Oh So Cute Polynesian Hut
Monday March 14 X2.
After a nervous wait in Narita, Japan we boarded our flight to Tahiti. As it turned out our flight was at 4 pm and all flights after 5 pm were cancelled, mostly due to difficulties getting to and from the airport.
Our complete travel time was about 24 hours but we crossed the date line, which is so cool. We left DeArche at 7:15 am Monday March 14, 2011 and drove 1.5 hours where we caught a 2.5 hour flight and had a four hour layover for a 13 hour flight. We landed in Tahiti at 9:05 am Monday March 14, 2011. Yes, so cool.
Trying to stay on budget we caught a local bus to the ferry terminal for Moorea, which is a small island about 20 kms from Tahiti. Once there we caught another local bus to Camping Nelson and our oh so cute Polynesian hut. It took about 5 minutes to realize that all the European hippies of the sixties vacation on Moorea. A couple of about 60, her in a bikini (bottoms only) and him in Hawaiian surf shorts crawled out of a tent nearby and I asked James if that would be us eventually? His answer was I hope so… guess we were in the right place.
View From Our Hut
We dropped our bags and headed to the Moorea Fun Dive to arrange diving the next day. We also took a walk to the “shopping centre” for what I imagine was our first of many, many, many pasta and sauce purchases. We actually thought we might treat ourselves to a dinner out but all the road side huts we could afford closed early, early being 4-5 pm. So we spent a beautiful night sitting on our deck drinking a cold beer and listening to the ocean.
Tuesday March 15. Diving in Moorea was sad and a bit nerve racking. We were taken to Lemon Shark Alley. And yes, that meant it had sharks! Lemon sharks and black tips, and tons of them. Yikes! Sad though because due to Crown of Thorns and a typhoon the year before all the coral surrounding the island was dead. You could tell it was once an amazing, thriving reef. Unfortunately at $266 for 2 dives each we decided not to do anymore.
Wednesday March 16. We decided to take a nice walk to Cook’s Bay (which we found out later was the tiny bay we were diving in front of the day before) for a picnic lunch. The island really is beautiful, and unspoiled. A few mini-markets, gift shops out of people’s houses and small hotels dotted the road.
The Fish That Almost Ate Me
Snorkelling is Scary! We walked to a very private beach just down from our place to do a bit of snorkelling. Just as we came to the edge of a beautiful wall a Titan Trigger fish came at us! Again, and again and again. We didn’t have our fins (long story) so James just kicked at it while I screamed my head off and splashed to safe waters. James tried to assure me that it wouldn’t have really bitten us but about a week later we met a couple that told us the storey of a Titan Trigger Fish biting a chunk out of a guys fin! I say we barely made it out alive!
From Wikipedia… it is the largest species of triggerfish in its range. The titan triggerfish is usually wary of divers and snorkelers, but during the reproduction season the female guards its nest vigorously against any intruders. Although bites are not venomous, the strong teeth can inflict serious injury that may require medical attention.
Night in Mo'Orea
We managed to relax, swim and nap our few days on Moorea away.
Tips on Morrea: It’s a beautiful quiet island. Other than the ferry bus that goes around the island a few times a day (a schedule was posted but not followed by any means) there is no local transportation and cabs are very expensive. It’s about as expensive as Tahiti, with fewer choices in the mini-markets. The ferry runs a few times throughout the day and costs about $15 /person each way and takes about 30 minutes.
Most memorable: Sharks swimming 30 feet out from our beach, crazy tropical storm that shook our hut and the secluded beaches.
Port Area At Night
Friday March 21 Tahiti bound!
We arrived at Teamo Hostel in Papeete, Tahiti and were greeted by dogs & cats and the faint scent of pee. Lovely! We decided to suck it up and save some cash by checking into a mixed dorm (on our anniversary) while in the most expensive place on earth – Tahiti! We were shown to our dreary, smelly dorm that apparently had a man living in a loft over the bathroom. Weird. We weren’t sure but Teamo seemed like a combination hostel and squatter house for older men.
To celebrate our fourth or fifth (anyone?) anniversary we decided to go out for dinner only to discover that Friday night at 6:30 pretty much everything is closed. Papeete really seems to cater to the cruise ships and without one in the docks it was pretty quiet. We ended up with a pizza and beer, perfect!
