Next month's Transit of Venus falls on the 235th anniversary of
Captain James Cook's celebrated voyage to Tahiti, where, in June
1769, he witnessed Venus passing directly between the Earth and
the sun--an extremely rare planetary alignment that shook up
onlooking island residents. More than two centuries later,
surfers have discovered another electrifying natural wonder in
the South Pacific: Tahiti's Teahupoo.
This is an article from the May 31, 2004 issue
Known as the swell from hell, Teahupoo (pronounced CHOE-poo)
unleashes waves as fearsome as those of the North Shore's
Pipeline. Surf typically runs 8 to 12 feet but breaks over the
shallow reef of this French Polynesian island with lethal force.
Earlier this month, waves snapped 15 surfboards during the
Billabong Pro Teahupoo. That World Championship Tour event was
won by C.J. Hobgood, taking the victory over 44 of the world's
top surfers, including runner-up Nathan Hedge, who dislocated his
left shoulder negotiating Teahupoo's barrel.
Despite the demanding surf, Teahupoo, which means "end of the
road," is renowned for its laid-back atmosphere and Polynesian
hospitality. Relax among the lush peaks and in the tropical
waters, hang out on the beach with the locals for a Hinano beer
and try the poisson cru, a Tahitian delicacy of raw tuna chilled
with coconut milk.
PLANNING AHEAD Surf season runs from April to September. Explore
the atolls in a 65-foot cabin cruiser for $225 a day
(tahitianbluewaterdream.com) or stay in a bungalow for $160 a
night at Pension Chayan Surf Resort (pensionchayantahiti.pf).
OTHER ACTIVITIES Hiking, snorkeling and scuba diving, fishing and