We shopped the first morning at the local Papeete Market about 2 blocks from the ship. There are several banks near the ship, and the exchange rate is better than you will get from local shops. The market was typical of what you find in many cities, and covers a whole block. Vendors were selling fish, fruit, vegetables, baskets, flowers, jewelry, and all sorts of souvenirs. They were even selling chilled coconuts that they sold with a straw to drink out the coconut milk through one of the "eyes". It's a great place to check out the local produce. I bought a bouquet of flowers to put in my room. The bouquet included ginger, birds of paradise, and some greenery. The 500 Central Pacific Francs (CFP) were certainly worth it! It was less than $5 U.S. dollars, and the flowers stayed fresh the entire cruise.
In the afternoon, we did the four-hour Renaissance "Circle Island Tour". We were on an air conditioned touring bus, and drove the 70 miles around the island clockwise from the ship. Our guide was originally from California, but had lived in Tahiti for over 50 years. He was full of stories about the history, politics, and educational system of the island, and provided a tourist map of Tahiti to each of us. We stopped at several interesting places, including "One Tree" Hill, Venus Point, the Arohoho Blowhole, and the Maraa Grotto. The skies were gray and it rained intermittently the entire afternoon. Fortunately, it did not rain at any of our stops--just while we were riding! There were bathrooms available at most stops, and there was an "official" bathroom/refreshment stop at a small store near the isthmus between the two parts of the island.
"One Tree" Hill was so-named by Captain Cook because of a lone atae tree on the point. The views back towards Papeete were wonderful, even through the clouds. There was a lighthouse to see at Venus Point which is a popular swimming spot for locals due to the gently sloping black sand beach. The foul weather caused the blow hole to be particularly impressive. The waves would pound into the hole on one side of the highway, and a resulting huge gust of wind would erupt with a large roar about 100 feet down the road on the other side! One of our shipmates stood next to it for a photo opportunity. When the wind gushed out it scared us all, and knocked her sunglasses right off her face and down the highway about 15 feet. Her husband almost got run over by a car trying to retrieve the glasses before they were run over! I sure hope the photo turned out as fun as the "real thing" was.
The Maraa Grotto reminded me of the fern grottos on Kauai. The fresh water in the grotto was very shallow. The guide told us that the cave was much larger than what we could see. Local children used the pool as a swimming and bathing hole. The gardens surrounding the grotto were lovely. I always forget how spectacular tropical flowers can be until I get an opportunity to see them first hand.
We returned to the ship after an enjoyable, educational afternoon. We ate dinner in the Club Restaurant and retired early, looking forward to our 4x4 trip the next day.
Author's Note: Although Renaissance Cruises stopped operating and filed for bankruptcy in September 2001, you can still cruise Tahiti and French Polynesia either as a stopover on a Transpacific cruise or on the Paul Gauguin.
Page 3 > > Another Day on Tahiti - Jeep Trip to Backcountry > >