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Best lagoons on Tahiti (big island)?

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Philadelphia...
posts: 111
reviews: 16
Best lagoons on Tahiti (big island)?

My husband and I are going to Tahiti for 8 days in August. I should mention, we won this trip in a sweepstakes, and no matter how much I cajoled, begged, and pleaded, I could not get the sponsor's travel agent to book us to Moorea instead (even though the chain we are staying at has a hotel on Moorea, too!) We are still going to go to Moorea for an overnight trip, though, because I refuse to miss seeing it on what might be my only trip to Tahiti. But my question is about the big island of Tahiti, which is where we will be staying for most of this vacation: are there any classically aqua blue lagoons with sugary white sand bottoms on Tahiti? The view from Google Earth is pretty grim, but I know that photographs can be deceiving. Anyway, I would love to know from people who have been there whether there are any dreamlike blue lagoons on Tahiti proper, and if so, where. Thanks!

Limerick...
posts: 1,484
reviews: 92
1. Re: Best lagoons on Tahiti (big island)?

No there are not.

There will be plenty to do on Papeete.

Thats the name of the big island.

If you can stay two nights in Moorea in an over the water bungalow.

Take ferry to Moorea instead of plane.

Petaluma, California
posts: 200
reviews: 4
2. Re: Best lagoons on Tahiti (big island)?

Actually the name of the bigger of the two is Tahiti Nui. The smaller is Tahiti Iti.

Papeete is the largest city in French Polynesia and is the capital city.

Personally, I would stay a few days in the hotel in Papeete then stay the rest of the trip in Moorea before returning home. The flights are probably more expensive than the value of the winning hotel.

TC

Las Vegas, NV
Destination Expert
for French Polynesia, Moorea
posts: 4,920
reviews: 5
3. Re: Best lagoons on Tahiti (big island)?

Well...there are some things you can do while staying on Tahiti which will help with your desire...

Take a day trip out to Tetiaroa...Marlon Brando's island. Nothing but lagoon and beaches.

Take the ferry over to Moorea a couple times during your stay to do activities over here. It's only $30 RT...and you can pretty much be there from 8am to 5pm most days.

You could just book a hotel on Moorea for 3 or 4 and pay for it yourself. There are a lot of lesser expensive properties that won't cost you an arm and a leg.

What category of room do they have you booked in? And what Hotel? I assume it has to be the IC or Manava Suites. Have they included any meals or anything?....just to see exactly what you will be missing out on if you do move to a different hotel.

And if you don't mind me asking....what did they value your prize? Just curious how much the trip will be costing you in taxes...that would have some bearing on how much you could theoretically spend on another room on Moorea and not end up completely paying for a whole trip yourself.

Edited: 2:32 pm, April 06, 2013
Philadelphia...
posts: 111
reviews: 16
4. Re: Best lagoons on Tahiti (big island)?

Patti, we are in the IC. We were VERY surprised that they couldn't just switch us to the IC on Moorea (although my first choice is the Hilton Moorea Lagoon, having examined the area extensively on Google Earth). We are in an overwater bungalow. The trip is intended to be a "honeymoon style" vacation, so I won the trip (overwater bungalow accommodations and the dinner show one night at the IC), a diamond ring, and a few hundred thousand points in their store loyalty program (which ends up being $300 worth). The trip is ten days, and we are not going to add any days to the beginning or the end, because it's going to be a fairly complicated time for us and we don't really know how flexible we are going to be at that time (work, family matters, etc.). So I am having the sweepstakes travel agent use her mojo to get us a good price at the Hilton Moorea for one night, we will go in the middle of our stay on Tahiti Nui, checking in as early as they let us and staying as late the next day as we can, and probably we will go to Tiki Village for the show that evening, too. We'll get as much snorkeling done as we want in our overnight stay, and if we absolutely LOVE it, we can, as you point out, go back as much as we want. May I ask if you know: on the days we come back without overnight accommodations, where are the best publicly accessible lagoons we can use?

