Off the Tourist Trail – The Islands of Tahiti
4 May 2018, 3:18PM
You’d be forgiven if The Islands of Tahiti isn’t the first destination to spring to mind when considering your next solo adventure holiday. And whilst the mention of Tahiti conjures up images of beyond-blue lagoons, pristine beaches, and overwater bungalows, there’s a little-known side to the islands that makes for a very different kind of holiday – the adventurous kind.
Beyond the luxury resorts and well-known holiday hotspots of Bora Bora and Moorea, the more remote islands offer largely unknown experiences – many of which are perfect for adventure travellers. From hiking to camping to cave tours and adrenaline sports, adventure certainly awaits in paradise.
Regardless of your final destination, your Tahitian adventure will commence on the main island of Tahiti. What many people don’t know about the mainland is that its lesser known little sister – Tahiti Iti - is part of the island, and offers an abundance of adventure. “Little Tahiti” requires some effort to get to and is only accessible by boat or foot, but once there, a truly authentic taste of Tahitian culture and rugged landscapes begging to be explored await those who put in the effort to get there. The smaller loop is where you’ll find traditional Polynesian villages, archaeological sites, pristine beaches, and caves. You’ll likely need a guide to help you make your way into some of the sites and caves that are well known to locals, but which tourists rarely find.
Across the pristine waters on the mystical island of Nuku Hiva, a lush rainforest offers adventure of a different kind. Hiking through the dense landscape, you’ll often encounter wild horses, boars and goats roaming, and with the highest waterfall in The Islands of Tahiti, the looming cliffs look out onto the vast ocean, and you’ll likely spot the pod of melon-headed dolphins that live closely to the coast. For the thrill seekers, Nuku Hiva also makes for incredible diving. Dive with the manta rays, jack fish, swordfish and sharks of various species and sizes that are all just off the shores of the black sandy beaches. There are a variety of organised dives and tours that are perfect for solo travellers or groups of adventurers.
Activity-based adventures also abound on the tropical Eden of Tubuai. Boasting truly stunning waters and constant winds, Tubuai makes the perfect destination for water activities. The low-lying mountains also promise plenty of hiking routes, which are perfect for those wanting an easier start into their adventure holidays.
For the truly adventurous, the option of diving into the open sea to swim with the world’s biggest animals may appeal. Rurutu, the island of whales, offers exquisite views from both land and water and between August and October it becomes home to families of humpback whales. One of few places in the world that swimming with humpback whales is possible, this breathtaking experience is not for the feint hearted, but promises memories to last a lifetime. On land, the island itself has a landscape great for hiking that allows more seasoned hikers to traverse majestic peaks and view archaeological sites including limestone caves that were originally tombs for islander’s ancestors.
If cultural adventure is more your thing, September brings with it a traditional tattoo festival that enables you to leave with permanent memories of the inked variety!
Regardless of your preferred style of adventure, The Islands of Tahiti also has a range of accommodation often considered better suited to the solo adventure traveller than a luxury resort. Guesthouses in particular provide an authentic island stay experience, and are a perfect option for a solo traveller. Usually traditional Polynesian fare are found in locations that are not yet too well known, and therefore are very scenic, so staying in this style of accommodation not only opens the door to authentic Tahitian hospitality, but also parts of the islands that you may not otherwise venture to.
Staying in a small family-run guesthouse is an opportunity for total immersion in the daily life of a Polynesian family, and in addition to the home-stay-style accommodation, hosts provide the opportunity to share, see, understand, feel and experience life in the islands as if you were a family member returning home. Examples of shared activities include fishing in the lagoon with your hosts; discovering local products and cuisine, or hiking the mountains with the family’s children in search of waterfalls and pools to swim in.
The welcoming and spontaneous warmth of a Polynesian family synonymous with a guesthouse stay is a unique experience that combines tourism in search of authenticity with friendliness, quiet and intimacy, discovery and open space. Staying in a guesthouse is also a way to play a role in safeguarding and protecting local heritage and the environment.
For those who want to get even closer to nature, pitching a tent in Tahiti is also an option. It’s not well known that you can camp in locations across the Islands of Tahiti – but it’s a great opportunity to really experience the feeling of being embraced by Mana.
The following campsites are available:
- Moorea : Camping Nelson, Mark’s place Moorea
- Huahine : Pension Armelle Fare Te Nahe Toe Toa
- Raiatea : Pension Te Maeva
- Maupiti : Pension Auira
- Rangiroa : Chez Nanua, Rangiroa Lodge
- Fakarava : Relais Marama
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