Nov. 1, 2022

French Polynesia Part 2 - Tahiti

Join Chris Coleman as he and his wife head back into the world of cruising.
In this episode, The Ovation of the Seas is now in French Polynesia. For Day 2, Chris visits Tahiti and it’s capital Papeete. You may want to move after listening to this...

Join Chris Coleman as he and his wife head back into the world of cruising.
In this episode, The Ovation of the Seas is now in French Polynesia. For Day 2, Chris visits Tahiti and it’s capital Papeete. You may want to move after listening to this episode. The island life beckons.
Travel First S02E09
French Polynesia Part 2 - Tahiti
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Travel First S02E09 - Tahiti - AI Transcript

Alex: Well, travel first again, and we're talking about the wee small hours in the morning for Chris Coleman. He's sitting there with a smirk on his face, and obviously, he's been to some far flung island somewhere. Chris, very good morning to you. How are you, sir? Greetings.

Chris: Uh, Alex. I'm very, very well, and today we're going to talk about Tahiti. Tahiti is an island, and the capital of the island is Papa EATI. And it was our second port of call in French Polynesia on board the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship ovation of the season. We're doing this all via Voom, the fastest Internet at sea. Now, have you ever been to French Polynesia?

Alex: I don't know whether I have. So far, none of the places you've spoken with me about I have had any knowledge of other than Tahiti. And black sand is what I remember. I don't know why I remember that. But black sand is kind of like eating a blue banana, isn't it?

Chris: Well, uh, black sand is basically volcanic sand. Sand that is formed off the slopes of volcanoes. Uh, when the black volcanic rock gets to the beach and gets pounded away over time, it becomes sand. I'll show you a picture of some black sand. I'll weep it later on, but it's a little bit about Papaidi and Tahiti. Now, if you're on a cruise ship that's going to docket at Papaiti, remember, you're coming in at a working port. So it's not exactly the most beautiful part of the island that you're going to arrive in. To start with, uh, and around island tour generally start at about $50. US. Will go up. They do take us? Currency. They don't generally take Australian currency. There are some places that will take credit cards. There are some that won't. It's a bit.

Alex: 50, uh, dollars for how many hours?

Chris: That's about 4 hours to get all the way around the island of Tahiti. Ah, now, that also very much depends on the vehicle, the size of the group, the number of places they're going to stop at. There's, uh, a few other variables that will come into play there. We made five on our way around the island. Uh, about 114 do the Circumference of Tahiti NUI. I'll explain the difference between Tahiti NUI and Tahiti ITI in a few minutes. But, uh, it's 140 KS around there, and the island itself is home to about just short of 200,000 people. Almost all of them live on the rim. Very few people live, uh, on the volcanic peaks or the volcanic slopes. So tahiti. NUI is big. Tahiti, it's a bigger island. And then down here there's a smaller island than they are connected by Ismith, which is a very good word to say. The, uh, Taravale Ismith, in fact, and, uh, for people who are sports fans, the Paris Olympics in 2024 will not just be confined to continental Europe. The surfing will take place at Tahiti ITI in the South Pacific, which I think is absolutely fabulous.

Alex: Terrific. How do they make a living? What is the major industry?

Chris: Tourism.

Alex: Fishing. Hard from tourism. Fishing, fishing.

Chris: Uh, uh, there are some tropical fruits and transport, uh, industries in there, but it is largely tourism.

Alex: So there are new ships coming in daily or how often the ships come in.

Chris: Uh, it's not really the cruise ships, it's more people flying into the resorts. So there's resorts on various islands dotted around through French Polynesia, a couple hundred islands of French Polynesia, some of them inhabited, some of them uninhabited. But, uh, if, uh, you fly in, you've got to come in to Papi, to Tahiti itself, and then you change flights and go on in smaller planes to smaller islands around the place.

Alex: Makes sense. Um, so tell me about some of those. Like, I mean, you'll put some photos up there so we can talk about some of those, but what did you actually see that really took your breath away?

Chris: Uh, the main sites I'm glad you asked, Alice. Let's go to the Point Venus lighthouse, first of all. Now, the Point Venus lighthouse, as you're probably guessing, has something to do with the planet Venus, was actually, uh, set up at the site where Captain Cook, uh, came to to observe the transit of the planet Venus in front of the sun in 1769. Now, what's the big deal about that? Well, the planet Venus only goes in front of the sun. It goes past, and then about ten years later, it goes past again, and then it's 200 years or so until it does it again. So Cook was on, uh, an expedition to the South Pacific to do that before he came to Australia. So, 1769, uh, he landed at what is now called Point Venus. Um, by the way, William blind Moored. The bounty there in 1788. That was his last port of call before the 1789, uh, mutiny as well. But this is the lighthouse. This is the lighthouse. Uh, there was the first lighthouse. Yeah. I don't know the architectural style. I'm not big on architectural styles, but I can tell you that the planes were drawn up by the father of the author, Robert Louis Stevenson.

