When we told the neighbours that we were off to explore Tahiti-Iti with our bikes they commented “We have bikes on board and should use them but they are so much work to assemble.” They were correct on both counts. You should really use your bikes to see the islands you visit and yes it is a bit of work. Needless to say while we enjoyed two days exploring the island they remained on board, sweated in the heat and missed the fun.
Tahiti-Iti is the small, less populated half of Tahiti. Far from Papeete life is a little slower here and it has more the feeling of the outer islands. We are currently anchored in the lagoon so can start and end each day with a swim in clear refreshing water. Just across from us are some houses with gardens running down to the sea so we asked at one house if we could leave our dinghy at their dock and assemble our bikes there. No problem! (of course – this is Polynesia)
From start to finish – get ready, bikes in to dinghy, across to dock and assemble bikes – we need about an hour to get ready. That is not such a long time when it opens up the whole island to you. It used to take longer to drive to the Dolomites!
Neill had an appointment with a dentist “in town” so we first cycled that way and then, as we were too early, on along the north coast of the island to the end of the tarmac road. We had the reef on the left, impressive cliffs and waterfalls on the right and the wind against us. Occasionally, along river valleys, we could see in to the rugged, soaring inland. On the way back to the dentist we had the wind behind us and were twice as fast. Cycling is really a lot like sailing.
With a repaired tooth we cycled back to the boat and left the bikes in the neighbour’s garden. Before we returned to the boat, they gave us lychees and bananas to take with us. Even after a year we can still not get over the friendliness of the Polynesian people.
On the second day we did some real exploring beyond the end of the road on the south coast. The road stops at a foot bridge and from then on it is a maze of tracks running between houses and smallholdings. A downpour drove us in to the shelter of a farmer’s workshop where he explained the huge variety of crops that he cultivates in the nearby fields. In drizzle we continued on through the forest until we finally reached the point where the track ends at the sea. Further progress is only possible by boat so we returned to the road-head and hid from the next tropical rainstorm in a cafe. After the coffees we donned our waterproof jackets to set off home and within minutes the rain stopped. By the time we were back at the neighbour’s garden we were completely dry.
And on the second day, we were given bananas and an avocado.