French Polynesia , that “exotic” South Pacific destination on every romantic’s lips. Comprised of over a hundred islands, it is home to Tahiti Nui, Mo’orea, Bora Bora , Raiatea and many other beautiful islands . Known for its romantic over the water. bungalows, beautiful crystal clear blue water, stunning coral, fresh vegetation, beautiful skies , coral-fringed lagoons and the warmest people on earth, I couldn’t believe how long I have pushed off visiting these beautiful islands for so many years.
Tahiti to most, is the most famous for us Hawaiian Islanders , as it is a connecting point to our past , our present and our future. As many may know, the Native Hawaiian Islanders journeyed here from a land far away known to us in antiquity as Havaiki , it is the land of our ancestors , those great sea faring journeymen who utilized the stars, the wind, and the current of the ocean to bring us here , ultimately, to beautiful hawaii.
So , for quite some time, I have dreamed about visiting Tahiti. I have dreamed about doing the journey back to the land of my ancestors but of course, by plane a different type of canoe. I knew that for me, this would be a trip of the spirit, the heart, and the memory that is somehow engraved in my DNA. It would be a trip of coming home. And I couldn’t be more excited.
The Journey Home :
6 ( Six ) of us ladies, who all work together decided way back in late August to have a ladies’ trip to Tahiti. We booked our flights via Hawaiian Air, made our reservations , and planned a week long trip to French Polynesia when our show was on Hiatus come April 2019.
Hawaiian Air: We chose Hawaiian as it is pretty much the only direct flight available for locals from Hawaii. They fly 1 flight a week during off seasons, and 2 flights come high season. It was still quite expensive.
Tahiti Nui: We decided to spend 2 nights on Tahiti Nui Island as we were arriving late at night the first day, and wanted to have a full day and night before we journeyed to Mo’orea. So for our first two nights and last two nights, we stayed at the very central and convenient and comfortable Tahiti Nui Hotel. Located 4 minutes walk to the famous Marche and everything that downtown Papeete could offer. Here’s a quick link to my review: Tahiti Nui Hotel Papeete
Te Fare Mihi: On the beautiful island of Mo’orea, we stayed in 3 gorgeous beach front cottages . More on this later, but wow we couldn’t have chosen a more perfect spot. Here’s a link to my review of: Te Fare Mihi Moorea
Day 1: April 27, 2019
Today is the day. The 6 of ladies plus our other friend L.. All met up at different times for our 3pm flight to Papeete Tahiti. There was air of happiness, excitement, and mystery . What will it be like for 7 ladies total to travel together? We shall see. #thesisterhoodofthetravelingpareo
We boarded our flight on time with a host of Tahitians who , in my opinion, totally changes the aura of the flight with their wonderful and beautiful spirit. It was a very easy, and comfortable 5.5 hour flight , and in no time we were descending into Papeete.
I couldn’t wait, especially since for the past year I’ve heard nothing but amazing stories from my sister Joanne, who absolutely had the most magical visit a year ago. I heard of all the people she met and the family she has now on the island. All I remember hearing constantly was Tinitua this Tinitua that , Terupehe, Pure, Tatiana, Mama, Papa , Totohiro, Aunty Rachele, Aunty Jacqueline, Bling Bling Shlack. Shlack , Aunty Monique, Veronique, Felicee, and of course back to Tinitua this and Tinitua that . OMG I can’t wait to meet these people!!!!!
What a way to arrive, other than to beautiful Tahitian Banjo playing, singing and dancing, welcoming you to the island. I remember when Hawaii, used to do that . No longer. We are so Americanized its pathetic. The heat was ON HONEY!!!!! Fortunately I brought my fan. Immigration was simple and sweet and in no time we were grabbing all our huge and heavy luggage. Why you may ask? That will come on day 2. But needless to say, we brought a lot of gifts . We each had a huge bin plus our regular luggage.
We exited Customs with no problems, even with our plethora of gifts we had brought which included a lot of alcohol. The minute I exited the doors, the heatwave hit me like a ton of bricks and I was fanning myself in all splendid splendor supposedly screaming ” OMG its so hot” Immediately I recognized Tinitua. Having never met him, I just knew it was him. Next to him was my dear friend Maria who was there to also greet us. We received traditional leis, kissed everyone hello , twice on the cheek , and split up into 3 cars to make the track from Fa’aa airport to downtown Papeete.
Check in: Was a breeze and prior to this journey, we each chose names to choose our bunk mates, so that no one would feel left out. I had my girl Julia, who has been one of my best friends for almost 20 years so that was lucky and easy…
Our room was perfect. Large and with 2 double beds. Bathroom perfect and a lovely lanai to sit outside, smoke, and watch the clouds roll by in the evening sky,
Initially we were all going to go out and hit a piano bar or 2, but unfortunately most have been closed down, and we were just too tired and had a HUGE day ahead of us tomorrow. So, sleep was definitely in.
Day 2: Papeete , Tahiti Nui
This morning Julia and I got up super early like 5 am early. We were met downstairs around 6 am by my sister friend, Maria, who took us to the Marche. It is Sunday, and the best day to check out the Marche.
