Papeete, French Polynesia

Jim showing off his new Polynesian shirt.

At one point, seven of the masculine dancers surrounded me. I did my best Polynesian moves, but think lessons are desperately needed if there is to ever be a repeat. Notice the highly polished mother-of-pearl pieces on the male dancers’ belts.

Not able to move my hips swiftly like the Polynesian dancers, I took to moving my grass plumes for effect.

Somehow or another, I ended up on the stage.

Long hair is a sign of beauty in French Polynesia.

Even though dance held significant symbolic and cultural importance to the Tahitians, missionaries deemed the dancing as pagan and indecent. In 1819, dancing became illegal, but, of course, it continued in secret.

Garlands, crowns and single flowers adorn the female dancers.

The palm leaves on the arms and calves accentuate the movements of the male dancers. And the costumes certainly add glamour to the performance.

The fantastic female performers showed grace and amazing, sensual twirling movements of the hips.

A few days ago, we posted a photo of Polynesian dancers and stated that we were opting not to attend a dance performance here since they are geared solely to tourists. Well, after hearing many locals rave over Les Grands Ballets de Tahiti, we attended an entertaining, energetic performance. Many of the fit male dancers were covered in traditional, expressive tattoos.

We found comfort in seeing the fire truck meet us as we stopped on Moorea and then Bora Bora. Then Jim asked, ‘Why do they feel the need to meet us?’

The colorful and fragrant flora of French Polynesia is often used to make traditional crowns and floral leis (necklaces).

In the peak of mid-afternoon brightness, sky and water run together.

Bora Bora is renowned as one of the most beautiful islands in French Polynesia. Ancient legend proclaims the island was the first of the Polynesian islands to rise from the water.

Tana says they are missionaries for the Australian Coastlands Ministry, which ‘will take missionaries from anywhere in the world and post them where they are needed most.’

We watched Pastor David and Tana Black, missionaries from Seattle, dock at the Bora Bora wharf. They are headed to Fiji from here.

Bora Bora’s cathedral stands before one of the numerous mountains on the island.

Not going anywhere in a hurry

Vanilla, cultivated in French Polynesia, and breadfruit, a staple in local cuisine

Bora Bora, with several extensive white beaches is more idyllic, tranquil and romantic than the main island of Tahiti.

Much of the lodging on Bora Bora takes the form of upscale over-water bungalows.

Sorting through shells to be used in jewelry

Weaving a mat from palm leaves

Polynesian women wear pareus, which are about 180 cm by 90 cm (or approximately six feet by three feet). These versatile pieces of cloth, mostly rayon, may be worn as skirts, halter or bikini tops, or as a dress tied above the breasts or behind the neck.

Locals sell their shell jewelry and straw hats at the Bora Bora wharf.

We flew over to Bora Bora for the day. The landing strip is on an adjacent island, so a catamaran, like this one, or a hotel boat, delivers visitors to the main island.

27 June 2001 – Wait, I've been wrong about French Polynesia. The island of Tahiti may be a disappointment, but Bora Bora looks as idyllic and paradise-like as expected. Here bikes, scooters and mini-cars are for hire allowing tourists to dart around the tiny island. And water sports – rowing, skiing, para-sailing, yachting, cruising, jet-skiing, kayaking – are all here in abundance, as are expensive over-water bungalows, a few tourist shops, black pearl boutiques, an artisans market at the wharf and costly restaurants spread from one end of the island to the other. There isn't much more on the tranquil land surrounded by crystal-clear, sapphire-like water, but I figure most come here for this reason alone.


  French Polynesia (Jim)