The Tahiti Museum
06 July 2008 | Tahiti
We rented a car today and took a ride around the island. After leaving the boat we walked into town and a kind gentleman helped us locate the Le Truck to take us to the airport. The Le Truck is a, well, truck. They have converted the back of the truck into a covered but open seating area and you pay about 150 francs by day and 200 by night to go just about anywhere. They are locals, not express, in function and stop a lot but are fun to ride and allow you to make friends with the Polynesians you may find yourself sitting next to.
At the airport we rented a little Citroen with room for five from Avis. With full insurance and fuel it was about $150 per day. Not cheap. I used my US license and did not need to produce an international driver's license as I have heard some agencies require.
We set out to circumnavigate. Our first stop was the Tahiti and her islands museum. It is a great museum and really gives you a nice overview of the Polynesian history and culture. It is all in French with a little bit of English translation on most exhibits but still a must see. A lot of surfers ride the break off of the beach at the museum and there is a nice park there.
As we drove around the island we realized just the view from the car is an attraction. The road around Tahiti is very scenic especially if you turn off often to enjoy the coastline or take a random road up into the hills to enjoy a vista. The grottoes and waterfalls right along the coast on the south side and the Marea (ancient sacred Polynesian site) up the hill near the main road are all fun to see.
We drove by Port Phaeton nestled deep in the natural bay formed between Tahiti Iti and Tahiti Nui. It is the most protected harbor in Tahiti (perhaps Polynesia). The road is no more than a foot above water in some places.
We came around the north side of the island as the sun was setting. There is some construction going on in this area and the roads require more care to navigate safely. Many surfers worked hard to get a ride on the less than optimal breaks along the coast here.
We had planned to eat dinner at the Belvedere high up in the hills above Papeete. After an hour of driving around in the heights a pleasant man informed us that we were on the wrong mountain. We still had great views of the islands. We packed it in for the day and had another yummy dinner at the Roulottes.