Alex: Okay?

Chris: Uh, so there's some trivia for you. Trivia with that one.

Alex: I'm speaking to you. I've just been to a, uh, show called, well, it's called Dance X, and it's part two and one of the 60, uh, five minute piece. The last piece was quite powerful, and it was an indigenous troupe that was talking about exactly his Captain Cook, and of course, the invasion of Australia. Right. So it's ironic that we're talking about this, and it was really very, very well done because there were musical instruments as well as dance, and it, well, not surprisingly, received a standing ovation. So it's ironic we're talking about Captain Cook, but it was hey, I know this is not a theater spot, but we talk about all sorts of things. So there you go. Dancer, he's on now in Melbourne. And this is part two and part three we're seeing on Friday night. So there we go. Okay, let's keep going.

Chris: We'll keep going. So the lighthouse dev. It's, uh, still the only one on Tahiti, by the way. And another piece about it in World War II, the locals disguised it so the Japanese couldn't find it by painting coconut trees on it. There you go. Um, now we went clockwise around the island from Papaidi. So that's on the outskirts of Papaidi. And by the way, I mentioned the bounty. We should probably show this. That's the memorial to the Asians bounty as, uh well so uh, that uh, is at the side as well. That's actually a rock with some faces on it and all the crew names are listed on the other side. That's uh, about 50 meters from the lighthouse. But we went clockwise around the island and a little bit further around the island. It's a relatively short trek to the aho, blow hole. Now unfortunately, the tide, as you can see in the picture, was very low.

Alex: Yes.

Chris: Because the tide was low, the blowhole was only blowing air. Blowing air doesn't make great photos, so I didn't take a photo of that. But this small but beautiful black sand beach was one of the most stunning we saw on our circumstance.

Alex: When you say stunning, I hate to disagree. It's black sand and rocks. Where's the beauty in that? Uh, I want to see pristine beaches, like surface I want to see surface paradise. White, beautiful powder sand. I've met my wife, goes my wife.

Chris: There is nobody on that beach, Alex.

Alex: Well, okay, so that's nice, but I mean, apart from that, it's not exactly an expansive sand. There's a lot of rock and a little bit of sand.

Chris: I didn't say it was an expansive, pristine it was stunning.

Alex: Okay, good. I'm pleased. Uh, it looks like a bit of black sand and a few rocks. That's it. Okay. And a bit of greenery in the background.

Chris: And the greenery itself, it comes right down to the edge of the beach. So, uh, it is like you are lost ah, in uh, an island paradise. There are very few signs of civilization around the beach.

Alex: Nice.

Chris: The waves roll in and it's very hard to capture in a still. But the uh, waves roll in and they seem to sort of bubble away a little bit more on the black sand on their way down.

Alex: Where's the blow hole, by the way? I mean, we're talking between some greenery or where is that, uh, the blow.

Chris: Hole from where I took that photo? The blowholes are about 50 meters behind. Okay. Uh, it is very close to that. But like I said, the tide was low. We didn't get to the water shooting out of the blow hole. It was like an air cannon. It's a rush of high pressure air that make a loud warmth. M. Uh, at higher tides, the water can travel several meters out of that and it can, uh, drink the unsuspecting traveler as well. So that's something to look out for. You wants some other stunning scenery. This is a couple of kilometers further out.

Alex: Um, no. Okay. That is funny. Ah, I like it. Big waterfall down rocks and green. That's very nice. Yeah. Got it.

Chris: If I get this right, by the way, there are waterfalls virtually all the way around the lower reaches of Mount Orahena, which is the peak at the center of Tahitiui. Now this is let's see if I can get this right. This is one of three waterfalls. They are the farmei, the Ha a Marre ITI and the Raji waterfalls. They're in about a 15 minutes walk of each other. And uh, no, I can't remember which one this is, but uh, they are all equally stunning.

Alex: This one I loved is this.

Chris: That would be I reckon that's a good 40, 45 meters from the top.

Alex: Okay.

