s/y Nine of Cups
French Polynesia
2009
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We entered French Polynesia (Te Ao Maohi as the Polynesians call
it) at Rikitea, Mangareva in the Gambier Islands.
  • Capital: Pape'ete, Tahiti
  • Population: ~ 250,000
  • Area: French Polynesia is comprised of five great archipelagos
    (Australs, Gambiers, Tuamotus, Marquesas and Society
    Islands).An overseas French territory, it consists of lots of
    ocean and not much land. There are 35 islands and about 83
    atolls for a total land area of 354,287 hectares.
  • Currency: CFP (Cour de Franc Pacifique)
   $1US = 85 CFP
  • Language: French, Polynesian dialects (each
archipelago group has its own dialect)
  • Time: -10 GMT (Marquesas & Gambier -9 GMT)
Join us as we visit these legendary, exotic South Pacific islands.  
Iles Gambier                              Archipel des Tuamotu
Society Islands - Windwards
Of the 104 species of birds found in French
Polynesia, half of the 30 species of land birds
are endemic, i.e. only found here in the world.
For a great website about the
birds of
French Polynesia, click here. To see birds
of the South Pacific we identified, click here.
France
Gambier
Tuamotu
Society
Marquesas
French Polynesia
Australs
Tuamotus Sandpiper
For a sampling of the rich flora of
French Polynesia , click here.
It’s common to put a tiare (Tahiti’s
national flower, a fragrant white
blossom) or an hibiscus behind one’s
ear -- left side if you’re taken and right
if you’re available.

Note: It took us forever to figure out
the difference between a frangipani
(shown above) and a tiare. Frangipani
has 5 petals...tiare has seven!
The word tattoo originated from the
Tahitian,
tatau. The legend of Tohu, the god
of tattoo, describes painting all the oceans’
fish in beautiful colors and patterns. In
Polynesian culture, tattoos have long been
considered signs of beauty, and in earlier
times were ceremoniously applied when
reaching adolescence. Some cruisers
considered getting a tattoo a "rite of
passage" for having traveled through FP.
There are no poisonous snakes or insects
in French Polynesia. (Hoorah!) (There are,
however, nonos, mosquitos and
centipedes that are quite the nuisance.)
Black pearls can be purchased in all of
French Polynesia, but the key producing
areas are the Tuamotus and the Gambier.
We found the highest quality in the
Gambier and, of course, in the
show-rooms in Tahiti. Key criteria for
judging pearls: size, shape, color, luster
and surface perfection.
The "Pearl
Museum" in Pape'ete is the only museum
in the world dedicated exclusively to pearls.
The local brew is quite good, but no bargain
at $9.75+ /6-pack.
Taifaifai is a large piece of fabric on
which are hand-appliqued different
patterns (not so different than the
molas
of Panama, but much larger) to form
something comparable to a patchwork
quilt. And in fact,
taifaifai in Tahitian
translates to "repair or patch".
Our list of "things to look for/buy/try" in
French Polynesia included: black pearls,
taifaifai, tapa, tattoos, carvings, things
"Gaugin", poisson cru, vanilla, shell jewelry,
pandanus baskets.
Society Islands - Leewards
Wifi on the boat in some of the most remote
places in French Polynesia. It's great.
Click
the Iaoranet logo above to learn where
it's available and how much it costs.
Suggestion:
have a wifi good antenna for
your computer. We use Alfa USB high power
adapter 802.11G and it's been excellent.