As for the value of the trip and the meals, besides the dinner show we don't think they are giving us any meals (although they seem to really like us — they don't always get winners who are excited, engaged, and already promising to post eight billion pictures on Facebook and Tweet about the win and the trip — so for all I know they have gotten us the room level with breakfast included). This is all still in process, in fact. I have the diamond ring, but they are still handling the details of the trip and we don't have tickets in hand yet (or rather e-confirmation of the tickets). But the stated value of the prize was $12,999. (Of course I will shop around for my best ticket prices and room rates so that I can reduce my obligation to the IRS next April — this is actually not the first trip I've won, so I know a little about how to do that — this is just the *BIGGEST* trip I've won!)

As disappointed that I am that we aren't staying the whole time in Moorea, I can't be *too* disappointed. I think we'll find plenty to do on Tahiti Nui. We're just as interested in the lush, "Lost"-like jungle interiors as we are in the snorkeling. I think rather than Tetiaroa, my choice of a long day at another island would be Taha'a or Huahine. Do you have an opinion on them?

Thanks again, very much, for all of the advice!

Edited: 7:13 pm, April 06, 2013
Las Vegas, NV
Destination Expert
for French Polynesia, Moorea
posts: 4,920
reviews: 5
5. Re: Best lagoons on Tahiti (big island)?

The problem with going to any of the other islands is it would require a flight...which would not be cheap....and you would likely have very limited time there as the flight times are not set up with day trips in mind. Moorea is just a 30 minute ferry away and Tetiaroa is a 2 or 3 hour catamaran ride away (not sure of the price)....so they are the easiest and most affordable to reach from Tahiti.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for Vaitape, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
posts: 1,613
reviews: 27
6. Re: Best lagoons on Tahiti (big island)?

We just got back from a one week trip, with six nights in Moorea and one in Tahiti, all at the Intercontinental properties. They're gorgeous properties and, honestly, we keep saying that we'd like to go back and spend a week at the Tahiti property! There are some fantastic excursions you can take, including a dolphin watch and plenty of 4x4 options. If you have that much time, I'd definitely look into a daytrip to Tetiaroa!

I believe it runs around $250/night for the lanai room at the Moorea Intercontinental. You could also try asking the IC's concierge yourself, either via email or when you get there, if you could swap a couple of the Tahiti nights.

If you are on Moorea and not at the Hilton, you'd want to rent a car. There is a public beach just up the road from the Hilton where all the yachties anchor. There are no amenities (although sometimes on weekends and holidays there is a food cart), but the shore snorkeling is excellent--very shallow getting gradually deeper and then a fantastic drop-off. There is also excellent snorkeling at Temae Beach, at the end near the Sofitel (but do test for currents first--our first visit there was almost dangerous, and our second was perfect, current-wise). Otherwise, out at the motus is your best bet and a number of folks do transfers, including the Moorea Intercontinental.

I'd highly recommend booking a motu picnic and taking the ferry over. You can likely do this thru the Tahiti IC's concierge, or contact Albert Tours directly. Almost every time we've done this (and we've done it maybe 8 times now?), there have been folks "from the ferry" who are heading back to Tahiti. This would get you a boat tour of Moorea's famous bays, shark/stingray feeding, and an afternoon with picnic out at "the" motus where the snorkeling is outstanding and it's just so beautiful.

Of course, the REALLY important question is... how does one win a contest like this??!!! I think we'd all like to know :)

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for Vaitape, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
posts: 1,613
reviews: 27
7. Re: Best lagoons on Tahiti (big island)?

And, re-reading your original post, if you want the lush, jungle interior--you definitely want to do a 4x4 excursion on Tahiti!

Philadelphia...
posts: 111
reviews: 16
8. Re: Best lagoons on Tahiti (big island)?

Thanks, everyone, very much! First off, how did I win this? One bored evening I followed a link to ShopYourWay Rewards' website — they are the loyalty program for Sears, Lands' End, and KMart — and filled out seemingly a billion sweepstakes entries. Most were for small things, a piece of luggage, sneakers, etc. I didn't even remember filling one out for Tahiti! No one was more surprised than I was when they contacted me with the good news!

