— Discovering the island of Tahiti—away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Papeete—is definitely worth the time it takes to go around the island.
—Visitors who have rented a car for touring the island should bear in mind that the main road on either side of the peninsula does not go all the way around Tahiti-Iti.
—A short distance east of Papeete is the commune of Arue on Tahiti’s north coast. Arue was once the land of the powerful Pomare family and here you will find the tomb of Pomare V, Tahiti’s last monarch.
—The circle island road winds steeply up Tahara’a Hill as you leave Arue and enter Mahina. From the lookout point at the top of the historically famous One Tree Hill, you can admire the spectacular beauty of Tahiti’s sister island of Moorea, located across the Sea of Moons.
—Continue on the circle island road down to sea level and follow the sign for a left hand turn that takes you to Point Venus. The first European discoverers walked ashore on this historical site more than 200 years ago. Capt. Samuel Wallis arrived aboard the HMS “Dolphin” in 1767 and claimed Tahiti for England, giving it the name King George III’s Island. He was followed by Capt. Cook, Capt. Bligh and the “Bounty”, and the English Protestant missionaries. Point Venus is a park today and the lighthouse here is the only one in all of French Polynesia.
—While standing on the beach at Point Venus, let your eyes drift inland to the mountains, which probably are as spectacular today as they were when the first European ships anchored here in Matavai Bay. The tallest peak is that of Mt. Orohena, which dominates the landscape from her lofty height of 2,241 meters (7,353 feet).
—Back on the circle island road again, head on around the east coast to Papenoo, where you will see the surfers riding the waves offshore. In Tiarei you will want to stop at the Blowhole of Arahoho and the Three Cascades of Fa’arumai Valley. The Vaimahuta waterfall is the easiest to reach by following a well-defined path from the parking lot, just a few minutes’ drive from the main road. In Hitiaa you can also visit the Vaiharuru waterfall.
—After passing through Taravao on the isthmus between Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti, you will come to the lush vegetation of Papeari on the south coast of Tahiti Nui. The first tourist stop includes the Paul Gauguin Museum and the Harrison Smith Botanical Gardens just next door. In Mataiea you can visit the Vaipahi Gardens and Cascade and cool off in the Vaima River.
—In Papara you will pass the Olivier Breaud International Golf Course of Atimaono, located between the mountains and the sea. The 18-hole golf course is 6,900 yards long, and attracts professional and amateur golfers who compete in the annual Australian PG circuit.
—In the valley of Paea you can visit the Arahurahu Marae, which has two restored stone temples in a magnificent outdoor setting.
—As you get closer to Papeete, you will notice the population density suddenly increasing. Punaauia is also known as Tahiti’s Gold Coast. You can take a slight detour off the circle island road to visit the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands, where exhibits detail the island’s colorful history