French Polynesia is a dream come true - become the symbol of pleasure, well-being and election. Protect fragrant trade winds, 118 Islands and atolls scattered in the South Pacific. All the Islands of French Polynesia, surrounded by lagoons - sparkling turquoise opals, and lagoon - small Islands-motu. White sandy beaches with its softness caresses your feet and a crown of large trees, giving the refreshing shade and coolness, leave no chances solar heat...
French Polynesia is an island group in the Eastern Pacific ocean, halfway between South America and Australia. A huge amount of volcanic and coral Islands of the country (officially there are 118 Islands and atolls) form 2 groups, which can be divided into 5 Islands - Society Islands (Windward and Leeward Islands), Marquesas Islands (North and South), southern archipelago (Australes), the Tuamotus (Paumotu) and gamble. The most Northern island - Hatutu, lies more than 2000 km from the South - Brine. The closest "neighbors" French Polynesia are at a distance of more than 1 thousand kilometers (cook Islands, 1025 km to the West), to Australia about 5,200 km to the West, to South America - 6000 km to the East.
The Capital Papeete.
French Polynesia attracts tourists for its natural beauty - beautiful atolls and not less picturesque volcanic island, sea of green, a rich underwater world with a huge variety of creatures, as well as miles of beaches of pristine coral and volcanic sand. Each island is its appearance, its flora and fauna, and even their customs. Original local population, are descendants of the famous "sea peoples"who in their frail canoes throws across the entire Pacific ocean, still preserves its traditions and its own special way relationship with the surrounding world.
Tahiti, which is often called the "Island of Love", is the largest of the Islands of French Polynesia (an area of about 1045 sq. km). Of volcanic origin, the island is a mountainous area formed by the slopes of several tens of peaks, whose peaks rise to a height of over two thousand meters (the highest point is mount Orohena, 2241 m), and deep green valleys between them. Two cone volcanoes form a vast Peninsula of Tahiti-Nui and Tahiti-Iti, United isthmus plateau Taravao.
The capital of the island and throughout the city of Papeete, is located on the Northwest coast of Tahiti. The administrative center of French Polynesia has a population of only 70 thousand people, and is the "most European" of all settlements of the country. Only the abundance of palm trees and visible from almost all parts of the ocean, allows you to refer it to the tropics. There are many offices, clinics, banks, travel agencies and shops, it's a hectic business life, something is being built, loud horns cars in traffic, arrive and depart yachts and cruise liners, somewhere music next holiday or noisy crowd sporting events. The city deserves to stay here at least half a day and explore its attractions. Of great interest is the visit of the square To ATA, where are all cultural events in the capital - this audience specially built for ceremonies and can accommodate up to 5,000 people. On Bruat Avenue are almost all government agencies - the building of the office of the high Commissioner, several ministries and the Presidential Palace of French Polynesia. Park bougainvillea framed building of the Main post office, and on the square Tarago stands the statue of Pouvanaa of PLO - "spiritual father" internal autonomy, and Polynesian territorial Assembly. A little further along the coast lies the main shopping area Papeete - Vaima Centre where many shops, bars, restaurants, etc. Behind Vaima Center stands the Cathedral of Notre-Dame-Papeete, built in 1875 and rebuilt in the late 90 X. Behind the Cathedral begins the district of mission district, the center of the Catholic Church in French Polynesia, with the Bishop's Residence (XVIII is one of the oldest buildings in the city).
Towards the city centre you will find the beach Sihon center of rowing, and slightly to the right Church Paofai (1990) is the main centre of Protestantism in Tahiti and the largest in French Polynesia. Also noteworthy excellent Botanical garden Harrison Smith, garden Matoa, a rich Museum of Tahiti and the Islands, with its extensive collection of cultural and historical artifacts, the Museum ocean "Lagoonarium" Punaauia, musée Du-Kokila, the famous Gauguin Museum (just a small hut with works by the artist), as well as the richest Tahitian-pearl Center, which contains rare examples of famous local black pearl ("pinctada margaritifera").
Shopping district Papeete is a vast territory in the quarter from the coast, on the site of an old Chinese village. All this vast territory is built up with stores, shops and stalls, where you can buy literally everything from fruits and flowers, to food and Handicrafts. In the middle of this picturesque disorder rises a new two-storey Central Market Papeete (an area of 7000 square meters, the market building was built in 1987, but it was almost completely repeats the architecture of the "old market", built on the site in 1860, it Is believed that the Papeete Market remains one of the few places where you can see authentic Polynesia.
On the high hills around the city stretches colorful residential areas, surrounded by tropical gardens, miniature parks. The most beautiful places are the slopes of the Peak-Rouge, Saint-Amelie, Orbini and Mission. If you move from Papeete to the East, you'll find a hospital Mama and old Chinese temple, still guarded by two dragons. And just South of the road, by the way, she goes around the whole island, leads into one of the most beautiful places on the island - valley of Fautaua. Nestled between the peaks of mount Aorai (2066 m) and the Diadem, Fautaua replete with waterfalls and luxurious vegetation, therefore, is under state protection. Several kilometers inside the island, and the road leads to the river, Fautaua and legendary waters buy-Loti. The seaside village Tipaerui widely known as the center of traditional local crafts, where you can buy better products crafts on the island.
The lush interior of the island of Tahiti offers many opportunities for Hiking in the mountains, and even mountaineering. Here you can also find several picturesque plateau, about three dozen waterfalls, the famous "lava tubes" in Faarumai and numerous Polynesian relics, including several ruined churches, the town of arue - the burial place of the last king of Tahiti as the V, many "ticks" (ritual stones), "blue hole" in Arahoho and petroglyphs in Marae-Arahurahu. And a number of beautiful beaches around the perimeter of the island simply defies description. Besides water around the island is full of coral reefs, which creates excellent conditions for diving and snorkeling. The island of Tahiti is considered the birthplace of surfing, a popular destination for games with the wave" can be found in Papenoo, Punaauia, Paea.
