08/29/15 – Yuck. I hate “travel days”. I guess back in the day travel may have been fun. And road trips can certainly be fun. But flying? Not anymore, at least in my opinion. I hate being herded like cattle and packed like sardines into a metal cylinder and treated like I’m scum because I’m not an “elite” member of some company’s loyalty program. To me, airline travel is the necessary evil to get where you are going to start the holiday. So, at 8am, our limo shows up at the house and whisks us off to the Atlanta airport. Early Saturday morning and traffic is light – we make it to the airport in record time – something like 40 minutes. And for some unknown reason, we were “pre-TSA approved” for our Delta flight to LAX. I’ve not whizzed through security like that since before 9/11. Didn’t have to remove shoes, take out liquids or anything like that. Almost made the experience pleasant, given the memories of travel experiences since that fateful historic day. But then we pack ourselves into the Delta sardine can. Hoping for the best, I had reserved seats D and F ( window and aisle), hoping against all odds that some single traveler would choose a different seat rather than the hated middle seat. I lost my gamble. And my hubby misunderstood that one of us should offer the unwanted seat-mate either the window or aisle so that we could sit next together. So, we endured the 5 hour flight not even sitting next to each other. Oh well, didn’t matter much – it was not a fun experience. But, just across the aisle, a couple had done the same thing …. and no one sat in the middle. They had the three-seat row for just the two of them. I guess others are wise to my strategy and try the same thing now. So, anyway, we get to LAX and have to claim the one piece of luggage we checked and schlep our way over to the international terminal with our two small carry-ons, our two carry-on duffle bags and the one checked suitcase. We make our way to the Air Tahiti Nui counter and check the one bag to Papeete, the international airport city for French Polynesia. Then, we have the usual pleasure of security at LAX – no “pre-TSA” approval here. It’s the “see you naked” machine, remove your shoes and get the pat-down routine this time. We get through this, re-dress and become pack-mules, trying to find a place to park for several hours until our almost midnight flight to Tahiti. We find a sorta quiet area and set up shop. Occasionally one of us will wander around, go get a drink, go to the restroom or whatever, just to stretch and pass the time doing something except play on the iPad. We did take some time and have a decent lunch at the “fine-dining” establishment in the terminal, III Forks Steakhouse. It was ok, but mostly a diversion for a while. Finally around 8pm, we find out what gate our flight will be leaving out of and move towards that. While waiting, we noticed that there was a much earlier flight to Papeete. Wish we’d known this when planning our trip, because we would have taken that flight and spent one night in Tahiti at the Intercontinental Hotel before going on to Moorea. I had no idea, and my travel agent didn’t know I would have liked that option, so it didn’t happen. Oh well no big deal. But it may have made the travel a bit easier. So, finally they start boarding the flight and we pack ourselves into even tighter spaces and prepare for the 8 1/2 hour flight.
After lunch, we checked out the ocean. It’s not quite the bath water temperature that some TripAdvisor members have claimed. It’s about like the pool – and any who know me know that I’m a weenie when it comes to getting wet in anything but hot bath or shower water. Regardless, I finally got wet and swam a bit, but had to get out before long, since I did not have on any sunscreen. We sat on our porch, stared at the water (50 shades of BLUE!), and drank the bottle of champagne. I mean, what better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon? (Among other things …).
