My husband and I were excited to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary, and thought what better way then...FRENCH POLYNESIA!! After we began the planning process (ughhh a long one) my mother and step father decided that they had to jump on the band wagon and join us. Soon after my step siter and brother in law joined in as well, and before I knew it I was planning a dream vacation for all 6 of us. This changed things for me a bit, as I know had to consider the various ages and interest during the planning process. As all of you in this forum probably know by now, this is a expensive journey and I want to make sure I set us up for the best possible vacation. The experts in French polynesia and my fellow travelers did not fall short and lended me all sorts of helpful information which allowed me to create a PERFECT vacation for all of us:))
My husband and I enjoy all sorts of travel experiences. I decided that I wanted to create a well rounded POlynesian experince providing us with a exposure to local culture and getting and idea of what it is like to live there, then of coarse live in up in a luxuriuos over the water bungalow in Bora Bora, and finally a true adventur4e in paradise. Not to toot my own horn...but I NAILED IT!!!
WE began our journey in a vacation home renatl in Moorea. The Tahiti beach house was everything we were looking for. We had our own private ocean front property. We were able swim right our and snorkel, have dinner on our patio, watch crab scurry in dusk. Every morning we awoke around 6 am and were able to grab some coffee and watch the sunrise in what felt like our own little priavte oasis. I can not explain the lush beauty of this place. I am a total beach lover, yet the beauty of the mountain and lush flowers stole my attention throughout the day.
The location of our vacation rental was ideal. We were within walking distance to a couple restaurants and a market in which we were able to stock up on wine, coffee and food. We were also only a few short minutes to both the ferry and the airport. The house came equipped with nearly everything I could think of. The bikes came in handy, as I biked a short few minutes to Albert's to book tours and simply just for exploration. Our rental home came with the option of renting a car, in which we did many days. This was awesome as we were able to circle the island.
Moorea is a beautiful island. We enjoyed scuba diving with Moorea fun dive....we saw amazing marine life and many lemon sharks!! Sooooo cool! We also were thrilled to have taken Alberts ATV tour of the inner island, seeing the most beautiful sights of Moorea. The lagoonarium is an absolute must as well. The snorkeling was incredible and very cheap. Wilford is one of the coolest people I have ever encountered, just a super cool and chill island man. My husband and went by ourselves the first time, and then came back a second time because we could not let my parents leave Moorea without experience it. They loved it, and my mother is still bragging that she over came her fear of swimming wiith sharks!!! Make sure if you go you pack a lunch and some snacks becuase Wilford has set up a little island retreat in which you could hang out all day if you wish.
This was our first time renting a home, and it will not be the last. We really loved the overall experience and it was great drinking wine and grilling out. WE did enjoy dining out in Moorea as well, when we did not prepare meals at home. Among our favorites was La Mohagany, and pizza daniel.
Another plus, was the day prior to leaving Moorea we were able to have a few loads of laudry washed and we could head to Bora Bora in the fresh.
Before even hitting the ground in Moorea you witness the most unreal waters below....Oh my...it is exciting. Bora Bora is unreal. I had been there a week and still could not believe my eyes. The Le Merdien representative greeted us at the airport with leis in hand..We quickly were taken to a very nice boat and whisk to our hotel. Le Merdien is a beautiful property. We were given a brief tour and instructions of the hotel and then shown to our bungalows. Wahoooooo...the bungalows were spectacular. The over the water bungalow experince lived up to my expectations, and boy were they high!! We found that we rarely wisheed to leave our bungalow during the day. The rooms were very well thoughtout, and the use of space was brilliant and romantic. The fish under the glass bottom were so neat to watch, the views when waking up...again coffee which watching the sunrise over the mountain...I can say I have discovered pure bliss. Breakfast was fulfilling a delicious. I would sit over the lagoon, watching the fish and brids in the morning (sometime throwing them in a few treats:)) The hotel staff was very welcoming and always took great care of us.
While in Bora Bora we went on some more great dives, not quite as outstanding as Moorea, but great nonetheless. We also went on a private island tour with Raanui....WOW!!! We saved this for our actaul anniversary..and I am not sure how we will top that anniversary ever. The day was dream worthy. We toured the island seeing all the variuos shades of bright blue waters, snorkeling about along the way. We then stopped for some shark and string ray play time...exhilerating!!! It was a very unique experince stopping in the middle of the ocean and being greeted by sharks and string rays, then being crazy enough to get in (I really did not find it crazy..but my parents did). It was a magical experince. Before leaving we even got to see an octupus. We watched it spray/release ink in the water. OUr guide allowed us all to feel the sucction and touch the octupus and then placed it back safely. In case the day was not perfect enough, they then whisk us to a private island in which they set up a beautiful table covered with flowers, BBQ and beer. This ended up being one of our favorite meals the whole trip. The fish was among the best I have tasted. For dessert, they brought us out a "happy Anniversay" cake...icing on the cake!! haha I feel so greatful to have experinced such a magical day..not just with my husband but my parents as well!!