MARCHE: Down town Papeete’s most happening spot Sunday mornings, showcases all the fresh fish, fruits, plants, meat, poultry, leis, and a host of other traditional Tahitian things in one place. It was packed even at 6am, and everyone was buying their fresh fruits , veggies and meats, and this even included the top restaurants. Tahitians eat everything FRESH and that is no wonder why, everything tasted so amazing during our entire stay. We walked around a bit taking it all in, and observing the locals going about their Sunday …
After a good hour, Maria decided to take us for breakfast. She drove us past Papeete and into Pirae for an over the water breakfast at the lovely Hotel royal Tahitian . It reminded me so very much of Hotel Molokai, where I used to work in the dining room for breakfasts some 28 years ago and the ripe age of 19. While it was a bit overcast and rainy, it was still so peaceful and beautiful. The food was fabulous and I had my first taste of local Poisson Crue a local delicacy. MMMMMMMM So delicious … We ate, and enjoyed our coffees staring out into the beautiful water where fishermen were already hard at work, catching their daily catch.
After Breakfast we headed back to our hotel, to get ready for our really huge day ahead of us.
Today we decided through the guidance of Joanne, to give back … We were headed to a woman’s shelter secretly located, to help these battered and neglected women, feel beautiful outside to match their inside. A lot of these women have children and have sacrificed their own happiness to raising these children while being subjected to violence, neglect and mental abuse by their spouses. In our group are a bunch of really talented ladies. 2 Hairstylists, 2 Makeup artists , and one creative woman who assisted me with wardrobe styling. We are so blessed to work on Hawaii Five-0 and sometimes take for granted the power we women have , so it is due time that we enlighten, and empower other women . In our huge Bins were a plethora of clothes, outfits , shoes, purses, jewelry, and toys . For the next 3 hours, we styled, outfitted, and empowered these women, who were all so beautiful. There was a lot of emotion everywhere. Out of the clear blue, a news team showed up and filmed us and what we were doing. Nothing like this has ever been done before. And with them being there, the facility manager and us were able to get the message across to cherish your women, the mothers of the new generation, and how horrible it is to treat any human being the way they have been treated. The day was full of tears, they taught me a lot . They taught me how much resilience the human mind has, how much strength they have left , and how easy it is to share love , give love and feel love. It was a day of giving and getting and we were ALL the better for it.
After our emotional morning, Tinitua, had invited us over to his house for lunch and to meet the family. Wow we get to hang and eat like locals. That is the best gift ever!. When we got there, you couldn’t believe the spread . There was a huge table laid out with all its trimmings, 5 different raw fish dishes, lentil soups, salads, and the best Uru ( Breadfruit ) with Olive oil, salt and Garlic, and a plethora of other amazing freshly made and caught dishes. How lucky are we? Today we met Mama and Papa, Tinitua’s sister Tatiana , Pure, Totohiro, Terupehe, Aunty Rachele and the sweetest children. First up of course was the famous and absolutely delicious Hinano Beer. MMMM So perfect on a hot muggy day. I’m telling you this…. When I crossed a certain threshold in the house, I became overwhelmed. I started to cry me a river… I can’t explain it other than, this house is full of love , full of spirit, and full of goodness and I definitely felt it. It is … the …. TAHITIAN LIFE … Full of love and spirit.
After a wonderful Lunch, we headed back to the hotel to relax a bit. Some of us were invited to go swimming while 2 others decided to just chill. It was raining now and it felt oh so good. Tatiana and Maru drove Julia, Lesline, Debra and myself to Ponte Venus for a fabulous swim on a black sand beach.
This is a place of great significance for Lesline, who’s British Ancestors were part of the Infamous Mutiny of The Bounty which is commemorated by Tahiti’s one and only Lighthouse as well as a black listing her ancestors .
When we got there, the rain stopped, the water was warm, and the clouds were slowly breaking. We played like children in the waist deep water , splashing, diving, and acting like Hawaiian Mermaids in Tahitian Shores. We had so many signs . Tutu Pele came out and showed herself own the clouds dressed in a Lei Po’o with her long thick black hair holding a glowing orb, the sun. It was phenomenal. It was so peaceful and magical.
When we got back to the hotel, Julia popped on the tv, and low and behold, there we all were , a part of the news channel’s special highlight. Of course I couldn’t understand a thing of Tahitian but I knew what we were doing. There was even a clip of me holding a baby and dressing someone. So funny.
A little later that evening, we were picked up yet again by the kind Tinitua and Tatiana who took us to a Roulloutte ( lunch wagon) for some of the best local Chinese food. OMG I was still so stuffed from Lunch, that I waisted pretty much my entire order, and I hate waisting food. It was a long a wonderful emotional day. Tomorrow , we head to the magical island of Mo’orea.
Again , Julia and I got up super early , couldn’t help with when I’m so excited to see something new ever day. We walked around by ourselves , in search of the famous juicer and bakery that Tinitua recommended to us. We stopped by Gaugin Coffee for a cappuccino and a lovely smoke. Once we figured the lay of the land, we headed back to the hotel to meet the girls. We all paraded from our hotel to the town making a stop at the fabulous Juicery called Tahiti Smoothies and around the corner was La Marquisienne with fabulously fresh pastries and breakfast items. reminds me of a small Liliha Bakery back home on Oahu. Small but full of locals.
