a two-hour time difference from the west coast of the United
States, Tahiti is light-years away. Born
of volcanic violence, the islands typify an earthly paradise
with unrivaled beaches and lush tropical scenery.
Few other places on earth come so close to
attempts by overly zealous missionaries in the late-1790's
obliterated many sacred maraes (temples) and banned native
rituals and customs, their efforts didn't diminish the
joyous Tahitian spirit and culture. Traditions live on to
the delight of visitors and locals alike.
"Tahiti, where love
lives"—Tahiti Tourisme promotes that slogan and from
the lush green mountains to the crystal clear warm lagoon
waters, the islands are truly romantic and appealing. Their
rhythmic grace is both joyous and tranquil. A
favorite Tahitian expression is Haere Maru—"take it
easy." It isn't difficult to set your internal clock to
Island Time and adopt the local lifestyle. In
no time at all it’s likely that beautiful hand-painted
pareos and crowns of flowers will be de rigueur for female
passengers on your ship.
Tahiti has a well-deserved
reputation for being expensive. Hotels, particularly those
featuring over water bungalows, can run eight hundred
dollars a night and up without meals. Fortunately, the
Tahitian government and the Ministry of Tahiti Tourisme have
made a concerted effort to change all that. The country's
tourism infrastructure is growing and cruise passengers
benefit from improved port facilities and expanding tour
Io ora na (pronounced
yo-rana with hard 'o' and soft 'a') is Tahitian for
"hello" and tentative efforts at using it (and
Mauruuru roa for "thank you") are rewarded with
smiles and nods of approval. French is the official language
and Spanish and English are taught in schools. Although not
learned in school, Tahitian is widely spoken. Many islanders
shyly sharpen their English skills on tourists and helpfully
share local terms for flowers, food, and fish.
Three cruise ships now call
Tahiti home and many others make intermediary South Pacific
itinerary stops in the islands. Exploring a variety of
Tahiti's islands is finally affordable.
With a few exceptions, Tahitian tour guides speak
very good English and go out of their way to answer
questions and provide visitors with information about their
culture and homeland. Make
your objective to see Tahiti on land, in the sea, and from
the air. Chose excursions and activities carefully and you
will be rewarded with amazing sights and experiences.
Know before you go…
is a sacred temple—generally rectangular with a base of
stone. Unfortunately, many temples were dismantled when
missionaries arrived in the islands. Their stones were
sometimes used as the foundations of churches. Many Tahitian
traditions were lost when temple prayer was halted; however,
their oral history was passed along through dance and song.
dot the Tahitian islands, but not the traditional
"plantations" Americans are accustomed to
envisioning. Rather, these coconut, pineapple, and vanilla
plantations are small plots of land—carefully cultivated
and lovingly tended. The nono plant and a variety of crotons
are also grown and prized for their medicinal qualities.
are the small islands found in the encircling coral reefs of
Tahiti’s main islands.
insect repellant are
musts to prevent sunburn and keep Tahiti’s aggressive
insects at bay.
Ports of Call:
on Tahiti with reviews, cruise
line info, tourism links, and more.