Tahiti , French Polynesia
Tahiti is the most populous island in French Polynesia. It covers 1,045 sq km (403.5 sq mi) and has a population of 180,000 (2011 estimate). About 69% of the population of French Polynesia live on Tahiti. The capital of French Polynesia, Papeete, is also in Tahiti, as is its only international airport, the Faa’a International Airport.
Tahiti was originally known as Otaheite. It has been inhabited as early as AD 300 by Polynesian people who arrived there after traveling on outrigger canoes for thousands of miles. Anthropologists believe that early Tahitians came from islands in the western Pacific Ocean such as
The first European to have sighted Tahiti was Captain Samuel Wallis, who reported a laid-backed people living on the island. Wallis was followed a year later by French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, who was sailing around the world. When Captain James Cook arrived in Tahiti in 1769-70, he observed that Tahitians were grouped under chiefdoms based on family ties. He saw sacred sites called marae where the Tahitians worshipped their gods.
The Viceroy of Peru Manuel de Amat y Juniet attempted to make Tahiti a Spanish colony. His expedition, with a secondary purpose of converting the natives to Catholicism was cut short by King Charles III of Spain who was following a policy of secularism. Meanwhile a homegrown dynasty headed by King Pomare I was established in 1788, eventually controlling the lands that today form the French Polynesia.
Naturalist Charles Darwin visited Tahiti in 1835, and wrote about how impressed he was with the conduct and character of the natives – but not of Tahiti’s monarch, Queen Pomare IV. The island was also home to famous French painter Paul Gauguin, and result of which a Gauguin museum is now located in Tahiti.
Tahiti became a French overseas territory in 1946. The Tahitians were granted French citizenship. Then in 2003, French Polynesia was made a French overseas community.
Tahiti experiences a tropical climate. The temperature is quite uniform throughout the year, averaging 27°C (80°F) while the sea temperature is aorund 26°C (79°F). The winter months are from May to October, when the temperature may be slightly cooler and drier.
Visiting Tahiti, French Polynesia
The Faa’a International Airport (PPT) is near the capital, Papeete. It receives flights from Paris, Auckland, Los Angeles and New York City, among others.
Tahiti has a bare-bone public transport provided by its open-air buses. Do not expect high comfort, but then again, it’s also inexpensive. Most rides will cost you less than US$2. You can also rent a car to drive around for about US$100 per day.
Places of Interest in Tahiti, French Polynesia
- Arahoho blowhole
- Arahurahu Marae
- Gauguin Museum
- Le Marché
- Les Trois Cascades
- Pointe Venus Lighthouse
- Tomb of King Pomare V
Major towns in Tahiti
- Papeete – capital