After breakfast, we headed back to the hotel to pack up and meet Tinitua downstairs. He was going to load our bags ups in his truck and store it at his house until it was time to take the Ferry.
Afterwards we headed back into town and went Black Pearl hunting and shopping. While I wasn’t really interested in buying anything, you can’t deny the beautiful quality everywhere. And thanks to Tinitua, he knew all the right places to go to. I ended up walking into this beautiful shop called Te Vai, from there I purchased a drop dead gorgeous Mother of Pearl Necklace with Tiki’s carved into it. It was a very special purchase for me. It held Mana , I could tell, and it was a family run business with mama selling and sons’ making. I couldn’t wait to show it off to my girls. It is so unique. Joanne came back with me and she also scored herself a one of a kind beauty. It’s pricey but worth it , because the craftsmanship is phenomenal and made with love.
After all the ladies scored there pearls, and placed some orders to be picked up later this week, we were starving. Of course , Tinitua knows exactly where to take us and that is to the famous City D’or.
At lunch it was surprisingly busy for a Monday . There were people everywhere and we had a nice long wait until a table freed up for 10. We sat outside amongst the not so lovely smelling frenchmen who never realized that while in the tropics it is quite advantageous to take a bath at least once a day versus once a week. But I guess they like the way they smell. hahahaha
We sipped on some ice cold Hinano Beer laughed and cheered our daily finds and how excited we all were to be heading over to Mo’orea later on today. . So excited. We had a fabulous lunch in the round. Eating all the gorgeous food like it was the last thing we will ever eat.
After our fabulous Lunch, we walked around for a bit and headed to the ferry dock to meet up with Tinitua who had already picked our tickets up for us.
The Ferry Dock is located on a gorgeous stretch of Wooden Hut fit for the Gods. There is excellent Coffee ( keep forgetting how euro this place is) food, and relaxing chairs. Finally our boat had arrived, and I had no idea it was really that large. Again Hawaii has an epic fail when it comes to inter island travel. We used to have the Super Ferry but PEOPLE are afraid of the damage it is doing to the reels, yet Tahiti has been doing this for years and nothing hurt .
We boarded our Fabulous Ferry and was singing and dancing our way into the boat. There is beautiful golden wood , comfortable sofas , and a large food deck. Everyone was so full of smiles. We left the beautiful air-conditioned section and headed up top to enjoy the fresh air and watch the islands go by and appear. We followed the sea birds, watched the sea life go by, and gasped when we saw the tips of Moorea come before us. We oohed and awed and Debra was yelling …. at the local boys surfing. She couldn’t wait to hit the surf.
Pulling into the bay was like stepping back in time. The mountains are so lush, the boat docs are simple and perfect and all the locals selling jam, fruits, coconuts and other munchables . We were met by Te Fare Mihi’s driver, and we hopped into that van and some with Tinitua who was driving the truck with all our bags and we headed off to our bungalows. We were laughing so hard with the music that was playing as it was a mix between reggaeton, deep house , and local music. We gave it our best impressions by gyrating our bodies to the music, and had a huge laugh.
Located on a serene spot on the waters edge, just off the main drag that circles the island of Mo’orea, lies Te Fare Mihi. 4 One bedroom Bungalows that spill into crystal clear blue waters welcoming you to heaven on earth. The bungalows offer so much comfort that how anyone could leave is beyond me. But more importantly, it is owned and run by a lovely lady named Felicee. She is wise, beautiful and so darn kind. She can make all your dreams come true in one place. The property comes with kayaks and every other little ocean tool you may need to enjoy . She also owns an adventure company that can take you around the island, biking, hiking, or even better, an opportunity to swim with the sharks ( not in a cage) and sting rays. She is a complete package and is really the sweetest host . Fortunately for us Tinitua is very close with her, so we got to see her a lot and laugh and talk , as she speaks perfect English. Besides all the water sports you may want to encounter on the property, there are also ample ways for you to relax. 2 piers offer comfortable lounge chairs to read a book on, or catch a tan. On the property itself there are lounge chairs on the grass and each bungalow has a veranda to which you could just relax . If you would rather rest inside, then simply pop on the perfect air con, and enjoy island living in a cooler environment. The bedroom has a large queen sized bed and is connected to a huge bathroom . OMG yes … HUGE bathroom , what every girl sharing with other girls want. The full kitchen, assists you in making fabulous meals that you could either catch yourself or procure from the many nearby markets. Te Fare Mihi is definitely paradise found!
As the Large Flat Rolling gate slowing drew to the side like a stage performance, we slowly drove in, and dropped our jaws at the lush , colorful plants and trees that caressed 4 beautiful bungalows of Te Fare Mihi. We each had our room assignments after choosing names back in Hawaii, and practically ran to our find our bungalow number . We walked the the flat stone path dotted with banana trees, guava trees, beautiful Tiare bushes, and all sorts of gorgeous plants and fauna until we found our home for the next 3 nights. Exhausted, I couldn’t wait to unpack, and knock out. I needed a little nap.
