Most interesting landmarks of Windward Islands

Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of Windward Islands.

Natural landmarks of Windward Islands

  • Banyan of Gauguin – Tahiti, Papeete. Very large and old banyan tree. Painter Paul Gauguin loved to sit in a platform built in this tree and to sip absinthe.
  • Punaauia banyan – Tahiti, Punaauia. Giant banyan tree (Ficus prolixa) with a diameter above 10 m. Tree remained standing next to a motorway thanks to local people.
Vaimahutu Falls, Tahiti
Vaimahutu Falls, Tahiti /, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Fautauà Falls (Fachoda Falls) – Tahiti, Faa’a. 80 m tall waterfall. Below the falls has formed a deep, shaded canyon.
  • Puraha Falls – Tahiti, Hitiaa O Te Ra. Tall and thin waterfall, falling into Papenoo reservoir.
  • Topatari Falls – Tahiti, Hitiaa O Te Ra. Impressive, tall and thin waterfall.
  • Vaiharuru Falls – Tahiti, Hitiaa O Te Ra. Another tall and thin waterfall.
  • Vaimahutu Falls and other Faarumai Falls – Tahiti, Hitiaa O Te Ra. Another tall and thin waterfall.
Other natural landmarks
  • Arahoho Blowhole – north Tahiti. Amazing blowholes, one of them is located inland from the coastal road.
  • Mou’a Puta – Moorea. A pierced rock on a dramatic, enormous cliff. According to local legend, it was pierced by a spear thrown by Pai.
  • Teahupo’o reef break – Tahiti, sea at Teahupo’o village. A break in 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 unwary surfer. Waves are beloved by surfers but are very dangerous.
  • Vaifau submarine source – Tahiti, Punaauia. 50 m off the coast, at some 15 m depth there is a powerful submarine source of freshwater. It is seen as greenish halo of freshwater, in calm weather the upsurge is seen on the surface of the water.

Man made landmarks of Windward Islands

Marae Arahurahu, Tahiti
Marae Arahurahu, ahu / Rachel Roberts, / CC BY-SA 2.0
Marae and me’ae
  • Marae Arahurahu – Tahiti. One of the first marae to be restored in 1954. Contains a stone statue.
  • Marae Maraetaata – Tahiti, Paea. Three marae located close, side by side. Seven burials were found here during the excavations in 1973. Restored in 1973.
  • Marae Mataireae – Tahiti, Papara. 35 m long and 15 m wide marae, with stone enclosure, 75 cm high. Well preserved. Very large stones on the corners.
  • Marae Nu’urua – Moorea. Enormous sacred site, 65 by 101 meters. Ahu is 7 m high. Some stones have petroglyphs. Here have taken place rituals of human sacrifice.
  • Marae Tefana I Ahura’i – Tahiti, Faa’a. Large marae, well restored in 1980.
  • Marae Titiroa – Moorea. Restored marae, located in forest. 40 m long, 17 m wide, partly paved. Contains 15 standing stones. The area next to marae was inhabited in the late 16th century and contains remnants of more than 500 ancient structures.
Petroglyph sites
  • Fare Hape petroglyphs – Tahiti, Papeno’o. Large rock with numerous petroglyphs – stylized humans, spirals.
  • Paneo’o Valley petroglyphs – Tahiti. A boulder with ancient engravings – concentric circles, linear forms, human figures.
Tahiti pearls
Tahiti pearls / Lizzy Saldana, / CC BY 2.0
  • Paul Gauguin Museum – Tahiti. 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.
  • Robert Wan Pearl Museum – Tahiti. World’s only museum dedicated to pearls, their history, traditions, collection.
Other man made landmarks of Windward Islands
  • Papetoai Church – Moorea. Octagonal church, built in 1822. Considered to be the oldest existing European building in Southern Pacific.
  • Tuauru funeral caves – Tahiti, Tuauru valley. 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.

Described landmarks of Windward Islands

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Windward Islands, especially Tahiti, are some of the best known and most interesting Polynesian islands. There islands in a way represent the essence of Southern seas – with palms, rugged mountains, deep blue sea and friendly people.
The highlights of Windward islands are:

  • The archaeological heritage, especially the numerous marae – sacred places where gathered community.
  • The rugged mountains covered with dense tropical forest.

Featured: Marae Arahurahu

Marae Arahurahu, Tahiti
Marae Arahurahu, ahu / Rachel Roberts, / CC BY-SA 2.0

The reconstruction of the enormous Marae Arahurahu in 1953 has been a success – Tahiti obtained one more attractive destination of culture tourism and many tourists have learned here a lot about the Polynesian culture.

The area of this marae is approximately 500 m³ and it is the most impressive in the whole Tahiti island. The surrounding area is always well kept and resembles a parkland.

Recommended books

Voyages to Windward: Sailing Adventures on Vancouver Island’s West Coast

When Elsie Hulsizer was little, she lived on the shores of Puget Sound in Washington where she spent the summers sailing in a small open sailboat with her parents. Her parents would always start out by sailing to windward, or against the wind, so they would have an easy ride home with the wind pushing them from behind.

The Sailors Guide to the Windward Islands

Revised and updated for 2015-2016, this guide features detailed sketch charts based on the author’s own surveys, and aerial photos of most anchorages. It also includes clear and concise navigational information. By far the most popular guide to the area, it covers the islands from Martinique to Grenada, with dazzling scenic photography, unsurpassed onshore information, sections on exploring, provisioning, water sports, services, restaurants and photography.

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