Tahiti’s hidden gems are different to discover on the mainland

10:00 am, August 26, 2022

Of course, there are lagoons. Their endless turquoise green, flawless-looking sharks, rays and red fish are clearly visible through the crystal clear water. There are also constant waves of the ocean that splash the coral, much to the delight of surfers. Coconut trees, sails, traditional dances, the smell of tiare… When you land in Tahiti after twenty-four hours of travel, it is important to feel at the end of the world to take care of their reputation: prestige.

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According to the legend of Terehe, Tahiti was created from a giant fish, which became the big fish “Tahiti Nui”, which became an island with the help of the gods. However, its beauty cannot be limited to its most famous characters – coconut trees, ukulele and women – or its most touristic “activities” – laziness, diving and honeymoon. Other Polynesian treasures are revealed when you cut the card: “Fountains and palm trees are on all the islands of the worldsaid the politician Alexandre Juster. Unlike most people, Polynesians wear their hearts on their sleeves. »

Three of the less well-known islands than Tahiti and Bora Bora are worth a trip to see another aspect of this continent, which is one of the five Polynesian islands (including the Marquesas, Gambier, Austral and Tuamotu), spreading over a region. as big as Europe.

Steal – Queen Vanila

Separated from Raiatea by a 5 kilometer lagoon, the beautiful Tahaa and volcano can only be reached by boat, 40 minutes by easy drive from Tahiti. In addition to the filming of the Koh-Lanta show, hosted in two of its motus (coral islets) in 2021, Tahaa is also the island where the Tahitian language is most widespread: 93% of its 5,000 people who have mastered him. . In fact and tradition, the island is as good for swimming with black sharks and rays as it is for lunch on one of the paradisiacal motu that surrounds it: white sand, coconuts and sparkling water to welcome small groups of Robinsons, such as the exclusive island of Mahaea, for lunch in the middle of town, made with grilled fish, tuna in ceviche with coconut milk, sweet potato, taro, tarua (root) and different fruits.

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Gourmets will not leave without taking care of the local vanilla, which is considered the best in the world, before Madagascar or Reunion. From the same family as the orchid, the plant requires all the attention: it takes three years to give its first flowers. They only live for four hours and must be “married” by human hands with pollen so that their stems give birth to the famous flowers, nine months later. So, in Vallée de la Vanille, to the east of Tahaa, you can buy some pods that can be kept up to two years under the pit and up to twenty years if you irrigate them in an agricultural rum bottle, kept in a cool place. from the sun.

Raiatea – “Sacred” Land.

For some Polynesians, this island of 13,000 inhabitants is the source of Polynesian culture and the place where its population comes together. There is no real beach, it is in the middle of the “polynesian triangle”, an area of ​​land enclosed by small islands, between Hawaii, Easter Island and New Zealand. The ancient Maohie culture (not to be confused with New Zealand Maori) is said to have inhabited this region before spreading to the Pacific. Being a religious, intellectual, cultural and political crossroads, Raiatea is called sacred because it houses the remains of Taputapuatea, a 6-hectare temple listed as World Heritage Site. It honors the worship of the Maohi people, from the creation story of the Great Working Spirit of Ta’aroa-Nui to the god Oro…

I was one of the students who was not allowed to speak Tahitian at school

Between the land and the sea, the ruins of the marae are composed of black lava rocks and heavy coral stones such as menhirs, interspersed with terrestrial and aerial roots of the banana tree, a sacred tree brought from Asia called tumuora (tree of life. ). “Since the age of 4, I have been playing with its sacred roots, describe the site guide. Nowadays, we continue to look for temples like this, often planted by missionaries, who drove away everything related to our culture, our culture and our language. I was one of the students who was not allowed to speak Tahitian at school. » So he said to the tourists: “Before stepping on the holy ground of the site, it should be carefully considered because the nature of the land is “good strength”. It shows everything about what a Polynesian loves: kindness, humor, friendliness. »

Moorea – Hiker’s paradise

As soon as you arrive by boat in Moorea, the landscape will surprise you with its greenery. It is often thought that Polynesia is just turned to the sea and its land is covered with lush vegetation, which lends itself well to hiking. One of them connects the port to one of the two beautiful bays, that of Cook, with its amazing panorama of the Mouaputa and Tearai mountains. Hikers will smell the aroma of pine plantations like Moorea. Because this island is also the home of experts in food and cooking: they try to fix the bad food that entered the islands, where it flew the amount of fat.

Audrey Lachaud, a farmer from Limousin, founded the Food & CookLab of Moorea, an incubator project that supports those involved in the agricultural industry: “The islands are not as cool as you think, the food here is 90% imported. » Therefore, it is common to find American and Western food on Polynesian tables rather than local fish. Jura chef Marc Lintang puts local products into dishes that make the locals taste their island: potatoes, taro, fe’i (locally grown bananas), potatoes, yams, vetiver, star fruit, guavas , fish from the lagoons. .. It offers a catering service and cooking courses with, for example, recipes for korori ceviche from the Tuamotu, wild boar used in “ma’a tahiti” (a traditional Tahitian dish cooked in oven, buried under. sand with hot lava stones) and smoked tuna with beech and coconut…

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