Tahiti: 05.09. - 14.09.2006

Route: Tahiti, Bora Bora, Mo'orea, Tahiti

Distance: 185 Km

Preface: French Polynesia, with Tahiti as the biggest island, contains 118 islands and has a seize of only 3500 Km². Most of the Islands are pretty hilly and every flat piece of land is used; so bushcamping is nearly impossible without anoying the locals. Most of the islands are sourrounded by a reef and so most islands have a beautiful lagoon (no waves). Especially the amazing blue lagoons of Bora Bora and Morea are definetely worth a visit, even if French Polynesia is one of the most expensive holiday destinations in the world. SORRY FOR THE POOR ENGLISH, BUT I HAD TO EXCHANGE MY ENGLISH DICTIONARY INTO A SPANISH DICTIONRAY AND HERE IN SOUTHAMERICA I ALSO CAN΄T MAKE A SPELLING CHECK!
 
Welcoming ceremony: Straight after the customs the great welcoming ceremony: music and flowers! No friends and no prebooked hotel expected me at the airport, and so I got only a single flower instead of a whole bunch.
 
The history of French Polynesia: Though quite remote in the middle of the South Pacific, French Polynesia looks back to a quite interesting history. Islands like Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti were first discovered from the Polynesians between 200 BC and 400 AD. 1520 AD the Spanish came with Ferdinand Magellan and 1615 AD the Dutch, buth both just saw some very remote islands. Finally 1767/68 AD, the Brittish and the French first discovered Tahiti. Between 1769 and 1779 the famous James Cook came, dicovered most of the islands and missed just some bits and pieces. In 1772 the Spanish came to to proclaim the islands although they were already proclaimed from France and Great Britain. 1787 the famous Munity on the Bounty happend on an english ship. When the Brittish brougth some protestant priests to Polynesia, Christianety started to spread through the islands. Later, the French brought some catholic missionaries. When finally two French Missionaries were captured and deported in 1842 by the British, a French Admiral came an took over. Nothing happened during WWI but during WWII the Americans needed a base in the South Pacific, after the attack on Pearl Habour, and arived with 5000 soldiers on Bora Bora. Here the soldiers built a road (32 km long!) and an airport (the first airport of French Polynesia until 1961). 1946 French Polynesia  became officially an Overseas Republic of France, and 1958 65% of the Polynesians voted, that they would like to be connected with France. 1966 France started some nuclear testing on the atolls Moruroa and Fangataufga. After strong international protests, after the Greenpeace ship "Rainbow Warrior" was sunk from the French Secret Service in Auckland Habour, and after even more international protests France finally stopped the tests 1995. Unfortunately the two atolls have some cracks, and so some radioactivity may come into the Pacific!
 
Expensive Paradise: I thought New Zealand was already expensive, but compared with French Polynesia it's a cheap heaven. Within my first 16 hours (while having slept 9 of them) I had spend already 75,- €. Just for a night in a very simple dormitory in Papeete (I never saw such a simple dormitory in Asia) I had to pay already 20,- €. If the biblical paradise was also as expensive as Tahiti, then Adam and Eve didn't have to leave becaus they ate from the forbidden tree, but because they ran out of money after a couple of weeks.
 
Cargo boat Vaeanu: Though the biggest island of French Polynesia, Tahiti is not paticulary beauytifull or interesting (no lovely beaches or good snorkelling), and so I booked a passage on the cargo boat Vaeanu to Bora Bora. Bora Bora is about 270 Km northwest of Tahiti, and it took the boat nearly 20 hours to get there. After a lovely sunset the sea became quite rough during the night, but calmed down the next morning.
 
Bora Bora: Bora Bora was created after a volcano exploded about three to four million years ago. The ocean came over the crater rim and created an absolutely beautiful blue lagoon.The crater rim still sourounds the island either as small islands (motu) or just below the surface of the water. Thanks to the crater rim, all waves breake already there instead of at the beach, whrere the water is calm and has this this amazing blue color. Due to the absence of plankton, the water is cristal clear.
 
Loverly beaches on Bora Bora: Thaks to the lagoon, the mild warm climate throughout the year, some lovely beaches, the abundant green vegetation and the volcanic peak, Bora Bora is one of the top destinations in the world for diving, snorkelling and relaxing. No wonder, that there are quite a couple of very expensive hotels, where you can easily spent 450,- € to 1000,- € for one night in a small bungalow. Activities are of course not included. Even the cheapest hostels charge from 65,- € onward for a simple dobble room. These prices are of course far beyond my budget, and so I decided the first night to sleep under the stars. On the second day I went to a very basic campground for 10,- € per day in the rough backyard of a local family. I shared the kitchen and the bathroom with the family and this gave me the chance to experience at least a little bit the simple live of the normal Polynesians.
 
