Tahiti And Her Islands (Part One)
Tahiti and her islands cover a huge ocean surface of approximately 4 million square kilometres, which is the same area as Europe. The island of Tahiti is situated half way between California (USA) and Australia, and is five hours flying time from Auckland.
Tahiti’s 118 fabulous islands are scattered across five far-flung archipelagos, each with their own particular character. The Society Islands is a group of tropical islands encircled by coral reefs and lagoons, the main and largest one of which is Tahiti, with Papeete as its administrative capital. The Society Islands group also includes the famous islands of Moorea, the magical island, separated from her sister island Tahiti by only a 17km channel; Huahine, the garden of Eden, a wild island situated 175km northwest of Tahiti; Raiatea and Tahaa, two sacred islands with lush vegetation enclosed in the same lagoon and offering perfect sailing conditions; famous Bora Bora, the romantic island with her breathtaking lagoon and beaches fringed with coconut trees and finally Maupiti, the forgotten island, nestled in a jade lagoon, the smallest and most authentic island of the archipelago. Other archipelagos are the Tuamotu group, a collection of low islands or atolls where it rarely rains which provides a perfect environment for pearl farming. The Marquesas, a group of high islands near the equator, 1500km away from Tahiti, The Austral Archipelago situated far to the south where every year from June to October whales meet in the warm shallow waters and the Gambier Archipelago.
The Faa’a International Airport, built on the lagoon, is about 5km from Papeete on the main island of Tahiti, known as the Queen Island. Downtown, Papeete’s market is a must see featuring a wide range of the areas production from local fish to a rich selection of handicrafts. “Le Marche” as the city market is called, is located one block inland from the waterfront. On the ground floor are many stands with displays of ripe fruits, Tahitian and Chinese vegetables, scented soaps, vanilla beans, cakes, pies and preserves. Catches of brightly coloured fish are brought in from the fishing boats to the market each afternoon. Tahiti is much more than just Papeete. It has majestic valleys sweeping down to the lagoon, restored archeological sites and two sharp peaked volcanic mountains. The peninsula, Tahiti iti, holds some of the most beautiful hiking trails in Polynesia, particularly the hike to the Pari, a totally untouched site and Teahupoo, one of the best surf spots in the world. You can cross Tahiti on foot, with a mountain-bike or four wheel drive vehicle. A single loop roach of 114km connects the wild and rocky east coast with its spectacular black sand beaches and where waves crash to the joy of surfers, to the tamer west coast with its peaceful beaches and lagoons.