Cheryl Scremin | Flight Centre Independent | Home Based Travel Agent
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Cheryl Scremin

604 290 2895

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Posted on: Thursday July 27, 2017
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FRENCH POLYNESIAN PARADISE

In November of 2009, my husband and I took an amazing trip to French Polynesia to celebrate our 25th anniversary. It was a bucket-list trip that was in the works for close to 2 years, but worth every minute of waiting.

We flew from Los Angeles on Air Tahiti (the most common way to get to Tahiti) to the capital, Papeete.The flights depart from Tom Bradley terminal at LAX, an easy walk from Air Canada in Terminal 2.The flight attendants supply complementary food, drinks, headrests and blankets. The 8 hour flights arrive around midnight so we went straight to our hotel after a long travel day.We stayed at a hotel near the airport, the Sofitel Tahiti Maeva Beach Resort. The room was lovely and the atmosphere in the hotel was great. We couldn’t wait to get outside the next morning and get our first taste of Tahiti in the daylight.

It did not disappoint!The day was beautiful and we had a fabulous view across to the island of Moorea (pronounced Mo-o-reah, as they pronounce all their vowels).After a breakfast buffet, we headed off to catch the 45 minute ferry to Moorea.

The inter-island ferry is an excellent way to travel between the islands for less money than flying.It’s all a well-oiled machine, with a place to drop your luggage before heading onto the ferry.Living on the coast of BC, and having taken many cruises, I am used to the water but this was truly one of the roughest crossings I’ve ever taken!There were sick-bags at the end of every row of seats and the only people moving out of their seats were the attendants, who could barely walk without falling over themselves.Luckily Albert and I are not ones to get sea-sick, so it was just an adventure. When we arrived we grabbed our luggage and then took a cab to our second hotel, the Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort.The lobby was open and inviting, and we were promptly taken by golf-cart out to our over-water bungalow.Our luggage followed shortly after.The bungalow was a dream come true!There was a glass window in the floor to view the water below, and sliding doors to a lovely verandah with a ladder directly into the water.It was a large open room with a separate bathroom, including state-of-the art fixtures and a huge shower. The bungalows sit in about 4-5 feet of water, so even non-swimmers would enjoy this luxury. We quickly discovered the room came with a single-serve espresso machine so we grabbed a coffee and went out to the deck.It was simply heaven to sit there enjoying the amazing views, especially to see the fish swimming all around us.After a quick coffee break, we grabbed our snorkel equipment and hopped in the water.It turns out we had a resident fish that lived next to our ladder and would peck at our toes as we climbed up and down the ladder, almost as if to say, “How dare you trespass in my water!”.It was a little disconcerting at first, but since she was only about 2 inches long, I quickly realized she couldn’t do any real damage.We named her Wanda.The water was crystal clear and about the temperature of bath water - just the right warmth for me!I had heard that the beach at the Sofitel is one of the nicest on the whole island, and I certainly agree.







That night we had a buffet dinner at one of the hotel’s restaurants.The food was excellent the whole trip; very Parisian, but also very expensive.The breakfast buffets were included with our room, otherwise it was $50/person.Dinner buffets were $100/person.

The next day we rented a scooter and toured the island on our own.It’s about 37 miles so you can easily do it in half a day, with stops at the popular places like the Belvedere Lookout.We had lunch at a great little family owned - in fact it was their house - restaurant called Le Bounty.The cheese salad was excellent and much more reasonable than the restaurants near our hotel.

That night we had a fabulous romantic dinner on the beach in the hotel’s K restaurant.Not for the faint of heart though!The bill was about C$250 with only one drink each.I was amazed at all the newlyweds and young couples there ordering bottle after bottle of wine.Who pays the $500 bill?

We took a Shark & Stingray Feeding excursion the next morning with Albert’s Tours that included a Motu Picnic, for about $100 each.It lasted 6 hours and was great value as the meal was excellent – the local dish, Poisson Cru, made fresh while we watched - and all drinks were included.(Motu’s are tiny uninhabited islands where they set up private picnics.)To top it off, on our way to the shark and ray feeding grounds, we passed cow and calf Humpback whales and our guide stopped the boat so we could watch them frolic in the water for about 20 minutes.We’d met some hotel guests the day before who had paid for a whale-watching expedition and didn’t see any, so we felt especially fortunate!

The experience of swimming with sharks and rays was very daunting to me at first, but eventually, I took a cue from Albert and got right into it.I drew the line at kissing rays though.

The next 2 days we stayed around our bungalow, just swimming and snorkeling and enjoying the fish and water.It was a bit disconcerting though, when we swam almost to the reef and then spotted a reef shark!That was enough to get me swimming back to the bungalow.I’m sure he wasn’t used to tourists feeding him like the ones the day before.



On the 5th day we packed our bags and took the ferry back to Papeete to catch our cruise ship.The crossing was much smoother than the way over. The cruise terminal is walking distance from the Moorea ferry if you can manage your luggage.We dropped our bags at the ship and wandered over to check out the Papeete market, which specializes in pearls, fish and woven goods.Not being enticed to buy, we headed back to the ship.

The cruise was a 10 night round-trip Papeete itinerary on the Pacific Princess, a small 670 passenger ship.We loved the ship and met lots of wonderful people.Our table of 8 became fast friends and we spent each evening together after dinner, watching shows or just enjoying each other’s company.I have to say the shows were not what I’m used to on a ship, but that’s simply because of the limited stage-space on such a small ship.

The ship overnighted in Papeete at the beginning and end of the trip, to facilitate the late-night flights.Most of the outbound flights are around 11:00pm, so at the end of the cruise, you can check out of your cabin, but still leave all your bags on the ship and use the dining facilities until heading to the airport that evening.

We stopped in Huahine, Rangiroa, Raiatea, Moorea, and overnighted in Bora Bora.In Huahine, we did an excellent tour called Marc’s Outrigger Snorkel and Motu picnic for $100 each.It was an all day tour and certainly the most fun we had in any of the ports.Our guide was hilarious and the food and weather were just perfect.In Rangiroa, we did Mata’s tour, which I don’t recommend, even though I realized he was the same tour guide who Ellen Degeneres used when she was there on her honeymoon.He didn’t supply any food and it was over-priced.The one highlight was all the dolphins at Tiputa Pass.We took Suzanne’s tour in Raiatea and that was good, but by then we’d had enough of Pearl farms.We rented an exorbitantly-priced dune buggy on Bora Bora, only because all the cars were already rented.Tip: if you want to rent a vehicle on Bora Bora, book it in advance!We’d read about Bloody Mary’s restaurant, but it was just an over-priced tourist trap.Take some pictures, but don’t waste your money on the food.On our port day in Moorea, we had a torrential downpour – the only rain of the trip -but that was fine because we’d already enjoyed 4 spectacular days there.



All in all, it was the trip of a lifetime, and I hope to get back there someday.The people are super friendly and the setting is simply paradise on Earth.If you want to keep costs down, a cruise is the most-economical way to really enjoy the islands, but splurge on a few nights in an over-water bungalow.

Name:
Cheryl Scremin

Location:
Surrey, British Columbia

Contact Number:
604 290 2895

Alternate Number:
778 783 4158

Email:
cheryl.scremin@fcitravel.ca

About Cheryl:

I run my personal travel business in partnership with a company known throughout Canada for wonderful travel experiences at amazing prices - Flight Centre


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CONTACT INFO
  • phone 604 290 2895
  • Alternate Number: 778 783 4158
  • email cheryl.scremin@fcitravel.ca
  • web flightcentreindependent.ca/CherylScremin
  • address Surrey, British Columbia, Canada