Back in Tahiti and shopping for pearls

Back in Tahiti and shopping for pearls

Back in Tahiti after our 5-day sailing adventure

We flew in to Tahiti from Raiatea, and immediately checked in to our hotel, freshened up and basically speed-walked to Toata for the opening night of the Heiva i Tahiti. The annual competition is the nation’s largest celebration of the year, and I was in awe to experience the incredible mana that emanated from the songs, dances, drum beats, and even from what they wore. We weren’t allowed to take any photos during the Heiva i Tahiti, but it was definitely a highlight during our time in Tahiti. 

This photo journal is from the following day in Tahiti, and then we took the ferry to Mo’orea.

We were walking to the market and I saw this truck on the side of the road. I saw it and immediately thought “whoa that’s my dream truck!” haha. I didn’t know I had a dream truck, but if I did, this truck would definitely be it! I feel like it’s the perfect mix of surf, vintage, island cruiser,  farm truck. Like I can imagine coasting down the road and just having like, the time of my life in this truck. It was love at first sight hahaha.

Ian and went to the Pape’ete Marche (Tahiti’s popular market plaza) to grab a quick and cheap brunch, and bought souvenir gifts for friend and family back home. I love love love this market, so I’ll write up another post about it later!

Buying Pearls at the Tahiti Pearl Market

Tahitian pearls are some of the most beautiful sought-after natural treasures in French Polynesia. And the cool thing about pearls in Tahiti is that they’re everywhere, and come at all price ranges.

I knew I wanted to get my mom a pair of Tahitian black pearl earrings, and was hoping to buy it at the pearl farm we visited off Raiatea, but I didn’t find any in particular that felt like the perfect pair. So I went back to the Tahiti Pearl Market again (we had come here to see the pearl market before our sailing trip) and decided to have her earrings custom made.

First, I had to choose two pearls that were similar-ish in color tone, nacre, and size. The woman behind the counter helped me narrow down my choices based on my price range, and I selected and laid out my favorite pearls to compare them. Then I got to choose the earring setting, for which they had yellow gold, white gold, and sterling silver options. I selected a simple yellow gold dangle setting that I thought would look good with my mom’s face shape. And lastly, I chose how I wanted the pearls to sit in the setting, and handed it over to their in-house jeweler to set the pearl into the earring.

It was a really cool experience and definitely gave the earrings a special customized touch that I knew my mom would appreciate. 


As a treat to myself, I decided to get myself a nice pair of keshi pearl stud earrings. Keshi pearls are, I’ve learned, the “imperfect” pearls, where the oysters (the Tahitian oyster is the Pinctada margaritifera) reject the nucleus around which the nacre is formed. And because they don’t have the perfectly rounded nucleus, they come out in various baroque shapes and are much smaller. The keshi pearls are therefore 100% pure nacre, which is why I love them. They’re all unique in their own way. You can see my tiny keshi pearl by the jeweler’s hand compared to my mom’s pearls drying in the clasp.

Ian and I were running later than we expected, so we sped-walked to the hotel to meet with Polly and Rick. Ian snapped this photo of me looking stoked from our pearl shopping!

 Catching the ferry to Mo’orea

We walked with our bags and luggage from the hotel to the ferry terminal, and boarded the interisland ferry, which felt more like a mini-cruise ship because it was a lot fancier than I expected. Ian and I went to the open air top deck, but I was getting toasted by the mid-day sun so I got grumpy and went back inside to cool down. We ate a quick and easy baguette chicken sandwich and chips for lunch and arrived at Mo’orea about an hour later.

A brief travel journal of Pape’ete, Tahiti

A brief travel journal of Pape’ete, Tahiti

Pape’ete, Tahiti

Maeva and bienvenue to the tropical city of Pape’ete in Tahiti.

We had just arrived from cold Auckland to this warm paradise, greeted with leis by Rick and Polly at the Fa’aa airport. Family trip! Now the vacation really begins (again)!

View from my window. Dusty pinks, oranges, and deep greens.

Ian thinks the mountains are a cloud forest.

Polly and Ian walking around the city after brunch.

The next day, we walked around the harbor, and I could barely believe my eyes. Mo’orea was just staring at us right across the way. 

This is the ferry we would take in the next couple of weeks from Tahiti to Mo’orea.

Just walking around. Dipping our toes in the water. Looking at va’a.

Impressed to see a coral garden right in the harbor by the quay. The fish looked happy.

I couldn’t tell if it was summer for students because the boardwalk area was packed with kids and teenagers all just hanging out, blasting music on their huge boomboxes, laughing and smiling like they were on vacation too.

We checked out the Robert Wan Pearl Museum and learned that tahitian pearls are all nucleated to achieve its roundness, and can take up to 4 years to develop in the oyster.

This is the largest pearl in the museum.  It’s not perfectly round but still stunning.

This is the second largest pearl there, but the largest perfectly round pearl. I can’t even imagine what this would cost.

We were only in Tahiti for a brief time, and my favorite spot is hands down the Pape’ete Marche, but I’m saving that for another blog post ;).
Stay Tuned! My French Polynesisan adventure continues to Raiatea, Taha’a, and Mo’orea.