The island of Moorea, the first of which bore the names of Eimeo or Ameho, is located 17 km North-West of Tahiti, and covers an area of 136 square miles with a population of only 14 thousand people. Moorea is an island of volcanic origin, the "grown" on the surface of the ocean about 2 million years ago. Eight of its jagged peaks form this mountain landscape, with the highest point on the mountain Thiee (1207 m). Other volcanic cones form a multiple branched ridges, breaking in the ocean numerous capes and bays, which gives the island view spreads the wings of a bird. The unique Geology of the island forms two large Gulf - Opunohu on the Western side of mount Rotui, the former once the crater of a volcano, and cook's Bay on the East side. The slopes are covered with forest and fruit plantations, and white sandy beaches fringe around the perimeter of almost the entire island. Coral reef is very close to the shore and has seven channels, three of which are available for large vessels.
Along with Bora Bora, Moorea is one of the most beautiful Islands in the South Pacific ocean, and probably in the world. This laid-back island with long white beaches, turquoise lagoons and green mountains. His main temptations are folk village Tiki with regular ethnographic representations, hall Belvedere, Teatea in temae airport, a beautiful beach at the hotel Sofitel, stone temples "marae" (scattered around the island, the oldest in Afareaitu), excellent yacht Parking in a Grand cook's Bay, the site of the first landing on the island of captain cook (1769) - Bay Opunohu, waterfalls Afareaitu, the Dolphin Centre at the Intercontinental hotel, and numerous small islets, "motu" off the coast.
By the way, "Maria" in the life of Polynesians have played a huge role. Usually this concept is known as "the temple" or "sanctuary", but the local tradition, this term has a much broader interpretation of "Marie" the Polynesians were considered to be alive, in which are concentrated all their ideas about spirits and forces of nature. They were a cult centers, and venue of courts and celebration, it was a place of sacrifice, they were built on the new land in the first place, and in the first place, transported to a new place of residence in the community. Therefore, even dilapidated, they still serve as a place of worship and worship.
Located about 40 km North of Tahiti, the island of Tetiaroa better known as "the island of Marlon Brando," after its former owner. This is the only coral Atoll in a series of volcanic windward Islands, a small, but very beautiful, with gorgeous beaches, crystal clear water of the lagoon and thousands of migratory birds. Live here no more than 50 people, but there is a real hotel in the village of Tetiaroa and thousands of people willing to be here on vacation.
The leeward group of Islands lying to the North-West of Tahiti, and is an archipelago of the extremely popular tourist Islands of Bora Bora, Raiateak, TAA (Tahaa), Hua hin, Maupiti and uninhabited atolls of Tupai, Mopelia, silly and Bellingshausen seas.
The most popular of the Islands of French Polynesia, the island of Bora Bora is located 280 km North-West of Tahiti. Bora Bora has an area of only 29 square km, but the lagoon of the island covers an area three times more - about 83 square km, and is considered the most beautiful lagoon on the planet. Having a rather elaborate form, the main island is located in the center of this huge lagoon, which, in turn, the ring surrounds a chain of small islets, "motu", forming only one pass into the lagoon from the South-West side. The highest part of the island, MT (727 m)is a cone of an extinct volcano, whose age is estimated at 4 million years. On the island resides about 6 thousand people, but luxury hotels here more than all the other Islands of French Polynesia taken together, all beaches are public, and access to them is completely free. Here all set to cater to tourists, but the locals are trying to save and the natural environment Bora-Bora - lagoon there are about 700 species of tropical fish, on the green slopes there are about 60 species of plants and species diversity of birds is one of the richest in the archipelago.
In the area of Ninua, the most populous and the most active part of the island, home to more than half of its inhabitants. Occupying almost the entire Western coast of the island, this area was an ancient resting place of the Royal family of Maui. The main town and port of the island - Vaitape, built at the foot of the impressive cliff-mount Paia, directly opposite the only passage in the wall of the reef - Teavanui. Here you will find all public institutions, post office, police station and schools, as well as several hotels and the local Museum. In the South-Western part of the lagoon stretches the "Coral garden" or "Lagoonarium" - amazing natural underwater Park, which is home to almost all kinds of local fish, including tame stingrays, Moray eels and sharks (there calmly fed with hands), as well as a large population of dolphins. And a few metres from Matira point on the South shore of the island, there are beautiful beaches Piti-Uta and Toopua, water, near which are full of manta rays. It is very close, aisle Teavanui, is "singing rock" Hirose-bell, and the passage having a depth of about 55 m, you can see the never stopping "ballet" of the tens and hundreds of gray sharks and barracudas. Unique semisubmerged ship "AQUASTOP" was developed by Jacques rougerie is a close friend and colleague Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and for 15 years now carries tourists through the magnificent lagoon of Bora Bora.
In the area Faanui, North of Ninua, lies the Gulf, around which focused cassava plantations and copra dryer - here are the main agricultural areas of the island. In Otwarego noteworthy Maritime Museum, in the Gulf Faanui - old base hydroaviation and submarines, in the district of Marae Headlamp-SDA - mysterious petroglyphs depicting sea turtles, and on the island of Marae-Faurea are tombs of ancient rulers of the island. Also here you can find a half dozen old army bunkers and gun revetments, remaining in Faanui since the Second World war, when 5000 American soldiers conducted a "peaceful takeover of the island. District Anau lies on the Eastern side of the island and has many interesting places - a beautiful lagoon at the foot of motu Piti-AU, the majestic slopes of mount Otemanu (727 m, with local residents say that no one has risen to the top) and Pacific island Marae-Nonohara.
