That first night, our small group of six women flew in from four different states to convene in the echo-filled international terminal at Los Angeles: everyone was so excited to finally begin our Ladies' Escape to Tahiti group trip! The minute we boarded the brand-new Air Tahiti Nui Dreamliner, awash in turquoise decor and soothing lighting, we were in vacation mode. A dinner, good sleep, and breakfast later, we arrived in Papeete, Tahiti...palms swaying, warm island breezes blowing, the sun peeking out from wispy morning clouds.
After being met with fragrant flowers by my in-country tour partner, our adventure in the islands began! I had taken care of all the details of our vacation (as I do for all my travelers!), so our airport welcome, inter-island flights, hotel transfers, accommodations, and excursions were all pre-arranged, making for a relaxing, smooth travel experience.
Our first home away from home was the lushly verdant island of Moorea (which means "yellow lizard" in Tahitian), with its excellent snorkeling and an interior ready for exploration. Our Garden Pool Bungalows at the Intercontinental Moorea Resort & Spa were nestled among hibiscus and other floral bushes, and felt very private and tropical. Our days in Moorea were full of variety, including: snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, visiting the turtle rehabilitation center, seeing top-class Polynesian shows at the resort, shopping for Tahitian black pearls, enjoying our own impromptu happy hour on our private plunge pool deck, and a memorable visit to a local restaurant (with a to-die-for shrimp with vanilla sauce dish served with quick-fried breadfruit and tropical fruits). The top highlight was without a doubt our 4x4 adventure safari that took us to Mount Belvedere and stone temples in the forest, brought us face-to-face with giant eels, and had us sampling freshly picked pineapple (with lime juice and salt...best ever), jams, ice creams, and rum.
After three nights, it was time for us to say goodbye to this island that had won our hearts. Our next inter-island flight delivered us to the crystalline lagoons and palm studded motus of Bora Bora. Words and pictures cannot accurately capture how beautiful Bora Bora is: you have to experience it yourself. This time, we stayed in a pair of over-the-water bungalows at the authentically Polynesian Pearl Beach Resort & Spa. The decks of these bungalows are directly over the clear turquoise lagoon with views of jagged Mt. Otemanu: we just stepped down into the lagoon and found a paradise of fish and gentle, warm water. It has been said that Bora Bora is all about the water, and this is true, though there is much more to discover. Our highlight was a small group shark and ray snorkel excursion: black-tipped reef sharks, velvety sting rays, and...surprise, a 12-foot Lemon Shark...yes, we swam with them all.
With the same amount of visitors in a year as Hawaii receives in a week, the Islands of Tahiti are a haven and a paradise. Beyond the beauty of French Polynesia and the genuine warmth of the Tahitians, we also found relaxation, adventure, a connection to nature, and what can best be described as a deep sense of peace. The "mana," or life force of Tahiti enveloped us, and is the best souvenir that we all brought home.
Photo of shark courtesy of S. Galvan, used by permission. All other photos copyright Bluetail Travel 2019.