Tahiti, once upon a time, during a religious festival, instead of staying at home so as not to disturb the gods, a beautiful girl decided to go swimming… When the gods noticed her, they decided to punish her for her disobedience and she went into convulsions. She started to drown, but this was noticed by a great eagle that swooped down from the top of the sky to steal her soul. The girl ran away so much that she raised huge waves that submerged the land, and only a few small islands remained above the sea.
The gods punished her by turning her into a fish named Tahiti. But they were not satisfied with the punishment, so they turned it into an island, and the large dorsal fin became the mountain that can still be seen on the island today. The girl fish, not wanting to accept her fate, occasionally tried to swim, but in those moments the people who lived on the island died. Then the gods sent the hero Tafai to pin the girl to the bottom of the ocean. He did so and since then Tahiti has become a peaceful island.
Tahiti is located in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France located in the Pacific Ocean, 6,000 kilometers east of Australia. It was inhabited around 4000 BC when a large population migration from Southeast Asia moved towards this archipelago. This part of the world was unknown to Europeans until the time of great discoveries.
Captain Samuel Wallis, looking for a way to the southern country, came across Tahiti, but the world got to know him more closely only after Cook’s travels. European fascination with these islands grew as news arrived from this part of the world. Thanks to thousands of drawings and detailed descriptions with which Cook illustrated the flora and fauna of these islands, the first map of Tahiti was created.
The name Papeete means “water from a basket” in Tahitian. A popular nickname for French Polynesia is Queen of the Pacific reflecting the islands’ natural beauty.
Top tourist attractions in Papeete are the Robert Wan Pearl Museum, Papeete Catholic Cathedral, Bougainville Park, and Pā’ōfa’i Gardens.
The word “tattoo” originates from the French Polynesian word “tatau”.
Another one of my favorite facts is the legend of Tohu, the god of tattoos, who painted all the ocean’s fish in beautiful colors and patterns. In ancient times tattoos were significant symbols of social status and initiation rites as well as representations of community, geographic origin, family, and clan membership. Warriors also tattooed their faces to intimidate their enemies.
European settlement brought European problems to French Polynesia and Tahiti.
Not so much a fact as a world fact, but influence by Europeans and colonization by the French brought turmoil to the Tahitian people – go figure. Although today enjoys a fairly stable economy and standard of living, the initial introduction of technology such as guns and alcohol, as well as many fatal diseases, wreaked havoc on the population of Tahiti.
Many Tahitian people died from the influx of smallpox, influenza, and typhus, and – as in many indigenous cultures globally – the effects of this interference still show.
Hawaii receives more tourists in a day than Tahiti does in a year.
One of the more interesting facts about Tahiti is how few people visit Tahiti despite its immense beauty. Tahiti is one of the hardest places to reach in the world, but once you do you will be able to travel the island with relative ease and little crowds.
This kind of isolation makes backpacking French Polynesia a complete dream. Of course, you should go there! It’s goddamn spectacular!