May 18, 2023
Our Favorite Jewels and Gems
It’s a well-accepted fact that Tahiti is paradise on Earth. But did you know that beyond the brilliant lagoons, iconic mountains, and legendary beaches it is also home to a treasure trove of natural wonders and cultural marvels? From iridescent Tahitian pearls and the aromatic allure of Tahitian vanilla to the profound significance of tattoos and archaeological sites, here we are pleased to share our take on the Top 7 Treasures of Tahiti; the things we are passionate about as The Gauguin Experience celebrates its 25th Anniversary exploring French Polynesia.
1. Tahitian Pearls: Captivating Jewels of the South Pacific
Coveted gems from the region’s azure lagoons, Tahitian pearls mesmerize with a captivating allure that embodies the mystique of their origin. Nurtured by black-lipped oysters (Pinctada margaritifera), these pearls display a breathtaking range of iridescent hues, from luminous shades of gray and silver to vibrant greens and blues. Their exceptional quality, rarity, and luster make them synonymous with elegance and grace, adorning the necks and wrists of discerning connoisseurs who seek a touch of ethereal beauty.
2. Tahitian Vanilla: A Sensory Symphony of Culinary Delights
Whether folded into po’e (a creamy dessert of banana, shredded coconut, brown sugar, and cinnamon), added to the famed poisson cru (a ceviche-like dish), or infused into a decadent crème brûlée, Tahitian vanilla is a gastronomic crown jewel that elevates any dish to sublime heights. Cultivated in abundance on Taha’a and coveted by chefs the world over, this exquisite variety of vanilla entices with its velvety smoothness, delicate floral notes, and hints of fruitiness. The beans undergo a meticulous and time-honored process, from hand-pollination to careful curing, ensuring their unparalleled quality.
3. The Tiaré Flower: A Fragrant Emblem of Tahitian Culture
The tiaré flower is a cherished symbol of Tahitian culture, possessing an intoxicating allure that captivates both locals and visitors alike. With its dainty snow-white petals and delicate, gardenia-like fragrance, this elegant blossom graces tropical landscapes throughout French Polynesia with a radiant presence. Revered for centuries, the tiaré flower holds deep cultural significance, adorning the hair of Tahitian women and finding its place in traditional ceremonies. Embodying the spirit of this enchanting island paradise, the tiaré flower thrives as a testament to Tahiti’s natural beauty and rich heritage.
4. Tattoos in Tahiti: Ancient Artistry and Cultural Significance
The history of tattoos in Tahiti weaves a tapestry of cultural significance and artistic expression that dates back centuries. In ancient times, tatau as they were once known, began as symbols of personal identity, social status, and spiritual connections. The intricate designs often featured geometric patterns and symbols inspired by nature and were expertly etched onto the skin using traditional tools and techniques. Today, Tahitian tattoos continue to be revered as a powerful means of storytelling and preservation of cultural heritage, evoking a profound sense of pride and belonging among the Tahitian people.
5. Fakarava and Raiatea: UNESCO-listed Treasures
Two of Tahiti’s most captivating destinations—Fakarava and Raiatea—are honored with UNESCO recognition, solidifying their status as treasures of natural and cultural importance. In the Tuamotus, Fakarava’s distinction as a Biosphere Reserve celebrates its breathtaking coral reefs, pristine waters, and commitment to ecological preservation; a Technicolor paradise for divers and snorkelers known for the famed Garuae Pass, a natural phenomenon where nutrient-rich currents attract an abundance of marine life.
In the Society Islands, Raiatea stands as a UNESCO World Heritage site revered for its cultural significance as the spiritual and political center of ancient Polynesia. The marae found here—sacred ceremonial monuments—offer profound insight into the region’s traditions, customs, and collective identity. Together, these dual treasures invite exploration and appreciation, providing a truly immersive experience in the heart of Tahiti.
6. Tahitian Hospitality: A Warm Welcome from the Heart
The people of Tahiti possess a vibrant and warm culture rooted in deep traditions and a genuine spirit of hospitality. With an identity that is intricately tied to the land, sea, and natural beauty that surrounds them, Tahitians welcome all with open arms, embracing each visitor as part of their extended family. Traditional arts, dance, and music are cherished forms of expressions, allowing Tahitians to share their rich heritage and stories with grace and pride.
7. The m/s Paul Gauguin: The Beloved Ambassador of Tahitian Culture
With the enchanting charm of an overwater bungalow that gracefully glides from one idyllic lagoon to the next, the m/s Paul Gauguin blends artfully authentic discovery with all-inclusive luxury for truly immersive experiences throughout French Polynesia. The carefree ambience on board is elevated by exceptional cuisine and the friendly service of an experienced crew—including the hospitality of our Les Gauguins and Les Gauguines, our own troupe of local Tahitians who live aboard to share to entertain and engage guests with stories of their home islands. Renowned as Travel + Leisure’s #1 Small-Ship Ocean Cruise Line, The Gauguin truly is a Tahitian treasure.
To learn more about Tahiti and its abundance of wonders, visit our Culture Corner.