Bora Bora is not so rich in historical sites, as its neighbors, but on the island you can find 42 traces of ancient Polynesian civilizations, including marae" in Waitaha in the North Bay Poovai, Tararua or Marocaine is the largest ritual stone on the island, and also one of the most beautiful in Polynesia "marae" Tinapa. The people of the island still remember the great number of legends, and with great pleasure to tell them to tourists.
The island of Huahine, earned the locals nicknamed the "Wild" is the easternmost of the leeward Islands. Located 175 km West of Tahiti, Huahine has an area of 76 square miles and consists of two Islands, Huahine Nui ("big") and Huahine Iti ("small"), formed by the invasion of the land of the deep Gulf of Meroe, which, according to local legend, was formed as a result of a blow Canoeing God, heero, and, without doubt, is one of the most beautiful bays of Polynesia.
Hua hin is the most mystical place in French Polynesia and one of the largest archaeological sites in the Polynesian triangle. It was on this island were found the most well-known traces of ancient Polynesian cultures, among which the oldest of the currently known sites of civilization Maui - FA Ahia and Vito otia related to 800-900 A.D. the In 1972, when the construction of the hotel Bali Hai about the Spotlight, it was discovered a large concentration buried in the ancient swamp items Maui (now they are shown in the exposition of the hotel). On the shores of lake Fauna Nui, on the hill of METAIRIE, stands about thirty "marae". Noteworthy to Manono-Marae in Mama, Anini-Marae on the South side of the island, in Area and flower plantation Paradise Park.
The most beautiful beaches are located on Huahine Iti in the district of Perea, and on the West coast near Faauo and Hapu, not to mention luxurious beach at Bali-Hai. Lagoon Chepareria, located on the Eastern coast of Huahine Iti, is one of the most beautiful in French Polynesia. Another characteristic feature of Hua hin, drawing on an island thousands of visitors, is described in all textbooks phenomenon "green beam" in the moment of leaving the sun behind the horizon flashes of emerald green ray, which is formed by a special refraction of sunlight in the earth's atmosphere. They say that Hua hin is the best place on the planet to observe this phenomenon.
Located at a distance of 220 km North-West of Tahiti, the island of Raiateak (Hawaiki, Hawaii Nui) is the largest and highest in the group of the leeward Islands. The island area of 172 sq km, the highest point is mount Topatoi (1017 m). Together with the nearby island of TAA (Tahaa), Raiateak forms a single lagoon Faaroa - deepest Bay in all of Polynesia (more than 30). On the island there are almost no good beaches, but attracts people not it is the administrative center of the entire island group, Raiateak now fifteen hundred years has the honorary title of "sacred island". What is not surprising is considered to be the cradle of all Polynesian civilizations, the island was a place of worship as inhabiting his earlier Maori, and came somewhat later than the Polynesians. According to the legends, it is with the Raiateak went ancient Maori navigators who discovered hundreds of Islands in the Pacific ocean from New Zealand to Hawaii.
The main place of worship here is the biggest "Maria" in Polynesia - Taputapuatea. Marae-Taino, situated on the West coast of the island, was built as an exact copy of Taputapuatea. According to legend, it is these "marae" gathered priests of the most remote Polynesian Islands, it was given "General" of the victim and it is here that dared global issues. Recent archaeological excavations have uncovered many previously unknown "Maria", as well as fragments of terraces, tools, artifacts, weapons and petroglyphs, especially abundant in the valleys of Haapapuro and Avera. And how many more unsolved mysteries of history is hidden under the canopy of lush forests covering the slopes of the local mountains? On the mountain Temehani (772 m), and more than anywhere else in the world, is growing a unique and carefully guarded by the locals plant - tiara-apathy ("Tiare Apetahi"), a beautiful white flower with four petals. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that the flowers bloom only at dawn, making a quiet crackling sound. You can see this little miracle and not rising to mountains in Faaroa there is a beautiful Botanical garden.
Tahaa, or "Island vanilla", is located in the same lagoon with Raiateak. The area of the island is approximately 89 square miles and the highest point is on the top of mount Ohiri (590 m) is an ancient volcano, whose numerous secondary cones form a heavily indented coastline. Surrounding the island, the reef has a length of about 160 km, forming in the Northern and North-Eastern parts of more than 60 Islands "motu", where there are several hotels. The main attraction of the island is 8 relatively isolated and very different from other villages, the chief of which is called the Patio. Almost 90% of the island's population grows vanilla - 76% of the total harvest vanilla French Polynesia gather here. For tourists conduct tours of the plantations, and showing rows of orchids, and the process of pollination and ripening of vanilla.
The most famous archaeological sites of the island are located in the bays Baimai and Mao. In Maimai you can see three "marae", one of which has a well preserved "AHU" (ceremonial platform) length more than 20 meters In Mao, there are five "marae" and several "peepee" (ceremonial platforms) with a wide stone bridge between them. The Fund Hibiscus, located in the eponymous hotel, between 1992 and is responsible for the protection and treatment of sea turtles, buying from fishermen all instances of this endangered animal, and then releasing them back into the ocean. Also a traditional place of attraction there are numerous farm on cultivation of pearls, among which the most picturesque farms Vaipae and Pierani in the Gulf Khamene and motu in Paaha-Theory. In Polynesian black pearls has always been synonymous with purity and magic, so it is not surprising that currently Polynesian Islands are the leading exporters of black pearls in the world.
