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Idyllic. Look it up and you’ll find a picture of Tahiti.
As the largest of the French Polynesian islands, Tahiti is renowned for its platinum white sand and water so clear you can see your toes wiggling on the ocean floor.
A year-round beauty, but what to do when the sun doesn’t shine - and your all-day sunbathing is wiped off the activities board? In case you experience a wet-one, here's what to do instead.
Yikes, it’s grey and overcast
Say whaaat? The sun isn’t out in Tahiti? Is the world about to end? Nope, it’s just cloud cover.
For grey days, head to the Harrison Smith Botanical Gardens, 50km from Papeete. Awash with tropical Tahitian flora, the park houses exotic flowers, rare plants and time-weathered trees. Water courses slink their way across the terrain, joining lily ponds to waterfalls. Open 9am - 5pm most days, make sure you seek out the infamous Banyan Tree; this old boy’s been establishing its firm roots since 1936, and now boasts a 70 metre diameter. Pretty impressive for an OAT (Old Aged Tree - yeah we went there).
Take cover and make tracks to Marché Papeete, or Municipal Market as it’s also known. A two-storey open-sided bazaar, this little treasure trove is flushed with mementos and produce. Those with a keen eye will find fabrics and handicrafts, jams, oil, vanillas and fresh water pearls, as well as roasted coffee and snack bars selling freshly cooked fish.
Keen photographers can fill their view finders with the candid commotion of Tahitian shoppers, colourful musicians and a bustling scene of chatter and clamour. A full morning later and you may want to take respite in the small café situated upstairs, where you’ll say pffft to the rain and descend back downstairs for another rummage.
Oh boy, now it’s really coming down
Really soggy days call for one thing. Eating. And lots of it. Fortunately Tahiti is part of French Polynesia, which gives you a clue as to how good the food is. As the world’s self-titled finest chefs, the French are the kings of cuisine, and if you add a Polynesian twist into the mix, you instantly improve on what the Frenchies do best. You’ll find plenty of fresh seafood and classic French dishes such as duck a l’orange, as well as exotic island ingredients that really make things pop. Enjoy shrimp curries slow-roasted with banana and traditional Tahitian hima’a - where food is cooked in banana leaf baskets and slowly grilled over underground rocks.
Still raining? Well then, we’re still eating
You should try the island’s signature dish which is the Poisson Cru. It combines red-raw tuna marinated in lime juice and coconut milk. For something more laid-back treat yourself to a Casse Croute from a snack bar. Starting with a crusty French baguette, the doughy insides are then stuffed with ham, tuna, roast pork and salad. And sometimes a spoonful of spaghetti if your bread’s looking a little light on carbs. Wash it down with a big gulp of fresh coconut water and you won’t be disappointed.
And by the time you’ve completed all of the above, the sun will surely be shining again.
To the beach!
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