8/31/15 – Talk about revenge! Montezuma’s Revenge, I’m referring to. Got me really, really bad last night. About an hour after we went to sleep I woke up in pain. Barely made it to the bathroom before barfing. Got sick all over the floor and had to clean it up. Barfed so much couldn’t even make it to the toilette – barfed all in the sink. I don’t think I’ve ever been this sick before. I thought I was going to have to get a doctor sent over. Finally calmed down enough to doze back off, but woke to a real mess at 1:30 in the morning. Had gotten sick in my sleep and didn’t realize. Started crying and got even more upset. Had to pull the sheets off the bed and try to clean them. Barfed some more. Both ends. Miserable. Had to sleep on the bare mattress. Thought I was gonna have to cancel the 4×4 trip today with Francky Frank. Up again at 3, 4 and 5. Finally got some rest until about 6. Felt somewhat better, so decided not to eat and go on the trip anyway. So glad we did. I seem to be better now, thank goodness. Francky Frank picked us up at reception at a few minutes before 8. We hop in his truck and off we go to pick up the other three couples who were on this morning’s tour. They were all on the same yacht, so they knew each other already. A French couple, an Italian couple and a Swiss couple. It was like having the UN in the truck. But what a tour this was. Francky Frank was everything TripAdvisor promised he would be. Funny, entertaining, passionate about his island, multi-lingual and just great at photography. Our first stop was at a local distillery where we did tastings of several different alcohols. Our favorite was the vanilla Creme. Then on to some absolutely beautiful botanical gardens with a vanilla plantation. How interesting! I was disappointed there wasn’t fresh vanilla to purchase, but we did a tasting of several tropical jams. Delicious, but we opted not to purchase any. Did play with a beautiful little white kitten who lives there, though. After that we went up this road – but I use the word “road” loosely; it was more of a hiking trail – for an amazing view of Cook’s Bay. A little hike up the final part of the mountain, but the views are oh so worth the hike! Just beautiful. Onward! To a pineapple plantation, which was beautiful. Limes, coconuts (wasn’t there a song about putting the limes in the coconuts long ago?), ginger, avocados and all kinds of tropical fruits. Then up to a viewpoint where we could see both Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay, Belvedere Mountain. Just beautiful! Then down to visit an ancient Polynesian Temple, a Mare. Loved it, and it too, was inhabited by the ever-present and ever crowing roosters that live on the island.
We took the taxi ride back to the hotel and got ready for our seven course tasting menu at K, the high-end restaurant here at the resort. This was one of the most romantic meals we had on our entire vacation in French Polynesia. We opted for a very romantic table outside, candles everywhere and feet in the sand with a stunning view of the lights of the island of Tahiti. Truly an amazing view. The service was flawless and the food nothing short of amazing and artfully served. It was rather chilly with the crazy wind, and we ended up moving inside before the main course of the lamb chops. (Still enjoying the sand floor inside!) We started with an amuse bouche of tuna carpaccio with fois gras, then on to the appetizers of oysters, then asparagus with serrano ham and the fish course of fresh crayfish, then the most delicious rack of lamb, and a wonderful cheese board, ending with a plate of assorted chocolate desserts. All enjoyed with a great bottle of French red wine. The meal was paced so that we never felt stuffed and never felt like we were waiting too long for them to bring something else out – like I said flawless service! Two and a half hours later, we walked back to our bungalow and I think our heads hit the pillows and we were out like lights; we were both that tired after spending the day on the water.
9/5/15 – Well, the very last morning on Moorea. What an amazing experience we got up and showered and packed. Then went for our final breakfast. I am sad to leave Moorea’s soaring, lush green peaks and crystal clear, blue lagoon. But I am excited to finally get to Bora Bora. Our Moorea Explorer transport picks us up (early, as all pick-ups have been) and we get to the airport. No security – you just check your luggage. We are lucky to be on the left side of the plane, so we got to see Bora Bora first from the window of the plane. Short flight – seemed like ten minutes, but I know it was more like 40 minutes. THE MOUNTAIN!!!!! Mount Otemanu!!!!! Oh. My. Gosh! Unbelievable! It’s everything I thought it would be.
We make our way to the St Regis desk and eventually to the boat that whisks us to the huge resort. It is everything the travel brochures say it is. We meet our butler, Richie. Within minutes after he takes us around the resort and we get into our room (#109), they deliver champagne and treats! The view from our deck is something else – I just can’t believe it. I don’t want to leave the deck, so we order a sandwich to split and just sit here, staring at the mountain, drinking champagne and eating the ham and cheese sandwich with the steak frites. This must be what Diana and Charles felt like all the time. The best of the best. This truly is a once in a lifetime deal. I fully intend to enjoy every single second of our time here.
For dinner this evening we have reservations at Sushi Take here on the resort. What wonderful sushi! We order edamame for an appetizer and then Jerry gets a sashimi platter and I get a St Regis roll. Both are delicious! And the service is impeccable. I’ve never had a waiter rush over to take a bottle of water out of my hand before so that I didn’t have to refill my own glass.
9/6/15 – We wake up this morning to have our breakfast delivered via outrigger canoe! While the table is being set up, we get taken for an outrigger canoe ride in the crystal blue lagoon directly towards the beautiful mountain. What fun! We enjoy our huge breakfast with coffee, fresh pineapple juice, a huge selection of breads with jams, pastries, poisson cru and a table just full of flowers!
