Hitchhiking from Tahiti to Bora Bora (part 1)

 

 

 

A fter 3,7 years of non-stop hitchhiking, I’ve finally arrived to French Polynesia and that fact seemed so unreal. I was literally 4 islands away from Bora Bora – and the finish line of my little mission! Everyone was telling me how hitchhiking from Tahiti to Bora Bora is going to be “sooo easy”…everyone who has never done it before. I didn’t really know what to think of it. Just the fact that I needed to hitchhike yet another sailing boat or a few of them annoyed me, because I’m not a big fan of sailing.

 

 

French Polynesia is REALLY expensive country, so in order not to bankrupt while there, I found myself a couchsurfing host in Papeete. I was super lucky, because my Tahitian host Ronny was amazing. We had a similar life philosophy and got on really well.

 

Ronny! :))
Ronny! :))

 

My bed in Ronny's flat which is located in the center of Papeete.
My bed in Ronny's flat which is located in the center of Papeete.

 

First few days I hitchhiked around Tahiti as I tried to get familiar with the people and the culture. Once I figure out how the locals breathe, it’s much easier for me to adjust and find my place among them. Soon, I learnt the locals are respectful, very friendly and kindhearted. The men have never tried to touch me while I was hitchhiking, flash me or give me any dirty looks. The people often invited me to stay with their families and handed me some fruits “for the road”. Almost every day I would return back to Ronny’s flat with the bags of fruit that I was given while hitchhiking around the island. Ronny was quite amazed by it and said I could stay in his flat as long as I want because I was bringing him free food every day. :))

 

Ronny and I with the shitloads of fruit that I was bringing home every day after my little hitchhiking trips around the island.
Ronny and I with the shitloads of fruit that I was bringing home every day after my little hitchhiking trips around the island.

 

The first guy who picked me up in Tahiti. He couldn't speak English and I can't speak French, so we used the sign language to communicate.
The first guy who picked me up in Tahiti. He couldn't speak English and I can't speak French, so we used the sign language to communicate.

 

I love when women pick me up. They usually always have some interesting story about them. This one is just starting her own jewelry business with black pearls.
I love when women pick me up. They usually always have some interesting story about them. This one is just starting her own jewelry business with black pearls.

 

They picked me up twice within the same day. They moved from France to Polynesia for all the obvious reasons, plus this lady got herself a job of teaching Mandarin in Papeete. Quite a few locals told me that being a teacher in French Polynesia is financially better than being a teacher in France.
They picked me up twice within the same day. They moved from France to Polynesia for all the obvious reasons, plus this lady got herself a job of teaching Mandarin in Papeete. Quite a few locals told me that being a teacher in French Polynesia is financially better than being a teacher in France.

 

We had no language in common, so he blasted the music really loud and we rocked to the same tune until he dropped me off at the place I needed to be.
We had no language in common, so he blasted the music really loud and we rocked to the same tune until he dropped me off at the place I needed to be.

 

Famous black sand beach in Tahiti.
Famous black sand beach in Tahiti.

 

Black as drek. :))
Black as drek. :))

 

As soon as you move away from Papeete, the nature around Tahiti is amazing.
As soon as you move away from Papeete, the nature around Tahiti is amazing.

 

Skinny dipping. <3
Skinny dipping. <3

 

Simple and beautiful life around the island.
Simple and beautiful life around the island.

 

Around Tahiti.
Around Tahiti.

 

Government building in Papeete. They seemed to have colorful dinner parties there every few days, but I photographed it on the most boring day.
Government building in Papeete. They seemed to have colorful dinner parties there every few days, but I photographed it on the most boring day.

 

Not as big as during rainy season, but still pretty awesome.
Not as big as during rainy season, but still pretty awesome.

 

One of the few beautiful caves. (Grotte de Maraa)
One of the few beautiful caves. (Grotte de Maraa)

 

Can you find a little tiki? Tiki often serves to mark the boundaries of sacred or significant sites.
Can you find a little tiki? Tiki often serves to mark the boundaries of sacred or significant sites.

 

I hitchhiked a family of four who decided to take me to see Les Trois Cascades - three beautiful waterfalls. Their little daughter wouldn't let me go. She surely wasn't afraid of a foreign hitchhiker in the car. :))
I hitchhiked a family of four who decided to take me to see Les Trois Cascades - three beautiful waterfalls. Their little daughter wouldn't let me go. She surely wasn't afraid of a foreign hitchhiker in her family car. :))

 

Nature as well as Polynesians are very beautiful. It kind of goes hand in hand.
Nature as well as Polynesians are very beautiful. It kind of goes hand in hand.