Chris: And it uh, was very hard to get a photograph of it because it doesn't fit in the camera. I had to turn to the panoramic setting and do that by hand and go out a couple of times. But uh, yeah, that is absolutely beautiful. That uh they're all within a short walk of each other. That would be a great place to stop and have lunch and, uh, have a feed if you wanted to, uh, as you're continuing your way around the island. The other side that we saw and this was truly bizarre this is on the southwestern corner of Tahiti NUI. It's the Mara art grotto. I'm not sure whether you can pick this up in the imagery here, but first of all, it just looks like a cave with a bit of water in it.

Alex: Unimpressive, I've got to say to you, much, uh, less impressive than the photograph. Artillery with a little bit of sand.

Chris: Tell me what's outside now, if my arrow is now showing up for you.

Alex: Yeah.

Chris: Around here you can see some little droplets on little marks on the water. This cave, it rains inside this cave. It rains 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to the point that the water goes back hundreds and hundreds of feet into, uh, the underground. There are subcaves down there, it is assumed, but it is very, very cold. It is very, very dark. That's actually a timed exposure. That's about a four second time to exposure because it is so dark in that cave, or it was so dark at the time we went that that was the only way to capture it was with that. But that water is very, very cold. But it is fresh water. It's the wettest part of the island in the southwest, which is where the prevailing winds come from. So the water falls on the surface up the top, it seeps down through the rock and generates rain inside the cave, falling down into there. So that's some of the sites you'll see on the way around Tahiti, uh, island. And by the way, that's the ship, um, which I'm going to make that big.

Alex: Wow, that's a big ship.

Chris: There we go. Um, uh.

Alex: That'S docked at, uh, your little point where your cabin is exclusive.

Chris: I'm up here somewhere.

Alex: Yeah, very nice.

Chris: I might be somewhere.

Alex: Very good. Okay, so in terms, we talked about the new ship that the cruise company is going to introduce next year, icon of the Seas. The icon of the seas. And we're at the moment on the ovation of the seas. So the difference in percentage terms, how much bigger is the icon of the seas compared to the ovation of the seas?

Chris: So, Ovation of the Seas has 15 decks. Icon M will go up several more. So I think it's about 17 full decks and a couple of pastoral decks, uh, to make it up to 20. And it will be only about, I think it's only about eight or 9 meters longer, because they're reaching the point where if they go much bigger, they can't actually sit into harbours. You can't go much longer or wider because you add length and you at birth. Uh, you also have the ship that needs to sit lower in the water. So, uh, if the ship is lower in the water, there are harbors that it can't get into.

Alex: It makes sense. I've got to ask you another question.

Chris: Yes.

Alex: Family destination or more singles couples? What are we looking at?

Chris: It's the kind of place, and I think I said there's about Maria as well, it's the kind of place you'd go to get away from it all. The, uh, resorts are really the key attraction for Tahiti. Also for more, also for Bora Bora.

Alex: Or mainly for families. What would you say?

Chris: I wouldn't take kids. I wouldn't take kids there because they're going to get very bored. But if you're the kind of person who can happily go to somewhere and sit and, say, digest a good book as the sun goes down, with a nice bottle of bubbly nearby, eat fresh seafood for dinner every night, uh, and enjoy warm, humid weather eleven months of the year, it's going to be perfect for you. There are resorts done and around the island, the city itself, it's a true mixed bag. It's a combination of France and the South Pacific cultures, the local cafes, some of the food that we saw, some of the food that I may have slightly, um, overindulged. No, it was Paris. It wasn't the South Pacific. It was Paris. There were cream cakes that was half the size of my head. Um, it was just croissants baguettes. And you asked about the industries before, too. There are cattle, uh, on some of the islands uh, they're not there for meat. They're there for dairy purposes. And the butter and the creams absolutely delicious.

Alex: All right, I think it's time for you to go, I reckon. We've enjoyed this Travel First edition, and we'll keep on talking to Chris. Chris Coleman has been with us, and, uh, he's on a 19 day cruise aboard the Ovation of the Seas. And we'll hear more on, um, the next edition.

Chris: You'll be listening to travel first available at Apple podcast casts. Google Podcasts spotify Ihave Radio or your favorite podcast player. You can also stream on This has been another quality podcast production from

Chris ColemanProfile Photo

Chris Coleman

Storyteller, sports fan, traveller, foodie!

Chris is a storyteller who spent more than 35 years on radio, and increasingly in the online world, with occasional excursions into TV and print. Outside of his family, Chris’s two biggest loves are sport and travel - and he can’t get enough of either of them.

After a few years away from travelogues, Chris will periodically join Alex First to share his travel adventures and experiences both within Australia and overseas.