French Polynesia Dreaming
by Diane Sagnier & Chaz Navarro
Flying to the other side of the world is always a good idea on a gloomy winter! It is snowing in Paris as I am writing still. We were called out to Tahiti where Chaz spent most of his young years and his parents are, 28 years later, finally getting married! He got a family time jump start and I joined him right out of my work craze before xmas and flew 22 hours over to him. I was welcomed with crowns and huge tiare necklaces, ukulele band singing “Maeva” (welcome) songs, the perfect happy tourist pack was real. I had arrived in Papeete the capital of Tahiti and Chaz drove me over to sleep in an overwater bungalow to complete the arrival experience!
Chaz’s Parents live in the center of Papeete and got married at the City Hall 5 minutes away from their place. It was a beautiful reception with guests covered with tropical flowers as accessories, a timeless moment!
We made a few errands in town and stayed in an appartement higher up in the hills which gave us perfect golden sunsets. We strolled around the city and its markets which mixes 70’s and modern architecture with polynesian culture in a cool way. Fish, fruit and flower stands by the side of the road, but also big supermarkets! There was so much to explore in that contrast!
It’s rain season and I’ve been lucky for a few days but the rain is now arranging our activities. I actually don’t mind it, it’s still warm outside and I guess that’s why everything is so luscious and green.
We started driving around the Tahiti island, the sand was changing colors and the seashore was getting darker, more rocky but so elegant.
As the sun bursts out we headed to a black sand beach where the shore was a bit rumbled from the storm and appart from stray cats and dogs we were alone to enjoy the peace.
We drove by caves and waterfalls, where kids go out to play when the humidity is at its peak.
HINATEA IN TEAHUPOO
We went all the way to Teahupoo, the almost island at the far Est of Tahiti, to meet up with Hinatea at her and her boo’s place. We had to park and walk over a bridge to her little wooden blue cabin right by the dark sand shore. The heat was melting us so they took us to hang out at a fresh waterfall, picking fruit and flowers on the trees as the pickup truckrolls up closer to the mountain. This side of the island is so wild and feels so free.
TETIAROA BIRD’S ISLAND
Chaz’s parents got us a catamaran ticket to check out Tetiaroa, Marlon Brando’s bird’s island. There used to be a little town there but only ruins remain and the very recent “Brando” high class hotel .We walked around the island, the birds and the greenery looked prehistorical, the sand was spiked with broken corral and huge hermit crabs ran around hiding from us.
Everybody recommends it when coming to Tahiti, we had to go to a Touamotou island, as we can’t see all 130 of them, we jumped on a plane and landed on Fakarava then took a 2 hour boat to go to the South pass Tetamanu Village. I had no clue how amazing it would be. I snorkeled and explored the reefs, swam with dozens of small black point sharks. I was half crying all the time from so much beauty.
One morning they took us on the small diving boat to some remote pink sand islands. They left us there for a few hours, we were completely alone, stripped down and gazed into the turquoise blue horizon.
Chaz took me to spend some time where he grew up, on a sailing boat parked in Moorea bay… We jumped on an vessel to Moorea and stayed there for more than a week. The weather started super stormy but we went paddle boarding and snorkeling with rays and sharks. We met up with some of Chaz’s childhood friends who took us through the mountains to the biggest waterfall we’ve seen yet! The forest was soft and green, easy to walk barefoot on, tropical flowers covering our tracks… When the sun came out it was the most beautiful place to finish our trip!