Coconut (Bora Bora): It would be a pity to visit French Polynesia, where coconuts fall straight to your feet, without collecting your own coconut. On a remote beach where many coconuts were just laying on the groud I found one which was not yet eaten from the crabs. But the most difficult thing to come to the nut is not to crack the sell, but to remove the thick green/brown layer around the shell. It took me 15 minutes, throwing the coconut onto a big stone to finally remove the green/brown layer. But the delicious taste of the fresh, by hand opened coconut was well worth the effort!!!!
 
Coconut Crab (Bora Bora): Yeah, you read right! There are crabs in French Polynesia, who have choosen coconuts for their main diet. May be you lough now, but if you step into one of these big crabs, you won't; they are sometimes huge! One of these crabs was living straight next to my tent and on the next morning it had pulled one of my tent ropes into it's hole.
 
Dancing performance (Bora Bora): On my last evening, I was lucky to see a polyneisna dancing performance in one of the lurury hotels (the shows are for free and everybody, even cyclists, are welcome). When the first missionaries came to Polynesia, they were pretty shocked when the woman were singing indecend songs and were dancing also quite indecent. Of course everything was forbidden immediately in "the name of god"! Only nearly half a century later under Queen Pomare IV singing and dancing was allowed again, if it was only a little bit indecent.
 
The boat trip back: On my way back the cargo boat Vaeanu deprated already at 8am, and so we were crusing the whole day from island to island delivering and picking up some cargo. Like the Polynesinan travellers I also had booked "deck class", which ment that we had to sit and sleep on the wooden floor. While I spent most of the time outside, enjoying the beautiful islands, the Polynesians were sleeping all the time. On each island, we're welcome by a big crowd, waiting for the delivery of their goods. As soon as on of the containers was an the ground, the locals came and everybody picked what was supposed to be for him. Nobody controlled any shipping documents. But this system seems to work, because nobody claimed, that something was missing and there was also never anything left on the dock.
 
Mo'orea: After returning form Bora Bora to Tahiti at 1am, I spent a quite uncomfortable night on a bench in a park, until the first ferry to Mo'orea left at 6am. After only 1 hour, the ferry arrived on Mo'orea, but because the most beautiful beaches and snorkelling areas are on the opposite site of this beautiful island, I had to cycle 30 Km on a flat road half around it to Haru Point. This was the best costal road on the entire trip: flat, very good paved, nearly no traffic and great landscape!
 
Rays (Mo'orea): I found an affordable campgroud, pitched my tent under a small coconut palm, and went straight into the beautiful lagoon. I snorkeled to Motu Fareone, a small island just a couple of hundred meters off the coast. Snorkelling was not really exiting and also the beach on the island was nothing special. I was just about to leave, when I saw a gliding shaddow in the shallow water. There, just a few meters from the beach, was a huge ray gliding straight towars a tourist group. Instead of swimming away from the tourists, the ray now started to swim around them. Just when I decided to join the tourists, another even bigger ray (over 1m in diameter without the tail) came. Together with the other tourists, I was lying with my head under the water while the two ray were just crusing around and below us. A couple of times the bigger ray was gliding just a few centimeters underneth me. After the rays seemed to be very comfortable with us, I finally decided to touch the slippery skin of the bigger ray, which didn't seem to bother him at all. Finally I got a bit annoyed from the other tourists who started to tease the ray (one man tried to get pulled by the ray)and so I left the scene. On my way home I encountered many more rays, but none of them was as "tame" as the first two.
 
Underwater world on Mo'orea: Thanks to the cristall clear water and the lagoon, it is even possible to observe the underwater world without a mask and a snorkel while just walking through the water. Perfect for making some photos, though the coulors are not the very best.
 
Munity on the Bounty: The famous munity on the Bounty happend somewhere in French Polynesia and was already filmed three times. The third movie, with Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson was shot here in the Cook's Bay on Mo'orea in the 80's.
 
Paul Gaugin: The 1948 born painter Paul Gaugin spent his childhood in Peru. Later he became a marineofficer and later a stock broker in Paris, where he started to paint landscapes. After a big crash of the stock market in 1882 he finished his career as a stock broker, left his wife and his child and concentrated totally on painting. Gaugin and his way of painting weren't understood at that time and so he left Paris for Tahiti. After he went back to Paris in 1893, because he had no more money, he finally returned to Polynesia in 1895. Until his death in 1903 Gaugin lived on the small and remote island of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas. The photo is the copy of a "Gaugin painting" made from a good friend of mine.
 