Tupai, or motu Iti, is located 16 kilometres North of Bora Bora. The island is a series of successive "motu"surrounding shallow inner lagoon. The outer reef is quite narrow, reaching a width of 1500 m only in the South-Western side, and on the North Atoll is pronounced "beak", which is the local airport. Coconut trees are dense cover cover all "motu", creating excellent conditions for living and nesting birds and sea turtles. In Polynesian mythology Tupai was considered a stop for the souls of the dead. Probably so there is no one and there is no tourism infrastructure, but the island is regularly visited by divers and yachtsmen.
Still further to the West lies the uninhabited atolls of Mopelia, silly and Bellingshausen seas, which are the edge and the border of French Polynesia.
"Land of Men", or the Marquesas Islands, lies a thousand miles to the North-East of Tahiti. The archipelago consists of 12 Islands (Nuku Hiva, Nuku-Ova, Ua-POU, Tahuata, Fatu-Hiva, Hatutu, AIAA, Hut Iti, motu Onet, Matane, veil-hook and Clark Bank) and is very close to the equator. The climate is dry, with very low temperatures, which provides good conditions for development of agriculture and fishing. The area of the archipelago is considered to be the most abundant fish stocks throughout Polynesia.
The island of Nuku Hiva, or "Majestic island" (the old name Adams or merchant), located 1500 km North-East of Tahiti. Occupying an area of about 365 square miles, Nuku Hiva is the second largest island in French Polynesia. The island consists of two nested into each other old volcano, which formed two concentric calderas. In the centre of the island rises the extensive plateau Toovey remaining from the first of the Caldera, and the second Caldera surrounds the capital of the island Taiohae, forming a deep Bay (former crater) and an impressive wall of mountain peaks around. The Northern coast is highly indented, exposing basalt ridges striking beauty. Luxury bays of Hatiheu, Hautatu, Taipivai and Taiohae perfect for snorkeling, and the impressive cliffs of the North-East immersed 200-300 meters in the ocean, which in this district, most of all, really deserves its name - the Pacific ocean.
The capital of the island - Taiohae, which in reality is just a picturesque village, situated on the shores of the picturesque Bay and is famous for its beautiful Cathedral of Notre Dame with excellent carved bas-reliefs, and a relaxed atmosphere. Also noteworthy hill Make (864 m), which offers a stunning view of the island, art studios on the outskirts of the capital, full of waterfalls and archaeological sites of the valley Taipivai (16 km from the capital), the statue of the virgin Mary on top of one of the peaks towering above favorite Bay R. L. Stevenson - Hatiheu, Polynesian ceremonial Nanyuki-Tahua in the same valley, as well as the Catholic Church in anaho is the little Church of the Islands, and white beach almost at its walls. But the main center of attraction on the island - the majestic valley of Hakaui 15 km from the capital, in the South-West coast. Here is a small and deep Bay, which brought down several waterfalls, the highest of which is the waterfall of Agrii, has a height of more than 350 m
The island of Hiva OA is 1250 km North of Tahiti, and occupies an area of about 325 square km with a maximum height at 1213 m (mount Temetiu). Hiva OA until the mid-XX century was the administrative center of the Marquesas Islands, and though this status is Nuku Hiva, but Hiva OA still dominates the southern group of Islands. On this island lived and worked Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel (both are buried in the cemetery Callware in the main city of the island of Autana, their graves are still places of pilgrimage for the present). Here you can see such wonderful places as built by Gauguin "House of Pleasures" (restored in 1994), giant amphitheatre Bay Aotona, which occupies the Caldera of an ancient volcano valley Puamau with its petroglyphs and many "Mara, luxury beach in the Bay Noche, a very picturesque village of Hanayama, petroglyphs in AIone and Punai, "Maria" and the beach of black sand in Taaoa and lovely Bay Hanamaru.
Island WHA-Pow, which can be translated as "pillars", is located 50 km South of Nuku Hiva, in the Northern group of the Marquesas archipelago and covers an area of approximately 108 sq. km. Through the whole island from North to South runs great volcanic mountain range, reaching a maximum altitude on mount Potamoi (1235 m). Its much indented coastline dropped steeply into the sea, just in the bays can be found suitable for the mooring of vessels sites, and those are very small. Only on the North coast there are several good sites like beautiful bays Waiehu or Hakahau. In the South-West of the island lies the Gulf of Hohoe, widely known for its beautiful beaches and floral stones, representing the boulders, naturally decorated with floral motifs (noticeable only when the surface is wet stones). In Chacao-Hawkeye and Hakahau, in the South-East of the island, found the whole complex of "Pai-Pai", stone bridges and walls. Recently built on the road to Hohoe Catholic Church is decorated with colorful sculptures by local artists. But the main attraction of the island - Bay Ua-POU, where you can see the huge basalt columns, ascending into the sky.
The name of the island Ua-Huka (Ua-University), which lies 50 km East of Nuku Hiva, can be translated as "the stock of the gods". The island is a vast plateau (the total area of the island is 85 sq km), surrounded by desert areas, rising to the height of 855 m above sea level. Here there are more horses and wild goats than people, and the scarcity of water makes it very difficult life for the residents of three small villages, hidden in the folds of rocks in small bays along the southern coast. However, his name Ua-Huka received clearly no accident - it was noisy forest and lived more than 8,000 residents, therefore, to have survived the many archaeological sites and mysterious constructions of the sea peoples.
