Friday, April 5, 2019

Running in Oceania: Tahiti, Papeete to Point Venus

Hi from Tahiti, the first island we visited this week out of the 118 which form the French Polynesia. Volcanic formations scattered over 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers)!
French Polynesia is part of Oceania, so many islands that it is worth showing a map. From California, it's actually quite accessible with several direct flights from San Francisco (United and FrenchBee) or Los Angeles. Actually, its a French Territory which is really far from mainland and French tourists have to make a stop in California.
Tahiti is the main island and home to the international airport. From there you can fly to other islands on Air Tahiti, take a ferry to the close by Moorea, or hop on a cruise.

We stayed for one night in Papeete and I took the opportunity to run 25K on Sunday morning. Best time to run is early in the morning. While the temperature is still in the 90s F (more than 30C), at least you avoid the burning sun if you run before 9 am, preferably starting at dawn, around 6 am.
There are magnificent mountains on Tahiti, culminating at 7,352 ft (2,241 m). While this is tempting from a trail running standpoint, it is so humid that the island is covered with a rain forest so dense that most excursions require a guide. With that, I didn't pick a very original route, just staying on the littoral on Route 2. At least that removes the chance to get lost!
Here is a 1-minute fly over summarizing my round trip to Point Venus, a very special historical place: in 1769, James Cook came to that place to observe the transit of Venus, an event which occurs every 105 to 121 years (see more details in this blog post, or that Wikipedia page).
And a few more pictures, good for another virtual visit, although, from your couch, you will miss the sweat from running in burning temperature and high humidity. Hope you will still consider visiting Tahiti, a taste of France (the language, the signs, the cars) complemented with very friendly and welcoming people (a big change from Metropolitan France...), a layback culture (it helps that France is covering 92% of the French Polynesian budget), amazing sea food (raw fish everywhere) and fruits, and spectacular landscape and snorkeling opportunities.

Sunrise over Papeete's harbor at 6 am
 The Catholic cathedral
A busy market on Sunday morning, opening at 5 am (and closing before 9 am so people can go to church then prepare their family lunch)
 Fish, fish, fish!
 A few of the colors you'll see while snorkeling...
 Sugar cane and coconut-base sweets
 One of the rivers flowing from the mountains
 First beach on the way
 The nearby island of Moorea
 Looking back toward Papeete and Moorea
 A church on the Point Venus peninsula
 Point Venus, looking like the end of the Earth

 Lighthouse description (Tahiti's only lighthouse)
 The Monoi Road

 Mama's Beach House

 Tahara'a view point

Bonus track: we hired a cab to visit the impressive Faarumai waterfall and nearby Arahoho blowhole (25 km from Papeete)

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