Expedition French Polynesia
The last time I took an international trip was January 2020. Just as Covid was freely moving across the world. Terms like “pandemic” and “lock down” weren’t on our lips yet. Now, it appears we have Covid under control and traveling restrictions have mostly been eliminated. It’s time for me to nock the dust off of my passport and travel internationally again. I’ve made my way to one of the most beautiful areas in the world, French Polynesia. I’ve visited the islands before. It was a brief five day stay in Tahiti. This time, I’ll be moving around the islands hopping from one island to another. I’ve decided to once again post as I go and keep a running tab of my travels. So, let the Expedition begin.
I decided to take the midnight flight out of Los Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti. My arrival time was 5 a.m. and I would have a full first day rather than waste daylight trapped on a plane. Since I’ve already visited the island, I decided to only spend the day here in Tahiti. My flight arrived on time and with the shops in town still closed, I waited around at the airport. I also reserved luggage storage in town so I didn’t have to carry my large check-in luggage around town. I took a taxi into town, dropped of the luggage at 7:30 a.m. and roamed the streets. First, I walked to the Presidential Palace. The guard was nice enough to let me in and take photos without paying for a tour. I, then, walked to the Papeete Market where the vendors sold just about everything. From fine pearls to live fish.
I then moved on and took a cab to Le Tahiti by Pearl Hotel east of the city. I had originally planned to stay here but decided I wanted to spend extra time in Moorea. But, I was still intrigued by this hotel. What sets the hotel apart from the others is that it is right on the beach, a black sand beach. The hotel has a beautiful pool, as well. I paid for a day pass which allowed me to use the grounds, mainly the pool and the beach which is what I was after. I walked the beach, even sent the drone up for an aerial view. But, I spent most of the time sitting along side the pool and just relaxed. I ate lunch here before I left to catch my ferry.
I then picked up my luggage which was only a five minute walk away from the ferry departure area. I caught the 2:55 pm ferry to Moorea. It was then a quick shared van ride to my hotel. After this long first day, all I did was rest and enjoy the sunset.
The second day wouldn’t be as hectic as the first. I had a snorkel trip planned for the day. I was picked up after 8 am, and by boat, we traveled along the beautiful coast of Moorea.
The first stop was a spot for turtles. Unfortunately the turtles weren’t notified of this since they were a no show. We moved on to the tourist special were we could swim among sharks and sting rays. They had become so docile that you could pet the sting rays.
The next stop was my favorite, the coral reef. It was one of the best snorkeling have had and one of my favorites. The reef was in good shape in comparison to all the other tourist reef spots around the world. A reef that was actually alive, imagine that. We then moved on to a tiny island were we had lunch and the guide made their version of ceviche from scratch. The day trip, the jet lag, and the strenuous first day had exhausted me so it was an early night for me.
The day started with great anticipation. It’s the day I booked the swim with humpback whales. I was picked up from my hotel and taken to a small dock where a small boat was waiting for us. Whales come here to rest from there journey to and from Antarctica and to bare calves. We soon found three, a mother an its calf and a male following due to its interest in courting with the mother. Ideally, you want to swim with them when they are resting. But, the male wouldn’t give them that chance. They were swimming much faster than a 40 ton animal, at least in my expectations. They, also, constantly breached making it that much harder to get close enough to view them.
The expert captain put is in the perfect location ahead of the trio. We sat still in the water and there they were, passing us as if we were just drift wood that meant no harm. Just an amazing experience.
The rest of the day would have very little meaning after that morning excursion but I moved on. Actually, I didn’t go far. I went snorkeling in front of my hotel. The reef had some beautiful fish and I saw a turtle who saw me and quickly swam into the deep.
I don’t know if any day can top this one but I press on.
Moorea to Bora Bora
Day 4 would bring a change in my location. It was traveling time again.
But, before I left my hotel I walked around and took in the amazing view of Cook’s Bay and even sent my drone to do some aerial reconnaissance of the area. I hopped on the ferry back to Tahiti to catch my flight to Bora Bora. There are no direct flights from Moorea so I had to back track to catch my flight to paradise. I was trading one version of paradise for another.
I arrived late in the afternoon so I didn’t get to do anything. Just walked around my small hotel and admired the lagoon.
Today was a much easier day spent mainly relaxing on the beach enjoying the beautiful lagoon of Bora Bora.
I did snorkel for one hour in front of the hotel. There’s a reef on one side of the property that meanders into the adjacent hotel. It included live coral and a good variety of fish, even an octopus.
Today would be the day I see more of Bora Bora. I took part on a tour that would take us around the lagoon for snorkeling around the island. The first stop would be on the opposite part of the reef, the ocean side. Before we got to the destination we had dolphins follow along for a short time. We got to swim with larger black tip sharks than in the one’s in the lagoon, about three to four feet in size.
We, then, went back into the lagoon and saw several species including eagle rays, a surprising manta ray, and a moray eel. Our last swim was at the coral gardens which was amazing. The reef was vibrant, full of life and colors. The best reef I’ve ever seen.
We then had lunch on a smaller island with Bora Bora in the background. Bora Bora is just as beautiful under water is it is on dry land.
Today, I decided to create my own little expedition. In the morning, I walked to Matira Beach. This is one of the few public beaches on Bora Bora. The turquois water seems to all the way to the horizon here and it’s warm as bath water.
I walked further down were the depth dropped dramatically and there were pockets of rocks and reef. I brought my snorkeling gear so of course I swam out to the coral reef. And, what did I see, another turtle.
The weather suddenly changed and it suddenly started to rain which quickly disappeared, as it does in the tropics. But, high winds moved in afterwards and I was pelted by sand. Obviously, my day was over. My afternoon kayaking plans were affected as well. I decided to make use of the beautiful beach again.
Today was my last day in Bora Bora and French Polynesia. I had a late flight out so I had time to go kayaking I wanted to do the previous day. But, the high winds still persisted so I decided not to attempt it today as well.
The hotel beach was the focus of my morning activity as well. I eventually checked out and made my way to the ferry and then to the Bora Bora airport. I wasn’t done yet. I had to fly to Papeete, Tahiti, before I finally made it home. This amazing trip had sadly come to and end and it’s time to compose the next trip.