DALLAS, January 18, 2012 - Hear the word Tahiti and immediately you associate it with paradise, luxury, all those simple things in life that spell relaxation.
I have been to Tahiti’s main island before, but on this most recent trip I cruised around the islands and ended my 10-day excursion in Bora Bora.
Of course, Tahiti is not inexpensive so if you’re worrying about paying $10 for beer or $30 for a hamburger keep saving your money. However, that’s the best thing about Tahiti for all the readers who understand the implications of a vacation in paradise, it’s a place where you truly can rub elbows with the Kardashians in Bora Bora or sit next to a family who just flew in for the day from say, Los Angeles to have lunch at Le Lotus.
Upon arrival in Papeete my first stop was at the Intercontinental Tahiti Resort in the capital city.
InterContinental Tahiti Resort is considered one of the top hotels on the island of Tahiti. It is located on a lagoon with majestic views of Tahiti’s sister island, Moorea. There are two restaurants, three bars and a spa. The resort is also home to Bathy’s Diving Club, the only dive center in French Polynesia rated “Five stars by Gold Palm IDC PADI.” There are two pools, a private beach, tennis courts and 30 acres of private gardens.
One real standout of Papeete’ InterContinental is the Le Lotus Restaurant. I also watched the chef make some excellent dishes, which I was later served while sipping on fine French wine and gazing out into the South Pacific over to the island of Moorea in the distance. Le Lotus’ chef Franck David’s designation goes something like this, Vice Best Chef of French Polynesia, Chef of La Lotus Restaurant and L’Auberge de L’ill, the three-star Michelin partner restaurant in Alsace, France.
It just got better as I boarded the Paul Gauguin cruise ship the next day to island hop for four days before taking leave in Bora Bora for three nights. Once you are on board you don’t have to pull your wallet out at all unless you want to enjoy a land excursion, which start at around $100 a person snorkel or hike or even kayak. However, I just stayed on board and enjoyed the solitude of my time on the ship.
Whether you decide to go ashore or stay on onboard, every day you get a short newsletter that lists excursions on each island. It also directs you to what is going on all day like afternoon tea, entertainment, movies and even talks given by the naturalist onboard outlining some of the highlights of French Polynesia. The newsletter also offers a nice bit of history about the island that the ship will be anchoring at and activities onshore, which are as diverse as diving, snorkeling, kayaking to hiking.
After the cruise, I arrived on the magical island of Bora Bora with plans to spend my final three nights here. It was an island I have heard of all my life and was now finally visiting.
What to say about Bora Bora, you can feel the strong energy the island exudes. Many vestiges of ancient times still exist and there is a strong belief in what are called tupapau are ghosts of the dead. It is still a common practice on this island to keep a lamp lit at night to ward off the ghosts. There was also an imposing peak of a mountain that kept following me around from every point while there at the Bora Bora Intercontinental La Moarana and next door at the Sofitel.
At the InterContinental Bora Bora Moarana Resort I stayed in the standard over-the-water bungalow that Bora Bora is known for around the world. Actually, from some reports this property is said to occupy what some people say is the most beautiful site in French Polynesia. There are two white sand beaches, water sports and interesting cultural activities. The bungalows stationed over the water offer glass coffee tables inside so you can see the fish swimming underneath and there is also a ladder attached to the bungalow so you can climb down into the water and snorkel.
On my last night I headed next door to Bora Bora’s Sofitel officially called Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach and Private Island so I could experience Sofitel’s hospitality too. The private islands in Tahiti are called Motus. Upon arrival to the Motu I was given the grand tour by the most lovely and exuberant General Manager Didier Lamoot, who had been there three months. He is French and recently came from opening a Sofitel in Cambodia. His plans are to make this particular Sofitel property completely green. The island does have the only Motu with a hill and that means a breathless 360 degree look at the ocean, the sunset, the island of Bora Bora nearby and the beauty and charm of the entire place. Again, I stayed in an over-the-water bungalow with a coral reef underneath and a nice glass hole in the floor to see the reef and the fish passing by.
A happy welcome and a sad goodbye, but with a promise that I would return as I was given one more of the island specialties a flower called Tiare Tahiti. This flower is so deeply linked to the culture and people of Tahiti that the two go hand in hand. You will be greeted with this flower everywhere you go as it is the mythic link to the people who are beckoning you to return again.
For more information on visiting Tahiti visit www.tahiti-tourisme.com
Rita Cook is a writer/editor with has over 1000 articles to her credit in the past 13-plus years. She is a frequent auto and travel contributor on a radio show in Los Angeles called Insider Mag Radio at KPRO 1570 am on from midnight to 12:30 a.m. Monday mornings. She also contributes travel and auto to the Anthony Duva show, which can be heard live from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST every Sunday at www.unregularradio.com. Cook is a member of the Texas Auto Writer’s Association, writes for the Dallas Morning News Green Living Section as well as artist profiles and www.greensourceDFW and spends much of her time on the road traveling or working on books. Her latest book releases are both “Haunted Dallas” and “Haunted Fort Worth” from www.historypress.net. You can also follow Cook at Twitter at @ritacook13.
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