Punaauia, Tahiti, French Polynesia – August 9, 2017
The International Dateline makes for a very odd travel companion. I departed Wellington on the afternoon of August 9, a Wednesday. I arrived in Tahiti on the afternoon of August 8, a Tuesday. That meant when I went to work the following morning; it was August 9, a Wednesday; a day I had already lived! I could only think of the movie Groundhog Day. Luckily, I was stuck in paradise, not winter.
From the beach at the hotel, one can easily see the island of Moorea. It makes for some scenic photos. I know I am pushing my luck since I have been fortunate enough to go to Tahiti twice; but, if I ever return, I will make time to explore Moorea.
I completed my work on Friday, but my return flight was not until Sunday morning. That meant I was able to take an island tour on Saturday.
The van picked us up at the hotel around 10:00. The group consisted of me, a woman, and two couples. Our first stop was the Fern Grotto of Maraa. There was a small parking area from which a trail meandered into the jungle. After a relatively short walk, maybe 100 meters, we arrived at the cave. Our guide explained it was an ancient lava tube. It is now about half-full of water and surrounded by ferns.
The next site was a twin waterfall. It was in the jungle, just across from the ocean. It is hard to describe just how dense is the forest. There was a splash of color provided by planters made of stacks of painted tires.
We spent quite a bit of time at the Jardins d’eau de Vaipahi, a botanical garden. There was a gentle, winding trail on which one navigated through the jungle. The wild jungle plants and flowers are numerous. It is difficult to do justice to the sights with the few photographs I took.
After walking through the Jardins d’eau de Vaipahi, I stood near the van to wait for my tour companions. I noticed across the road a small business. It seemed to offer just about any kind of water conveyance one could want. If I had had more time, I would have gone over and talked to the shop keeper. After all, the ouvert (open) sign was out.
We climbed back into the van for a reasonably long drive to the Arahoho Blowhole. This feature is directly on the northern coast of the island. It is an old lava tube, the diameter of which is about two feet. I saw some tourists stand in front of the blowhole. When a wave hit the ocean-side of the blowhole, one could hear a roar in the tube followed by a significant blast of wind. The guide mentioned there are times when tourists get soaked because the wave can make it to the end of the blowhole. I surmise that may be during high tide.
Our final stop was the observation deck at Col du Tahara’a. From the observation deck, one has a great view of the town of Papeete. As with so many sights, the island of Moorea looms in the distance.
In total, the tour covered about 100 kilometers (62 miles) around the edge of Tahiti. The journey took about four hours. When I got back to the hotel, it was time for a refreshing, Tahitian beer!