Tahiti! Adventures in Paradise starring Gardner McKay as Adam Troy! Oh yes, I remember it well. Perhaps that TV show lit the fire under my wanderlust!
In 1996, my family and I traveled to Australia to bring home my daughter who was doing her semester abroad in Sydney. On our way home from Australia, we had decided to break up the trip with a few days in Tahiti, since it is located halfway between Australia and California. Your mind brings up beautiful images when you think of Tahiti, Queen of the Pacific. The capital City of Papeete means “water basket”. Natives brought their calabashes here to fill them with fresh water. Sadly, in years past, the capital city wasn’t too pretty. But now it boasts world-class resorts, spas, fine dining and unique restaurants, nightclubs, vibrant markets, pearl shops, and boutiques. Get out to one of the beautiful resorts and your dreams will come true. Craggy mountain tops, deep valleys, clear streams, and high waterfalls, are all bathed in green iridescence of Mother Nature’s light.
Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia, part of the Society Archipelago. November to April is the wet season, of which the wettest month is January and August being the driest. The average temperature ranges between 70 and 88 °F, with little seasonal variation. Perfect, no?
The first Tahitians arrived from Western Polynesia sometime around 1000 CE after a long migration from South East Asia or Indonesia, via the Fijian, Samoan and Tongan Archipelagos. This hypothesis of an emigration from Southeast Asia is supported by a range of linguistic, biological and archaeological evidence. For example, the languages of Fiji and Polynesia all belong to the same sub-group, Fijian–Polynesian, which itself forms part of the great family of the Austronesian languages. This emigration, across several hundred miles of ocean, was done by using outrigger canoes that were up to twenty or thirty meters long and could transport families as well as domestic animals.
In the 1790s, whalers began landing at Tahiti during their fishing expeditions in the southern hemisphere. The arrival of these whalers, who were subsequently joined by merchants coming from the penal colonies in Australia, marked the first major overturning of traditional Tahitian society. The crews introduced alcohol, arms and infectious diseases to the island, and encouraged prostitution, which brought with it venereal disease. These commercial interactions with westerners had catastrophic consequences for the Tahitian population, which shrank rapidly, ravaged by diseases and other cultural factors.
Here, in Tahiti, you’ll find it all. From paragliding to beach combing to embracing the laid-back island lifestyle, The Islands of Tahiti are packed with a mix of tropical adventure and blissful relaxation. Stay in overwater bungalows to experience true island living while you’re here. Or go snorkeling to get up close and personal with the local wildlife. If you’re feeling even more daring, take a trip to swim with the sharks! Shop for cultured pearls, take a cruise, play a few rounds of golf, enjoy a motu picnic with the family – there’s so much to do in The Islands of Tahiti that you’ll never want to leave.
And most spectacular of all, the jet black sand against the turquoise blue water is stunning and paints a lovely picture of serenity. Be prepared for the ladies to be topless at the pool and / or beach. I guess I should say, men, because while you are surreptitiously eyeing those women, there’s no accounting for what your wives will do in retaliation.
Moorea is close enough to explore being only twenty minutes away by jet ferry.
As my family of four boarded a very full bus to take in the sights of Moorea and its breathtaking sandy beaches, our seats were scattered. I sat next to a handsome gentleman and we chatted for an hour on the bus. It seems his wife and I were both celebrating our 50th birthdays. He’d rented a private island and had the dinner and entertainment catered there for her celebration! As the bus pulled up to his resort, he invited us to join him, and we did! Moorea is a breathtaking spot with beautiful soft sand beaches and tranquil water lapping at the shore. Palm trees stretch to the water as if to kiss the gentle waves…its definitely an “Ahhh” moment.
One of the most incredible places to stay is in the over water bungalows. Watch the fish swim by while in your own hut.
Chatting over lunch, he asked when we were returning to the States. I laughed saying our plane left at the ungodly hour of 3:00 am from Papeete to Los Angeles. Imagine my surprise when he said he was also on that flight! In fact, he was the captain!!! And, he asked if I’d like to sit with him, upfront in the cockpit!! My YES resounded off the mountains!
When we arrived at the airport, the airline staff said “We’ve been waiting for you!” and escorted me to a special staircase that lead from the tarmac to the cockpit. My friend greeted me at the top of the stairs and gave me the grand tour, including the bedrooms on board!!!! I took my seat behind him and the stewardess said I wasn’t allowed to touch him during take off. What! You mean I can touch him after take off? LOL The take off was totally incredible and as we were soaring up, he said I should stand up and look out the window!! What?? I said, “The seat belt light is on!” I obeyed and saw the most incredible display of phosphorescent coral in sparkling oranges, greens, pinks, and blues. I never saw such a thing before in my life.
As a trivia question, I here insert a challenge for you, my readers. Where can you see phosphorescent coral in the Caribbean? Email your answer to MLCipriano@aol.com.