The girls were busy doing their own thing, and after a nice 2 hour nap, I woke up to the golden hour. The sun was just about to set. I ran to the water’s edge, and put on my reef walkers and dipped into the ocean. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and feeling. Even though I’m from Hawaii, I never saw someplace as beautiful as here. The property has so much love and mana and the ocean the calm peaceful ocean just fills every dark feeling with light and love and washes all your troubles away.
The sun was set, the sky was dark, and I just floated alongside Lesline in the warm waters pondering how I got so luck to be here , at this moment, on the Heart of Polynesia, Mo’orea, surrounded by friends.
I threw aside all my western comforts, and pretty much lived in a pareo and bikini top for the rest of the night. My hair was wild , boasting my Polynesian , Asian and Caucasian mixes and I just let it go With my flower in my ear , pareo wrapped at my waist, I joined the other girls at our large out door dining table under the curved coconut tree and began our lovely dinner with fabulous libations. So this is what heaven truly feels like.
We drank and laughed the night away …
Mo’orea ( Yellow Lizard) is one of the Windward islands, part of the Society Islands . It’s jagged cliffs are a sight to behold. In the Center it shapes a heart, adding to the other name for the island as the heart of Polynesia. In Opunohu bay, the jagged cliffs add to the legend of the Fe’e, or Octopus with each point referencing its tentacles. So many legends abound about the beautiful island and it is steeped in so much history and legends. With It’s serene waters, lush forests, stunning lagoons and warm people, it is the ideal place for a recharge. Historians put Mo’orea back a thousand years of human population, but as Science has proved time and time again, that is not a definite answer . For our people , the Polynesians , I expect the island and the islands surrounding it to be inhabited about 2000 years ago. But Hey I’m no scientist , I just know our legends.
Day 4 ( Day 2 Mo’orea)
I woke up this morning before the sun even showed his face. As comfortable as it was , I just couldn’t sleep. I think I was filled with so much excitement at what awaits us today that my body thought better than to just sleep. I could hear the nightlife of the island. From mating frogs, to clicking geckos and crying birds, the island was full of magic deep into the late night sky. I walked down to the water’s edge and just stared out into the stillness of the night’s water. I could hear far in the distance, the breaking of the waves on the protective barrier reef the surrounds the island. A clip and blip in the water, drew my attention to the jumping fish . Were they trying to get my attention ? Or just wondering what in the world is this human doing up so early?
Finally the skies started to change. First Purple…. Then Orange, Then a blend of the two. I went out to one of the planks with lovey beach chairs and tried my best to calm my mind through meditation . I was too anxious and to amazed. I looked back towards the houses and property, and watched beyond the cliffs, the sun rise and the painting unfold as Mo’orea woke up and like a sleeping flower, opened her buds to the world to see all her glory. It was magical!!!!
Joanne was already up and busy cooking breakfast for the group , I could smell the Rendondo Portuguese sausages sizzling on the pan, and the macadamia nut pancakes sweetening the air. Tinitua was up and in typical Tinitua fashion, already ready to help, and came with fresh baguettes he procured from the local markets. He’s THE BEST.
I picked some palm leaves and some fresh fruits off the tree and set up our long out door dining table for our first official breakfast in Mo’orea. Felicee’s grandson came running to us to show us his latest catch. His father and him went out this morning and caught us some fresh fresh. Well it looks like we will be adding fish to our breaksfast, and how delicious it was. This is the true way. While I’m sure over the water bungalows are great, they could never compare to Te Fare Mihi and living the local way surrounded by beauty.
We truly chose to stay in the right place.
At 9:30, with fins and snorkels in hand, we met up with our driver and loaded into our van to head out to the lagoon at the Intercontinental Hotel, where our boat was waiting.
We boarded our boat and in no time, were headed off about a quarter of a mile out into the lagoon. When we finally got there, there were only a few other boats and people in the water. I saw small black tip sharks, sting rays, turtles and tons of fish . OMG we are going to swim with them. I don’t know why I am always so afraid , now as an adult, of sea creatures. As a child no problem. I guess tv really does affect you somehow. As the girls slowly made their way into the water with our driver/ guide B and I were reluctant as we saw the sting rays swimming. Ever since Steven Irwin died from the bolt of a sting ray, I had it in my mind that they were, well, dangerous. So we were both freaking out when we got in, but also super excited. Our guide ( I wish I could remember his name …. ugh old age) told us not to worry, and picked up the tail of one of the sting rays and showed us her barb. I couldn’t help it though, every time they caressed my body with their tail, I freaked out , praying they don’t “sting” me. After a while, I got over it and decided to let loose .. I fell madly in love with them. Their super soft skin and cute faces were just everything. I found out one was pregnant and I could only imagine the cute little babies that would follow. So I played with them and followed them everywhere.
The lagoon is teeming with life in all colors. Thank goodness I brought my snorkel mask , even though I find them annoying, because I could see in vivid colors, EVERYTHING. After about a good 2 hours in the water, we left, as boat loads of tourists were coming and it just didn’t feel the same. I think the rest of the ocean residents felt the same way we did, as they too slowly started to disappear .