 

B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.
B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.

 

Point Venus is the place where Captain Samuel Wallis landed in 1767 and where James Cook watched the transit of Venus in April 1769. The crew of the infamous Bounty also stepped ashore here in 1788. The lighthouse was built here to commemorate the anniversary of Wallis's arrival.
Point Venus is the place where Captain Samuel Wallis landed in 1767 and where James Cook watched the transit of Venus in April 1769. The crew of the infamous Bounty also stepped ashore here in 1788. The lighthouse was built here to commemorate the anniversary of Wallis's arrival.

 

...just waiting for Moana to jump out of somewhere.
...just waiting for Moana to jump out of somewhere.

 

Selling flower wreaths on the street.
Selling flower wreaths on the street.

 

There was a natural pool of water just by the road that locals told me it's very good for healing the body and many of them were bathing there.
There was a natural pool of water just by the road that locals told me it's very good for healing the body and many of them were bathing there.

 

Italian honeymooners who were touring around Polynesia and picked me up on their way around Tahiti with their rented car.
Italian honeymooners who were touring around Polynesia and picked me up on their way around Tahiti with their rented car.

 

Tiny waterfall.
Tiny waterfall.

 

Stunning nature wherever you lay your eyes on.
Stunning nature wherever you lay your eyes on.

 

 

My 5th day in Tahiti, Ronny dropped me off at the marina that was 10km from his flat. My plan was to talk to people on the boats and find a ride to Bora Bora. I visited a Harbor Master to check if he has some insights about the boats that are coming and leaving the marina. He was not very helpful, but he was very friendly and allowed me to walk freely around his marina and talk to people. There were TONS of boats all around the marina. I couldn’t decide where to start first…

 

I'm well aware the photos don't follow the story, but they are just too beautiful... :)))
I'm well aware the photos don't follow the story, but they are just too beautiful... :)))

 

Soon I’ve met a French sailor with the son. They were not planning to sail in my direction, but they were very determined to help me out. They took me to meet a young hippie guy who was a local bloke in charge of fixing other people’s boats and apparently he knew EVERYONE. He was shirtless, tanned and good looking….ohh and helpful, of course, because he told me about some Aussie guy who was apparently going in my direction. The name of his boat was COPS and I wondered who in his right mind would give his boat such a stupid name.

 

...still not following the story, but LOOK at this amazing flower that I saw by the road while waiting for a ride... efing beautiful.
...still not following the story, but LOOK at this amazing flower that I saw by the road while waiting for a ride... efing beautiful.

 

I walked to the boat, but no one seemed to be on it. I shouted HEEELLOOO!!! and a grey head popped up. It was an Aussie guy in his late 50s. I told him who sent me and explained my story in short. He said I was not normal and invited me on his board for a drink.

 

I said it once and I'll say it again, Tahiti is amazing as soon as you escape Papeete traffic jam.
I said it once and I'll say it again, Tahiti is amazing as soon as you escape Papeete traffic jam.

 

Long story short, he was going to New Caledonia and he would drop me off at Bora Bora because it was on his way. The only thing he couldn’t tell me was the exact day he was leaving, because he needed to fix his boat first, but he assumed it would be in 1 week. His boat was very similar to the one I sailed on from Malaysia to Australia and the guy seemed totally fine…lots of sailing experience and a pretty old school guy. He seemed simple, direct and cursed a lot. I think we would get on just fine. :))

 

Photos are definitely not following the story. Check out this amazing tree...!!!
Photos are definitely not following the story. Check out this amazing tree...!!!

 

The reason why his boat was called COPS is because he bought it from the French guy and didn’t bother changing the name. Apparently, COPS means friends or buddies in French. I spent the whole morning in the marina and couldn’t believe I found myself a ride on a very 1st day of searching! That doesn’t happen very often.

 

Flowers play a big role in Polynesian culture. Locals wear them on their heads as a crown or behind the ear - daily. Flower necklace (lei) is presented upon arriving as a symbol of affection.
Flowers play a big role in Polynesian culture. Locals wear them on their heads as a crown or behind the ear - daily. Flower necklace (lei) is presented upon arriving as a symbol of affection.

 

The next morning I decided to visit a small marina in the center of Papeete just to check what I could find there. I wanted to talk to their Harbor Master, but he was on the phone, so I talked to his assistants instead. As I explained my little mission to them, they got super excited and told me that their fisherman friend is going to follow the canoe race from the Huahine Island to Bora Bora and that he is leaving tomorrow morning. They called him and he agreed to take me with him, but only to Raiatea because of the space. I was thrilled about this adventure, because I’ve never been on the Tahitian fishing boat before and now I can hitchhike one!

