Tahiti, French Polynesia – Most people have heard of it. Paul Gauguin painted it. The Portuguese, English and French discovered and fought over it, yet relatively few have been. Why is that?
The Tahitian Islands are breathtakingly beautiful. I would venture to say there is no place else on earth, where the crystal-clear waters, are so many shades of turquoise. The Caribbean pales in comparison. The islands are lush and thick with vegetation, displaying shades of green that emeralds would envy. It's hard to capture the true colors.
The food is delicious. Of course, they are French! The finest vanilla is grown here and exported to discerning chefs and bakers worldwide. The tuna is the best and the Japanese can’t get enough of it.
If the sea calls to you, there is every water sport imaginable. Adrenalin junkies can snorkel or dive with sharks and sting rays. Whale watch, as they migrate and stop to have their young. Even the whales know Tahiti is the spot to be. And their dolphin friends are hanging out too. Australian, Owen Smith won the World Surf League, 2019 Tahiti Pro Pres (Stop # 7 on the Men’s World Championship Tour), days before we arrived.
Prefer dry land? You can hike to mountain tops in tropical jungles, see blue eyed eels in fresh streams, visit vanilla farms, ride ATV’s. What about the allure of the prized Tahitian pearl? One perfect pearl can take a decade to form. No wonder a necklace of perfectly matched pearls, can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Tahiti is a paradise lost in time. People say it is like Hawaii in the 1920’s My first trip to Hawaii was in the early ‘70’s. Tahiti today, is less developed than what I experienced back then. There are no high-rise hotels. Some islands have no hotels, just very basic B &B’s. There are phone booths on street corners. Things run in Island Time. It’s the perfect place to disconnect from the pressure of modern life and immerse yourself in stunning natural beauty. The Japanese call it Forest Bathing.
So why do only 250,000 people a year visit the Tahitian Islands and 10 million visit Hawaii? The flight time from California is only 3 hours more; it’s in the same time zone. It comes down to cost. All island destinations are expensive and Tahiti is one of the most expensive. Which may also be it’s saving grace. If it were more accessible, to more people, it would become overrun.
What to do?
This needs to be on your bucket list especially if you are a sun, beach, water, nature lover. Save. Bite the bullet.
Do what you need to do. Make it happen.
1 -Take a Paul Gauguin cruise. You’ll visit 5 or more Islands. You’ll get to go to a Moti, which is a stunning private island. It’s a small ship, by ocean standards, 332 passengers. I never had to wait to be seated to dine. I chose to have room service every morning and enjoyed my croissant and coffee, on my balcony, with the most gorgeous view. Snorkeling gear, kayaking and paddle boarding are complimentary. Excursions are extra, however there are so many on board activities included, you can be busy every moment. For 2 people, 7 nights, in a balcony cabin (so worth it), including meals and open bar (all you can drink, all day long), air fare from San Francisco or Los Angeles for about $1000/person/day. This is a great way to experience Tahiti and not have to sell the farm.
2 -However, if you want to go for the gold and have an over the top experience in paradise; it’s an over the water bungalow at the St. Regis Bora Bora. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more beautiful, you turn your head and your eyes feast on an even more breathtaking sight. No wonder it makes the list of top 100 hotels in the world for 2019. I had a day there, as a guest of the St. Regis. I’m dreaming of going back to stay for a few nights.
Combine options 1 & 2 and you have an amazing time you will never forget.
Dream honeymoon, romantic escape?
3 – Flying to or from New Zealand or Australia? Fly Tahiti Nui Air and you can stop over, for no extra fare. Break up that long flight with a few nights in an over the water bungalow or garden view room. Doesn’t have to be the St. Regis (they only have over the water bungalow and fabulous villas) or the Four Seasons. Le Meridian, Sofitel, Intercontinental and Hilton all are lovely options.
Tahiti is expensive. But if you plan for it, it is doable. You can be part of the select few, (250,000 a year, of the entire world’s population), who will have been to paradise AKA the Tahitian Islands.
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