12/25/14 – 1/3/15
As you know by now, I am a bit obsessive when planning our trips. I like to plan far in advance so we can get the best flights and hotels, using miles and points of course. When we get 11 months out (that’s usually when the airlines open up their schedules) I start hounding Susan for a place to go. So, I had asked her a few times and she finally pointed to an Starwood book that we have and said, “I want to go there or somewhere with overwater bungalows.” The top two places for overwater bungaloes is Tahiti and the Maldives. I think its much easier to get to Tahiti using airmiles, so that’s what I focused on, 10 or 11 months ago when starting the planning.
We left Love Field late on Christmas day and flew to LAX. The goal was to break the long trip up a little bit. We arrived in LA at late. Picked up our rental car and drove to our hotel. Since we HAD to stay a day in LA, of course we HAD to go to Disneyland We stayed at the Hilton Doubletree by the park. We had a really nice suite with a small living area and separate bedroom, for 30,000 points, it’s a great value. We had free breakfast and it was fabulous. Natalie’s favorite was the automatic pancake machine.
We spent the day at Disneyland park. We got there as soon as they opened so we were able to do lots of rides before it got too crowded. By lunchtime, the park was ridiculously crowded. The park was decked our for Christmas and some of the rides were transformed for Christmas. Haunted Mansion and It’s a Small World were completely redone for Christmas. We stayed until 7pm and did pretty much everything, including a Dole Whip, then we headed back to the hotel to get our car and drive to LAX.
Our flight was on Air Tahiti Nui at 10:40pm. We were pretty tired, so sleeping on the 8.5 overnight flight wouldn’t be a problem. Anytime I’m in LA, my celeb. radar is out. It didn’t disappoint this time as Tony Hawk and his family were on our flight toward the back of the plane.
We arrived in Tahiti at 5am and the sun was just coming up. Our final destination was Bora Bora, which means another flight. We waited in the tiny little airport for 3 hours, falling asleep in our chairs, then got on a Air Tahiti propeller plane that held around 70 people. This was the most expensive part of the trip as it is the only way to get to Bora Bora, and they don’t take air miles. It was a short 30 minute flight and it was beautiful. I had read to sit on the left side of the plane, and it didn’t disappoint. The airport in Bora Bora is on an island, or Motu, and was just one big room. No security and they just roll the trailor with the luggage to the side of the building. Each hotel had a desk with staff to welcome you and put a lei on you. They also each have a boat to take you to the resort. We sent our bags to the resort and grabbed the free water taxi to the town of Viatepe. This was a move to save money on the hotel transportation and purchase some groceries. The boat ride was beautiful. The colors of the water were SO many different shades of blue. The island of Bora Bora is very exotic looking with a huge mountain in the middle that was covered in a cloud most of the time. We saw a large pod of dolphins on the way. When we got to Viatepe, we walked through the town down the only road which was covered in mud. There was a pearl store, a sports store, Mobile gas station and a grocery store called Chin Lee’s. We love getting groceries at local stores, so we stocked up on groceries to take to the resort. We bought some of our favorites, Baguettes, Orangina and Bon Mamon Cookies. We thought we’d be able to eat for lunch, but there weren’t a lot of food options. So, we grabbed some baguettes and munched on them. We waited for the resort ferry for over an hour. By this time, we were tired and hot and had the same clothes that we wore to Disneyland many hours ago. We got on the ferry and some of us dozed off. The resort was the Le Meridian Bora Bora and was on it’s own Motu. Upon arrival at the resort, a Tahitian man was on the dock blowing a conch shell and singing a song. We were escorted straight to our overwater bungalow. A lady took us to our room and tried to open the door, but the keys wouldn’t work. She was really frazzled and said “I go maximum” to get the new keys. We thought that was funny. The room was amazing, It was actually the same unit that was on the cover of the SPG book! I reserved it using Cash and Points to minimize the cost. The room was like a mini-house and had a glass floor. The water was crystal clear and you could see all the way to the bottom. There were stairs off the private deck where you could jump right into the water. We were so tired that we came in and fell asleep for several hours. We had sandwiches in the room and stayed in all night.
One of the interesting things about Tahiti and French Polynesia is that it is VERY FRENCH. Of course it has a tropical feel to it, the TV is French, the food is French, the money is French Franc, and the police sirens are French. The people speak French and Tahitian. They also spoke English and other languages. Most of the tourists were from Australia, Japan and France.
