Tahiti: Make a pause! A capital Stopover.
Above the fact that the Icon has lost her pristine beauty, the largest island of the archipelago deserves a real Stop. Indeed, the Empress-Tahiti reveals her secrets to curious & indulgent minds only! 😉
The most famous & iconic island advertised by all travel agencies and touristic guides has somewhat lost its lustre, let’s admit it ! … I’m greeted by a concrete jungle in a general mayhem that reminds me suddenly a Monday morning in Paris! Travel agencies are still insisting on promoting “Tahiti-Bora-Moorea” as the only trio of islands worth visiting… Well, I’m afraid this jaded claim just no longer applies; and by touting Tahiti as “The Dream destination” …the trusting tourists only end up seeing their dream shattered!
From the naive one (who had pictured a traditional native greeting complete with flowers and loincloths!) to the idealist globetrotter on the verge of jumping onto the first ferry over to Moorea [with the hope that it will live up to ones unfulfilled expectations] there’s just one small step! (straight off the pontoon!;)
Yet one could say the ever-globalisation and industrialisation of Tahiti, with Papeete permanently shedding its skin, like a frantic snake, is the natural progression of our modern planet. After all, who would have the audacity and credulity to imagine a Tahiti frozen in the past? Ridiculous! In 2018, the universal motto is more than clear: “TIME IS MONEY”!
Despite the fact that its iconic image has taken a blow and its intrinsic beauty is gradually fading, Tahiti still has a certain charm for those who take the time to delve under its surface.
As the French writer Marcel Proust wisely said: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new sights, but in looking with new eyes”… and that certainly an advice to keep in mind when we reach this island : to keep an open curious mind free of any preconceived ideas.
My second recommendation would be to encourage you to read (or maybe read again!) Philippe Delerm’s book: “The first sip of beer and other small pleasures” because its in the little things in life that one finds true happiness.
A pint of Hinano with a plate of raw fish; to lay one’s sarong on the VAIAVA beach and take sip of fresh fruit juice; to enjoy a piece of vanilla pie (Tahitian vanilla, of course!) while smiling to the “Ia orana!” of the locals; to get amazed by the myriad of tropical fishes; to admire mind-blowing sceneries and sunsets over Moorea – this large yellow lizard– (* the current Tahitian name of Moorea comes from mo’o: lizard and rea: yellow); to climb to the mountains of Aora’i and Marau; to laze on its volcanic beaches; to walk through the local markets and restore our five senses; to immerse oneself in its essences and fragrances; to be lucky enough to spot the whales which have come to give birth on Tahiti’s shores; to actually afford a bouquet of “birds of Paradise” (5 for 8 euros the bunch VS 30 euros the flower in Paris)
And for those who remain disgruntled and impervious to Tahiti’s hidden charms, there is always one last possibility… to head South and embrace the charms of the Taiarapu peninsula, a hidden gem still untouched by the attack of concrete.
I would like to say that despite Tahiti “just not being what it used to be!” (that same old criticism rehashed in every corner of the planet!) we have to stay objective and honest in admitting that the mere fact of simply being here is a blessing in itself! Indeed, when you’ll be on the plane back home, you will rapidly bite your tongue at ever having criticized [and even cursed] beloved Tahiti!
*Accommodation: I encourage you to browse through the various offers available on the “TAHITI REVA DREAMS RENTAL” website, a real leader in the market, offering outstanding services, catering for all budgets, in carefully selected locations.
I myself had the privilege of staying in the “VAHINERIA” villa, located on the Punaauia beach. This superb house directly overlooks the lagoon, features a breathtaking terrace and a gorgeously lush garden. Its modern, sleek yet comfortable furnishing and prime location immediately inspired me the 3 words that compose the Essence of Baudelaire’s poem “Invitation to a journey“: “Luxury, Peace and Pleasure”.