as unique way to feel local spirit.
Get into the tattooing tradition
If there’s a place where you should get tattooed, it’s definitely Tahiti, a genuine cradle of tattoo art and place where almost every second person “wears” stunning tribal designs. Besides, the fact that our word tattoo is actually Polynesian word “tatau” says a lot about pristine tattooing tradition in Tahiti. Apart from colouring your body, it’s cool to attend official Polynesian tattoo festival, “Polynesia Tatau Tattoo Convention” which takes place in Pape’ete and shows amazing tattooing styles.
Visit the Gauguin Museum
Extraordinary aspect of Tahitian lifestyle was captured by Paul Gauguin while he was living on Tahiti, and placed within great Japanese-style Gauguin Museum, set just beside Harrison Smith Botanical Gardens. Museum is great place to see Tahitian tradition through Gauguin’s eyes, since it features plenty of Tahiti oriented exhibitions, documents and his famous artworks’ reproductions, including recognizable Tahitian women paintings.
Explore surrounding islands
Tahiti is certainly paradisiacal Polynesian island, but when I was having my Tahitian holiday, one of the most enjoyable things was exploring neighbouring Tahiti’s islands. There are excellent Tahiti cruises which can take you all the way from magical Moorea, through romantic Bora Bora, to secluded private beaches of picturesque Motu Tapu isle.
Head for Pearl Museum
As region where pearls (especially the black ones) play significant role in art, history, even religion, Tahiti offers comprehensive pearls’ story accompanied with their history and cultivation process. So, don’t hesitate to visit the Pearl Museum, the only world’s museum completely oriented to pearls, or head for Taha’a Island to explore imposing pearl farms.
Enjoyment in vanilla and pineapple farms
Tahiti’s sister island, Moorea is wonderful location where you can, apart from relishing coastal nooks and old Tahitian temples, explore fragrant vanilla plantations and incomparably exotic pineapple farms, which are integral part of authentic Tahitian tradition and economy.
Taste local food
As precious slice of Tahitian tradition and eating habits, local dishes are specific, and must admit, very delicious way to meet Tahitian culture. One of specialties I absolutely recommend is Tahiti’s national dish called poisson cru or ia ota, a combination of red tuna, aromatic lime juice and coconut milk, and as such, amazing reflection of exotic native cuisine.
With so many stunning natural and cultural treasures, Tahiti and her islands are undoubtedly the best possible reflection of paradise we can experience during our lives.
Nicole is passionate about travelling and sharing her experiences. Her favourite book is The Little Prince and this quote: ” It is only with the heart that one can see rightly” . Thank you Nicole!