Destination: Tahiti, French Polynesia
Date: July 2013
Visiting Tahiti was very anticipated by our crew, especially those dying to get to the beach this summer. The only problem with visiting French Polynesia was the long, long, very long flight it takes to get there. After an eight and a half hour flight from LAX we arrived in Papeete, Tahiti. We had a memorable flight because we had a chance to fly down with about fifteen missionaries from our church who were recently out of the Missionary Training Center in Provo Utah and starting their eighteen month/two year mission in Tahiti. It was a sweet experience watching them make their last phone calls home to their families. I couldn’t keep my eyes dry watching that!
After arriving at 7:30pm (12:30 am our time) we were finally in Tahiti! We were greeted by my sister “K” and her husband “M”. We rented our two usual rental cars and headed over to the Le Meridian hotel to enjoy one last night of internet before we began our two week adventure on “K” and “M”’s boat The Amara.
Our first real day on Tahiti we did everything we could possibly fit into one day. We wanted to see the entire island and tried to do almost all Tahiti had to offer. Our first stop was the Maraa Grotto. This park is located right off the coastal highway and offers beautiful paths from one cave grotto to the next. Its free, its a great activity for kids but it doesn’t take long to enjoy this beautiful sight.
Next on our adventure day trip was the Jardins Botaniques, the Botanical Gardens. Another easy place to take kids because it has lots of space for the kids to run around and enjoy the beauty of this 147 acre retreat. However it is just a garden which isn’t the most fun for children, but is a beautiful sight. My kids found the palm tree outstreched over the water to be a great place to catch a snapshot. They also enjoyed the large live turtles on display.
Continuing on our tour around the island we stopped at Faarumai Waterfalls. These waterfalls are beautiful to look at but we were unable to swim there due to new island rules at this public park. The walk into the falls is easy and the view is beautiful. There is a polynesian fable how the falls came into existence which adds to the intrigue. We stopped, hiked in, and enjoyed them, took a few pics and headed out for our next stop.
My kids favorite sight on the island was the Arahoho blow hole that was created on the side of the highway from a road that has now been closed and deteriorated a bit from the surf. My kids couldn’t stop giggling when we would stand on top of the blow hole and wait for the waves to crash in and the hole would blow sending air streaming up their faces and blowing their clothing straight into the air. Close to this blow hole is an exotic black and silver sand beach which is also great for pictures or enjoying a day in the sun.
Continuing around the coastal highway we stopped and bought some groceries to enjoy a picnic on the beach. It was a small food fare of sandwiches, chips, and a drink but the kids loved the laid back lifestyle of just grabbing some food and enjoying the island lifestyle.
The last part of our day was meeting my brother-in-laws friend “J” and his two sons “H” and “M”. They all wanted to show us everything Tahiti has to offer and so they took us deep into the Papeeno Valley to the center of the island. We met at “J”’s house and loaded our family into the back of his opened back Range Rover and headed out. Two hours, over very rough terrain, we finally arrived at a natural water slide deep in the mountain. We had to hike about twenty minutes up a very rigorous trail and made it to our private water slide.
I was a little nervous when I saw what we were expected to do. There was about a twelve foot slide with an eight foot drop into a natural pool of water. I didn’t realized what we were going to do until I watched “J”’s boys “H” and “M” jump right in and fly down this natural slide. The rock was smooth enough to give us an almost pain free ride but it still was on a rock so there wasn’t much cushion when the rock made a natural curve! The kids were ecstatic having this “Indiana Jones” type experience riding the natural slides in the mountains of Tahiti.
We lingered at our pool of water and let the kids swim and enjoy the slide about four or five times each. They even dared me to do it and I couldn’t say no to this once in a lifetime experience. I rode the slide down only to find that I had to use a rope to pull myself up the rock back to my family at the top. Luckily all six of the kids were able to do it too and they loved every minute.
The best part of the day was watching Clay bond with the two boys “H” & “M”. A friendship was made even though Clay doesn’t speak any French and the boys didn’t speak Englsih. At first their conversations were quiet and shy but soon with the commonality of American Pop music they were all soon singing Justin Beiber and Psy songs. Soon Clay was sitting on the roof of the Range Rover all for the three hour ride back to “J”’s house singing at the top of his lungs with “H” and “M”. With some hand motions, and lots of physical comedy the boys were communicating and their friendship was solid. As we drove away from their house that night Clay hung himself out the rental car window hollering “Aurvior aurvoir!” These moments are my favorite part about traveling with my kids.
All in all it was a great day on the island of Tahiti. Our next adventure of the day was getting the kids fed dinner at the Marina Taina, and then onto “K&M”’s boat. It was a magical day on a beautiful island and one that I will never forget!
Safe and Happy Travels!!