The main settlement on the island, the village Vajpaee, proud of its Archaeological Museum, which includes an extensive collection of various household items, weapons, accessories and tools found during excavations on the island. Also here you can find only in French Polynesia tree nursery (local government very strongly to restore the island's flora), an extensive archaeological site in the Gulf of Khan with three "ticks" in excellent condition, the Municipal Museum in the village Hoketus (created by local people, objects, decorate it, and for the most part are family heirlooms), and even a Botanical garden! The most beautiful shores Ua-Huka can compete with the best beaches on the entire island group. To the best of the best are the white sandy beach Manicina, lying on the Eastern coast beach Hatana, as well as a relatively small, but very beautiful beach motu Dad. In the area of Waikiwi there are several dozens of Hiking and equestrian trails, going to dotted with rocks petroglyphs, and Mehaute (Khan) are three "ticks" of the height of 3 meters.
The origin of the name of Tahuata can be found in the Polynesian word "dawn", but the locals often call it the "island of birds". The island is located 4 km South of Hiva OA and separated from it by a wide Strait with strong currents. The area of Tahuata about 60 square miles and the highest point is 1050 m live Here 3 times less inhabitants than on Hiva OA, and they are scattered in 4 villages, each of which is located in a valley that opens to the sea with a small Bay. Port is not here, so all the goods and people are transported ashore in regular commercial boats, which after half an hour, maybe the locals will again be transferred at sea.
The main village of the island - Waitaha, is very proud of its history. Here you can discover the monumental Catholic Church with stone walls and magnificent stained glass Windows (the construction of the Church was financed directly by the Vatican, opened in 1988), and three memorial in honor of the arrival on the island by the Spaniards in 1595, in memory of the victims of clashes between local residents and the French armed forces in 1838, and in memory of the landing on the island group Admiral Dupli-Tuar in 1842. Also worth a visit the old stone road from the village of Apatani to the Church by the sea, or take a tour on horseback, or by boat in the Gulf of Hanamoto, famous for its beautiful beach.
The southernmost island of the Marquesas Islands, Fatu-Hiva lies 30 km South of Hiva OA, and covers an area of 83 square km with a maximum altitude of 960 m the island's Name can be translated as "nine parts of the roof, but most often it is called the "Garden of Eden" is the moistest, most magnificent and most traditional of all the Islands of the group. Many fruit trees thrive on the slopes of the island due to abundant precipitation, and even the weather, and grown here "Tapa" is exported to many countries of the region. The island has been home to many of the best artisans of the French Polynesia is here colored weave fabrics of vegetable fibers, cut on wood and stone, and even prepare meals for special recipes.
Bay virgin is world famous for its amazingly beautiful basalt peaks. In Omoa can be seen on the old wooden buildings which were built in the Marquesas Islands long before the arrival of Europeans, as well as rock with petroglyphs at the exit of the village, a forest of breadfruit between Omoa and Hanavave, and many ancient ruins, abundant scattered around the island. The famous Norwegian Explorer Thor Heyerdahl lived on Fatu-Hiva in 1937-1938, and wrote about his impressions of the book, whose name is still the unofficial motto of the island - "Fatu-Hiva, return to nature".
Archipel des Tuamotu Gambier is the most extensive of the five archipelagos of French Polynesia. His 78 Islands cover more than 2 million square kilometres, stretching from the great North-Western Atoll of Mataiva to the tiny South-East of the Atoll Temoe, which shares about 2000 km. But the Islands have a total area of only 775 square miles, as most of them is a small coral atolls, only Makatea and four Islands in the group gamble are of volcanic origin. Up to 98% of the black pearl - main treasures of French Polynesia, produce of the Islands in the Tuamotus. But their main treasure - clear sea, deep lagoons and amazing abundance of marine life. These dairy coral rings that surround the magnificent turquoise lagoon, are the dream of all divers on the planet.
Located 370 km North-East of Tahiti, the Atoll of Rangiroa ("Long sky") has a diameter of 230 km Is the second largest Atoll in the world, after the Kwajalein Atoll in Micronesia. Its lagoon area 1640 sq km would fully accommodate the island of Tahiti. Known for its incredibly clear water (on average up to 25 m) and abundant marine fauna, the Rangiroa is widely known as one of the best places on the planet diving and snorkeling. The only inhabited part of the Atoll - ten-string of Islands connected by a series of bridges. In the southern part of the Atoll is a luxury resort Kia Ora, accessible only by sea. Sleepy village Avatoru, the main town of the island, has posted on his site a few high-quality resorts, many small guest houses and a couple of dive centres. The Rangiroa has several farms in the cultivation of pearls, which are well worth a visit.
The Atoll Tikehau, first bore the name of Oropa, is located 30 km from the Rangiroa and approximately 300 km North-East of Tahiti. The diameter of its lagoon, about 28 km, with an area of about 80 square miles, making it one of the best natural aquariums on the planet. Here are the first-class farm on cultivation of black pearls, populated with over 400 species of fish and 200 species of marine mollusks. "Hoa" (the channels between the Islands) are literally teeming with marine life, and their depth allows us to consider all the details of the underwater Kingdom with the boat. The islets, "motu" are home to several species of sea birds that build their nests right on the surface, allowing you to watch them not going to the beach, right from the boat. Islands of the Atoll thickets coconut groves, and the fantastic beaches of coral sand have a pinkish hue. Not surprisingly, 450 inhabitants of the island live in servicing tourists, fishing and copra production. Jacques-Yves Cousteau believed Tikehau one of the most exciting atolls in the world, and a variety of local marine life makes it one of the best places on the planet to study the marine life.
Island airport (Atoll Poerava) is located at 520 km North-East of Tahiti and has a size of 27 to 8 km It is one of the smallest visited Islands of the archipelago. Its population of only 750 people, including 600 lives in the village of Paew located directly opposite the main passage in the reef Taiapa and 3 km from the airport.