 

Polynesian woman.
Polynesian woman.

 

I couldn’t sleep the whole night before the trip because I wondered what condition is the boat in. I’ve seen some really messed up fishing boats while sailing around Indonesia and I didn’t wish to myself to end up on one of those. I wondered if I made a good decision, because I found an Aussie guy on a proper boat who agreed to drop me off at Bora Bora, but now I’m risking it all because of a very exciting ride with a local fisherman who I’ve never met and who can only take me to Raiatea…?! Also, my sea sickness can get pretty bad and a small fishing boat is probably not going to help much. My choices have scared me and entertained me through the whole night.

 

The making of flower wreaths on the street.
The making of flower wreaths on the street.

 

The next morning at 7, tired as hell after the sleepless night, I was sitting on the dock with 2 big bags full of Polynesian food that I bought at the market as a small “thank you” for my new fisherman buddy. As I sat there, I expected an old guy with a terrible boat that shouldn’t really be sailing anymore, but what came to pick me up have actually blown my efing brains out.

 

 

Tahitian surfer that picked me up straight from the water.
Tahitian surfer that picked me up straight from the water.

 

There was not 1, but 3 good looking men on the equally good looking Tahitian fishing boat. I cracked myself up and thanked the Universe for that joke. I knew if I got sea sick at least I would have a good view around me while throwing up. 😉

 

My photos are finally following the story! :)) That was my ride from Papeete to Raiatea Island.
My photos are finally following the story! :)) That was my ride from Papeete to Raiatea Island.

 

The main guy called Puarai was a fisherman and the other two were his friends and family. They put me on the boat, we took a quick selfie and just as we were about to enter an open water – Puarai stopped his boat and all 3 of them just sat there in silence. This new situation freaked me out a bit and I immediately asked them what was happening, because I thought there was something wrong with the boat. Puarai shortly answered, we need to pray. We always pray before entering open water. Being irreligious, I put my head down, but with my eyes wide open observed the men while they were praying. My only thought was… how did I get so lucky?! They were really efing good looking.

 

Puarai
Puarai

 

The fishermen made a quick stop to pick up a harpoon from their friend on Moorea Island.
The fishermen made a quick stop to pick up a harpoon from their friend on Moorea Island.

 

Leaving beautiful Moorea.
Leaving beautiful Moorea.

 

They were fishing tuna and I was hoping they won’t catch any.
They were fishing tuna and I was hoping they won’t catch any.

 

Brutal way of killing tuna with a wooden bat.
Brutal way of killing tuna with a wooden bat.

 

6 hours later we were close to Raiatea Island and one of the guys said “Can you see Bora Bora? It’s right there in front of us.” After checking with ALL 3 of them to confirm that was really Bora Bora, strange emotion rushed through my body. After 3,7 years of traveling, it was finally there, in my sight. Words can’t explain that feeling. The tears were rolling down without any control.

 

Bora Bora
Bora Bora

 

When we arrived to Raiatea, Puarai asked me where I was going to sleep. I told him to drop me off at the beach. He said that was out of the question and he took me to stay with his family. What he forgot to tell me was that his garden has a direct view of Bora Bora…

 

That is a garden of the house where I was staying. That bump on the left side of the pic is Bora…
That is a garden of the house where I was staying. That bump on the left side of the pic is Bora…

 

The house of Puarai's family where I was staying. I really wanted to sleep outside on the grass in my sleeping bag with a direct view of Bora Bora, but the family wouldn't let me...they gave me the room all to myself.
The house of Puarai's family where I was staying. I really wanted to sleep outside on the grass in my sleeping bag with a direct view of Bora Bora, but the family wouldn't let me...they gave me the room all to myself.

 

Later on, the family took me to Uturoa, which is the biggest town on Raiatea Island; because the locals were measuring weight of all caught marlins. The biggest one was caught by the family I was staying with. It was a really sad scene of a dead 235kg marlin hanging above the applauding people.

 

Poor thing. It is magnificent when alive.
Poor thing. It is magnificent when alive.

 

I found this in Puarai's family garden. It turned out to be the bone of the nose of another marlin.
I found this in Puarai's family garden. It turned out to be the bone of the nose of another marlin.

 

A house in the middle of the ocean. The locals usually have a fish farm around it.
A house in the middle of the ocean. The locals usually have a fish farm around it.

