Culture and Conservation in Tahiti
We caught up with our Head of Yacht Expeditions about her recent recce trip to Tahiti aboard SILENTWORLD
Words by PELORUS
Located in the Pacific Ocean, Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia and represents what many would consider to be true paradise. Verdant, jungle-clad mountains rise dramatically from a coastline fringed with black sand beaches, a true testament to the islands volcanic history. But Tahiti’s astounding natural beauty has lead to it becoming ‘pigeon-holed’ as our head of Yacht Expeditions, Elise describes, seen purely as a romantic honeymoon destination that is solely heralded for its isolation and seclusion from civilisation, when there is much more to be seen and experienced.
Invited on this trip by Tahiti Tourism and onboard luxury 40m charter yacht SILENTWORLD by its management company, Ocean Alliance, Elise visited this increasingly accessible corner of the world to unearth spectacular experiences that showcase authentic Polynesian culture and contribute to wildlife conservation, a shift within the luxury travel industry which has become increasingly important and resonates with our values here at PELORUS.
Talk us through your experience of Polynesian culture.
On our first day we set out to explore the island itself; we discovered waterfalls, scaled volcanoes and explored the dense rainforest lead by our amazing private guide – who never wore shoes in order to be contacted to the earth! The hike we completed was not difficult and offered stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. We were also told it would be possible to camp overnight in the jungle which would be a truly authentic experience for any adventure-seeker.
He took us to a sacred Marae, which was once a centre for social, political and religious activity, including sacrifice and worship. He explained to us how these ancient stone ruins were considered to be the cradle of Polynesian civilisation. But most importantly, he explained how the mindset of being in the ‘here and now’ stems from the heart of his ancient culture, which served as a poignant reminder of how incredible this experience was.
“we explored the interior of Tahiti, the side that few ever really see”
Another day saw us exploring the surrounding islands in a tender. We heard the unique sound of a conch shell blowing from a seemingly deserted beach and when we arrived we found ourselves to be the only people on the tiny Hana Iti Islet. Here we were greeted by the local people who taught us how to husk a coconut before challenging us to a traditional Polynesian game which involved hitting coconuts with spears and it goes without saying that we did not win. But throughout this magical experience we were completely isolated and there was no one to be seen for miles making it a truly intimate and fascinating insight into authentic Polynesian culture.
What conservation efforts did you take part in on your trip?
Within the luxury travel industry, there has been a progressive shift towards engaging in experiences that aim to give back and this was certainly one of them. It simply proved that even when visiting somewhere as far flung as Tahiti, it is possible to participate in active conservation efforts.
We paid a visit to the Coral Gardeners, an extraordinary foundation that focuses on reef restoration. Here, we collected broken pieces of coral and attached them to bamboo rods which we then planted back into the reef. We were also able to adopt a coral and name it ourselves before receiving an adoption certificate which detailed its specific location coordinates. This was a very connective experience and really allowed us to immerse ourselves in this topical initiative.
Did you encounter any exciting wildlife?
One day we journeyed to Moorea on a private tender to discover the wondrous world of the pacific stingrays, where we also encountered the resident population of blacktip reef sharks. In just a few feet of water, we were surrounded by these friendly creatures, some of which were over four feet long and were just as intrigued by us as we were them, making the entire experience extremely personal.
But by far our most spectacular encounter came when we least expected it. We were lucky enough to witness a female humpback whale and her calf resting in the water just below the surface. Our guide handed us snorkels and fins and we jumped into the water to observe them from a distance. Strangely, this was quite an emotional experience being so close to such magnificent animals.
“we were lucky enough to witness a female humpback whale and her calf resting in the water”
This was yet another reason why exploration by yacht is such an unbelievable experience; we were able to be very reactive, especially with rare encounters such as this which we certainly would not have seen if we had been staying on land.
Describe your time on 40m SILENTWORLD.
My time on SILENTWORLD was truly special. The level of service we received was second to none and similar to that of a much larger yacht – every member of the 8-strong crew was welcoming and friendly and all of our needs were catered for, with expectations truly exceeded.
What I particularly loved, was that half of the crew were originally from French Polynesia which meant that our experience was greatly enhanced by their expert, local knowledge and far-reaching network of contacts. The chef also managed to cover every cuisine we could think of, which showcased his talents brilliantly.
“our experience was greatly enhanced by their expert, local knowledge”
SILENTWORLD offered us unrivalled flexibility and allowed us to experience Tahiti in a completely bespoke and dynamic way, something that could not be matched if we had been land-based.
For more information on our yacht expeditions, please contact email@example.com or +44 20 3848 5424.