Prior to our cruise starting, we booked two nights in an over-the-water bungalow at the InterContinental Resort in Papeete. The room was expensive ($475 per night) but it was worth the treat. I highly recommend starting your cruise holiday early by a couple of days on land – especially if you are starting your cruise such a long way from home.
Tip: Your cruise will leave without you. If your arriving flight is delayed or cancelled, your vacation will be ruined. Plan to arrive at your first port a couple of days early to avoid such a disaster occurring.
It was a short cab ride to the Resort from the airport. When we arrived, our luggage was loaded into a golf cart by the bellman who was in traditional Tahitian dress and once checked in, we were taken to our bungalow.
Our bungalow was roomy and featured a king size bed, air conditioning, ceiling fan, and a two tier deck. A modern washroom completed our thatched roof home for the next two nights.
We instantly noticed the soft sound of the ocean lapping underneath us. After a long day of travel, it was very easy to fall asleep to this soft rhythmic sound of the waves.
We awoke early and immediately donned our snorkel gear and launched ourselves off our lower deck into the very warm water. The water was about six feet deep, crystal clear, and remarkably warm – almost heated swimming pool warm. The islands of the French Polynesia are surrounded by reefs that break the ocean waves, as a result the shallow waters inside the reef are very calm and home to an abundance of coral gardens.
We snorkelled for about an hour before hunger took over and we needed to think about breakfast. A nice feature of our Bungalow was a fresh water rinse station, so that we could rinse off our gear as we exited the ocean.
At the InterContinental, you can have your breakfast delivered to your room via an outrigger canoe but we decided that we didn’t want to wait for room service.
The main hotel complex is quite large and quiet. There is a massive pool area with a waterfall and plenty of deck chairs. There is also a small sand bottom pool Infinity pool with a swim up bar that is located away from the main pool area.
We walked the hotel grounds and then exited the hotel and walked towards the Sofitel Hotel to see what we could see. After 20 minutes along a pretty busy roadway, we came to a small shopping area. Found a small restaurant in the shopping center and enjoyed a fresh sea food lunch. The food was good and the service was great…the cost however, was huge! Our lunch included two basic fish entrees a coffee and a glass of juice and it cost us $85.00. This restaurant was where the locals ate, not a tourist spot taking advantage of hungry travelers. Good thing the food on the ship is included!