We then headed out to one of the motus ( islands) that are near to the lagoon and owned in part by Felicee. While we will be returning here the following day for a local style luau called a Ma’a Tahiti.
Very peaceful oasis…. We met up with L’s good friend Tatiana and they talked and reminisced about when she used to live on the island and worked on Mo’orea. We walked through the uneven floors of the coconut forest , until we came to her palatial open aired home(s) .
Wow now this is living. Deep teak looking wood, open air spaces, high ceilings and typical South Pacific luxuries were abound. We lost track of time and had to get back to the others . While we walked along the shore line, I could see across the way, our little home away from home. The trek back was a bit rough as we walked across stones and moving sand, but luckily our boat was looking for us filled with the other girls. We waved them down, popped on in , and returned back to the docks of the Intercontinental. Starving, it was time for lunch .
We pulled off the side of the road and walked through what looked like someone’s house once upon a time, into an open spaced beach front property called Snack Mahana. It seems everyone knows how amazing this place is , as it was packed. But not to worry, we are with locals, and just like that , a lovely long table appeared and we were seated and promptly put in our beer orders. The food is AMAZING. I of course ordered the Poisson Cru per the instructions of Tinitua. Whatever he tells me to do or eat, I do, he is the expert and I want to live and eat like the locals do. My Poisson Cru came in a gorgeous Conche half shell and the presentation was superb. The food though, OMG!!!! Fresh and delish…….. Full, we headed home for a nice long afternoon rest. But first we stopped on the side of the road where a lady was selling hakus ( head flower lei garlands) OMG I want one and for only the equivalent of $10 not even in hawaii will you get that. So me and Julia scored and now I felt even more Tahitian. Must be in the blood. …..
The rest of the day and night was spent relaxing at Te Fare Mihi, soaking in the peaceful atmosphere and lovely comforts of air-conditioning or warm waters of the ocean. Such heaven on earth. That evening we took turns making dinner. Well the girls did at least, I was too tired to do anything but I did help set up. hahahah We spent the night laughing and drinking but eventually I was too tired to continue, so sleep it was. Tomorrow was a huge day, as its was to be the 1st of May, and we would be returning to the Motu across the water for a large Ma’a Tahiti ( Tahitian style luau ) Can’t wait
Day 5 ( Day 3 Mo’orea)
I had somewhat of a good sleep , but again I couldn’t wait to start our day. We stuck to our basic routine of preparing breakfast and setting up the table for a grand view of the water while we ate. Tinitua told us that because today is May 1, that most places will be closed. Fortunately we saved a few bread roles and baguettes, so we were able to add that to our breakfast.
We were to leave a little later today , around 10 am headed for the Motu. Felicee’s house next door was busy with action. Her entire team was preparing the food for the day. Today as previously mentioned, we will be participating in a traditional Ma’a Tahiti and I couldn’t wait to eat ALL the food. So her crew were preparing everything for the day. They already started the IMU on the island where the pig and other things have been cooking underground for hours. We were all so truly excited. The island today though will be one of the busiest days as everyone would be there .
We loaded onto the boat , with the rest of the crew who were hauling up all the food and pots into the boat . Of course, Tinitua, is forever helpful and assisting the family with the food. What would we ever do with out him? He has made this trip so magical and so wonderful . And he’s so much fun… Perfect person to laugh hours on end with. And boy did we laugh…. The ladies were all ready , dressed in their finest swim wear , ready to live the beautiful life on a beautiful island. I was of course in shorts and t-shirt without a care in the world. ..
As we approached the island , there were so many people already there. Ladies in the water with their gorgeous haku lei po’o on, enjoying the lovely water. Children splashing and playing. It looked and sounded so festive already.
When we pulled up and helped off load, I could hear music. My body gravitated to the beautiful sweet music until I found a lovely local band just going to town strumming their Tahitian banjo, ukulele, upright bucket base and guitar. The songs and sounds were intoxicating and forgot about everyone else, who were already in the water. I just sat and listened and drank a beer. I love music and I love local songs. I think the girl clocked that I was from hawaii, as she started to sing Hawaiian songs. OMG just thinking about all this is truly bringing a tear to my eye. It was perfect.
Ok time to join the girls …. The water was warm and beautiful. The sky was as clear as could be. All the beautiful fishes everywhere and even saw a few baby sting rays. Ahhhhh paradise.
Finally it was time for the Ma’a Tahiti. And the crews were busy setting up stations for their people, and ready to take out everything that was being cooked and nurtured under the earth. Out of the Hima’a , loads and loads of delicious edibles I couldn’t wait to taste cooked in baskets woven from banana leaves over hot rocks in a large hole in the ground was ready to be served
The Food !!!! OMG so delicious. Uru, baked yams, taro, Poisson Cru, and a host of other amazing dishes which I could totally slap myself for not remembering went down my throat swiftly … So ono. Of course I did try fafaru…… I won’t explain it and will let you taste it. But I will definitely try it again. We sat , Tinitua, L and I and listened too the music . All the smiling faces everywhere , as they thoroughly enjoyed their food. I felt as if we may have been the only non locals there. Which is even better. Our day at the Motu was fabulous and one I will never forget.