The next morning, we woke up early because Tahiti is 4 hours behind Dallas. It is in the last time zone before it rolls to the next day in New Zealand. We ate breakfast in the room and headed out to the water. We were the ONLY people out for several hours. We sat by the pool and beach. We tried paddle boarding and Susan was an expert. I was pretty shaky so I kayaked around. Then we pretty much just sat in the crystal clear water that was the perfect temperature, around 84 degrees. We walked around the resort and walked to the ocean side. The ocean side of Bora Bora is not a beach, but is just coral and volcanic rock. It was the most interesting coastline we’e ever seen because the waves were breaking about 100 yards away from the land because of the shallow coral reef which protects the island. You could see other small islands in the distance. For the rest of the day, we just relaxed and Natalie practiced her dance solo in the sand.
The next day, we woke up to a downpour. It was great to hear the rain and look out onto the beautiful bay and see the storm. We had breakfast in the room and waited out the storm. The hotel has a turtle sanctuary and they feed them every morning at 10:30 so we went to watch that. After that, we grabbed a spot on the beach. The resort never seemed crowded. Susan and the kids took a sailboat ride with the equipment guy. I hung out in a hammock. Later that day, Trey started playing football with some kids from California. He played for hours until it was getting dark. We were SO glad we brought food because the dinner option for the evening was a buffet that was $85/person. These resorts are VERY expensive for food and extras. At this hotel, we had every meal in our room, expect for this night when we had a meal at the bar and split burgers that were $30. Being a Gold SPG member got us free internet, regularly $40/day. We also got a free T-Shirt, a Sarong and 2 hats.
The next morning was our last in Bora Bora. I had one last snorkel off of our own private slice of the ocean. I did this a couple of times a day. It was like being in a bathtub with white sand on the bottom. We packed up and took one last lap around the property. Our boat left at 10:50 so that we could catch our plane back to Tahiti at 11:55. The plane ride gave us another great view of Bora Bora. Now back a the Tahiti airport, we took a taxi to the ferry port. We took a speedy ferry to Moorea. Trey and I rode up top and got a great view of the islands and saw some dolphin as well. The ferry was fast and bumpy. On arrival, we took a taxi to the Hilton Moorea. I had reserved this using points and was able to upgrade for a small fee to an overwater bungalow. We had the best bungalow at the end of the pier. Moorea is bigger than Bora Bora and has more people. The hotels are connected to main island, so you don’t need a boat to get to them. The Hilton was not quite as nice as the Le Meridien in Bora Bora, but still very nice. Since I am Diamond with Hilton, we got free breakfast, free internet, and some water and pineapple juice each evening. The room had a great bathroom and a glass bottom floor, but the best part was the private deck and stairs leading down to the water.
The first day in Moorea, we hung out at the pool. We called it the “Perfect Pool” because it was the perfect temp, had a smooth tile bottom and had gorgeous views of Moorea and the ocean. That night, we had dinner at the Crepe Bar which was located on the docks with the overwater bungalows. At dusk, sharks started swimming around/under the bar. My nightfall, the area was teaming with sharks. Apparently they feed the sharks every night. This is the same lagoon that we snorkeled in daily!
The next morning, we had our free Hilton breakfast and it was wonderful. We then did some snorkelling off of our bungalow. This was the best snorkeling I have ever seen anywhere. Tons of colorful fish were everywhere, right off our dock. We also had some pool time and kayak time.
Susan and Natalie left, mid-day to begin the journey home. We had found out that Mitch was going to be having surgery. I tried to change all of our flights, but Air Tahiti Nui only had 2 open seats in business class and nothing in coach until our original flight. I upgraded Susan and Natalie so they flew home in business class, then drove straight to Tulsa to be with Mitch. Trey and I stayed behind for one more night in our bungalow in Moorea. This was New Years eve. The Hilton had a New Years party that cost $300/person. We declined and rented a movie and ordered room service. The Hilton put on a big show, but we were asleep by 10:00.
The next day, we hung around the pool and I had one last snorkel. Then we took the ferry to Tahiti and rented a car. At the car rental counter, we met a guy from Austin and gave him a ride to his hotel. He was on cruise that would keep him in Tahiti for a few weeks. After that, we drove to our hotel, the Le Meridien Tahiti. I booked this using points and we had a nice panoramic view room. Tahiti is definitely industrialized (the had several McDonalds). We grabbed some dinner in the hotel restaurant and walked to a gas station to buy some Orangina.
The next day, we were flying back home to Dallas, but not until 10pm. We stayed at the hotel till noon, exploring the resort and playing in the pool. Then we drove around the island of Tahiti. We drove to canyons, waterfalls a lighthouse and a blowhole. We drove around the outside of the island and saw hundreds of surfers. We also stopped in town to do some shopping. The big market was closed because many people took off since it was January 2nd was on a Friday. After our time in around Tahiti, we went back to the airport for our long trip home. I was able to get us into the Air Tahiti lounge for few hours before our flight.