We get back to the villa and walk into the bedroom and they have made a heart of flower petals on our bed! Sooooo romantic! We were both very pleased and very surprised with that sweet gesture!
9/7/15 – A busy morning! French press coffee is delivered at 7am. We go to breakfast (huge buffet) and then catch the boat from Lagoon Services. This is run by a local family and they do a wonderful job. We start off by going to a spot where they chum up an incredible number of sting rays. They even have them named – Gigi, Lily and so on. They swim all around us, on us, over us, beside us – along with a few reef sharks and a lot of other fish. Jerry even got into the water with them! We actually got to spend quite a lot of time with them. We head over to the coral gardens … Oh my gosh – I am in heaven! He gave us each a chunk of bread to feed the fish to draw them near. Boy, that sure works! I had so many fish around me – and a few brave ones (or really hungry ones!) came right up and took bread right out of my hand. I could feel the nibbles on my fingers! So many fish. Just incredible. Giant clams. A HUGE Moray eel with huge teeth. I could have stayed here for hours. But, the sharks await! We go outside the pass into very deep water. Still crystal clear, but a much deeper blue. I can still see the bottom, even though it’s probably over 100 feet deep here. And (music, please) the Sharks arrive! Black tip reef sharks. Probably 25 or so of them. We swim among them for a long time. I also see several pike fish and lots of other fish. And one lemon shark (huge) below, near the bottom. I’m guessing it was about 20 feet long. Jerry won’t get in, which slightly disappoints me, but it’s ok. We go to the other side of the lagoon to a super shallow sand bar and just play around while he fixes us a snack or grapefruit, coconut and coconut bread. We continue our trip around the lagoon and even see one of the WW II canons. When it’s all done, we have been completely around Bora Bora in the lagoon. What a fun trip!
We come back to the villa and it starts to rain lightly. So glad it didn’t do that while we were out! We just chill for the rest of the afternoon in our villa, watching some lame movie, simply because it was in English. Since we never had lunch, we went to dinner early. Simple this evening, at the Aptima Bar. We get cocktails and watch the sun go down then I get hazelnut crusted mahi mahi and Jerry gets a mahi mahi sandwich. Both are really good. For dessert I get the St Regis specialty and Jerry gets a homemade frozen snickers bar. Again, both are really good. We come back to the villa and just relax. It is an early morning tomorrow for our jeep trip.
9/8/15 – Up a little early today – or what feels early. They bring our french-press coffee to the room at 7am. We are up and showered, ready. We have our coffee and head to the buffet for breakfast. Finish up and head to the dock for the water taxi over to the St Regis base on the main island so that Natura Discovery can pick us up for the jeep tour. It’s a Land Rover, actually, but who cares. We see some amazing sights and experience some wonderful things. We actually got to see WWII bunkers and canons that the U.S. Military left on the island. We got to see the coconut husking, cutting and milking again. I actually got to try the grating of the pulp to make the milk! Hard work! Tried Nono fruit. Had grapefruit and pineapple. Got to see how they make the designs on the pareos. Purchased one from a local who makes them and got another from our tour guide, Entinne, who is a champion javelin thrower! He made a stop to demonstrate for us and we got to try it. So much fun. But no way could I ever hit that coconut that is 7 meters up on a pole! Saw the huge coconut crabs – held one and it was about ten pounds or maybe more. What a beautiful island! I am so glad that we did a land tour and a water tour so that we could get a better perspective of the island, like we did on Moorea.
They dropped us off at Bloody Mary’s restaurant where we had lunch. Not very crowded. The bathrooms were a blast – a carved wooden penis in the men’s room and a waterfall sink in the women’s room. There was also this beautiful white cat laying on the counter of the gift shop that was so chilled. He didn’t even open his eyes when we were petting him. I’ve never met a cat so unafraid of strangers. We pet him for a long time after lunch while we waited for Natura Discovery to pick us up and deliver us back to the dock. Read the sign out front to see some of the famous people who have been here. Sand floor, palm tree stumps for seating. Tremendous fun!
