If you travel to The Islands of Tahiti and don’t get a Taurumi massage, then you’re not only missing out on one of life’s most relaxing pursuits, but you’re also failing to fully immerse yourself in the Polynesian experience. It’s like visiting Paris and not having a croissant; it’s cultural blasphemy.
Don’t take my word for it though, take the word of Tupuna Kultur, a cultural workshop offered on the island of Tahiti. During the workshop, guests are guided through the rich customs that define the Polynesian culture—music, food, language, tattoo, flowers and of course, massage.
Massage throughout the Islands of Tahiti is much more than a way to knead away your stress, it’s a spiritual connection between two people. Polynesians believe that the life force that flows through all things is called mana. When someone gives you a Taurumi massage, they are effectively transferring their mana to you.
This act of connection is practiced by mothers with their children throughout the islands, as well as between friends and lovers. Worldwide, the power of touch is well-documented, but many of us have lost the presence required for it. Taurumi massage means that not only must the receiver be open to it, but the person massaging must be fully present throughout.
On a recent visit to the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort and Spa, I had the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Taurumi massage at the Manea Spa. Taurumi goes far beyond the use of hands, and also employs the use of elbows and forearms. Starting at the base of the skull (called the nini, and meant to be the entry point to your soul) a masseuse (called a Tahu’a) uses traditional Monoï Oil (a blend of Tiare flowers and coconut oil) to essentially remove any stress, pain or toxins your body may be holding onto. I fancy myself a bit of a massage connoisseur, and I have to tell you. Taurumi should be considered an art form.
As I was floating down the open air passageway after my first Taurumi massage, my eye caught a glimpse of this room and my curiosity was piqued. I suspected that this contraption was for a barefoot massage, and I was right. Taurumi also uses feet to cure what ails you. Clearly, as a professional, I had to check this out.
Called Avae Taurumi, the Tahu’a uses the balls of her feet and heels to deliver the deepest massage you’ll ever have. I don’t know how else to describe this other than to say that it’s the perfect mixture of pleasure and pain, and trust me, that combination is not usually my bag. But there I was, covered in oil with a woman walking on my back and loving every minute of it.
I’m not going to lie; I didn’t leave the room floating like I did after my first Taurumi massage. My muscles were actually quite tender after the Avae Taurumi, and the next day I felt like I’d had a pretty intense workout. It wasn’t until I woke up on the second day that the effects of that massage hit me. There wasn’t an ounce of tension left in my body. A victim of modern stress, I noticed that my shoulders weren’t gravitating towards my ears and that my shoulder blades didn’t reflexively pull together. My body felt released, if that makes sense, and the afterglow effect of that particular massage lasted for more than a week.
Taurumi massage, traditional and Avae, is not readily found in North America and that’s even more reason to ensure you book yourself in for one should you visit any of the Tahitian islands. If your partner should happen to give you a hard time for booking more time at the spa, let them know that it’s your cultural obligation as a visitor to The Islands of Tahiti. You’re welcome.
Watch this video if you’d like a virtual tour of the Manea Spa at the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort and Spa before you go.