July 28, 17
MOOREA AND BORA BORA IN 8 DAYS
Our next escape and truly a dream come true was our trip to French Polynesia. Known to be the number one honeymoon destination, Tahiti and its neighboring islands are without a doubt embodying absolute paradise on earth.
HOW TO GET THERE AND WHERE WE STAYED:
We arrived at Fa’a’a International Airport in Papeete with Air Tahiti after an 8 – hour long flight from Los Angeles. From there we waited for our connection to Moorea, Tahiti’s closest neighboring island. Although Moorea is only a 45-min ferry ride away, we decided to continue our journey by plane, as leaving the airport and getting a ride to the harbor felt like too much work. However, if you pack lightly and want to go to Moorea asap, I recommend taking a taxi to the harbor and hop on a ferry. There are multiple ferry – crossings daily and tickets cost about 16 USD per person for one way (cheaper than the 65 USD flight ticket). Another good tip that no one gave us is that Air Tahiti offers multi-island tours, where you have more freedom exploring other islands as well. Make sure to definitely see both Moorea and Bora Bora. Here is the link to Air Tahiti and it’s island hopping tours: https://www.airtahiti.com/multiisland-fares
Located in front of a white sand beach, we decided to stay at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa for the next six days. Not only does the hotel provide beautiful views of the lagoon that surrounds Moorea, but it is also situated right in front of a spectacular mountain rising to the sky. As a ‘high island’ of volcanic origin, Moorea is a perfect hiking destination and a great place to work on your fitness (bring your hiking shoes!). The hotel offers complimentary snorkeling gear, stand up paddles and canoes for their guests, which you can use to explore the area. Just a short walk away from the resort is a small greenery area with a secluded beach – it made us realize how astonishing it is that Moorea kept its raw island feel despite it’s growing popularity and number of visitors annually.
THINGS TO DO IN MOOREA:
1. Belvedere Look-out, Pineapple Plantation and 3 Coconut Trees Pass Trail
Rent a car for the whole day and explore the approx. 40-mile (or 65km) long island on your own time. Ask your hotel if you can get a 4×4, as the road leading to the interior of the island (where the Belvedere Look-out is) can get bumpy. Stop at the pineapple plantation on the way to the lookout and explore the area with stunning views of colorful vegetation and high rising mountains. Afterwards, continue your drive towards the top. Once you arrive, park your car and look for the 3 Coconut Pass Trail to hike (taking about 3-4 hours in total). There are many slippery sections, so wear comfortable shoes and prepare for rain in the jungle. As a reward you will encounter scenic landscapes and lush bamboo forests with impressive color tones of green and emerald.
Overall, hiking and stopping at other unique spots such as coconut plantations and food trucks with local fruits along the main road will take time, so make sure to spend a whole day adventuring.
In the middle of a coconut plantation we found a “Tiki”, a sacred piece of art believed to represent protection for the people living close by. It is mind-blowing how Polynesian culture and religion connect to the physical environment and nature without interfering or abusing it.
2. Meet the stingrays and Nurse sharks:
The Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa offers daily departures of group tours from their dock, however we decided to rent a private motor boat from the hotel to check out the stingrays and nurse sharks (only a 15-minutes boat ride away). After our first and unforgettable experience with the ocean kittens in the Bahamas, we really wanted to spend more time in the area and rented the boat for two hours. Our captain was familiar with one of the 12 stingrays and it came right away to us. Knowing that people bring food for them, the stingrays get very touchy and close to you but don’t panic – they won’t harm you as they only want food and some love.
It is a beautiful experience, where you become one with the sea creatures and the ocean.
HOW TO GET THERE, WHAT TO DO AND WHERE WE STAYED:
Bora Bora is a 45-minutes flight away from Moorea and as you get into Bora Bora you will have spectacular aerial views of the lagoons and Mount Otemanu. Make sure to sit on the left side of the plane, once you enter the plane from the rear.
We chose to stay at Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort and upon arrival at the airport we were greeted by our hotel personnel and escorted to their boat that took us to the hotel. On our 30-minute boat ride to the hotel we were taking in the fascinating colors of Bora Bora ranging from turquoise to indigo to azure. It was a breathtaking first impression of the “Jewel of the South Seas”.
Transportation, sightseeing and other activities will be organized through your hotel, so make sure to figure out what is offered and where you are located before choosing a resort. Check out hotels of Bora Bora here:
One of the activities offered through Sofitel Marara Beach Resort at La Plage (their beach) is boat rental to explore all of Bora Bora.
We were super excited to check out the lagoons and reefs of the island on our own thanks to French law that permits 6 hp water-vehicle rental without a boating license. As the motor boats are not too fast, you can go around all of Bora Bora in 4 hours (without stopping). After a short introduction on how to anchor our watercraft and the colors indicating the depth of water around the island, we were ready to leave for our private expedition. The boat came with snorkeling gear and a cooler, so make sure to pack food and drinks for the day out at sea.
Although it was scary to be all alone in the open sea at first, we realized that the waters are so calm and mostly not deeper than 9 feet (or 3 meters), that we felt more comfortable after being 30 minutes on the boat. We stopped at an empty beach without anyone else around to eat something and take some photos. It was a surreal experience and pure utopia.
After continuing our journey for another hour and a half we stopped at another beautiful spot close to the St. Regis Hotel. Our excursion was interrupted there when I stepped accidently on a sea urchin. Unfortunately, we had no idea that exploring the waters would be best with water shoes on. In a frenzy we decided to return to our hotel, where I was assured that if it had been a poisonous sea urchin, I’d be already paralyzed by now (not too comforting). After disinfecting the wound I felt much better and we enjoyed the rest of our stay close to the hotel… Whether it is the dreamy colors of the lagoons or the capturing landscapes and people, the islands of French Polynesia are truly magical and must-see destinations to visit in a lifetime. We will be back soon…