The airport is the cradle of Polynesian black pearl (it is often called the "poerava"). The abundance of pearl oyster ("pinctada margaritifera") in the lagoon of the airport has been known since time immemorial, so it was here in the early 60s, was built first in French Polynesia plantation on artificial cultivation of pearls. Today there are more than thirty farms, producing annually from 50 thousand to a million first-class pearls. Local pearls, known as the black actually has a variety of colors and shades, and reach impressive sizes, which determines its value. And the lagoon of an Atoll is a real Paradise for divers.
Opened in 1820 F. F. Bellingshausen the Atoll Fakarava ("End of the world", the old name of Farea or Hawaii)is 560 km North-East of Tahiti. Strongly elongated in the shape of an irregular oval, the Atoll has dimensions of 60 by 25 km and 2 pass through the ring reef - Ngarua, Tomecka. Huge Laguna Fakarava is a real Paradise for any diver, widely known for its fantastic underwater landscapes and huge populations of manta rays, sharks hammer, tiger sharks, etc. Currently, the entire Atoll has the status of a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, involved in the protection of virtually untouched ecosystem of coral atolls of the Central Pacific ocean. Also noteworthy farm on cultivation of pearls, a farm for growing "Rory" - appreciate the Asian palate "sea cucumber", and the old village Tetamanu with one of the first Catholic churches in the archipelago (built of coral blocks in 1874).
Other atolls of the Tuamotus
Isolated peripheral Islands of the Tuamotu archipelago are scattered in a wide arc almost 2000 km in length. They rarely visited by tourists, but their untouched nature, unique people and beautiful nature allow us to hope that sooner or later they will get the same fame as Tahiti or Bora Bora. The Atoll Takapoto (20 6 km) is known for its beautiful shores and built of coral "marae", Atoll Ana - home of the Royal family Pomar, on the Atoll of Arutua (30 km in diameter) can be detected quite rare for the coral atolls of Polynesia Central island, Takaroa no less known for its pearl farms than the airport, high island Makatea notorious as an example of thoughtless human intervention in ecozones (for almost 80 years it was mined phosphates that have literally transformed the once flourishing island into a lifeless pit), Mataiva proud to have avoided the fate of Makatea, and its cultural traditions, oval-shaped Atoll Kaukura (50 14 km) consists of 65 "motu" and has a shallow lagoon with a unique living community, and tiny (5 square km) Atoll Nukutavake is nearly a thousand kilometers from Tahiti, but delivers fish and fresh seafood in the capital and other countries in the region.
The archipelago gamble, named for the British Admiral, is the most remote island group in the country (780 km South-East of Tahiti). Most of the Islands are tiny rocky islets, whose waters are visited only by sailors and divers.
The main island in the archipelago, Mangareva and his "brothers" Arena, Akamaru and Tarawa are typical Polynesian Islands, mountains, lagoon, white beach, the sun and the "motu", surrounded by vast waters of the great ocean. Mangareva, the largest island of the group (8 to 1.5 km), is a double-headed the summit of a submarine mountain, forming two peaks (Duff - 441 m, Makoto - 423 m), and heavily indented coastline. The island lies on the volcanic platform, which is steep and drops to a depth on the southern and Eastern slopes, forming a unique "shipped" barrier reef, and almost flat in the North, where you can find young reef, forming on the North and East, many small "motu".
The main village of the island - Rikitea, is located on the shore of a huge lagoon at the foot of the mountains, and is one of the most "green" of settlements in the archipelago. At the end of the main street stands the Cathedral of Saint-Michel (the largest Cathedral in the "South seas", XVIII-XIX centuries), with its famous altar, adorned with pearls and mother of pearl, and extend around orchards and coffee plantations. And in the beautiful lagoon, approximately 60 km in circumference, uniting Mangareva, Okana, Agaku-and-Taya, Kamaka, Akamaru and Taravai, there are several pearl farms.
The island of Tubuai (South island)
The island of Tubuai represent a long chain of remote Islands located in the southern part of French Polynesia, South-West of the cook Islands (325 km North-West of Ile-Maria) and 550 km South of the Society Islands. The group consists of 7 main Islands (Rimatara, Rurutu, Tubuai, Raivavae (Vavau) and Brine), with a total area of 174 square miles, extending from North-West to South-East to 1300 km Also in the archipelago is uninhabited Atoll Ile-Maria and rocky Islands of Marotiri (Ile-de-Bas, a group of 3 rocky Islands and cliffs, still continuing to rise from the depths of the ocean).
The rocky island of Rurutu (Etherea, Otero) is located 480 km South of Tahiti and has an area of 34 square miles (11 to 6 km). The surface of the island is formed by two spurs of the mountains - Tatya (389 m) and Manurewa (385 m). Mountainous areas occupy almost the entire island, leaving only a few small and narrow coastal plains. The cliffs bounding the greater part of the coast, impressive and rich in natural caves. The reef is very close to the shore of the lagoon, almost none. A population of approximately 2000 people.
Rurutu is truly a magical island where you can see in reality the best Polynesian traditions. The islanders are very friendly and carefully preserve their own tradition of Handicrafts made on Rurutu, are considered the best in the country. While the islanders have retained the amazing crafts in the form in which they have inherited them from our ancestors, who lived many centuries ago. All kinds of wicker baskets, wood carving and stone, food and, of course, the famous local hats are made in the centuries-old traditions, with full respect of ancient technology. But the main attraction of the island - high cliffs at the edge of the shore, from which spring and fall (especially in September-November) offers a magnificent panorama on the way seasonal migration of humpback whales. Pods are only 30-50 metres from the shore, so the brave can even swim among these magnificent animals, whose length reaches almost 25 PM
The administrative center of the group, the island of Tubuai, or as the locals call it - "the Isle is full of peace and clarity", is an almost oval cone lying at 210 km South-East of Rurutu (650 km South of Tahiti). The island is the top of two ancient volcanoes, whose cones are preserved in the form of Taita (422 m, a younger volcano), Taveta (327 m) and Mareena (327 m, both cones more old volcano). The area of the island is about 45 square miles, and the surrounding magnificent lagoon is almost 3 times more.
