Wonders of French Polynesia
French Polynesia includes a huge number of very diverse islands. Many islands here are low-lying atolls entirely covered by waves during the storms but many are adorned with steep mountains covered with tropical forest and rising up to 2,241 m high (Mount Orohena in Tahiti).
The most amazing wonders of French Polynesia are:
- Diverse natural landmarks. The manifold natural heritage includes unique ecosystems – both above the sea level and below it.
- Archaeological heritage. Notable are the numerous ceremonial complexes – marae and me’ae, stone sculptures (tiki), petroglyphs and cave settlements.
French Polynesia is an overseas country of France. It is divided into 5 administrative subdivisions:
Map with the described wonders
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Top 25 wonders of French Polynesia
Tapueahu Canyon (Grand Canyon of Nuku Hiva)
Very impressive canyon.
Teahupo’o reef break
A break in the reef, where are formed especially large, glassy blue, smooth waves. These are some of the heaviest waves in the world – a huge water mass is broken and may fall on the head of an unwary surfer. Waves are beloved by surfers but are very dangerous.
Approximately 350 m tall waterfall in dramatic, impressive valley.
A beautiful, narrow chasm surrounded by almost vertical cliff pinnacles rising more than 550 m high.
Toarutu Cave (Mouth of Dragon)
An amazing cave with numerous columns – it resembles a mouth of a giant dragon. It formed at the times when the sea level was 10 m higher than now.
The lagoon of Mataiva atoll is almost totally surrounded by the land. The 5.3 by 10 km large lagoon is divided into some 70 smaller parts by the ridges of decaying coral. At the bottom of each smaller basin are rich deposits of phosphates.
Up to 440 m tall seaside cliffs.
Ana Torea Caves
In the impressive Moumu cliffs have formed numerous caves. There are numerous legends about these caves – about treasure left by Spaniards, about ghosts. Caves have served as burials for local noblemen before the coming of the Spanish. Many caves are adorned with stalactites and stalagmites.
An underground stream with a lake that is up to 7 m deep. In the stream are living enormous shrimps. Several sinkholes have formed along the route of the stream. A legend about an octopus who lived here and killed horses.
A grotto under the sea level, 120 m long. Located in 30 – 50 m depth. Ceiling is adorned with stalactites that formed when grotto was above the sea level. Numerous fishes live in the cave.
Taupe’e Cave (Maperevaru)
A beautiful cave with stalactites, stalagmites, gours, cave pearls, and other cave formations.
Mount Purau rainforest
Remnant of a unique montane rain forest with huge number of endemic species of plants (89 species) and animals.
Temehani Ute Ute Plateau
A small plateau with 26 species of plants that grow only here. One of these plants is the famous Tiare Apetahi (Apetahia raiateensis) with beautiful, large flowers.
One of the rare areas covered with a specific ecosystem – Tuamotu tropical moist forest. The whole island – atoll is some 20 km² large. The island has a green, hypersaline lagoon. The only habitat of the very rare Tuamotu kingfisher (Todiramphus gambieri).
One of the first marae to be restored in 1954. Contains a stone statue.
A ceremonial site with the largest prehistoric stone statues (tiki) in French Polynesia, up to 2.6 m high. Restored in 1991.
Tuauru funeral caves
Funeral caves in remote valley of Tahiti. Caves are intact, filled with valuable historical artifacts. One flute has been carried away and sold, thus desecrating the cave.
A unique complex of a marae, one of the important sacred complexes of Polynesians. Established around 1000 AD and expanded significantly since then, used as a learning center for priests and navigators. Includes multiple stone structures and sculptures. This unique archaeological monument is partly restored.
An abandoned royal settlement, contains the largest concentration of megalithic structures in Polynesia except for Easter Island. In total here are known some 200 stone structures – marae, dwellings, agricultural structures, stone fish traps, fortification walls. Includes Marae Oavaura, Marae Vaiotaha, and other structures.
The most important marae in Huahine, with huge importance of royal ceremonies. Located on the summit of a hill. Constructed sometimes around 1450 – 1500.
A cave – royal burial site and site of legends. Unfortunately the burial was desecrated by foreign tourists in 2005.
Contemporary cultural wonders
Robert Wan Pearl Museum
This is the world’s only museum that is dedicated to pearls, their history, traditions, collection.
Paul Gauguin Museum
This art museum dedicated to the life and works of Paul Gauguin and Constance Gordon-Cumming. In the garden are located two tiki – sacred stone statues from Ra’ivavae island.
This small atoll is a possible location where has been hidden a treasure. This legendary treasure was looted in Pisco church, Peru in the 19th century. One treasure seeker has found a cache of medallions from South America but it is unknown whether something more has been found.
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