Black Sand Beach
Saturday March 19. Our first full day in Tahiti we decided to check out the island. And after getting bus information from the creepy hostel owner who seemed in the habit of wearing only a t-shirt over boxers, we headed for the bus. At $4 /person /ride it wasn’t cheap but cheaper than a cab. Waiting for the bus we realized how friendly Tahitians were, all were trying to help us catch our bus. Our first stop (and only as it turns out) was at a black sand beach full of surfers and a short walk to beautiful waterfalls. On the walk we passed friendly kids who were happy to pick me flowers I was smelling.
Back at the beach there was a blow hole and I was totally amused for quite some time watching it grow and swell and almost get me. Also fun to watch were the surfers and body boarders. After our picnic lunch we decided to head to a beach we could swim at and went to stand at the side of the road to catch a bus. What our creepy hotel guy forgot to tell us was that the busses stop running Saturday afternoon and there was no way back other than to hitch hike. So after waiting in the scorching sun for 1.5 hours a fruit seller lady waved us over and told us to try hitch hiking. Within 5 minutes we were picked up by a couple in an air conditioned (yeah!) SUV who smiled and told us there would be no more busses. So we headed back to Papeete.
It would be a shame to miss seeing the island because of bad local transportation so we decided to rent a car and not sure why but we again took bus advice for how to get to the airport from our creepy hostel guy. He was wrong again and after another hour waiting for the airport shuttle to come by we hailed a cab who told us ALL busses stop Saturday afternoon until Monday morning, and ALL busses stop running every day at 6 pm. We wondered how everyone got to the airport for late flights. Our cabbie took pity on us and charged us the daytime rate, $20 (anything after 8 pm was $32) which was still crazy for the 15 minute ride.
The thought of spending one more night let alone two in that dreary, smelly hostel and the fact that we had a car had me asking ever so nicely if we could pack our stuff early the next morning and trying to find something on the other side of the island. James thankfully said yes!
Te Miti Hostel
We checked into Te Miti hostel that is run by a friendly French family. It was walking distance to a public beach and included free breakfast that they offered us a few minutes after we arrived. I must admit that Tahiti has the best baguettes I’ve ever had and even tried to talk James into taking some carry on to Easter Island before we left. He said no, proof I don’t always get my way.
Knowing the busses weren’t running we offered the group around the breakfast table a ride in our direction. Mike and Hannah from Wellington, New Zealand took us up on our offer and we ended up hanging out with them on and off for the next two days. Our new first friends on our year off!
We drove along the south coast and onto Tahiti Iti, until the road ended at Teahupoo/Hava’e Pass. Mike told us about the big wave and the best way to see it was by boat about 1.5 km out past the barrier reef. We tried a few places but couldn’t find a boat to hire, we were told we were too late and they all were out. We stopped at a Marae Arahurahu Temple and Maraa Grotto on the way home which I think meant we had now seen almost all of the islands sights.
Back at the hostel we decided to go for a snorkel at the nearby beach. Still a little shaken up by the killer Titan Trigger fish we stayed in shallow water and I drove James nuts trying to hold his hand.
The next day we dropped Mike & Hannah off at a beach so he could do some surfing and we went for a beautiful hike. Tahiti is absolutely beautiful, the waters crystal blue and on this side of the island almost all of the shore is undeveloped. A very different feel from the busy port town of Papeete.
We decided on one last swim before heading back for groceries and our luggage. I wasn’t use to the strong undertow and had a hard time getting past it. The waves were breaking a few feet from shore and James was trying to coax me in. I made it but only for a few minutes. The huge swells freaked me out and as I tried to swim/walk to shore the waves broke and knocked me down. The undertow didn’t actually suck me out to sea like I thought, but dragged me a few feet backwards over the rocks filling my bathing suit shorts with them and pulling my top off. Good thing it was a deserted beach.
A few hours later me, James, Mike, Hannah and all our packs were squeezed into our tiny rented Renault Twingo and headed for the airport. Them to the USA and us to Easter Island. I don’t know if I’d ever seen James so excited.
Tips on Tahiti: It’s very expensive so if on a budget try to find a place with kitchen facilities and bring some basics with you. Although a bit expensive (about $100/day) renting a car is really the only way to see the island. They charge by the 24 hours so we arranged it that we dropped it off right before we had to check in for our flight, saving the $20-$32 taxi to the airport. If you have a car staying in a family run hostel, pension, hotel outside Papeete is much better than budget anything in Papeete. We think even the McDonalds was the most expensive we’d ever seen (no, we didn’t eat there). A Big Mac “set” was about $11.
Most memorable: Black sand beaches, crystal clear blue waters, friendly locals, crusty baguettes, waiting for busses, Polynesian Tattoos and hibiscus flowers bigger than my head.