Tubuai is considered one of the best places in French Polynesia for a quiet and relaxing holiday surrounded by nature. The islanders are extremely proud of their homeland and very friendly. Here you can ride a canoe ride to a tiny "motu", fish or lobster, to visit the old coffee plantations or abandoned coffee factory. But the best kind of rest here is Biking or horseback excursion around the perimeter of the island, with visits to more than three hundred species sites, craters of ancient volcanoes, Central geological wonders, crafts workshops, as well as picturesque villages Mataura, Tahuya and Mahu.
The island of Raivavae lies 180 km East of Tubuai, and an elongated from North to South, the mountainous Central island area of 21 sq km, with amazing lagoon and approximately thirty "motu" around him. Three mountain peaks - Hiro (438 m), Tarai (309 m), Mattea (163 m) form the landscape of the island. Coral reef is a semi-circle surrounds the island, forming the southern and Eastern sides of the row "motu" - Mano, Waimanu, Hama and other Northern side of the outer reef less wide, and in the South-West reef breaks, forming a wide passage into the lagoon. The island scenery is truly great and occurs on many avenues of Polynesia, but life here is quiet and pastoral. Locals graze black pigs, collecting coconuts, fish and cultivated pearls. And tourists here will offer peace and quiet, which is so necessary in modern life.
Climate French Polynesia
Tropical. The average temperature during the year 27 degrees. The water temperature is 26 degrees. Hot sun, the effect of which is softened thanks to the fresh wind of the Pacific ocean.
Time French Polynesia
The territory of French Polynesia lies in three time zones. Island gamble is GMT/UTC -9 hours; Marquesas Islands is GMT/UTC -9,5 hours; the archipelago of Society, Tubuai, Tuamotu archipelago (except Islands Gambia), Tahiti is GMT/UTC -10 hours. However, given the numerous amendments, the time on the Marquesas Islands and gamble ahead of Moscow 11.5 hours in winter and 10.5 in the summer, and in the archipelago of Society, Tubuai, the Tuamotus (except Islands Gambia) and Tahiti - 11 hours in winter and 10 in summer.
Language French Polynesia
French and Tahitian are the official languages. English is spoken in hotels, tourist spots, shops and restaurants.
Money French Polynesia
Polynesian franc (XPF); 1 Euro = 119.253 XPF. Restrictions on import-export no.
Visa French Polynesia
Visa in French Polynesia, fully referred to as the "Visa to travel overseas territory of France", is issued in the French Embassy, the Department of overseas territories of France. A French visa is not valid.
For obtaining a tourist visa must submit the following documents:
• Completed and signed application form;
• Original passport with validity of at least 3 months after expiry of the visa;
• A photocopy of all pages of the passport with a clearly visible stamp of residence;
• Two color photographs size 35 45 mm, light plain background, recently made, and having the maximum similarity with the applicant (one pasted in the application form, the other attached separately);
• A letter from the employer on company letterhead indicating the position and salary, with the seal and signature of the official (for students - transcript from the educational institution);
• Medical insurance international standard.
You will also need to prove the motive of the trip (tour-voucher, hotel reservation or a letter of guarantee from the local tourist organization), to prove the existence of the necessary financial resources for the whole period of stay and submit warranty return or to make a plane ticket there and back.
For children under 18 years, travelling with one of his parents, the birth certificate and notarized permission to travel from the second parent. If the child is traveling without parents, you need notarized and translated into French delegation of parental authority to the accompanying person or on the receiving side. In turn, from the accompanying person need a notarized document translations in French language on consent acceptance of parental authority. These items can be included in an exit permit, or issued in the form of three separate documents. You will also need a photocopy of one of the inner sheet or passport of the parents with the signature of the owner.
Visa-free transit is not permitted. Transit visa is not required for those passengers who continue their journey to a third country within 3 hours after crossing the border of French Polynesia on the same flight, and do not leave the territory of the airport transit area.
Traditions French Polynesia
The Islands of French Polynesia, is practically safe for travelers. Crimes of property character occasionally recorded, but very quickly discovered, and it is on a small island everything in sight and hide from the law difficult. And given the known straightness of local residents - and impossible. The police firmly pursues all types of crimes committed against foreign citizens. However, you should always take safety precautions against pickpockets, especially in areas with large concentrations of people, keep track of your things and take the usual precautions. On the Islands, there are noticeable Pro-American sentiment at all levels - the greatest emphasis on American tourists everywhere dominates the typical slang and customs. Some hotels are guided by a rather tasteless design style, and cooking. Often even the French tourists celebrate a disregard to all, except for visitors from the USA, but this is rather an exaggeration. Everywhere outside of Tahiti any foreigner is something of a sacred cow in India, therefore, treat all very polite and friendly. And the Americans... they just here more than all the rest put together.
French Polynesia is a very expensive country. Taxes on personal incomes no, but indirect taxes and duties are high, and most of the items and foodstuffs are imported from neighboring countries, to the most loved ones from whom more than a half-two thousand kilometers. Many goods and services are 2 times higher than, for example, in Australia or 3 times higher than in nearby cook Islands. Characteristic that determines the price level in a particular institution, is the designation of the category icons dollars - expensive restaurant denoted by the label "$$$$"and the budget the budget is "$".
