Finding Paradise - Tahiti
Author : By Joe Volz - Subject : travel
Is there a traveler who hasn't, at least for a fleeting moment, dreamed of heading off to a sunny South Pacific paradise or of escaping the crowded cares of the world for an idyllic beach? The storied island of Tahiti, 4,200 miles southwest of San Francisco, often comes to mind. It was immortalized in the famous novel "Mutiny on the Bounty," when First Mate Fletcher Christian led a mutiny against the tyrannical Captain Bligh of the HMS Bounty and abandoned ship to live with the beautiful Polynesian women. The lush green volcanic mountains rising from emerald seas must look much the same as the picture that so enchanted Christian and later, writer Herman Melville and artist Paul Gauguin. But one thing has definitely changed—the average tourist can get there quickly and comparatively cheaply. No longer is it so remote that only the wealthy or seamen and beachcombers with unlimited time can visit. An airport accommodating regularly scheduled jumbo jets was built on filled land just 15 minutes from downtown Papeete. A Visit to the Paris of the South Pacific
Papeete is a bustling city of over 100,000 with numerous pleasant restaurants and hotels lining the main street, Boulevard Pomare, along the waterfront. To take in the rest of the island, about 75 miles in circumference, you can rent a car or take a half-day tour. Gauguin, the restless stockbroker, deserted his wife and five children in Paris to run off to the South Seas and spent the rest of his life putting the beauty of Polynesian women on canvas. His mournful portraits of Tahitian women and his writings are preserved in an oceanfront museum 30 miles outside of Papeete. The city itself is alive with the public market, art galleries, museums, a botanical garden and the impressive Cathedral of Papeete.
A word about the climate
Tahiti enjoys a tropical climate with not much difference in temperature throughout the year. The hot season runs from November to March when temperatures are in the high 70s. In the cool season, April to October, temperatures are in the mid 70s. Trade winds minimize the humidity.
The Other Islands Tahiti, totaling 420 square miles, is the largest of the 118 islands that make up French Polynesia. Much of the island is volcanic with its' highest point reaching 7,000 feet. Humans live around the base of the volcanoes. Even the tourist bureau admits that despite the beautiful cobalt beaches, the island doesn't require a visit of more than a few days. There are other islands nearby to sample. I took the ferry to Moorea, which is more rural and also has hotels right on the beautiful blue lagoon, immortalized in the movie of the same name starring Brooke Shields. Bora Bora and Huahine are also peaceful escapes.
Are there day trips from Tahiti?
Moorea only takes an hour or so, but there is no same day ferry service to Bora Bora or Huahine. You will have to go for a few days.
What if I don't speak French?
Everyone speaks English in the hotels and many of the locals have a minimal knowledge of the language.
What outdoor recreational activities exist?
Tahiti, Bora Bora and other islands offer snorkeling, canoeing, windsurfing, bicycling, hiking or just plain lying on the beach.
Is it really paradise?
You bet. The slow pace, and beautiful sunny days, change your entire outlook on life. There is a saying in the South Seas that if you stay more than a few weeks you will never leave.
For official government tourist information
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