Part of Captain Cook’s mission on his three-month sojourn in 1769 was to record the transit of Venus across the face of the sun in an attempt to calculate the distance between the sun and the Earth. Pointe Vénus, the promontory that marks the eastern end of Matavai Bay (Baie de Matavai), was the site of Cook’s observatory.
Today Pointe Vénus is a popular beach stop. There are shady trees, a stretch of lawn, a black-sand beach, a couple of souvenir shops and an impressive lighthouse (1867).
The beach is crowded on weekends; however, midweek you’ll have it all to yourself. It’s also a popular centre for local outrigger-canoe racing clubs – no doubt you’ll see outrigger-canoe teams training for race events. There's a little sign for Pointe Vénus at the roundabout in central Mahina. The site is about 1.5km from the road to the car park near the end of the point.
Near the beach, there is also a memorial to the first LMS Protestant missionaries, who made their landfall at Pointe Vénus on 4 March 1797.