Milk and dairy products usually mastersource and safe to eat. Meat, seafood and fish is considered safe, but still it is recommended to consume only after preliminary heat treatment, preferably hot. Vegetables should be thoroughly washed and pre-treated and purified from the fruit peel.
On most Islands there is no threat to animal health. On some atolls are found mosquitoes and sand flies "Nono", but their bites are relatively harmless. Lagoons are found several species of sharks, mainly perfectly safe black shark, shark, nurse, as well as stingrays, Moray eels, barracudas, sea urchins and other relatively dangerous animals. With the outer side of the reef fauna more aggressive, but for the entire twentieth century in French Polynesia is not a single documented case of shark attacks on people.
Since the climate is very hot, and solar radiation is aggressive, it is necessary to take certain measures against solar radiation, thermal injury and dehydration. You are advised to bring sunscreen, hats and light cotton clothing that covers the body. Even when immersed in water can strongly "to burn" literally an hour - crystal-clear water acts as a focusing lens and does not protect from ultraviolet radiation.
The Mururoa (southern group of Islands in the Tuamotus) and Fangataufa atolls (40 km South-East of Mururoa) for almost 40 years was conducted tests of nuclear weapons. The French government recommends that you refrain from visiting these areas. However, the ships in those areas simply do not go, and aircraft rent will be difficult.
About 55% of the population of the Islands - Protestant, 30% Roman Catholic, 6% Mormons, up to 2% of the residents consider themselves Adventists, 2% are Buddhists and adherents of Confucianism.
Traditional cuisine French Polynesia
French Polynesia has a unique culinary tradition, uniting the old recipes of the Maritime tribes of the South Pacific, French, Italian and Chinese cooking. This is evident not only in luxury restaurants are in abundance on all the Islands, but in cheap eateries like "the forest of roulettes", no less, by the way, are numerous. Traditionally, local dishes, like thousands of years ago, cooked in earthen ovens, representing the usual pit lined with stones. Products just wrapped in banana leaves and put on red-hot stones, and where they are baked for several hours. In French Polynesia, this type of furnace called "ahima, and food, it is prepared, "Tamara" - they can be found in the rustic dining room and menu of expensive restaurants.
Popular local dishes include smoked fruits, breadfruit, bananas, all kinds, "FAFA" (suckling pig with spinach), pork Tahitian marinated fish with coconut milk and lemon "Poisson-CRU, pudding with papaya, mango or banana, small kebabs "shish" (meet as meat and fish or seafood), papaya salad, pork curry with Taro roots, numerous steaks, fried chicken and grilled fish and various marine life. In the restaurants and bistros can be found examples of any cuisine of the world, and many of them are prepared taking into account local specifics, and often a little reminiscent of their "ancestors".
Widely available all kinds of imported alcoholic beverages.
Political system French Polynesia
French Polynesia (Pays d outre-mer de la Polynesie Francaise) from July 1977 has the status of an Autonomous territory within the French Republic. The head of state is the President of France, represented on the Islands by the high Commissioner of the Republic. The head of government - President of the Territorial government. Members of the Council of Ministers appointed by the President with the approval of the Territorial Assembly.
Population French Polynesia
In French Polynesia there are about 246 thousand people. The ethnic composition is quite colorful - Polynesians make up 78% of the population of the territory, ethnic French - 10% (6% live here permanently, and 4% live in the metropolis, and come here to work), as well as the Chinese and people from other countries in South-East Asia 12%.
Customs French Polynesia
Import and export of local and foreign currency is not limited, the amount in excess 7622? must be declared in the Declaration.
Persons under the age of 17 years are allowed duty-free import into the country up to 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or 200 gr. tobacco; 2 litres of wine and 1 litre of alcoholic beverages fortress more than 22 g.; up to 500 gr. coffee, up to 100 gr. tea, up to 50 grams. perfume and 250 ml of toilet water, and other goods worth up to CFP5000 (CFP2500 for persons under the age of 15 years).
Prohibited to import all food of animal origin, plants, fruits, weapons, ammunition and drugs, counterfeit and faux pearls. All baggage arriving from the territory of Fiji and Samoa, necessarily subject to a mandatory disinfection (fumigation) Phytosanitary Police (usually this procedure takes two hours).
Medical aid French Polynesia
The level of medical services and quality of services on the Islands are quite high and are based on French standards. More than 20 modern hospitals and clinics, including a large clinic in Tahiti, provide almost all kinds of health. Many hotels are English-speaking doctors. It is strongly recommended that medical insurance international standard.
A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is required from all travellers over the age of 1 year, arriving from areas the spread of the disease. Recommended prophylaxis against typhoid, hepatitis b and yellow fever.
Working hours French Polynesia
Banks are open Monday-Friday 07.45-08.00 to 15.30. Some large banks (e.g., Banque de Tahiti) open on Saturdays from 7.45 till 11.30.
Shops are open from 8.00 to 12.00 and from 13.30 to 17.00-17.30. Private shops and stores in the suburbs are usually open till 22.00. On Saturdays shops are closed at 11.00.
Potable water French Polynesia
Despite the fact that tap water is chlorinated, all water should be regarded as potentially unfit for consumption, especially in the first days of their stay in the Islands. All water used for drinking, brushing teeth or create ice must be reviewed prior to boiling.
Electricity French Polynesia
The mains voltage is 110 / 220V, 50-60 Hz. Are standard round sockets of the European type with two round pins with ground.
Tip French Polynesia
Tipping is not accepted, but not prohibited. Some hotels employees accept tips in the form of contributions to the Fund of Christmas". Prices for goods and services include all taxes or maintenance costs. However, when buying black pearls, and expensive jewelry, you can insist on some discounts.