The Navigator docked today in Papeete, Tahiti, the capital of French Polynesia. We met in the Seven Seas lounge at 8:30 to go on our first excursion, Discover Tahiti’s West Coast. Marae Arahurahu is the only completely restored ancient temple in Polynesia. The elevated altars, stone tiki figures, and curious red sculptures represent ancestors of influential local families.
The next stop was the Vaipahi botanical gardens, a tropical paradise of exotic vegetation, archaeological relics, and serene ponds. We could have spent hours here, but only had a half hour. We saw as much as we could of the lovely tropical flowers and waterfalls.
Our final stop was the Museum of Tahiti in the little town of Puna’auia. Topics here included natural history, effects of colonization, and the island’s natural wonders. The exhibits provided a better understanding of Tahiti’s past. From the gardens here, we were able to see the island of Moorea and some of Tahiti’s black sand beaches. This indicates a young island, because the black sand is due to volcanic activity. I scooped up some black beach sand into a sandwich bag to bring home. We returned to the pier, ate a quick lunch, and prepared to embark on our afternoon tour, Tahiti Jeep Safari.
Our group consisted of 4 trucks, each seating eight passengers in an open-air section in back. We headed down the east coast, stopping at a few photo stops, before making our way to the Papenoo Valley. We passed cascading waterfalls, tropical vegetation and exotic flowers, such as ginger and hibiscus. Waterfalls were in every direction and far too many to count. It had rained a few hours earlier, so the river was flowing swiftly and a dam had overflowed, so we drove through some spillways that had over a foot of water in them. Mac took some great photos of this. This was an all dirt road with lots of water and ruts, so it was a bumpy ride, but something we never would have done on our own. It was a lot of fun. We returned to the ship just in time for a local performance onboard, O Tahiete E., an award-winning Polynesian dance troupe.
This group was superb, and Mac took photos and some videos. Dancers, male and female, changed costumes several times and danced and chanted in their native language. At one point, they coaxed audience members onto the stage. They recruited Mac, he hesitated, then relented. He couldn’t resist the grass skirts. I tried to get a few pictures of him dancing with a lovely Tahitian maiden. They stayed after their performance to pose for additional pictures and to disembark before we left Papeete at 8PM. What a treat!
On deck tonight was a Polynesian international food market with a wonderful selection of dishes served as we left the harbor of Tahiti and began heading to Bora Bora. That is tomorrow’s port of call.
Yours in travel,
Pat & Mac