One of our readers sent me an email asking some of the in's and out's to honeymooning in Tahiti and I wanted to share my own experience since it may influence some of you to pick this spectacular destination.
First thing first, I would highly recommend meeting with a travel agent who specializes in this destination since he/she will be able to give you advice on most of the important travel details and can help you plan every area of your trip. Its very simple to book all your island-to-island transfers (whether you take ferries or planes) from the get-go so you have your entire itinerary planned and have the entire vacation to relax! For our trip, we found a great agent from Liberty Travel in the West Village office by the name of Lionel. He was both familiar with the region and spoke french; booking our trip through him was much easier than doing so on our own.
Air Tahiti Nui offers direct flights from both NYC (12.5 hours) and LA (8 hours). You fly directly into Papeete, which is located on the main island of Tahiti and is the capital city. Most flights get in late night - and its advised you spend the first night in Papette.
From there, two wonderful place's you'll want to spend your time is Moorea and Bora Bora. Our trip was 4 nights in Moora (which is a 10 minute plane ride from Papette, but ferries are also available). Bora Bora is a 45 min. flight from Papette and Moorea.
In Moorea, we stayed at the Sheraton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa for 4 nights in an over water bungalow. Daytime, we would wake at 5 am to watch the sunrise from our back deck (some bungalows have the sunset view instead), jump in the warm water for a snorkel adventure and relax on the beach with a cocktail in hand. At the Sheraton, we did a full-day meal plan so we ate primarily at the hotel. Looking back, breakfast and lunch there were great, but I'd be less apt to eating all my dinners there since there are quite a few great restaurants around the island.
The one night we adventured off the hotel grounds was to a fun restaurant just down the road called Aito. Run by Jean-Baptiste who in meeting is worth the visit alone! Here's a great recap written by another blogger - its a very down and dirty spot, but the food was superb (lots of fresh seafood) and all the tables are set into the sand, just steps from the water's edge. The hotel will arrange Jean-Baptiste to pick you up - remember to put on your seat belt and be open-minded; as your chauffeur is a little crazy.
Moorea is a very tiny island, lush and super quiet. The hotel grounds were amazing and they offer plenty of day-trip adventures including snorkel trips, ATV tours through the neighboring Belvedere plantations - the view from the top of the lookout is FANTASTIC. We even did a full-day stingray tour with snorkeling, and ended it with delightful picnic on a deserted island - complete with some demonstrations on how to open coconuts and make the national dish: Poisson Cru.
Moving onto Bora Bora, the place I still dream of every night, we luckily spent 6 days in this paradise! All flights land on a small island and hotels arrange to meet incoming passengers by boat. What a luxurious experience it is to be greeted with leis full of fragrant gardenias and to be whisked away to a remote green paradise! Our hotel, The Bora Bora Nui was just INCREDIBLE! The food, rooms and service were all first-class and our over water bungalow was amazing. I would kill to recreate those bathrooms at home!
The resort's spa is located at the top of a beautiful mountain-side, sprinkled with lush gardens and beautiful flowers on the way up to the top. I spent an entire afternoon walking up the path, shooting images of the amazing flowers and views from the top. We did a wonderful hot stone couples massage - and the scent of those oils still remains one of my favorite parts of the whole trip.
Bora Bora is really a relaxers paradise. There is plenty of snorkeling - right off your bungalow, but to be honest, the ocean currents during our stay there made it a much better choice to spend the time at their pristine beach. We spent hours on that beach - and throughout the day, the staff hands out ice water, drinks, cookies and ice cream. Twice a week, they offer a complimentary Polynesian show - with area fire dancers. The hotel's food is fantastic - lots of fresh fish and we even enjoyed an in-room dining complete grill so you can cookout inside your fabulous room, taking the cake on the most unique room service available anywhere! The infinity pool is to die for but also the free kayak and windsurfing rentals keep activities always another option.
We even did a one-day shark and ray feeding tour - full of adventure and hosted by three hilarious guides, it was a great day out! We ventured into the main island of Bora Bora for a visit to the famous Bloodys Mary's but to be honest, the food was blah and it felt very Hard Rock. Not what we expected from other traveler reviews. The one restaurant I had my heart set on, La Villa Mahana was impossible to get a reservation for. Make sure to read some reviews about this secluded place that offers only six tables and book at least 3 months in advance - it came highly recommended by nearly every travel book and site I visited for one of the most memorable meals in Bora Bora.
Our last two nights were spend in Papette at a hotel we were actually very disappointed with, the Le Méridien. The beach was gross and the pool was pretty much full of children screaming. The adjustment after spending 10 blissful nights in some of the top hotels in the world and then checking into this dump was so horrid -the rooms were full of tacky furniture and just so 1983-Miami style. If you plan on staying in Papette, check out the Radisson - they have black sand beaches which were really cool but I'd keep the visit there to one day max. We spent a half-day in downtown Tahiti, visiting the market and strolling around enjoying an abundance of food.
All in all, this trip was so memorable - the scenery was just divine and every moment of the day, Tahiti welcomes you into its heart and invites you to stay. The Polynesian people were so happy and loved to share their language, traditions and beautiful homes with us. The food was so fresh, caught fresh from the ocean and the french influence on the islands are everywhere!
Although the trip was expensive, there are options out there for all budget of travelers. Do some research on different hotels, but if you do plan to book your trip and stay at any of these places, make sure to drop my a line - I'd love to share some more insider tidbits!!