King Pomare V abdicated in 1880 after the French offered him a very nice pension to keep him, his family and his mistress very comfortable indeed. This made Tahiti an official French colony.
With the proceeds of this pension, Kong Pomare V then hit the bottle big time, and died of alcoholic poisoning (or it's complications!). This has caused people to speculate that the Greek Urn on top of the tomb is actually just another one of his empty bottles.
The tomb itself was actually made for King Pomare's mother, but after it was built, he decided he wanted it for himself, and had her remains moved out!
Interestingly, the church (which can be seen in the background) is on the site of an ancient Marae (a Polynesian altar), however when King Pomare II converted from one of the local religions to Calvinism in 1812. He then built a church that was so enormous (217m long) that it needed 3 priests speaking simultaneously spaced throughout the church for the congregation to be able to hear anything (I guess this was in the days before PA systems... ;-) )
One Tree Hill is not really recognisable as a one tree hill, but it does have some excellent views down to Moorea (Moorea is a siater island to Tahiti and actually a much nicer place to stay despite Tahiti being much more famous internationally).
Parking is easy at the top (provided it isn't too busy), and it is a nice spot just to stop off and admire the views down to Moorea and the colourful flowers on the plants.
This picture shows some of these colourful flowerd and the craggy outline of Moorea in the background. Tahiti and Moorea both used to be volcanic, and the craggy shapes as left from the very slowly disintegrating volcanoes. One day the islands will completely disappear, but the time scales are such that it shouldn't worry any of us!
A Marae is a temple in French Polynesia.
Arahurahu Marae is the only temple in French Polynesia that has been restored to its original condition, and it has been restored beautifully. If you only have time to see one thing on Tahiti, this should be it.
When you get to PK 22.5, you will need to turn off inland, and drive for a short distance to a small shop and parking area where you can park for free. There appears to be a pay booth, but when we visited there was no-one to collect any entrance fee, so we went in for free.
Arahurahu Marae is not only a well restored temple, it is also in a stunning setting and is in a clearing in a valley that appears to be in the jungle with large mountains all around.
You probably want to allow an hour for a visit.
Captain Cook (and Captain Bligh) both anchored off Point Venus. It is Tahiti's most northerly point and has a flat sandy beach. The sailors would anchor up, and then trade metal objects such as knives and nails for food and sex (apparently the going rate for sex could be as high as one whole nail!).
The name Venus comes about as Cook built a fort on the site to watch Venus cross the Sun. Unfortunately however he failed in his observations due to lack of proper equipment to allow him to look at the bright sun!
The Lighthouse here has the date 1867 just above the door. However it was apprently built on "Tahiti Time", and was actually finished one year later...
At home in the UK, I have a Ficus Plant (That's a Fig Tree), and I have had it for many years and it is shorter than me, and a good deal narrower!
Imagine my surprise when I saw exactly the same Ficus species growing in Tahiti, only just a tiny bit bigger. Check out the girth of this thing, it is absolutely gigantic! I had no idea the measly little fig plant I have at home could grow to such dimensions! This picture doesn't show the height of the tree, but trust me, the height is as awe-inspiring as the girth!
This tree is on One Tree Hill, and whether it is the tree that gives the hill its name I have no idea, but it is certainly grand enough to be!
You may need to enlarge the photo for this tip!
If you look at the bottom half of the picture, this may just look like another Marae, but it is actually built around the departure lounge in the airport (Tahiti, Faaa). You can see this is true as the plane I was just about to depart on to Easter Island can be seen in the background at the top of the picture.
The airport was a problem to build. It was built in 1960, but the difficult was that there not enough flat land to build a runway that would allow modern aircraft to land. The solution was to fill in the lagoon and reef around Faaa giving plenty of flat land!
Whilst this picture is not the most exciting as their is no foreground interest, this sort of sunset is very common in Tahiti, and people (tourists especially) flock to the beaches to see them.
We were driving along the road and it was getting near to sunset, so we stopped at the first beach we came to and took some pictures. The colours are wonderfully golden!
It's worth finding out what time is sunset and finding yourself a little bar to watch the sun go down!
This is one of the sorts of buildings that you just happen to pass by and is not even mentioned in guide books.
It is an extremely ornate building that is probably in French Colonial Architectural Style, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was built some years back by the French.
Paea is a smallish residential area as you drive around the coastal road and is fairly close to Arahurahu Marae (as you drive back to Faaa or Papeete).
Tahiti is famous for its beaches, its water sports, and the Tahitians that sunbathe on them! All of these are all quite rightly justified! This beach is Punaauia Beach which is not too far from the airport and is nice and sandy. It is extremely close to the Tahiti Museum.
Rather than give a more standard beach pic, I thought I would go for something a little different. The sunsets are so gorgeous and the beach is probably the best place to see them. Moorea is also visible from the beach here, so it has quite a bit going for it!
Taverio Peata is a beautiful church built is a classically Tahitian style. It is built out of lots of small stones and has a small steeple. This is a practicing church and was hosting a wedding when we drove past it the first time.
It is very close to Arahurahu Marae, and is well worth pulling over on the side of the road to look at if you are driving back to Papeete or the airport at Faaa.
The last stop of the day is at the distillery of Ava Tea Liqueurs - 17 of them are displayed on the counter, you are given a glass each and can just help yourself to what you want. I try them all ....hic.....the one I like the best is the coconut and vanilla, so I have three glasses of that. I buy a bottle to take home, and a pack of four minitaure bottles. I feel a little light headed by the time I get back on the bus........ :-)
The name was given to this area by Captain Cook's expedition in 1769, and was inspired by the reason for his journey - to measure the transit of Venus which would enable scientists to work out the distance between the sun and the earth.
At the point there is not much to see now, except an old lighthouse from 1867 designed by Rober Louis Stevenson's father, a black beach, a monument to Venus and the sun and another to the first missionaries who landed here.
Having bumped our way up the track from the beach in a 4WD, we stop right at the top of the 4500ft Marau Mountain by the radio and TV transmitters, with an incredible view of the valley below. On a good day. All we can see is cloud. Very disappointing. William, our driver, thinks it might clear if we wait a while, so we hang around for a bit. William then suggests a touch of voodoo, we all count to three and blow as hard as we can! Suddenly, like a theatre curtain, the clouds blow away to reveal mountain tops straight ahead and the verdant green valley below, complete with waterfall. We can see the coastline, with Marlon Brando's personal atoll, and our hotel perched spectacularly on the cliffside. Over on the right, the mountainside is shaped like folds of fabric, with cushions of clouds lingering between each one, making it very picturesque.
As this is an island, there are plenty of opportunities to turn off of the main road that goes around the island and see some great sites. As you may know, Moorea is within sight of Tahiti, so you can really get some beautiful panoramas of Moorea from several spots throughout Tahiti.
I believe my fellow VT member EasyOar called this place "One Tree Hill" and it is at PK 8.
As the first excursion we took part in our honeymoon, we had a 4x4 tour of Tahiti. The vehicle was a Land Rover Discovery with comfortable bench seats in the back and a tarp over the bed for cover. This tour was really great because we had the opportunity to take beautiful pictures of the island beach and water, but also got to go up in the mountains and enjoy the beautiful waterfalls as well!