If you’re just reading this post, you’ll want to know a few things. My wife and I chose Tahiti for our big trip this year, not for the over-the-water bungalows (because we can’t afford them), but because of it’s tropical beauty that we’d seen in so many photos. And, the flight to this middle-of-nowhere island was going to be as expensive and long as flying to the Caribbean for us flying out of Utah. Easiest decision ever! The plan for this trip was to spend a few days on the island of Tahiti, then spend the remaining week of our trip on the sister island of Moorea.
The beaches of this this island were stunning, to say the least. And easily accessible from nearly anywhere by the 2-lane road that circumnavigates the island in a sort of figure-8 like shape (though it doesn’t connect fully on the easter loop). And we spent our short three days stopping at beach after beach to enjoy not only the calm, blue waters that exist because of the coral reefs, but to see the incredible landscape that seems out of this world. We’d been to Hawaii a few times, and have seen “tropical” mountains, but nothing compares to the scale of these mountains and density of their jungle. And to add to its beauty, there were seemingly endless waterfalls spilling off the landscape.
Not only were the beaches amazing, but the marine and fish life in the water was incredible. We were able to start our second morning off with a snorkel right off the dock of the bungalows we were staying in. We saw new fish that we hadn’t ever seen before in Hawaii or in Thailand, highlighted by a cute little pipe fish (which we found nearly everywhere). But that was not to be outdone by the school of Eagle Rays that swam passed the dock while Courtney was out kayaking. Stunning creatures that look to be effortlessly gliding through the water. Water, mind you, that was so warm, you could easily just walk right in! And that we did, because each of the places we stayed, were right on the water, and we were able to just walk right in to go swim, snorkel, or take out the kayaks whenever we want!
Admittedly, as much as this place seemed like paradise, there were a few downsides. And by downsides, I’m strictly referring to the difficulties of tourism on the island. Sure, maybe the populated capitol city of Papayetee has all the amenities that a tourist could want, but outside of the city, it becomes very primitive, very quickly. Restaurants, only are opened 1-2 hours around each meal (i.e. 7AM-8:30AM for breakfast, 11:30AM-1PM for lunch, and 5PM-7PM for dinner), if opened at all on any given day. This was a bit difficult to navigate throughout our trip, especially when the sun sets at 5:30PM each day, leaving you with little to do most evenings since there aren’t “bars” to go to. And this was compounded by the lack of English being spoken on the island by the locals. Now, I won’t pretend that the world should all be able to speak English and poor me, but in all of my travels, I’ve never had an experience like in Tahiti where a restaurant staff wouldn’t even help figure out a menu or food with me despite not being able to communicate in the same language. In Tahiti, half the time, they expected you to be able to speak French and know what you want, or you would be at a stalemate. Admittedly it was tough, but luckily that wasn’t everywhere.
Despite communication in a foreign country adding to the adventure of traveling, there were plenty of things that required no communication at all. Like the massive roadside waterfall that Courtney and I were able to walk right into the water! The torrent of water coming off the rocks above felt like a firehose, and it was a fantastic way to cool off. Even though it wasn’t “hot”, the low temperature each night was 76F and the highs during the day were in the low 80s. So you were always sweating just a little. But that was no problem, because the winds off the ocean always kept you cool. This only was an issue at night, in our non-air conditioned, shoddily built bungalows that we stayed in the whole trip (same shape, different location). Though we had the bug nets to sleep under, we closed our big doors that opened to the ocean to prevent any animals from crawling into our room or into our bags, which meant we had some plenty hot nights.
The end of our trip, after spending most of it on the island of Moorea, ended in the bustling capital city of Papayetee. Here, felt much more like a major city, with every common amenity that you could hope for. We wandered the streets, went to open air markets where Courtney bought some local pearls, stopped at every bar we saw to grab a drink and stare out at the harbor filled with sailboats, and capped off our night with some questionable street food in the form of a community pot luck it would seem. But what was really amazing, was being able to spend our entire last day at the beach before our 9PM flight home. We sat, for the first time all trip, on one beach for ours on end, and just enjoyed the Tahitian sun baking our pale winter skin, and relishing in the sounds of crashing waves off in the distance.
Hi there, my name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.