We stayed the weekend at Point Venus where we were surprised to find very few cruising yachts; although Sunday brought a swell of local boats anchoring for the day.
Our first impressions on waking to see Tahiti for the first time was of a beautiful fertile island with amazing green peaks disappearing into the clouds; coconut palms lining black sandy beaches and deep dark blue waters. Off in the distance we could clearly see the neighbouring island of Moorea. The Society Islands are much more similar to the Marquesas aesthetically than the low-lying sandy atolls of the Tuamotus that we'd just left behind.
Point Venus - and the deep waters of Matavai Bay where we anchored - holds great historical significance as the landfall of many the great explorers in history. It was named after Captain James Cook observed the transit of Venus on his famous voyage aboard the HMS Endeavour in 1769. Infact it was Captain James Cook who named the Society Islands supposedly after the "Royal Society" who sponsored the first British scientific survey of the islands.
In 1788 the HMS Bounty arrived into Matavai Bay Captained by William Bligh shortly before the infamous "mutiny" which took place the following year leading to one of history's most incredible stories of survival at sea.
These famous explorers; and many more, are honored with memorials and plaques in the beautiful public park at Point Venus under the highly photogenic lighthouse designed by Robert Louis Stevenson's father in the late 1800s. Whilst reading a plaque dedicated to the author of "Treasure Island" on the lighthouse it became obvious where the inspiration for that great novel came from.
We wandered through the park enjoying the weekend atmosphere of bustling food trucks, families of locals wandering off the beach to gather at picnic tables, and workers setting up a stage and sound system ready for the evening's entertainment. We took in the monuments and plaques, the pretty surroundings with Banyan trees and flowers everywhere and the sounds and smells of weekends and holidays. Then we walked into the little town and checked out the shops and two large supermarkets; we haven't seen supermarkets like this for a while and we spent quite a lot of time browsing and oggling at all the available fayre! We bought Poisson Cru and fresh bread for lunch and tried out the Tahitian rum offerings.
In the evening as we returned to the beach to kayak home we stopped off once again at the park at Point Venus (where we got a fantastic sight of the planet ourselves shortly after sunset) to enjoy the festival atmosphere. Hundreds of people had gathered and there were Tahitian dancers and late "Heiva" celebrations; dance competitions and music. A panel of judges sat front and centre as each of the dance troupes came out to perform their routines. It felt very much like Tahiti's Got Talent! The compare introduced each group and we even got to see "Miss Heiva 2023" herself; in her elegant dress; sash and floral headress.
The whole evening was perfect... even if I did get my toe pinched by the most muscly crab I have ever seen!!! (He scuttled back under his rock after pinching me but I popped my phone under there and "papped" him incase Jamie didn't believe me!!!
On the Sunday we enjoyed a day relaxing on the beach; swimming and reading. In the evening we wandered into the town again to find somewhere for dinner and had a wonderful meal at a "Roulotte" food truck which had set out tables covered in fancy table-clothes, each set with a little lamp under a gazebo bedecked with fairy lights. It felt every bit like a fancy restaurant and nothing like a food truck at all!! The chefs had set up a full kitchen out the back of the truck with huge grills. Jamie ordered a curry noodles and I had my second Poisson Cru of the weekend; raw tuna in coconut milk. Our meals arrived and we were reminded that one plate is probably enough for two of us; they were absolutely enormous portions! Fortunately we hadn't had lunch so we didn't let ourselves down!!!
We returned to the beach and sat looking out at the water with a rum and coke before kayaking home to bed.
The next day we would sail the short distance to Papeete and set ourselves in the anchorage under the Intercontinental hotel ready for the arrival of our VIP guests later in the week.