Randy has wanted to go to Tahiti for eons but it was always too far, too expensive, and then too difficult to leave the trailer and Elko. When we lost our sweet boy last summer (Elko’s Last Blog) we wanted something to look forward to. When faced with all the health issues since, we needed something to look forward to!
We flew Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles to Papeete with free luggage, two meals, entertainment, blanket, pillow and supply bag for our eight hour flight.
We landed in Papeete, Tahiti at midnight and went straight to the hotel and bed. We enjoyed a breakfast buffet and free time the next morning. Tahiti is the largest of the 118 islands in French Polynesia.
Because of renovation work being done far away from our bungalow, we received complimentary dinners in addition to the breakfast buffets. That was nice because everything in French Polynesia is expensive. Throughout our stay we were surprised by the number of young couples and families visiting the islands. They surely have different spending priorities than we did at that age. Good for them!
The resort has a Turtle Hospital and Sanctuary. There are a range of care levels from full human support to minimal support before release. Two hundred and thirty three turtles have been treated and released since 2004.
There were 12 turtles in residence including the mascot Tortilla. She arrived in 2004 with a severe floating problem caused by a damaged or diseased shell. She was unable to move effectively and feed herself. Tortilla is about 60 years old and is a permanent resident.
There was also a Dolphin Experience on site with three resident dolphins. We enjoyed watching others but didn’t feel compelled to partake ourselves.
We purchased a tour for snorkeling with rays and sharks with lunch. Several tours were leaving from the same dock and, because we speak no French, we didn’t understand where to wait and when to leave. We were told to watch and follow one particular man. It was a very humbling experience.
While we (and 30 of our closest French speaking friends) were waiting to leave, this Brown Booby showed us that he was not intimidated sharing HIS dock with humans! Thanks to our friend Mark for the bird identification.
We came back from snorkeling to find most of our tour companions had left! Our captain was still there. He indicated we were okay and would go back on a smaller boat. While traveling we have always depended on someone speaking passable English or our basic Spanish. This was a whole new level of uncomfortable.
Chicken varieties are everywhere and help clean restaurant floors immediately. This one wanted to help us clean our plates! We enjoyed their presence.
After three nights on Moorea we headed to the airport and Bora Bora. Our driver spoke great English and gave us a bit of a tour. Two diesel generators supply Moorea with power costing about $250 a month. He said island life is expensive for tourists and locals. People fish and grow a lot of their own food. He spear hunts for wild boar.
Bora Bora is an island surrounded by coral reef and smaller islands called the motu. The airport is northernmost on a motu island so airport transfers are boat rides. The Intercontinental Bora Bora is near the southern point of the main island.
This is another iconic image! We kept wondering which of the many over-water bungalow resorts we passed was going to be ours. Staying in an overwater bungalow was part of the bucket list event. We learned later that about two thirds of all Bora Bora accommodations are overwater bungalows.
We finally arrived and it was so exciting to go out on the docks and see our bungalow!
This is looking down into the water from directly above the glass topped coffee table. The top slides open to feed fish. It is especially nice when lit at night.
This is the neighborhood view from the upper back deck. There are two, one at the bungalow level and one nearer water level. A ladder lets you go from your bungalow right into the water. And then when you get out, there is a fresh water shower on the lower deck!
Randy found this nice shell while snorkeling and then noticed it was still occupied.
I learned a variety of ways to tie a pareo and we kind of learned to weave palm leaves.
Another night we went to the famous Bloody Mary’s. We didn’t actually know it was famous until we saw the signs of all the famous people who have been there!
Our guide took us to a family operation making pareos. We saw how they dye the cotton cloth and use stencils and the sun to add a picture. I found one to buy!
Remember the map with the island, reef, and motu? There is just one way into the interior and because of that Bora Bora became a strategic location for America after Pearl Harbor. Within a few months American soldiers arrived and built the 22 mile road around the island, still in use today.
They brought and installed eight cannons around the island but they were never fired. With only the one entrance, the Japanese never tried to engage at Bora Bora.
Alex said islanders in general have good feelings about Americans and what they built and left on the islands. Many natives have some American blood because of the soldiers stationed there. Thankfully, the mixed race children were accepted without issue in Bora Bora. He said the French came in after the Americans left and at least he isn’t happy about it. We couldn’t see any visible signs of acrimony toward France in French Polynesia, but we may not have understood it if it was right in front of us either!
We left our overwater bungalow in Bora Bora at 10:30 am on Saturday and arrived in Surprise, Arizona at 6:00 pm on Sunday. That included some waiting around the pool time and waiting at the airport time but it was still a long trip. But it was still awesome!! It was well worth the distance, expense and difficulties.
My bucket list trip is a cruise to Norway to see the Northern Lights – already booked for the fall of 2020. We can only hope it will go as well as Mom’s bucket list cruise through the Panama Canal and Randy’s to Tahiti!
May your bucket list dreams come true as well!