 

A boat garage.
A boat garage.

 

It's a well known logo of a local Tahitian beer - Hinano Tahiti. The woman has only 4 toes... The locals told me that's how they know the beer is the original. :)))
It's a well known logo of a local Tahitian beer - Hinano Tahiti. The woman has only 4 toes... The locals told me that's how they know the beer is the original. :)))

 

That’s what happens when you let your friends tattoo your back. (addition for all the confused ones -> that's not my back.) ...and no, they are not friends anymore. :))
That’s what happens when you let your friends tattoo your back. (addition for all the confused ones -> that's not my back.) ...and no, they are not friends anymore. :))

 

The next 3 pics are all the roads that I hitchhiked around Raiatea Island. That was an absolute privilege.
The next 3 pics are all the roads that I hitchhiked around Raiatea Island. That was an absolute privilege.

 


I get chills by looking at it. That's a heaven of the road!

 

 I get a hitchhiking orgasm simply by looking at it. I LOVE ROADS!
I get a hitchhiking orgasm simply by looking at it. I LOVE ROADS!

 

That was the 1st time that I've seen a purple mango. It's still yellow on the inside.
That was the 1st time that I've seen a purple mango. It's still yellow on the inside.

 

Good squatting place.
Good squatting place.

 

This is Hiro who picked me up on a very rainy day in Raiatea and brought me home across the island. He's a pastor of The Seventh-day Adventist Church for the whole region and gave me the contact of his friend in Bora Bora who I could stay with for free. If you read my blog post from Bora Bora, you can find out what amazing story has developed thanks to Hiro.
This is Hiro who picked me up on a very rainy day in Raiatea and brought me home across the island. He's a pastor of The Seventh-day Adventist Church for the whole region and gave me the contact of his friend in Bora Bora who I could stay with for free. If you read my blog post from Bora Bora, you can find out what amazing story has developed thanks to Hiro. Hiro was truly my hero!

 

Amazing view from Mount Tapioi.
Amazing view from Mount Tapioi.

 

That is the view of Uturoa city – the biggest one on Raiatea island.
That is the view of Uturoa city – the biggest one on Raiatea island.

 

The island on the right is Tahaa. The island in the center is Bora Bora.
The island on the right is Tahaa. The island in the center is Bora Bora.

 

Mini coco!
Mini coco!

 

Grandpa who was selling coconuts by the road.
Grandpa who was selling coconuts by the road.

 

It was a mango season, so I picked it up along the way while hitchhiking and ate it EVERY SINGLE DAY.
It was a mango season, so I picked it up along the way while hitchhiking and ate it EVERY SINGLE DAY.

 

...getting there... :))
...getting there... :))

 

When you step foot on Raiatea, you’re actually arriving at a place where human sacrifices were made. One of the gods, Oro (the god of war) was said to demand human sacrifices. So that’s what the locals did – especially in 18th century.
When you step foot on Raiatea, you’re actually arriving at a place where human sacrifices were made. One of the gods, Oro (the god of war) was said to demand human sacrifices. So that’s what the locals did – especially in 18th century.

 

Public transport around the island.
Public transport around the island.

 

Beautiful Raiatea.
Beautiful Raiatea.

 

That’s Bora Bora in a distance. :))
That’s Bora Bora in a distance. :))

 

Evening in Raiatea.
Evening in Raiatea.

 

Another sexy road!
Another sexy road!

 

Many locals make fences out of the oyster shells that they cultivate for the black pearls.
Many locals make fences out of the oyster shells that they cultivate for the black pearls.

 

One of my epic rides around Raiatea.
One of my epic rides around Raiatea.

 

On Mount Temehani grows a flower, Tiare Apetahi, which grows nowhere else on Earth.
On Mount Temehani grows a flower, Tiare Apetahi, which grows nowhere else on Earth.

 

The family I was staying with got visited by friends and they were putting flowers together for All Saints' Day.
The family I was staying with got visited by friends and they were putting flowers together for All Saints' Day.

 

Puarai's sister - Jacqueline. She is a very kind woman.
Puarai's sister - Jacqueline. She is a very kind woman.

 

The final outcome.
The final outcome.

 

Another amazing evening in Raiatea.
Another amazing evening in Raiatea.

 

 

As a cherry on top, the family found me another local fisherman who was going to Bora Bora THE SAME NIGHT and I could have joined him, but I declined the offer.

 

...read HERE where that decision has taken me next.

 

 

 

  • Nikki

    Heey Anne, How did you got from New Zealand to French Polynesia?? Did you use findacrew.net??