Got back to the resort and arranged a candlelight dinner on the beach. Had a few hours to kill, so we just hung out in the jacuzzi of our villa. They picked us up around 7:15. The table was set up on a little platform right on the sand with two tiki torches for light, along with the stars of the beautiful southern sky. It was the best possible evening of our entire trip so far for this experience. No wind and perfect temperature. There were several courses. We started off with Blue Lagoon cocktails, since we were dining on the blue lagoon of Bora Bora! There was an amuse bouche that was wonderful. Then appetizers. Mine was crab, but I don’t remember what Jerry’s was. Then the main course, along with wine we had ordered. My main course was mahi mahi (which was wonderful) and Jerry got some kind of beef roll with foi gras in it. Then …. the wonderful dessert – the St Regis Bora Bora chocolate pearl. A dark chocolate Pearl with one half filled with chocolate mousse and the other half filled with espresso ice cream. All of this topped table side by hot chocolate sauce. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dessert so wonderful. Kudos to the St Regis chef who came up with delightful concoction! But, that wasn’t all. After that, they brought out a tray of fruit tidbits for each of us. Too much food – I tried one of each, but that was it. A raspberry, a strawberry and a little chocolate topping on a wafer. There were two of each for each of us – but I was almost comatose with delicious food by now. We took the golf cart back to the villa and I just fell into bed. What a wonderful, fun day in Paradise!
We returned to the villa to just chill for the afternoon, lazing around, snoozing and taking a soak with bath salts in the humongous bathtub in the villa. I think I got a bit of sun on the backs of my legs this morning – hurting a tad now. I hope it eases up by tomorrow morning because I want to go back to their Lagoonarium. Yes, it’s that good.
Dinner last night was fun – at the Mai Kai Marina, Yacht Club and Restaurant. It’s on the mainland of Bora Bora, so we took the water taxi to the St Regis base there. Our dinner included cocktails, salad, amuse bouche, appetizer, main course and dessert. We both got MaiKai kisses which is champagne and cranberry juice. The salad was the typical raw veggies with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. The amuse bouche was a tuna carpaccio. Appetizer was pan seared tuna and main course was filet mignon, which was very good with its peppercorn sauce. Dessert? A wonderful creme brulee.
While dining, I just hit the wall. So tired and I knew it was a long way back to the villa. Our transfer from the dock to the restaurant and back was a bit rustic – one of the open jeep vehicle trucks. At least it had a top over it, because it rained during dinner (hard) and was still spitting when we left. The weather has turned. Windy, windy, windy and rainy and cloudy. The wind makes it feel chilly. I fell asleep almost immediately when we got back to the villa. About 1:30 in the morning, we woke up to attend to nature and noticed that the electricity in most of the villa was off. The underwater light was working and the porch lights were working. A/C was off. Went to call the front desk and the phone in the living room was out. Jerry found the one in the bedroom was working. With the wind and rain, it was all a little creepy. They sent someone over about 20 minutes after we called. Must have turned on a backup generator or something, because we heard a switch then everything was working again. Still very windy and rainy outside, but managed to go back to sleep before too long. Coffee came at 7 and we were still asleep. Power went off again about 8. I was trying to go back to sleep because I just felt like I needed more sleep. So, they came and fixed it again. I wasn’t much in the mood for breakfast, so Jerry went on his own this morning. Finally around 10 or so, they came and did a permanent fix. He said it was a short caused by all the wind and rain. We have done absolutely nothing today, except laze around. No desire to get outside with the wind and chilliness – it sounds like a N’oreaster out there! I slept until about 10:30 and then we just sat here in front of the beautiful lagoon, doing computer stuff. A real lazy day. Been kinda nice. I think I feel a bit better this afternoon. Lots of sun and swimming yesterday. And so much rich food these last couple of weeks!
And what a dinner it was! We went early for cocktails. We started off inside because it was so windy and chilly. But to catch the sunset, we moved out on the deck. Worth it! Especially since it was our last evening on the beautiful Bora Bora. We chose the five course tasting menu with wine pairings. What fun! There was the amuse bouche of rice cracker crusted tuna to begin with. Then the appetizer of caramelized fois gras. I know it’s very controversial, but boy! Now I really understand why people love it so. It is amazing! This was the first time I’d ever had it by itself and not mixed with something else. It is divine! The fish course of black patio crusted with spices and nuts came next. Then wonderful chili mint lamb chops and then a heavenly dessert of carmelized banana with chocolate sauce. After a delicious and perfect wine pairing with all five courses and all that wonderful food, I felt nearly comatose after dinner! We just went back to the villa and practically fell into bed.
Allison (my daughter) meets us at the airport and a half hour later we are home and in our own bed.
What a once-in-a-lifetime trip! It was my dream for so many years and I’m so glad we did it. In retrospect, of course I’d change a few things, but what a dream come true!