Couple of questions for you, amf1: when you say "a number of folks do transfers," are you talking about having a day at a motu arranged? Also, what do you mean by the idea that connecting with folks "from the ferry" might somehow get us a tour of Moorea's famous bays, etc. Freelance boat captains, maybe? I assumed I would have to use a company specifically advertising tours, but we are usually pretty game for doing something unusual! (For example I remember driving all over Antigua once with a guy from our hotel who took us to meet local musicians so we could buy a steel drum — not the small tourist ones with the notes painted on them, but a REAL steel drum, made from an oil drum, that we shipped back home because it was too large to carry!)

Our main interests are seeing the natural beauty, snorkeling, relaxing (but not sitting in the sun on a beach all day — that's really not our style), getting a taste of REAL local culture outside of the tourist areas, and if possible, seeing something of the old Polynesian spiritual practices (even though I realize the islands are almost entirely Christian now). On that subject, anyone know if I can firewalk somewhere on Tahiti or Moorea?

By the way, FANTASTIC idea to ask the concierge if we could do a swap of a few nights! I have actually already emailed Teiva Milz, the concierge, about a couple of things. I wanted to establish communication with him before we got there, so this gives me something else to chat with him about. You are brilliant, amf1! I will let you know if I can work this out — but if anyone can, I bet it would be me! :-)

Oh, and Las Vegas Patti, is Taha'a really too far by boat for a long day trip? A flight would probably bust our budget too much, so if that's the case I'll have to miss Taha'a. I want to save my money for the night at the Hilton, good food, some drop-dead-gorgeous black pearls, and local musical instruments.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for Vaitape, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
posts: 1,613
reviews: 27
9. Re: Best lagoons on Tahiti (big island)?

It's far too far by boat to Tahaa for a daytrip!

There are several companies who offer motu picnics on Moorea. They pick you up at your hotel or, in some cases, from the ferry dock. Then, after the picnic, they return you. The IC was definitely advertising this two weeks ago, although I would probably price it independently with Hiro or Albert Tours as well. The picnics typically start from a place like Club Bali Hai (I think that's Hiro--can never keep them straight) and then you go by boat. You'll motor through/past the two main bays and the captain will point out the highlights. Then, there's typically a stingray feeding where everyone gets in the water and the sharks hover on the edge--lots of fun! Afterward, it's off to the motu for a picnic lunch and snorkeling (and there will be "cultural" demonstrations of how to make poisson cru, crack a coconut, etc.) We paid 6600 XPF/person in March, but we started from the Moorea Intercontinental and did not do the bay tour. Your Tahiti concierge should be able to book for you, either with a pickup from the Moorea ferry dock or from the Moorea Intercontinental.

Transfers... various companies will take you out to the motu and leave you there for a set number of hours. There is a restaurant there that also does transfers. The Moorea IC does them for 1400 XPF/person (not sure if you must be a guest of the hotel or not, but I'm betting the Tahiti IC guests count!). The concierge at the Moorea IC is fantastic as well.

We also rented a boat with pilot from the Moorea IC - 19700 XPF for one hour and she took us to the stingray spot so my kids could feed the stingrays for an hour. It was well worth the money.

I have never heard of firewalking in French Polynesia, although the dance shows often involve flaming torches getting swung around.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for Vaitape, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
posts: 1,613
reviews: 27
10. Re: Best lagoons on Tahiti (big island)?

Also, since you are staying at the Tahiti IC, they have one of the best (if not the best) dance shows in French Polynesia. It sounds like you won that as part of your prize (congratulations again!!!), so definitely do not miss that. It's a lovely evening although, if one is paying for it, super $$$$. Their morning buffet also usually includes local specialities, particularly on Sunday mornings. I believe the Sunday morning brunch also usually includes lives music. If it was me, I would skip Tiki Village and, instead, have crepes on the Hilton's overwater bar/creperie ;)