World Wonders Cruise Diary – Days 11,12 – Tahiti

Cruise days 11,12  – Jan 14,15

Visit Papeete, Tahiti – French Polynesia

Where we are in the South Pacific

Our imminent arrival at Tahiti was initially exciting, when we saw the island from about 30 miles out during our approach.  But the closer we got, the more we could tell this was a very busy place with a large port cargo operation and a crowded and busy city with lots of traffic (we were told during our excursion that there are more cars than people on the island).

Approaching the island

For no particular reason, I’d always had an image in my mind of Tahiti as an exotic and peaceful beautiful place with lots of beaches and huts out over the gorgeous clear water.  It probably has all of those things elsewhere on the island, but we sure didn’t see them 😦
On a better note, we were happy to meet up with new friends Ron and Marilyn for dinner after our evening docking on the first day:
Hanging out with Marilyn and Ron
The next morning prior to our excursion, we had a chance to enjoy a nice swim and hot tub soak in the ship’s outside hot tub and infinity pool.  Located on the 8th deck at the rear of the ship, it was the perfect spot from which to look down on the city.  We had the pool to ourselves since most folks had already left for their excursions, while ours was scheduled for late morning..
After walking a couple miles of laps around the ship’s deck track, we joined the included walking tour excursion to visit the Presidential Palace, Papeete Market, Polynesian Parliament and Notre Dame Cathedral.  We learned that Tahiti is the largest island of the French Polynesians, with the city of Papeete as the capital.  Tourism, black pearls and vanilla are the big industries here.
Yours for $4500!
The excursion took us on a walking tour only through the busy and noisy downtown area.  I had no idea the island holds 180,000 residents!  Had I known that and done more research we definitely would have taken one of the optional excursions that offered a Jeep ride to other, more secluded and unspoiled parts of the island.  Our bad!  To be fair, we did learn quite a bit about the history and culture of the island during our walk.
This mural filled the whole side of a building
On a side note, in addition to the amazing cuisine we’ve been enjoying so far, we’re also happy to report that the ship is picking up local fresh food at each stop and serving it for dinner the same evening.  At Nuku Hiva, we saw fishermen cleaning freshly-caught ahi tuna as we arrived at the dock, and guess what we had for dinner that night?  My goodness, possibly the best ahi I’ve ever had!  Then at Tahiti, we had wahoo fish, the first time for me.  it was delicious as well.
More good news is that I’ve already gained 4 pounds by eating everything in sight.  My back problem has improved enough that I’m going to the gym daily so I can move that new weight to the areas of my body where it belongs – wish me luck!
Goodbye Tahiti

Now we’re hoping for a more quiet and exotic experience at our next stop – Bora Bora!




  1. You aren’t the only one expecting Tahiti to be just those exotic, serene huts out over the crystal clear water! What a surprise. Did you buy MonaLiza a string of those beautiful black pearls? They’d look lovely on her. At least some vanilla then?

  2. I always imagined Tahiti with long stretches of pristine beaches and remote villages, too! Never expected such a bustling city…but the backdrop of mountains is certainly gorgeous. The fresh fish you’re getting sounds delicious. I was just looking back at photos from last winter and we were feasting on oysters and shrimp in Apalachicola with you guys…wow, time goes by so fast. Miss you, glad you’re having such a grand adventure!

    • I’m sure there are still unspoiled and pristine beaches 😦 we were just not able to see it. Me too, FB keeps reminding me of those memories with you in Apalash. Miss you guys too so make sure to pass by Tucson or somewhere there on your way back west next winter.

  3. Those busy ports can sure ruin the view of a beautiful island, but at least they painted the cranes in pretty colors! It’s great that the ship makes good use of local fresh foods, and it looks exquisitely prepared. Nice capture of the real bird pondering that mural! Was there anything to say what the painting meant? To me, it seems to be about climate change (?)

    • You got it right about the message of the mural, it is about endangering those wild animals and climate change. How perceptive! It was their colors that caught my eye and snap it from inside the dining room 🙂

  4. You will love Moorea and Bora Bora. Especially if you do some excursions. The color of the water is amazing and the people are so welcoming. Motu picnics, waterfalls, it goes on and on. The sand is lucious and there are many spots where you can walk for miles in the ocean since the water is so shallow. The pastries are from heaven since they are French. Enjoy!

  5. Guess that makes all of us…dang movies! Never in a million years would I have thought Tahiti was so busy and crowded…more vehicles than people! Fresh fruits and veggies sound really yummy, but the seafood makes my mouth water! Love the picture of the picture of the young lady at the fruit market. Gay

  6. Like everyone else, We had the same idea of what Tahiti would be like. We would have been as shocked as you were. Who knew! Love that the ship backed up to the island and you had pool all to yourselves to overlook the island. Good to hear your back is on the mend.

  7. Steve, you’ve got to be the only one on the ship who’s happy to have gained a bit of weight. Glad your back is starting feeling better. Be careful when the ship is rock’ n’ rollin’ … it can wreak havoc on a sensitive back. Papeete was a disappointment for us as well … not the Tahiti featured in exotic magazines. I think you’ll find that Bora Bora is closer to what is portrayed far and wide … though you’ll need to take a boat excursion to see it.

  8. We visited Moorea and Bora Bora several years back. Fortunately, we’d heard that Tahiti was not what people expect, so we just flew in there, stayed a night, and then moved on to the other islands. If is crazy how built up it is, but I guess it makes sense since it’s the main arrival point for everyone and everything that comes into French Polynesia. I believe there are several of the resort style hotels with the over-water bungalows, but they are far from that busy downtown area. In any case, it’s still cool that you could learn so much and take a dip in the infinity pool while enjoying those city views. Can’t wait to hear about Bora Bora!

    • I think that is what happens when we have high expectations of a place 🙂 We did hear good things about Moorea and wished we had time to tour that island which some people were able to.

  9. Wow, I seem to echo most of the other comments thus far when I say that this isn’t at all what I envision when I think of Tahiti. The architecture is pretty though and I know nothing about the history of the island and now I’m curious. Can’t wait to read about Bora Bora!

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