Later in the evening we were so lazy and for good reason, but yet we needed to think about dinner. Even though I was still super full, I knew that later on I would get very hungry. Tinitua suggested a great pizza place, and all the girls were on board. So Joanne, Tinitua and I headed off to Allo Pizza Mo’orea . They had an awesome menu so we ordered a good 8 pizzas to be shared by all. Perfect way to end our last night on Mo’orea.
Day 6 ( Day 3 Mo’orea)
Today is our last day here on this beautiful island. I and most of us , were very sad to leave. Felicee though , had a lovely plan for us today. We would be driving around the island in the back of a pickup truck converted into a van with bench style seats. We will be stopping at a local vineyard that makes fabulous alcoholic treats from the fruits of the island, Opunohu Bay, Belvedere Look out, an ancient Marae, and cooks bay.
Made from the Juice of fruits, Manutea Tahiti provides a plethora of flavors, liquors, and other local style items , located just off of Opunohu Bay. It was our first stop, and it was quite a potent stop. I don’t think I’ve ever been that tipsy so early in the morning before. We sampled a plethora of liquors, and of course I had to leave with a few cartons / bottles of it.
Is a beautiful bay with peaceful waters that are flanked by the jagged cliffs which look like the tentacles of the Fe’e.. So beautiful.
From Opunohu Bay, we traveled through pineapple fields, coffee fields. and valleys filled with produce until we reached the top at Belvedere look out. The View of Opunohu Bay and the lush valley was stunning. There were many tourists there, all capturing the beautiful views. It reminds me a bit of the Pali Lookout close to my home on Oahu , Hawaii . There were also a bunch of off the path adventure you could get yourself into. Alas, I’m not one to venture much especially when tipsy… Cheering!!!! After visiting Marae Titiroa which is one of 3 marae’s in the area, we headed back to Te Fare Mihi to make our Ferry back to Tahiti Nui.
How sad to leave. How utterly depressing … If I could , I would probably stay there for a good month. Next time.
Our Ferry back to Tahiti was not without Incident. The seas must have been really angry with our departure, because Moana truly served it to us with rough waters, and lots of sick friends …
Grateful to be back on sturdy land, we walked back to our hotel from the piers and re-checked into the Tahiti-Nui Hotel in downtown Papeete. This evening, we were invited to Aunty Jacqueline’s house, Terupehe and Pure’s mother for dinner. We were so excited to meet her ( although Joanne had before ) . Unfortunately one of our girls were not feeling well so she didn’t join us. The food was spectacular and the hospitality was even better. Tahitians truly have such a beautiful heart.
After that dinner 3 of us continued on with Tinitua to his God Daughter’s Birthday Celebration at Veronique’s house high up the palisades, over looking beautiful Papeete. It was Serounee’s birthday .. She had a bunch of her friends over and they were all so lovely. We had a few cocktails . Sang happy Birthday , soaked in the views and headed back down to our hotel.
Day 7 : Last Full Day and Night in Tahiti
Well Today was our very last full day in beautiful Tahiti.. We were up at the Crack of dawn ( Debra and I ) and met some of the girls downstairs and headed into town for our Freshly squeezed juice and a pastry.
Today Tinitua has arranged with his cousin Terupehe to drive us around Tahiti Nui and Tahiti ‘iti . Tinitua has been doing so much for us, it is truly unbelievable. Seriously it really made our trip something special, and we would never had experienced Tahiti the way we did, without him. I am eternally grateful.
Promptly at 9:30 am there he was , with his wonderful smile , greeting us “Bonjour” .. We split up into two cars and were off.
First official business were 2 different pareo (sarong) stores.. Being the absolute genius and perfect hospitality host, Tinitua wanted us to experience two different types of stores. One made in China, and one hand painted and screen printed in Tahiti.
The first store was nice but I couldn’t wait to see actual craftsmanship . I swear Tinitua is definitely the God Father of Tahiti, for he knows EVERYONE , and everyone loves him. He took us to the back of the warehouse to watch how they paint the pareos, the different design blocks and the different types of painting. It was extraordinary. While I didn’t find anything I needed , it was still a nice trip and the girls each found something to take home.
Next was my favorite, Monoï di Tahiti. Oh how I can live on this stuff. A blend of pure coconut oil, with delicately scented essence of Tiare, Tahitian Gardenia and Tahitian Vanilla is such a soothing oil and deeply moisturizing. I love the smell of the Tiare and Vanilla so much. I bought a huge bottle and a few smaller normal sized ones for gifts. They are fabulous and I’ve been using them for years .
Shopping out of the way, we started our drive around the island of Tahiti Nui . The drive was gorgeous . Lush vegetation and fertile mountains with island homes caressing it, and beautiful still ocean water beaconing you for a swim. We saw mothers, aunts and grandmothers waiting for their children to come home for lunch from school, construction going, street side vendors selling Make ( Tahitian chestnuts) guava , bananas, coconuts, and other delectables . It was life. Tahitian life, in full spring on a Friday. Tinitua pulled to the side in one area, and blocked us in. He said that he would be right back and we are not allowed to follow. Ai!!!!!!!
