French Polynesia Journals

French Polynesia - Hold Your Breath

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A June 2001 trip to French Polynesia by jmineo

Quote: Compilation of articles surrounding four French Polynesian destinations we visited this summer; Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, and Bora Bora.

French Polynesia - Hold Your Breath

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Overview

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We didn't know what to expect when we planned this trip. Definitely there were the island images imbued with the mythology of many told tales: - Tropical paradises with white beaches - Motus (little uninhabited offshore coral islets) - Bungalows with glass bottoms - Secluded coves - High-rise palm trees - Lush jungles - Busy night bazaars - Shining golden temples - Friendly, easy-going people - Sunbathing - Green coconut drinks - Shark dives (not for the faint of heart) - Outrigger canoe tours - Snorkeling But reality is always so much different than two-dimensional impressions, however well ...Read More

Mariner Shores

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Hotel | "Motel Albert and "Muk""

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Motel Albert was a pleasant surprise. I''d have to equate our room to a stateside bed & breakfast. We had a large room with hot running water (never can be sure), a veranda and kitchen. This turned out to be a perfect motel choice; thanks Sofitel!. The motel was surrounded by about a 5-acre garden full of birds, tropical flowers such as Bird of Paradise, palms and, of course, the ubiquitous chickens. Our view on the veranda was to die for; in the morning, the sun shined from behind our room onto Mout Rotui, a vast jagged slice of volcanic rock covered in light green foliage. It towers up almost vertically between Cook''s Bay and Opanuho Bay. To the left was Mount Mouaroa, called Bali Hai in the mov...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 15, 2001

Mariner Shores
The Esplanade Burleigh Heads
Gold Coast, Australia

Sofitel Heiva Huahine

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Hotel

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If you are looking for some peace and quiet, the Sofitel on Huahine is for you. If you''re looking for the best luxury hotels with immaculate bungalows over shallow waters or balcony views of lagoons, then you''re better off looking at other islands such as Bora Bora or Moorea. My wife and I stayed here for one night. We had a beach bungalow (one of six over the lagoon) which wasn''t as nice as the Sofitels on Moorea or Bora Bora. There was nothing really wrong with the room, it just wasn''t elegant. We would have liked to have had a sliding screen door to keep the bugs out of the room when our lights were turned on at night. Bottomline: If you''re going to splurge on an overwater bungalow (do it...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 24, 2001

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Our first full day in Tahiti, we discovered a unique, local dining experience - Les Roulottes. These are vans turned into mobile diners. Flaps lowered from each side at the back become counters and stools are set up for customers who sit under a pulled-out awning. Inside they contain all the necessities of a restaurant. We ate at one that was a pizzeria called La Pitcheunette which had a brick oven inside, 10 cubbeyholes for condiments and cooking utensils as well as an espresso machine and vases full of fresh flowers. We noticed later that these vans were all over the city selling pizzas, chinese food, steaks, seafood, waffles and crepes. We passed one with an aquarium, another with waffle machines. ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 15, 2001

Tahiti Heiva Dance Festival

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Attraction

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While in Papeete, we had idyllic timing for the Heiva Dance festival. We were able to watch the rehearsal of the big, week-long event coming up. The celebration actually extends through the month of July. There's history behind the event, which began around the celebration of the French Bastille Day, but as colonial rule fell out of favor, it became a celebration of Polynesian culture. There are dancing competitions, craft displays, canoe races, stone-lifting competitions and the ever-popular beauty pageant for both men and women. We had to sit through discussions of choreography and the dancers were not wearing their magnificent costumes, but for no cost we were able to watch an amazing ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 15, 2001

Shark and Stingray Feeding Tour

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Attraction

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On Sunday, we went on a tour from Club Bali Hai. The hotel was closed for rennovation, but lines were long for getting on a couple of the boat tours. Unfortunately, the giant Rennaissance cruise ship had docked in Moorea overnight and we were flooded with some of its 900+ passengers. We had about 40 people on our boat, cruised out of Cook's Bay then stopped in the lagoon a short distance from the Sheraton where the guides set up a roped-off area where we could watch them feeding sharks. One took huge chunks of fish and for 10 minutes we only saw massive schools of beautiful surgeon and trumpet fish. But then we saw first one then as many as 6 black-tipped reef sharks scissoring through the water. Som...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 15, 2001

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Choosing somewhere to stay is always the worst part about arriving somewhere new, so we let our Sofitel concierge refer us to a "budget" hotel in Moorea for two nights. Moorea, we were told, was the best island for snorkeling and long wades in shallow waters. Since we were keeping our room in Papeete during the Moorea excursion, frugal accommodations were on our mind. We decided collectively on Motel Albert ($75). It only took us 8 minutes to fly to Moorea from Tahiti and it could just as easily be done by the many ferries that leave Papeete's port. We flew only because we had an Air Tahiti Air Pass that included all the Society Islands. I would definitely recommend this as it cost only $300 US to f...Read More

Mopedding Around Moorea

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Story/Tip

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We spent the day in Moorea on scooters and rode to Cook's Bay. It was here Capt. James Cook first anchored in Moorea although he settled in Opunohu Bay. Cook's Bay is stunning but the second bay is even more so. It's pristine condition is the result of strict development guidelines and made it the choice for the lastest "Mutiny on the Bounty" with Mel Gibson. Near here, we visited the Pineapple Juice Factory which makes all kinds of fruit juice and liquors and the newly opened Sheraton Hotel. We had a beer and tapas while enjoying the 5-star lifestyle then drove into the mountains to Belvedere lookout where you can see the northern mountains ringed in a semi-circle. This was the volcanic crater and th...Read More

Arriving in Tahiti

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Story/Tip

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Getting to Papeete took 7 1/2 hours from LAX airport. We managed to use a Delta Airline frequent flyer award travel certificate through Air France. AOM airlines (which filed for bankruptcy) and New Zealand Air also fly out of LAX 3 or 4 times weekly. Hawaiian Airlines flys out of Honolulu and takes 5 hours for those so inclined. The fun began immediately for us as soon as we hit the ground. When we arrived at Papeete's Faaa airport, we were greeted by a three-piece band consisting of three men playing a drum, ukelele and bass rigged up from a large upturned bucket and broom. They wore flower heis (leis in Hawaii) and their polynesian music was upbeat despite it being almost 1am. I managed to get ...Read More

Bora Bora - not so idyllic

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Story/Tip

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A bit of excitement swept through the plane as we touched down in Bora Bora. This is so close to a mythical place that it's strange to find it actually exists. This is the place synonomous with Eden or Paradise, the place people say they'll move to when they win the lottery or become rich and famous. Even the geography of the island is mythical with a large extinct volcano rising from a turquoise blue lagoon surrounded by string of white sand motus. Even the airport is on a motu and you have to take a ferry to reach the main island. Some of the exclusive hotels have their own motus and transfer their guests directly. The lagoon is magnificent with that prized milky turquoise shade stunning your ...Read More