The Le meridien had its own treat in store for us for our anniversary. They had set up a beach side romantic dinner is the sand for us. There a a musician playing music along side us, flowers, and wine. The front desk had even helped arrange make flower head arrangement for the dinner. They had a lady from the main island make and bring my the traditional flower head ornament that you see in all Tahiti travel brochures, which are actually quite difficult to get your hands on. The one they made me was beautiful and was was thrilled to wear it to my anniversary dinner. I know I am probably the only person who cares about that..but I must admit...I LOVED my flower head arrangement. Our dinner was very romantic and delicious, I was wowed throughout dinner. What a perfect day!!!
Bora Bora is great in that there are things to do, but not too many that you feel that you are missing out on days you decide to just hop on a raft and float in front of your bungalow. Most nights we left the hotel and went to the main island for dinner. Us three couples would usually meet in a bungalow and watch the sunset with cocktails in hand prior to heading to the ferry for dinner. It was a great time to recap the day.
Our favorite restaurant turned out to be Mai Kai. All of our dishes were outstanding and the service matched. We also really enjoyed Bloody Mary's, although we were really glad to have our group as other couples around the restaurant looked bored. It was interesting to discuss dinner with fellow travels while on the ferry back to the hotel. People can have such varying feedback from restaurants, even on the same night. Our biggest dissapoinment was Villa Mahana. I was very excited to have locked in reservations early, but it really did not live up to the reputation. Although we enjoyed our evening ( this was just my husband and I, not all three couples) iot was a let down. The serice was mediocre, no menu explanation or even drink recommendations, nothing. The lady handed us a menu, came back and took our order and ask if we wanted drinks. Nothing excpetional. Our lobster risotto and steak was over cooked,and quite salty. I must admit the mashed potatoes were the best I have ever had, but I really did not go to a restaurant like that for mashed potatoes. I also found that the ambiance was less then deirable. The idea of a restaurant in a home is neat and original, yet it is too bright, eclecticly decorated in a way that just does not work, and the tables are not very romantic., There is not air conditioning, which would be fine if there was air flow, but there is not. Boo....oh well. I am glad we went because I would not have known if I would not have tried it. I think that this restaurant have recieved unwarranted hype because of how small it is, and people feel eager to make reservations at such and exclusive place. I will also add, we really enjoyed St James, it had a romantic view overlooking the water. I was able to enjoy a wonderful meal while watching the fish. The service here was also exceptional. One thing to consider is the cost of the ferry to the main island. it was $50 per couple round trip, and this adds up very quick. Unfortunately, the al a carte and buffet options are not very good, so it is worth the money. The breakfast and lunch at the hotel were great though!
Bora Bora was everything we thought it would be, we really never wanted to leave....BUt it was time for TIKEHAU!!!
When we landed in TIkehau, Chris from NInamu was there to greet us....and wahlahhh more lies...yay!! There was also,Jaime from Tikehau Plongee dive shop there to finalize out dive plans and grt our information..we were off to a great start, little did we know it was about to get even better. After afew minutes in a truck, then a boat we arrived at NINAMU. There really are no wods to accurately discribe Ninamu, it is a place you must experince for yourself...but I will try. The staff is kind and welcoming in a very genuine way. The bungalows are like no others anywhere, they are truly works of art. Each bungalow is differet and we were lucky enough to see all of them..wow, they are all impressive. I love that Ninamu leave a lush jungle feel surrounding the bungalows, it provides privacy and feels exotic. The amazement did not stop here. There is so much to do at NInamu....fishing, snorkeling, island tours, swimming, just laying at the beach, playing with dogs, discovering nature...the options are endless. Although diving is not included, it is out of this world amazing!!! If you are a diver, tikehau is a must!!
While on a fishing trip during my stay at ninamu, I saw hundreds of birds, a full rainbow right before sunset...AND.....dozens of spinners dolphins surround our boats leaping in and out of the water under the rainbow.....seriuosly...this is what dreams are made of.
I could go on about Ninau forever...but you really should go experince it all yourself!! I can't forget to mention the coconut crabs which reside in the paradise as well. They are the neatest creatures in the world. The food is also as fresh as it comes, and delicious.
All in all, I am beyond greatful for the timne I spent in French Polynesia, it was an experince like no other. I will forever reminisce on the great memoriesof French Polynesia. I must say, Ninamu was one of the best exeperinces of my life, and we all are already planning to go back in 2014 and bring more of the family. I loved the diverse lodging experinces we had throughout this vacation, and plan to arrange more vacations like this in the future. I would like to give a special thanks to Jackie at Custom tahiti who helped me book the Le Meridien qat a great rate, and got us many extra "perks' and who also arranged all of our flights and ferry to Moorea. We ended up booking Ninamu and the vacation rental ourselves, which was quite simple. I would also like to give a special thank to Bohemian ( TA expert on French POlynesia), who provided me with a wealth of knowledge and helped me choose the right resort ofr our group. I really appreciate the time she spends on TA helping people carry out thier dream vacations.
I am sorry I am not a great writer, but I did want to share my experience and reciprocate all the help I recieved!! Happy Travels:)))))