Flowers: Thanks to the warm climate you can find everywhere in French Polynesia the most beautiful flowers. Traditionally many woman or even man wear a flower in the hair or behind the ear.

 

Tahiti, Bora Bora and Mo'orea for under 20,- € per day

French Polynesia is very expensive, but if you are already there, thanks to a stopover of your airplane, it's well worth to explore the South Pazific for a couple of days, and it's still posible without a mortgage. I spent 160,- € for 9 days, visiting Bora Bora and Mo'orea (and even went to the internet for 9,- €). Although very famous, Tahiti, is not the Pazific Paradise with white beaches and turquais blue water. Tahiti is the biggest island of French Polynesia and therefor the economical and political center. If you would like to see the beauty of French Polynesia, it makes sence to leave Pape'ete as soons as possible, and to explore islands like Bora Bora and Mo'orea. The cheapest way to do so is by boat. While Mo'orea is well seviced by passanger ferries, you have to take a cargo boat to Bora Bora. I have no idea about the cost for transport on the islands, beause I travelled by bicycle, but the le trucks are not to expesive. Restaurants are expensive and so selfcatering can save quite you a lot of money (baguettes are cheap at around 50,- CFP). The hostel and the two campgrounds following later have a kitchen. You may get a free guidebooklet with nice maps for the islands from the Tourist Information (I saw some of the guides in the campgrounds, and there they used the short versions of the names (CF, F, ...) for the places of interest and accomodation)


Curreny: CFP: 1,- € = 119,- CFP (fixed exchange rate with €) (1190,- CFP = 10,- €)

TAHITI, PAPE'ETE:
Accomodation: Chez Fifi  (CF): Tel.: 826330  2300,- CFP p.Pers. in dormitory
Small hostel straight across the airport. Just cross the carpark, turn right and walk until the end of it. On the other side of the main road is a small road going uphill. Follow this road for about 100m and you'll find the hostel on your left side.
Shopping: Supermarche Campingon on main road from airpirt to the city center. Market in city center
Ferryboat to Bora Bora:
The Cargo Vessel VAEANU sails to Borao Bora (Papeete - Huahine, Raita, Tahaan, Bora Bora). The trip takes around 19 hours and you can sleep on the the wooden deck. (no seats, or restaurant, but toilet and a shower).
Departure Papeete:             Monday, Wednesday, Friday all at 5pm
Departure Bora Bora:          Tuesday, Thursday in the afternoon, and Sunday at 8am
Costs about:                        2200,- CFP p.Pers. and 700,- CFP for a bike, (one way)
Office and Terminal in Papeete on Motu Uta (le truck no. 3 from town hall). Terminal on Bora Bora  (F). I took the Sunday morning boat back to Papeete which was really great, because I sailed the whole day through the islands (Huahine, Raita, Tahaan, Bora Bora), an experience many people have to pay a lot of money for. The only disadvantage is, that you then arrive in the middle of the night in Papeete.
Ferryboats to Moorea: The Ferryboats to Mo'orea leave many times a day from about 6am to about 5pm. The trip takes 30mins to 1h depending on the boat. Costs about: 900,- CFP p.Pers. and around 100,- CFP for the bike, (one way). The ferry terminal in Pape'ete is close to the tourist information.

BORA BORA:
World famous Lagoon Island with nice beaches. I especially enjoyed the great color of the water! Beautiful public beach with amazing blue water just west of Matira Point (MP). Nice Beach with some Palms (for shade) in the same bay but on the side towards Hotel Bora Bora at Raitihi Point., (RP). Quite good snorkeling here.
Some Hotels have dancing performances and you can see then if you buy a drink at the bar.
Accomodation: Camping Ado (I hope this was the name) (CA), a very basic camping place in Anau on the east coast of Bora Bora 1000,- CFP p.Pers. You can borrow one of their bikes for free (at least that's what a French guy did. I don't know if they always give you the bike for free)

MO'OREA:
Mo'orea is also a beautiful island, although the colour of the water is not as amazing as around Bora Bora. On the north coast is the beautiful Cooks Bay (CB), where the movie"Munity on the Bounty" was filmed. I went to Hauru Point (HP) in the northwest of Mo'orea. The area is good for snorkeling and you can swim to Motu Fareaone (MF), a nice island just a couple of hundred meters offshore (watch the current!!!). There are huge big rays around. Some of them are nearly tame and come to investigate you, which was a great experience for me. Look for moving "shadows" in the shallow sandy waters.
Accomodation: Camping Chez Nelson (CCN): well maintained with nice kitchen. 1200,- CFP p.Pers. straight on the beach! They also have dorm beds, rooms and bungalows but I don't know the prices.

 

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