When he came back, he brought us the freshest out of the oven manapua ( Chinese steamed buns with meat inside) OMG it was sooooo delicious. Being from Hawaii this delicacy is enjoyed almost on the daily as well but it was so nice to try “the best “on the island .
Next we pulled into Terupehe’s summer home which he built from scratch with his own two hands. 2 quaint homes sat on his property which jutted straight out into a small bay. The thatched homes were a perfect reprieve from the hot midday sun The coconut trees were fertile and he picked one for each of us, husking it, and hacking into it so that we may enjoy fresh coconut water along side our hot fresh Manapua. Yes we have coconuts in Hawaii, but NO I do not drink them fresh … We are too Americanized and go straight for the packaged one instead. I know terrible.
Terupehe’s house and property was beautiful . So relaxing and I felt honored that he would invite us to his home. My gosh I could’ve stayed there forever.
After our lovely time at Terupehe’s home, we were off to one of the most important stops for me, Vaima.
Vaima is a very spiritual place. I even hesitated writing about it, as I would hate to see such a spiritual place over run by tourists who can’t wait to bombard the place just for pictures and a check off their list.
Located literally right off the Main Street, a 1 minute walk or swim in its icy cold waters, brings you to the most sacred spot of this side of the island. A fresh water spring and falls cleanses your soul. There is absolute mana there. And each one of the ladies had a moment when they dipped and dunked their bodies infront of the goddess . It was really amazing to watch a few of them break down and release all the sadness they’ve been harboring for such a long time, and they had zero idea what was so significant about this place, they just released.
Now that we are all cleansed and healed, we continued our journey from Vaima passing even more beautiful landscapes and seascapes until we crossed over to little Tahiti or Tahiti ‘ iti . What a quaint little place. We stopped at the famous Teahupo’o Surf spot, where Debra got all excited because she wished there was surf and she could surf there.
We then continued our journey going up through the mountains until we reached the other side of Tahiti Nui. Stopping at a gorgeous waterfall. It is a small hike ( 2 minutes ) from the parking lot off the road side. It was gorgeous. Sadly I can’t remember the name because I was so overwhelmed by its beauty and the gorgeous foliage that surrounded it.
The whole area reminded me of the North Windward side of Oahu, with its beachside roads on one side and mountains on the other.
We stopped for one of our last stops at the Famous Blow Holes called Arahoho. Without spoiling it for you all I will just say, it is a nice burst of surprise. Enjoy!!! The area surrounding the blow hole is gorgeous. Black sand beaches, gorgeous walk ways with a nice clean bathroom and 2 little shops.
That leads me to another thing, the Public restrooms in Tahiti are the cleanest I’ve ever seen. I could only wish our bathrooms were as clean as theres’.
After Arahoho, we stopped one last stop to view a vista of Tahiti. In the distance we could see Mo’orea, who was in full view today, and the gorgeous beaches, and steep sea cliffs with the sun in all his glory, made for a picture perfect moment in my mind, and I will never forget it.
Tonight we have our last farewell dinner. We all decided to go big or go home. So, we decided to go to the Uber Chic and absolutely delicious L’O À La Bouche where we will be given a chance to give back to Tinitua , Terupehe, Pure and Tatiana, for all their absolutely warm hospitality. Fortunately for me my Friends Maria and Nadia were also gonna meet us.
We got all glammed out in our best Polynesian wears. A little bit of Hawaiian and a little bit of Tahitian styles. We were so excited. L’O À La Bouche promises to be a treat for our stomachs as it is famed for opulent dishes and a fusion of French and local Tahitian delicacies.
The ladies all looked so beautiful and the gentleman were dressed to the 9’s. Needless to say, dinner was beyond amazing and the company was superb. I floated between our huge table and Maria and Nadia’s and drank excellent wine and cocktails and laughed the night away . Unfortunately one in our group wasn’t feeling the best and wanted to return to the hotel, so we had to cut our time there short, because we don’t leave anyone behind. However, in hindsight, I should’ve stayed back and have a few more rounds with everyone. And there went our last full day and night in beautiful Tahiti.
Day 8: Departure
This morning I woke up with an empty feeling. I was sad to leave and was feeling all kinds of emotions. Fortunately though , for us, Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t leave until 11:30 PM. Some of us got up early and headed down to get our daily fresh pressed juice and pastry. There was an air of something amongst us all. I’m not sure if its because we were sad to leave or ready for it. But it was weird.
We were to meet Tinitua this morning to check out of our hotel around 11. But first after we would be done packing , the group decided to go and check out an annual crafts fair that was going on in the city. We decided to walk to it, encompassing the pier and enjoying the lovely manicured promenade. The sun was on, and the heat was definitely there, and we underestimated how far it really was . 25 minutes later, we arrived to song and dance and a plethora of people scooping up the latest cool designs. There was everything from food, to clothing to pottery and jewelry. For me it was a bit out of what I wanted to spend, as I still had another huge trip coming up to China in a week and plus I was already so fulfilled that I didn’t feel like I “needed” anything really .
