When you think of the South Pacific, one of the places you probably think about is Tahiti. It just sounds incredibly exotic, doesn't it? Tahiti. Like a place of incredible beauty and tradition and relaxation. And so, we decided we had to travel to Tahiti while we were in the area.
The flight from New Zealand was around five hours long. The time change is only two hours, but since you cross the international date line, it's actually a 22 hour time difference. You arrive nearly a full day in the past, basically.
Instead, he slept in the next morning.
The resort we were heading to is actually on the island of Moorea, but it's impossible to get there in one day, so we spent one night at the Intercontinental in Tahiti, which is itself a lovely resort. the pool and lagoon were our first daytime view of Tahiti.
The hotel has a seawater lagoon with coral reefs, so you can go snorkeling right there at the hotel.
These over-the-water huts are very popular in the South Pacific.
The next morning we slept in and then headed to the airport after lunch for our very short flight to Moorea, which is the island you can see in the background of the above photo. The flight itself was the shortest commercial flight I've ever been on in my entire life; I think we spent seven minutes in the air! We arrived at our resort (the Hilton, of course) in early afternoon.
The Hilton is a beautiful resort, situated on a lagoon with a stretch of sandy beach and a mix of cabanas on the ground and over-the-water huts.
You can see the huts in the pictures below. We stayed in a very nice room on the land part of the resort. the idea of being in an over-the-water room with a small child was a little unnerving! The resort itself was really, stunningly beautiful. The white sand beach leads into a turquoise lagoon that is part of the coral reef surrounding the island. The water was fairly shallow and warm, and full of tropical fish. It was a fantastic place to snorkel -- and no jellies!
I took a lot of pictures, but they all look alike. The photos above weren't taken on the same day, but they looks as if they were!
Carter loved playing in the sand, as always. He got a lot of time to play and swim and hang out.
We didn't really do much during our time here. We swam in the ocean and the pool, I snorkeled, Carter played in the sand, and... that was about it. We really didn't do much else for a whole week! Which was nice, by the way.
There was a restaurant out in the middle of the over-the-water huts that served crepes, and we ate dinner there a couple of nights. The food was great, but what was really interesting was that at night reef sharks come and swim around in the water below the restaurant, hoping to be fed.
This was very close to where we snorkeled during the day! One night we saw a huge great white shark swim by, which made me feel a little weird about getting back in the ocean, I have to say.
Carter picked out these sunglasses at a local shop. Retro!
The currency here is very colorful and also huge. We had to fold the bills lengthwise to fit them in our wallets.
It was a gorgeous resort, populated with an interesting combination of American honeymooners and French families. French is the official language in French Polynesia, but everyone also speaks English. It was strange to hear so many American accents after hearing almost none for months.
Carter and I enjoyed relaxing in this hammock.
Tahiti's local beer:
Most nights we would hang out on the beach, drink a beer, and watch the sunsets while Carter played in the sand.
One night the hotel had a special dinner by the pool with a dance show. The dancers were mostly from local Polynesian dance schools, and there was a professional group that performed at the end.
Here is a video of some of the dancing we saw, including fire dancing. (It's about 12 minutes long.)
There were chickens at this resort, which amused me to no end. I've never seen chickens on the beach before! I'm not sure if they were just there, or there for pest control, or what, but they were very tame.
Since the pool was cold and the ocean was warm, we spent most of our time swimming in the lagoon. The water was clear and there were colorful fish swimming all around us. It as almost like we were swimming in an aquarium! (We never did see any sharks during the day, though.)
Again, all my pictures look the same. But they're all beautiful.
The grounds of the hotel were lovely.
Here is our suite:
All the rooms that weren't on the water had private decks in the back and plunge pools. The pools were really cold, but on the last day Carter and I braved the cold and spent some time swimming here.
We had a lovely week at the resort, but at last it was time to make our way onwards. We flew back to the main island of Tahiti and stayed another night at the Intercontinental, this time in an over-the-water hut!
We did a little swimming off the deck in the ocean, and also swam in the pool. Carter played in the sand while Doug and I had drinks by the lagoon, and we enjoyed our last night in the South Pacific.
The next day, we flew to Auckland, New Zealand for one night, and then flew on to Melbourne, Australia, where my mom soon joined us. More on the second part of our Australian adventure in the next post!