Hit enter to search or ESC to close
Kayaks on a Beach in Tahiti

Yacht Experiences

Culture and Conservation in Tahiti

Our Head of Yacht Expeditions talks to us about the new side of Tahiti she uncovered while on a recent trip aboard SILENTWORLD.

Words by Pelorus

An emerald gem set into the dazzling blue of the Pacific Ocean, Tahiti, the largest island in French Polynesia, represents for many the ideal of the ‘island paradise’. An abrupt volcanic, jungle-carpeted hinterland carpeted in is ringed with black sand beaches and thriving coral gardens.

But, as Elise our head of Yacht Expeditions describes, Tahiti’s natural good looks have led to the destination becoming ‘pigeon-holed’. It’s too often seen as a honeymoon destination, heralded for its exotic isolation when there’s a great deal more to be uncovered in this astonishing archipelago.

In an effort to learn more, Elise joined a trip arranged by Tahiti Tourism in partnership with Ocean Alliance, the management company of the 131ft charter yacht SILENTWORLD. On this stunning vessel, Elise explored this increasingly accessible destination to better see beyond the honeymoon gauze.

The incredible experiences she explored included showcases of authentic Polynesian culture and collaborative initiatives in wildlife conservation. Such activities represent an ongoing shift in the luxury travel industry and resonate with the values represented by Pelorus.

Talk us through your experience of Polynesian culture.

On our first day we set out to explore the island itself;  we discovered waterfalls, scaled volcanoes, and explored the dense rainforest lead by our amazing private guide – who never wore shoes in order to be contacted to the earth! The hike we completed was not difficult and offered stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. We were also told it would be possible to camp overnight in the jungle which would be a truly authentic experience for any adventure-seeker.

He took us to a sacred Marae, which was once a centre for social, political, and religious activity, including sacrifice and worship. He explained to us how these ancient stone ruins were considered to be the cradle of Polynesian civilisation. But most importantly, he explained how the mindset of being in the ‘here and now’ stems from the heart of his ancient culture, which served as a poignant reminder of how incredible this experience was.

“We explored the interior of Tahiti, the side that few ever really see”

Another day saw us exploring the surrounding islands in a tender. We heard the unique sound of a conch shell blowing from a seemingly deserted beach and when we arrived we found ourselves to be the only people on the tiny Hana Iti Islet. Here we were greeted by the local people who taught us how to husk a coconut before challenging us to a traditional Polynesian game which involved hitting coconuts with spears and it goes without saying that we did not win. But throughout this magical experience, we were completely isolated and there was no one to be seen for miles making it a truly intimate and fascinating insight into authentic Polynesian culture.

What conservation efforts did you take part in on your trip?

Within the luxury travel industry, there has been a progressive shift towards engaging in experiences that aim to give back and this was certainly one of them. It simply proved that even when visiting somewhere as far-flung as Tahiti, it is possible to participate in active conservation efforts.

We paid a visit to the Coral Gardeners, an extraordinary foundation that focuses on reef restoration. Here, we collected broken pieces of coral and attached them to bamboo rods which we then planted back into the reef. We were also able to adopt a coral and name it ourselves before receiving an adoption certificate which detailed its specific location coordinates. This was a very connective experience and really allowed us to immerse ourselves in this topical initiative.

Did you encounter any exciting wildlife?

One day we journeyed to Moorea on a private tender to discover the wondrous world of the pacific stingrays, where we also encountered the resident population of blacktip reef sharks. In just a few feet of water, we were surrounded by these friendly creatures, some of which were over four feet long and were just as intrigued by us as we were them, making the entire experience extremely personal.

But by far our most spectacular encounter came when we least expected it. We were lucky enough to witness a female humpback whale and her calf resting in the water just below the surface. Our guide handed us snorkels and fins and we jumped into the water to observe them from a distance. Strangely, this was quite an emotional experience being so close to such magnificent animals.

“We were lucky enough to witness a female humpback whale and her calf resting in the water”

This was yet another reason why exploration by yacht is such an unbelievable experience; we were able to be very reactive, especially with rare encounters such as this which we certainly would not have seen if we had been staying on land.

Describe your time on 40m SILENTWORLD.

My time on SILENTWORLD was truly special. The level of service we received was second to none and similar to that of a much larger yacht – every member of the eight-strong crew was welcoming and friendly and all of our needs were catered for, with expectations truly exceeded.

What I particularly loved, was that half of the crew were originally from French Polynesia which meant that our experience was greatly enhanced by their expert, local knowledge and far-reaching network of contacts. The chef also managed to cover every cuisine we could think of, which showcased his talents brilliantly.

“Our experience was greatly enhanced by their expert, local knowledge”

SILENTWORLD offered us unrivalled flexibility and allowed us to experience Tahiti in a completely bespoke and dynamic way, something that could not be matched if we had been land-based.