We had strict instructions to meet Tinitua at 11 so Joanne and I decided it was time to walk back to the hotel, but this time going through the city. It was a Saturday and all the stores were open and full of life. It was nice to walk around a different part of the city, and I couldn’t wait to come back in a few to explore, especially that beautiful bakery with gorgeous pastries in its window. On our way to Tinitua’s we passed by beautiful leis and their lei makers. Just like in Hawaii a lei is everything and so beautiful .
We checked out of our hotel and loaded up all our suitcases with Tinitua who would be holding all our stuff back at his home. The hotel Tahiti Nui, however, does offer luggage hold for those who have later flights as well as full access to their pool and gym until its time to go, so that is definitely a plus for their hotel.
Tinitua and his family had lunch ready for us. Today it was Chinese , Le Jasmine, as the restaurant was right on the corner from his house. It was so very thoughtful of the family to invite us to lunch and it was delicious. I was getting really emotional knowing that we would be leaving soon and every hour felt so precious. After lunch, Julia and Debra decided to give hair cuts and style to the family . What a perfect way to give back to them with all their generosity. I wish I had their talent. Mama and papa and aunty Monique were so happy with their cuts.
After lunch and the haircuts, we headed of to Carre Four, ( just like Costco ) to pick up some goodies to take home. I could’ve done without it, however the other girls wanted to pick up some stuff. I just wanted to hang out with Tinitua. 2 of the girls were very adamant about spending their last moments in Tahiti at a hotel , by the pool, sipping on cocktails, and Tinitua went out of his way , yet again, to make that happen. Debra wanted to go back to the hotel to swim and work out, and Joanne, Julia , and I wanted to just cruise around town and give Tinitua a break. He’s been such a blessing and his family has been so kind, that we felt that he should just take a break from us all. While I truly wished we spent it all together, I guess the girls , also needed their break from us. Oh well.
Tinitua dropped Julia, Joanne and myself off in town, where Joanne and I walked through and we told him not to worry about us and that we will be back at his house by 6 pm on our own. He gave us the eye, and we assured him We will be fine. He’s so awesome.
Unfortunately for us, all the stores were closed as it was now late afternoon. Damn it!!!!!! It’s ok we go get a snack. So we found a nice little open restaurant , sat, had a ice cream float and pizza and regretted it all. It was getting a little late, so we decided to head back to Tinitua’s place. It would be better anyway, to spend our last moments with him and his lovely family.
When we got back , Tinitua was already in the midst of getting dinner ready. Dinner? Really? after all you’ve already done for us, now you’re preparing dinner? Well it was also for his family but he just extended it a bit to fit us all in. What can this God Father of Tahiti not do? My gosh he’s my angel. We helped him prepare, set tables, and relaxed outside listening to the local Tahitian radio station . We heard back from the 2 girls at the pool, who were going to go get something to eat else where. Of course a tang of irritation, led to a calm text back… Okay…. but Tinitua made a feast …. Fortunately they eventually showed up.
Aunty Monique showed up also, with her fabulous “punch” which literally does give you a huge punch ….. Tipsy we laughed and toasted with mama and papa . Totohiro , Tatiana, and Aunty Rochele came and joined us as well.
This is what I’m really going to miss, the love of this amazing family. They are just too kind and so full of love and laughter. After dinner, Tatiana gave us a huge send off, with 2 beautiful Tahitian Aparima wishing us a safe journey. She adorned us with shell leis, which is the custom as the shells never die, and neither does the love. With all my mascara now off, I bid farewell to this amazing family, praying and hoping I will see them again. And just like that, we were off to the airport.
Tinitua said his goodbyes and left us empty missing him already. He really transformed into a dear friend so quickly and rightfully so, as he is exactly the type of friend you want. PURE and THE BEST!
Check in was quick, and Veronique and Maria were there to see us off. Sad we said our final goodbyes as we passed through passport control and immigration. And just like that , we were in the open aired holding area for the airport. Hot, I popped into Duty Free for a bit, picking up a little more souvenirs and headed up to the lounge. The Air Tahiti Lounge is as strict as can be. You must either hold and appropriate ticket on their airline, have Priority pass , or an American Express Platinum card. Fortunately I had Priority pass. A beer was in order, and pronto. Alone, I contemplated my entire time there with fondness. However I was interrupted by a Brittish woman being rude and condescending to the check in lady. ” You mean to tell me that after spending over 10,000 pounds here, I am not able to use the lounge? It is too hot in the holding area and I refuse to be there ” What a bitch.! Unfortunately for her, the gorgeous girl at check in just smiled and said ” I’m sorry this is not possible” and that was it. No matter how much the surgically pulled face of the British tacky lady complained, the sweeter the check in lady became. Brilliant !!!!!
And just like that…. it was time…. and we boarded our flight to head home to Hawaii. I cried myself to sleep and woke up to the views of our beautiful island home .. It’s nice to be back , but I could be back in Tahiti in a heart beat, given the chance.
In closing, what can I say that I haven’t yet? Love…… Tahiti is love…. Love for the land, love for the people and love for the spirit. It is all encompassing and intoxicating ,and somewhere I long to be.
Maruru Tahiti… Forever in my heart.