After New Zealand, we went on to Tahiti.
Tahiti must be one of the most romantic names in the world. Wonderful sandy beaches, topless girls wearing nothing more than grass skirts, balmy sun, wonderful weather and probably Gaugin himself at his easel, creating another wonderful work of art. But what is it really like?
Tahiti tends to be the name for a whole group of islands of which it is the largest and certainly the main one — it has the International airport. Bora Bora is said to be the most beautiful, but it is over 100 miles away. Thus most people who go to Tahiti tend to stay on the island of Moorea which is only half an hour by boat.
Tahiti itself is essentially a port town that is rapidly improving itself to make it into a holiday destination by itself.
We spent the first day on Tahiti itself, in the capital town of Papeete, so I show a few shots of Papeete itself, and then take a quick look round the Museum.
This is the central square of Papeete, as seen from the boat crossing over to Moorea, with the hills rising in the background.
Tahiti, like most of the Pacific Islands, is essentially an extinct volcano.
The cathedral of Papeete, the cathedral of Notre Dame.
Like all the other churches, it is gaily coloured, and with a very distinctive spire
One of the great attractions of the town is the Central Market, ablaze with the colour of the fruit and flowers displayed here.
And this is one of the great views from Papeete, the view of Moorea, the island where we were to spend the rest of our stay.
The museum of Tahiti and the Isles
I wanted to visit the museum, the Museum of Tahiti and the Islands, but unfortunately this is not in Papeete itself, but about 10 miles outside the town, in the village of Puna’Auia. We were told that the best way to get there was by bus: it is always an adventure to take a bus in a strange country and so it proved, but when we got there, we discovered a very modern museum, set in a beautiful park sloping down to the sea
The museum incorporates an art gallery, set on three sides of a tropical garden.
This is one of my favourite photos – I am rather proud of it.
It shows a model of a sailing ship in silhouette and then looks across the gardens of the museum to the sea, and then, dimly in the distance, one can just make out the island of Moorea.
The Museum is in three sections beginning with geology and natural history then the archaeology of the pre-European cultures and finally the European era.
The highlight of the archaeology section are the statues. Most of them were of wood and have not survived, but this is one of the rare ones of stone.
The statues have interesting analogies with the Easter Island statues or rather show a parallel development of the Polynesian tradition.
And here is another statue of a seated figure on top of a long pole.
Necklaces are a great feature of Polynesian tradition and even today visitors are often presented with a necklace – see photo of me on Easter Island
This is a very elaborate ceremonial necklace with lots of teeth
Captain Cook’s anchor
When Captain Cook was visiting Tahiti, a storm blew up on 16 August 1773, and they had to cut the anchor to save the ship. Three anchors were lost from the Adventure, but in January 1970, the filmmaker David Lean came to Tahiti to make a film, and he organised a search for the anchor. This one was discovered by a diver, and was brought up and conserved, and now forms the centrepiece of the entrance to the museum.
After Tahiti, we went on to Mo’orea – click here to follow us to Mo’orea