Far away sun and paradise – Moorea and Bora Bora

I can’t believe how quickly time goes by and to how many places I have been to since my fantastic honeymoon. Being a special occasion, we decided (another) amazing trip would fit the bill, and why not around the world for a couple of weeks or so?

Moorea - stunning island

Moorea – stunning island

From Lisbon, where we got married, we flew via London and Bangkok, to Sydney, where we stayed for 4 days. The definite highlight? Our 10-day stay in French Polynesia, where we visited 3 islands – Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora.

Not particularly easy to reach – Air Tahiti Nui (who codeshares with Qantas on some routes from Auckland, New Zealand and Los Angeles, for example) is the national airline and, I have to say, a pleasant surprise. The planes were modern, business class was very comfortable, adored the L’Occitane toiletries but loved the incredible cabin crew outfits (with 5 or 6 changes on each flight!). Very elegant and different from most! For this trip we flew with British Airways, Qantas and Air Tahiti Nui in a handy Oneworld Round-the-World ticket.

A happy landing at Moorea (possibly not international) airport

A happy landing at Moorea (possibly not international) airport

We stayed overnight in Tahiti, and were able to see a bit of what its capital Papeete had to offer.

The next morning, we boarded an Air Moorea flight – which must have taken 15 minutes. Not a fan of smallish airplanes, but the other option would be to swim (or possibly by boat).

We were so happy by the time we landed 🙂 I have no problems with flying, but give me and Airbus or a Boeing any day 🙂

Stunning views at the Hilton Moorea from the Clubhouse

Stunning views at the Hilton Moorea from the Clubhouse

We stayed at the Hilton Moorea, and were delighted with our over water bungalow – the nicest room I have ever stayed in my whole life. Must be said that when we booked our stay, the hotel was managed by Starwood under the Sheraton brand, and in the meantime was transferred over to the Hilton. Having booked with points (part of a Starwood Vacation Ownership super mega wedding gift – for which we will always be thankful), we were worried with what room we would be getting, and were delighted that the Hilton still upgraded us. How good was that?

The sun!

The sun!

The hotel was very nice, having been recently refurbished and not just full of honeymooners, which was great. Not very keen on competitive PDAs and grateful that many French use this territory for their annual holidays. It was indeed a big surprise to find out that French Polynesia is, in fact, part of the EU – and our passports didn’t get stamped!!

The first time anyone called me Mrs O'Reilly

The first time anyone called me Mrs O’Reilly

Most hotel guests go on full board packages and I must confess I am not a great fan of these. The best part of travelling is the ability to get out and about and meet locals, go to restaurants and of course, help the local economy! Hiring a car is particularly difficult (and expensive), so we found a great solution, with the help of the hotel’s concierge. There is a system: from a great selection of restaurants, you book different ones each night.. and the restaurant sends someone to pick you up (and then drop you back). The listings are very straightforward and there are at least 30 options. Chez Roger was our absolute favourite.

A special mention also goes to the Creperie at the Hilton where you dine with incredible views, in the middle of the bungalows and watch the sharks.. and other wonderful fish right below you.

Black pearls

Black pearls

“Tahiti and her islands”, is also the home of something wonderful – black pearls. Tahitian black pearls are  characterised by natural dark colours, with the most predominant being green.  Although reference may be made to a Tahitian black pearl, black is a very rare colour and they are more often charcoal or a dark silver.

After a wonderful 5 days, we moved on to the our next destination, Bora Bora – having flown with Air Tahiti for around 40 minutes.

Always struggled with our luggaage.. on RTW flights we had 3 bags each allowance.. which turned into 20kgs.. painful

Always struggled with our luggaage.. on RTW flights we had 3 bags each allowance.. which turned into 20kgs.. painful

Bora Bora Airport was incredible and very different from the usual suspects.. you don’t actually land on the main island.. make sure you organise with your hotel a boat pick up. We were welcomed by a nice crew from Le Meridien, with flowers too!

Hello Bora Bora!

Hello Bora Bora! You can just see the side of the boat!

As mentioned previously, we stayed at the Le Meridien Bora Bora, which was lovely. Our little water bungalow was outstanding.

We found that the same dining system worked in this island too, but with a slight difference – you have to take a boat transfer every time you leave the hotel.. oh the problems with being on an island! They worked brilliantly there and back.

The turtles were hungry!

The turtles were hungry!

The Meridien had a turtle sanctuary and every day we feed the little buggers – it was a different experience for me and glad I had the chance to try it and learn something about this interesting conservation project.

A word of warning – for which we will be eternally grateful to our travel agent’s advice. Drinks at hotels are incredibly expensive – we are talking around €20 for a gin & tonic… so very pleased we bought a bottle of Bombay Sapphire at Auckland Airport and with some ice, lemon and tonic were able to enjoy incredible sunsets from our private balcony.

Not a bad view!

Not a bad view from our Le Meridien overwater bungalow

We promised ourselves we would go back for our 5th anniversary.. only 18 months to go, but who’s counting?

Mrs O

PS. From here, our last stop was of course California, one of our favourite places in the world. You can read about it all here.

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