Sandyb: Finding Cultural And Art Treasures In Tahiti

Manava Suite Resort - Photo by Sandyb

Manava Suite Resort - Photo by Sandyb

Exploring the Islands of Tahiti started in Papeete, looking for some of the key arts and cultural spots. We arrived via Air Tahiti Nui, a very comfortable flight with very modern equipment to not only watch some movies but also learning about the Islands of Tahiti. Its a very peaceful 5 hours from Auckland for me. Tahiti is the largest of the Islands and boasts waterfalls, lagoons, extinct volcanoes and a huge variety of festivals and are cultural destinations. We made it our aim, with the help of Tahiti tourisme to find some of the well known as well as lesser known spots.


1 Manava Suite Resort Tahiti

BP 2851 PUNAVAI, PUNA'AUIA 98703, FRENCH POLYNESIA

What an amazing place to arrive at when our midnight flight got in, we could not wait to see what was on offer in the morning as the night exploration showed us how tantalizingly close to the infinity pool we were. It turned out we were also right on the waters edge with the Island of Moorea just across the way making for stunning sunrise photos. The infinity pool was the perfect place for a swim up cocktail after a busy day which included a little snorkeling right off the pools edge. The view at any time was amazing. The rooms are really luxurious with a kitchen, sitting area as well as separate sleeping space, free wifi and a private deck - what more could you ask for

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

2 Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands

PUNA'AUIA, FRENCH POLYNESIA

We happened to visit the museum while the Tiki exhibition was on, pretty great timing! The real treat for us though was getting an opportunity to speak with one of the senior staff at the Culture and Heritage Authority who was able to give us a really important understanding of the importance of the Tiki to the Polynesian people. These Tiki are created and continue to live with the energy of the person who created them. For a Polynesian person they can not touch them as they will get the energy and it may be good or it may be bad. For our host coming into the display with the Tiki was a difficult thing to do as the energy from them called to her constantly. For us, not of this this place, we were able to enjoy a much more peaceful visit but could still feel the energy in this special place. 

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

 Va'a - Outrigger Canoe session

BOULEVARD DE LA REINE POMARE IV, IMMEUBLE PAOFAI - BP 4527, PAPEETE 98713, FRENCH POLYNESIA

The waterfront around Papeete is beautiful with palm trees and the blue water of the harbor. Our activity this morning was to head out on an outrigger canoe with a team of men that are in training for the Hawaiki Nui Va’a race. The race happens over 3 days in October from Huahine to Raiatea then onto Taha’a and finishing in Bora Bora, with over 100 canoes competing. We are not too sure we helped their practice as the pace had to slow a bit for us but taking a dip in the blue blue deep sea out in the harbor was a real treat. You can hire canoes from the waterfront to head out yourselves but we enjoyed having someone do the heavy lifting.

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

4 Papeete Market

BP4588, PAPEETE 98713, FRENCH POLYNESIA

Le Marché, as known locally, or to the tourists Papeete Market is situated in the heart of the city just a block back from the waterfront. The sights, sounds and smells of authentic Polynesian life are all on offer here in the form of food, local produce and art. If you are a shopaholic you will love it but even if not pop in and see what is on offer, chat to the local friendly stall holders and enjoy a short while out of the beating sun. All around the market is an array of stalls and some awesome street art. If you are driving don't attempt to park close by unless you are really talented at parallel parking.

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

5 Tikahiri tattoo shop

BOULEVARD DE LA REINE PŌMARE IV, PAPEETE, ÎLES DU VENT, FRENCH POLYNESIA

Tattoo's are way more than an art form or decoration in Tahiti they are heavily ingrained in the culture of Tahitian people. The word Tattoo original comes from the polynesian work 'tatau' meaning 'from the gods'. Speaking with one of the few female tattoo artists, and the only one practicing in a tattoo shop in Papeete, we were treated to a true insight into this art. Every tattoo tells a story and the way in which the tattoos are put together continues the story. A book of symbols and meanings is the tattoo artists bible so don't just come in asking for any old thing that takes your fancy as it may well not be appropriate for you. The artist in part becomes counselor as they help ensure the tattoo is going to be right for you. The pictures of the artist below show a tattoo for precision which she has on her right hand to ensure she always does a perfect job.

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

6 Street art in Pape'ete

PAPE'ETE, FRENCH POLYNESIA

We had just missed in later October a big street art festival. Actually one thing about the Islands of Tahiti is that there is always a festival just finished or about to start - it is a very celebratory place. While the festival had finished we really enjoyed spotting the street art all around the town and when possible we tried to stop and photograph it. Many were jaw dropping in how intricate and beautiful they were especially the bold and distinctive colors. In nearly all instances the longer you looked at a piece of art the more detail and intricacy you can see in it. The Tiki I suppose is not strictly speaking street art as it adorned the tattoo wall inside the shop.

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

7 Café Maeva

PAPE'ETE, FRENCH POLYNESIA

When your at the markets or just wandering around town and looking for something delicious and refreshing then pop upstairs at the Papeete Market to level 2 for a break. Our first visit was to get one of the delicious and fresh fruit smoothies but we were so impressed we came back from lunch. Be warned this is a popular cafe, with good reason, so they do get very busy. Because of time constraints we went for a takeaway salad. The fish salad I choose was divine with many yummy flavors and was eaten in one of the many shelters along the water front - great setting for a delicious lunch.

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

8 CENTRE DES METIERS D’ART

AVENUE DU RÉGENT PARAITA, PAPEETE, ÎLES DU VENT, FRENCH POLYNESIA

Going to visit the local school of art in Papeete was a real treat the staff were incredibly friendly and informative and while we spoke very little french they did extremely well with English. The school is very welcoming of visitors and often has an exhibition on which is free to go and see and changes regularly. As a New Zealander there was a really interesting connection with Hamilton in New Zealand about a shared art experience held every few years. They teach contemporary art but also help students to understand where Polynesian art comes from and what are its roots. We were also treated to a visit to the classroom to see the students during a lesson.

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

9 Les Roulottes Tahiti

BOULEVARD DE LA REINE POMARE IV, PAPEETE, ÎLES DU VENT, FRENCH POLYNESIA

If you don't know where to eat while in Tahiti head on down to the waterfront and try out the food trucks better know as Les Roulottes. There is no end of choices but fish is pretty high on the list for things worth trying and its probably good if you know you fish as well as the selection in vast. The Roulottes set up in the Vaiete square in Papeete everyday around 6pm each day and provide a very authentic experience of Tahitian dining. There are certainly favorites among them and as a crowd we chose a few different ones but those that went for fish from L'Estanco were among the happiest. The meals are large so you won't go away hungry and a wander around the waterfront afterwards is a perfect way to round off a day.

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

10 Maison De La Culture

BOULEVARD POMARE 646 98713,, BOULEVARD DE LA REINE PŌMARE IV, PAPEETE, FRENCH POLYNESIA

One thing not to miss while on the Islands of Tahiti is a cultural show. For this visit we did not go to see the polished show but instead were treated to a back stage experience to watch a hugely talented group prepare for their part in the Hura Tapairu 2016 event. This event, held in early December, was created for a place of creation and expression beyond the limitations of the traditional but also within the scope of Tahitian dancing . To see this fairly recently formed group rehearse was a rare treat and to see the work and dedication of these dancers and story tellers was something quite special. This group had come together under the talented eye of a very experienced choreographer who very patiently explained the process of entering the competition and relaying the story they were performing.

Photo by Sandyb

Photo by Sandyb

Credits: Sandyb