Paradise lies beyond hardship. In this case paradise was Tahiti and French Polynesia, one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and I gained it after a 30-hour journey on planes from Paris to Los Angeles and then to Tahiti. I flied with Ait Tahiti Nui: reasonable prices, comfortable seats, good food… unluckily I do not easily all asleep while flying and the entertainment system didn’t offer many options.

Tahiti, French Polynesia

More then once I have been told not to waste any time on Tahiti, that ‘it isn’t worth it, better to go on another Polynesian island as soon as possible’. But my travel’s first day would have proved otherwise.

Our day started at dawn with a visit to Papeete’s market, an unmissable experience offering a taste of the local people’s habits and traditions. Fruit and vegetables stands, and fish, flowers, handicraft. But beware: the price are not as inviting as the sight. The market is also where the most popular tattoo artists are gathered.

Papeete's market - Tahiti, French Polynesia

Later we moved towards the inland, whose beautiful valley surprised and impressed me. We relied on the guides from Natura Exploration who led us on a comfortable 4X4 to discover the Papenoo-Mataiea Valley, over a route among its charming waterfalls and its extraordinary panoramas.

Papenoo-Mataiea Valley - Tahiti, French Polynesia

We had lunch at Relais de la Maroto, a great place combining excellent food with a great location thanks to its terrace with a 360-view over the surrounding valleys. Dinner, instead, was spent in Les Roulottes, where we tasted Papeete’s street food: platters of seafood and meat cooked in caravans and enjoyed on simple plastic tables in a small square.

Les Roulottes - Tahiti, French Polynesia

And if you are lucky enough to afford a room in the Manava Suite Resort Tahiti – three star hotel, rooms starting from 150 euros per night… thank you Tahiti Tourism Board! – where you can enjoy the sunset over the ocean from the swimming pool, than you can be sure you didn’t waste your time in Tahiti.

Manava Suite Resort Tahiti - Tahiti, French Polynesia