Hi PMC Members,
A few weeks back, I was able to realise a long held bucket list dream of exploring the French South Pacific or French Polynesia and the Islands of Pitcairn and Easter Island. This is such a remote and sparsely populated area of the Pacific Ocean that few travellers really have an opportunity to travel across these distances or even step foot on such land areas.
I was able to travel these seas on the PMC Cruise with a few friends, on a small luxury expedition vessel Le Soleal, one of the luxury ships of the Ponant line.
As our on board lecturer told us, French Polynesia is defined as the triangle from Hawaii at the top, to New Zealand in the south west, to Easter Island in the south east.
The islands in this region are some of the most isolated populated islands in the world. And this leads to the situation that the capital of Tahiti – Papeete, which is regarded as the centre of French Polynesia, receives on an annual basis, the number of visitors that Hawaii receives in one day, but the sights are just picture perfect postcards as we sit to take in the sunset after a relaxed dinner.
After a few days exploring the island of Tahiti you become accustomed to the South Pacific Franc (CFP) with its conversion of $AU1 = 84CPF. You seem to be paying a lot and then you realise that it is expensive in Tahiti as so much is flown into the islands. After a lovely evening dinner and watching sunsets, the next day my travelling friends and I head into town, a short taxi ride into the capital town of Papeete, to try our shopping skills with the local Tahiti black pearls.
After many shops, the local pearl market and some designer stores to test our appetite we emerge victorious with some lovely purchases to provide memories of our Tahiti visit. The next day we head off to explore the centre of the island and the rim of the ancient volcano of which Tahiti is formed. This takes us from the hot and humid climate of the coastline up the rugged jungle slopes in a 4 wheeled drive open ute vehicle. Not the most comfortable seating in the back on the non padded benches, but the jungle views are impressive.
So dense is the jungle, we come across a squad of commandos who are using this area as a training exercise along the side of the road with their rifles at the ready participating in some war games. Although the drive up and down was a real bone shaker, the views of the day are magnificent. Our tour group makes many stops along the way to see the beauty of the waterfalls,wild flowers and finally the rim of the volcano itself all surrounded by the cold mist of the heights we have climbed.
The time has come to leave our idilic Tahiti hotel and head down to the dock for embarkation onto our expedition cruise for the next 20 days across the seas of French Polynesia. On the dock our group is welcomed and farewelled by traditional Polynesian dancing.
For 2 days we sail across the blue water of Polynesia with the white wake behind us, just enjoying the life on board ship. Many an enjoyable 5 star meal is served with our French wait staff always making sure we have enough to eat.
We are looking forward to our upcoming Island experiences.
Wendy Zirins (Priestly)