Tahiti Travel Guide
Dominated by Mount Orohena (2241m), Aorai (2066), Diadem (1321) and Mount Marau (1493), the volcanic island of Tahiti has long inspired artists and writers with its scenic splendour. A narrow isthmus connects the rugged Tahiti Nui (big Tahiti), with the smaller and equally mountainous Tahiti Iti (little Tahiti). On the northwest coast of Tahiti Nui lies the bustling capital of Papeete
, the political and commercial heart of Tahiti and her islands.
Tahiti's deep green valleys and rugged mountains offer beautiful walks, cascading waterfalls, caves and archaeological sites. The wild coastline on the east coast of Tahiti has dramatic views and long black sand beaches ideal for surfing, while the west coast is known for its peaceful beaches and lagoons. Highlights are the Papenoo Valley, with its waterfalls and rich archaeological sites, and the coastal cliffs at Pari on Tahiti Iti. A single loop road (about 114km) circles Tahiti Nui, connecting the west and east coasts.
Take a travel holiday/vacation to Tahiti and explore this volcanic South Pacific island.Population:
Situated halfway between California (6200km) and Australia (5700) at 17º32' south and 149º34' west Climate:
Sunny and pleasant year-round. Average daytime temperatures are about 26ºC Hot season:
November to March. Rainy season:
Most rain falls during the most humid months from December to February.Cooler season:
April to October. Major attractions:
Paul Gaughin Museum, Harrison W Smith Botanical Garden, Seashell Museum, Mahana Park, Mataoa Gardens, Papenoo Valley, Lake Vaihiria, Arahoho Blowhole, Hitiaa lava tubes, Mt Aorai, Golf, Tahiti Iti, Fishing, Boating, Scubadiving, Surfing Attractions:
- Paul Gauguin Museum
The museum houses original works and reproductions from this famous French artist.
- Harrison W Smith Botanical Garden (Motu Ovini)
Adjacent to the Paul Gaughin Museum, this 137ha tropical garden features hundreds of varieties of trees, flowers, plants and shrubs.
- Museum of Tahiti & The Islands
The museum has one of the Pacific's best collections, with displays of history, culture and art, and a large garden. There are fine examples of tiki and petroglyphs from the Austral and Marquesa groups. It's open 9.30am to 5.30pm, .
- The Belvedere
In the Pirae district, this lookout (600m) is the start of the climb to Mount Aorai, and provides fine views across Papeete and out to Moorea.
- Mount Aorai (2066m)
A 2-day marked track with huts leads up this rugged mountain, providing fine views en route at the Hamuta saddle. From the summit, walkers are rewarded with an expansive vista across Tahiti to Moorea and beyond.
- Taharaa Saddle
In the Arue district on the north coast, the Taharaa cliffs offer views of Papeete and Moorea, and to the east, Matavai Bay.
- Tomb of Pomare V & Royal Family
Beside Matavai Bay, this mausoleum belongs to Tahiti's last monarch (1839-1891). The tomb is built of coral stones in a tower-like shape.
- Point Venus Lighthouse
The first Europeans came ashore at the edge of Matavai Bay in 1767, and Tahiti's only lighthouse was built in 1867 by the people of Mangareva. Today, beautiful Matavai is one of Tahiti's favourite swimming beaches. The public park has tropical gardens, a snack bar and craft stalls.
Enjoy a game at Tahiti's only golf course - the 18-hole Olivier Breaud International Golf Course.
- Marae Sites
There are some fine marae (religious) sites on Tahiti Nui which include Marae Farehape, Marae Anapua and Marae Vaihiria in the central interior, and Marae Arahurahu (PK 22.5), which is used for July's Heiva festival. On Tahiti Iti, there are a series of marae in the valley and the restored Marae Nuutere near Teahupoo.
- Papenoo Valley
A trail crosses the rugged interior of the island, passing through this beautiful valley as far as the Maroto Pass, and emerging at the mouth of the Maroto on Lake Vaihiria. The trail passes the Topatari, Vaiharuru and Puraha waterfalls, and there are impressive marae sites at Anapua and Farehape. A guide is recommended, and there are 4WD tours available.
- Lake Vaihiria
A trail stars beside St Joseph's church at Faaa and leads to this famous natural lake, where legend has it the eels have ears.
- Arahoho Blowhole & Faarumai Waterfalls
This spectacular blowhole is found at Tiarei on the east coast. Beyond the blowhole, the road turns off to the three Faarumai Waterfalls.
- Mahuna Park
This seaside park has a white sand beach, and kayaks and paddle boats for hire.
- Mataoa Gardens
A garden of tropical flowers including orchids, vanilla and birds of paradise, as well as a pineapple plantation. The guided tour includes a fruit tasting.
- Hitiaa Lava Tubes
Situated on the rocky east coast, exploring these underground galleries offers a fascinating experience. A guide is recommended.
- Tahiti Iti
This peninsula is home to ancient archaeological ruins, the towering Pari cliffs and the Vaipoiri cave, with its underground lake. The Taravao Plateau provides sweeping views of the coast and Tahiti Nui.
Tahiti is a major centre for international surfing competitions. The best spots are at Teahupoo on Tahiti Ihi, at Papara or the Taapuna Pass on the west coast (May to November) and Papenoo on the east coast (November to March).
There are some 20 diving spots on Tahiti, including Faaa - an ideal spot for beginners. Others include The Source at Punaauia, and the Arue Fissures on the east coast, with their colourful corals and anemones. Divers can see canyons, caves, red and black corals and masses of coloured fish. Average visibility is 30m.
- Fishing & Boating
The two major boating centres are the Tahiti Yacht Club at Arue and the Taina Marina at Punaauia, which offer charters for fishing and boat trips.