S: French Polynesia - A Dream Come True
FC: French Polynesia A Dream Come True April 18 - April 30, 2012
1: It all started with a brochure in the mail. Well, actually the dream of thatched huts resting above crystalline blue waters surrounded by lush green foliage had been recurring over 40 years. Each time we would see beautiful layouts in a magazine, watch a travel program featuring the islands, or watch a movie set in this exotic location we would say "that is where we should go". Then the "DREAM" came true!
2: After weeks of preparation (what electrical adapter do we really need?), wardrobe renewal (aka, shopping), and packing decisions (there is a 40lb limit-really?) we board our flight for Los Angeles. We are greeted on Air Tahiti Nui with a fragrant Tiare flower- the Polynesian Gardenia. Some in flight movies, cocktails, two meals and our 8hr 11min flight is over. Having arrived in Papeete, Tahiti we unfold ourselves and enter the airport where gentlemen playing Polynesian music and a Polynesian dancer welcome us. We are already beginning to embrace the spirit of the islands. So much so that we don't grumble too much about the long wait to pass through customs. A taxi to the Manava Suite Resort, a good nights sleep, back to the airport, and on our way to Moorea. | LAX to Papeete 4,125 miles
3: We arrive in Moorea safe and sound on what was probably the shortest flight of our lives - only 15 minutes! Not only was the flight a first but I am pretty sure this baggage claim area tops the list as the smallest we have experienced. No long lines here. We even had a driver holding a "Spencer" sign. Yep, another first.
4: Thatched roofs, cool marble tiles, and a refreshing fruit drink awaited us at check-in. Filled with anticipation, we are escorted to our very own OWB (over water bungalow)! | MAEVA! (Welcome)
5: The coffee table offered a window to the world below. First sighted the octopus here. | Luxurious accommodations and the VIEW is OMG (oh my God) fantastic! We were surprised with a bottle of wine one evening and a platter of cookies another. Can't go wrong with that.
6: These legends were left on our bed in the evening.
8: The beach bungalows held their own charm and beauty.
9: Days spent languishing in the sun, snorkeling off our deck, and dips in the pool. Paradise! | The Pool Guardian
10: The camera did not do the fish justice. Their colors were so vivid. We would toss in pieces of bread and they would swim all around us. | Future calamari! You can sort of make out the octopus in this --> shot. We saw it almost everyday swimming around our bungalow. | A short hop off our deck and we entered what seemed like our own aquarium. Awesome! | Jacques Cousteau??
11: We even saw a sea turtle swimming by but weren't fast enough with the camera. Of course after all that exercise it's time to relax with an adult beverage.
12: The interior of the island is as breathtaking as its azure waters and what a fun-tastic way to see it - bouncing over dirt roads and through streams on an ATV. We each drove our own and loved it! | One happy couple with Mt. Tautuapea in the background. This mountain was filmed for the 2001 movie of South Pacific as "Bali Hai" | Overlooking some of the pineapple fields grown at the Agricultural School. | Fresh water from the mountains create streams bordered by the original hibiscus trees. Oars made from its wood is attributed to the victories of the outrigger teams.
13: Opunohu Bay where scenes from Mutiny on the Bounty were filmed. | We drove up steep, narrow concrete tracks to be rewarded with a magnificent view of the village of Papetoai. | At the Belvedere lookout with Mt. Rotui in the background. It separates Opunohu and Cooks Bay. | Octagon Protestant church in the village dates back to 1880.
14: We were fortunate to witness a Polynesian wedding. First the groom is taken by an outrigger to the beach site then the bride. Very romantic. | And what stay in Polynesia would be complete without young, nubile dancers moving like a metronome on steroids?? And of course, let's have a laugh teaching the audience.
15: Each night brought stunning sunsets. We would sit on the deck and watch the outriggers go out. Some going to practice for the next race and others to fish for dinner. It was so peaceful.
16: Then there was the day we decided to take a tour around the island. At the suggestion of guests at the hotel we decided to take two scooters. Yes, Karen wanted to try her hand at yet another motorized vehicle. After a quick how-to lesson, we set off. We made it around Cook's Bay when we missed an attraction and decided to turn around. As Karen accelerated she lost control and fell off. Luckily no bones were broken but a trip to the doctors was necessary to address some abrasions and road rash. Le docteur was gentle but said "no more swimming" and "no alcohol" (due to antibiotic and pain meds). Now we are surrounded by water and on vacation so some alcohol is required! So Karen negotiated with the doctor - one glass of wine a day. He was French after all ! Footnote - Tom successfully completed island tour without Karen- show off | THE SCOOTER SAGA
17: The dock where we caught the boat to the hotel on arrival. | Next stop - the Garden Island of Huahine (Hoo-a-he-nay) | The island is actually made up of two islands Huahine Nui (big) and Huahine Iti (small) connected by a bridge. Our resort was land locked so a shuttle boat would take us into the town of Fare. Very Robinson Crusoe. This is a place where you truly drop out. | Each new arrival was greeted at the dock by a Polynesian blowing through a conch shell. Tom is practicing for his next job!
18: After another gracious welcome and check-in we make our way to a spacious lagoon bungalow. I don't think Robin Crusoe had it this good. After unpacking we take the boat back to the town of Fare to pick up some groceries. We discover that the store carries everything from eggs to electrical supplies. And no, it was not a Wal-mart.
19: OUR HOME SWEET BUNGALOW
20: A few steps down from the deck and into the lagoon for a little cooling off. I think we will miss this in Arizona.
21: More marine life sightings as a silvery eel passes by the bungalow. | A cup of coffee, some reading material, sunshine, and blue water as far as you can see. This is the life!
22: Hills surrounded us, alive with every shade of green imaginable. The garden bungalows appeared to be tucked in amongst mother natures best handiwork. In a word - Serenity.
23: A grass covered umbrella, two lounge chairs, white sandy beach, and walking distance to the nearest rum punch. We may never leave!
24: After working up an appetite with all that kayaking, it's off to the beach restaurant for lunch. | No crowds at this beach!
25: Each night under the lights from the dock the manta rays would come and perform their graceful dance. Amazing to watch. | Dinner is served and yummy too. | The name Manta means blanket, and the fact that this creature looks like a blanket as it moves in the water is part of the namesake. They can be up to 25 feet in length and weigh as much as 5,000 pounds.
26: A steep walk up the hill rewarded us with more than just a little exercise. The views were breathtaking. | translated the "Travelers Tree" - how appropriate and a favorite of ours | The storm clouds rolled in bringing with them torrential rain. Umbrellas in hand, we braved the walk to dinner with water above our ankles. Not much sleep that night as the rain driving down on the thatched roof sounded like continuous bass drum rolls. Since Noah hadn't showed up at our door we ventured out the next | day to learn it had rained 10-12inches! Water ran down the hillside in lovely small waterfalls. No wonder everything is so green.
27: Another glorious sunset and we bid these magnificent islands adieu. Maruuruu (thank you) Polynesia for our dream come true! | Our last day and a jet ski tour was just perfect. We stopped for some drinks and then drifted over the coral bed for some snorkeling. | MORE