Pape’ete {French Polynesia}

The capital city of French Polynesia is Pape’ete located on the main island of Tahiti. This island is stunning everywhere you look and offers so much to visitors. Of course when most people think of Tahiti, they think of the beaches. The beaches are beautiful, but surprisingly the sand of the beach of Tahiti is black. What I learned was that the different islands that make up French Polynesia have different colored sand on their beaches. I have no idea how that happens, but it was incredible to see the differences among the islands.

One of the best things to do is to drive around the perimeter of this island. It is very common to see little stands set up along the road with massive tuna fish hanging to inspire ideas for dinner. There are so many little spots where the water has created a little alcove surrounded by the tropical plants. And there are resorts around showing off their incredible views of the ocean. Visitors have their pick of harbors offering boat tours around the island and also trips to surrounding islands. Also you will notice that every building/sign is written in both French and Tahitian.

I was fortunate enough to visit Tahiti in July when they host a dance competition called Heiva Kauai with dancers coming from every corner of all the different islands. If you get the chance- absolutely put this on your to do list for Tahiti. To watch so many different dancers perform dances from the different areas and cultures of French Polynesia is amazing! {Know if you go:: they actually do not want you to take pictures of the dances- a fact I learned after snapping this one- but want you to be fully present while you enjoy the dances.} You can find out more on this incredible experience at::heivaikauai

There are also a number of religious sites around the island. There are some remains of ancient religious sites when statues of the gods preside over the area. Traditionally it was thought to bring the gods an offering of food or flowers before entering the space. These places don’t really have guides available to help you understand better, they are places that you just run across and explore on your own.

But it is not just ancient religious sites that you see. French Polynesia has a high number of members of the LDS or Mormon faith and there are many churches everywhere. One of the main buildings that people of all faiths want to see in Tahiti is the Pape’ete LDS temple with it’s deep blue roof on top of the pristine white of the temple.

And no trip to Pape’ete would be complete without visiting the local market, Marché Papeete where you can spend hours exploring the different stands. On the main floor is a wealth of local produce, fresh seafood, spices, oils, flowers, etc. Your senses are on overdrive trying to see everything and trying to decide which food to buy. Upstairs is where you can find local crafts, clothing stalls, souvenirs, and things like that. French Polynesia is known for their black pearls and while there are many high end pearl stores to shop at, you can also find many options here at the market.

Visiting French Polynesia was by far one of the greatest experiences of my life. I would love to go back one day and explore some more of its beautiful islands. But for now, it will remain in my mind as a wonderous place of exotic beauty.

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