This paradise island in the middle of the Pacific is a tourist destination that some travelers can not wait to visit and this article of fascinating Tahiti facts will only scratch the surface of this island’s lengthy history, exotic geography and breathtaking cultural background. From the ancient customs that thrive on the island to the storied history of settlement, colonization and exploration, the remote and uninhabited jungle backdrop of this fascinating land will mystify and intrigue any traveler headed to this area of the French Polynesian. When planning your own Tahitian adventure, be sure to read this article filled with interesting Tahiti facts so you can get a deeper understanding of this island paradise and dive even deeper to understand the people who call this place home!
Interesting Tahiti Facts
This island is the largest of the French Polynesian islands and is the most populous at approximately 189,000 inhabitants at last count. The island itself is roughly shaped like a figure eight due to the volcanic activity that created it thousands of years ago. The larger portion of the island to the northwest is called Tahiti Nui, or big Tahiti. Despite its size and large population, one of the most interesting of the Tahiti facts is that the central portion of the island remains largely uninhabited due to the difficult terrain and the dense jungles that cover it. Much like the central portion of Tahiti Nui, the smaller portion of the island to the southeast, named Little Tahiti or Tahiti Iti, remains incredibly isolated and largely uninhabited.
Set in the central portion of the Pacific Ocean, the island of Tahiti is over 2,300 miles away from the island of Hawaii. At only 28 miles wide at its widest part and covering a little over 400 square miles, the island of Tahiti is lush with jungles and majestic waterfalls. One of the most surprising Tahiti facts is that the climate is surprisingly steady and tropical year round without being overwhelmingly hot. In fact, the temperature ranges from around 70 to 85 degrees with very little fluctuation outside that range. Between November and April is the rainy season, with January being the rainiest of all. On average a foot of rain will fall during this month in parts of the island.
Some of the most interesting Tahiti facts have to do with the history and culture of this jungle oasis in the Pacific Ocean. The first evidence of settlement dates from around 1000 CE, when people from Southeast Asia migrated via various archipelagos with outrigger canoes. One of the biggest of these vessels ever recorded was over 100 feet long and used sails as well as oars to navigate the waters. These vessels were large enough to carry whole families as well as livestock and supplies over the long open ocean migration that brought settlers to this land.
The theory of the first settlers originating from somewhere in Southeast Asia is given credence by the vast similarities of the languages. Tahitian and records of older languages spoken on the island have remarkable similarities to many of the languages spoken in the southeast Asian countries. Another reason that this theory is widely accepted as the truth is the biological, DNA and archaeological evidence that is found on the island, one of the most remarkable Tahiti facts that not many people know. Imagine traveling over 3,000 miles over the open water in a primitive canoe with everything you need to start life on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean!
The culture of Tahiti is another stunning and exciting element of the island that many people enjoy when traveling to this area. The most instantly recognizable is the Tahitian dance known as the otea. While similar to the Hawaiian hula, one of the Tahiti facts to remember is that this dance is unique to the island. It is characterized by much faster hip shaking, unlike the slower and more graceful movements of the hula. The intent behind the dance is also different. Hula dancing concentrates on storytelling through movements of the hands and lyrics of songs, while the otea concentrates on the formations created by the movements of the hips and is accompanied only by music and not spoken or sung words. You will often find performances of this dance at festivals, events and resorts all around Tahiti.
One of the most surprising Tahiti facts is that the official language of the island is French. France annexed the island of Tahiti as a colony in 1880 and the people living there became citizens of France. It remains under French control to this day, but their influence is limited to education, protection and subsidies. For a brief time it was forbidden to speak Tahitian in the schools, but it is now widely taught around the island in all the schools and some jobs on the island require fluency of both Tahitian and French. You won’t need to worry about a language barrier while visiting this island. Because of the reliance on the tourism industry, almost all of the people speak some level of conversational English, so communicating won’t be a problem despite English not being the official language of the island.
You will find plenty of resorts and hotels all around Tahiti, many of which are all inclusive and promise private beaches and luxury accommodations. Tourism is the leading industry on the island but one of the most surprising Tahiti facts is that their second most profitable industry is actually black Tahitian pearls, a rarity found only on the island. They also export vanilla and flowers from the island, including the delicate hibiscus flowers you’ll find in arrangements and flower crowns. Many of these popular exports also make amazing souvenirs to remember your time spent on this exotic island paradise! Because of the remote location and the lack of large amounts of resources, the French help the island maintain a higher standard of living through subsidies and payments that exceed $100 million annually.
The national sport of this island is va’a, also known as outrigger canoeing. Given the lengthy history this island has with outrigger canoes, this should come as no small surprise, but one of the most remarkable Tahiti facts is that this island is home to some of the best rowers that exist. The sportsman from Tahiti often achieve world-records and some of the best times imaginable, often beating records set by their own people in years prior! In addition to outrigger canoeing, other popular sports include soccer and rugby, but one of the most surprising is basketball! Tahiti even has its own national basketball team!
One of the most famous aspects of the island is the remarkable black sand that covers the beaches. Unlike the white or golden sand typically found on tropical vacation destination hot spots, the black sands are a unique and stunning attraction for tourists from around the world. The reason for this jet black sand is the volcanic origins of the island. This is one of the most surprising Tahiti facts, the entire island sits atop two volcanoes! Because of the location along the Pacific Rim, the smaller islands near Tahiti occasionally have earthquakes and some of the smaller islands off the coast of Tahiti are still considered active volcanoes. Some of the surprising risks are tsunamis, cyclones and hurricanes. Because of the Pacific Rim, distant earthquakes in places like Chile can cause the occasional tsunami and the location of the island in the middle of the ocean can put it at risk for an occasional cyclone or hurricane, some of the Tahiti facts to keep in mind when planning the dates of your vacation.
One of the many Tahiti facts to know when planning to visit the island is that there is only one international airport on the island and service from the United States is usually via Los Angeles California. The Faa’a International Airport is actually the only international airport for the whole of the French Polynesian islands. Located just 3 miles from the country’s capital, Papeete, it is a convenient location for those venturing to Tahiti, but travel from there to the other popular islands can sometimes take a lot of time, involving ferries and boats that run between the island of Tahiti and other locations such as Bora Bora and Mo’orea.
Whether you are traveling to Tahiti to get to the other islands of the French Polynesia or if this island paradise is your sole destination, you will find yourself in a magical and remarkable land filled with lush jungles, breathtaking ocean views and some of the most astounding culture and history in the world. This unique and remote island is home to stunning black sand beaches and beautiful waterfalls, but the people are what make this location a once in a lifetime experience for anyone traveling there. When planning your adventure to this French Polynesian island, be sure to read up on all the Tahiti facts so you have a deeper understanding and appreciation for just how precious and unique this area is!
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