Tag Archives: Tahiti

Tahiti Travel Basics

There’s no other place in this world that evokes the imagery and senses like Tahiti. This is the land of Polynesian beauty, immortalized by Gaughan and revised by Hollywood. Air perfumed by vanilla trees and tropical flowers. This is paradise.

The island of Tahiti is the largest of 118 islands and atolls of French Polynesia. These islands are divided into five island groups. Tahiti belongs to the Society Islands, which also includes nearby Moorea and Bora Bora.

 Tahiti receives only a tiny fraction of tourism as compared to Hawaii, leaving this chain of islands unspoiled and secluded. Relaxation is an important element in your vacation to Tahiti, and you’ll find plenty to experience as well. There are great diving and snorkeling opportunities, and a variety of activities such as bike rentals to explore the island for a day. Tahitian culture is intoxicating, and you’ll find yourself at home on these islands. Tahiti is only 8 hours away from Los Angeles and is located in the South Pacific (find Hawaii on the globe then take a straight line south past the Equator).

 While French and Tahitian are the official languages, you’ll find English spoken at all the resorts and tourist locations. Weather is perfect year-round, though rain occurs more frequently in the January – March timeframe.
The most distinctive accommodations in Tahiti are overwater bungalows. You can opt for a special canoe breakfast delivery, lounge about enjoying the rhythmic sounds of the ocean, and delight at the views of fish from your glass floor. Bungalows are thatch-roofed, and feature traditional Polynesian details. Less expensive accommodations include categories such as Beach or Garden Bunglaows, Lagoonview Rooms, and Gardenview Rooms.
It is tough to pick just one island to visit which makes the honeymoon style of “island hopping” so attractive. Two island itinerary combinations are great for 7 night stays, and three island itineraries are popular for 10 or more nights. Of course, you can see many more islands cruising!
Cruising is an excellent way to see and experience the islands. There are several cruise options from which to choose. Paul Gauguin and Windstar offer elegant, small ship sailing options. The Aranui 3 freighter provides an adventure on a working ship, with with two week itineraries visiting the remote Marquesas Islands. Private and shared yachts are for hire out of Raitea, for 3 to 7 day itineraries. ?And mainstream cruise lines will feature, from time to time, a cruise itinerary that stops en route in the South Pacific.

Want to learn more?  Visit our sister site at TahitiJourney.com 

Happy travels!  ~Cindy Grant, Expert Family Travel.  Contact us at 972-625-6200 to plan your next vacation.  Serving Dallas Texas metro area plus clients across the US/Canada.

It’s Tahiti Time!

 

Ah, my favorite destination of all…Tahiti.  Officially known as French Polynesia, this broad collection of South Pacific islands is about 2 hours due south of Hawaii.  With pristine, calm lagoons, beautiful views, ideal weather, gentle people, and tropical flowers perfuming the air this destination embodies the perfect beach destination.

 

If this is your one and only trip to Tahiti, I would recommend a combination itinerary of Moorea and Bora Bora, staying about a week.  Plus, you will either fly on a red-eye to get to Papeete the next morning (continuing on to Moorea) or you’ll need to stay one night in Papeete upon arrival.  If you have more time than a week, or if this is your second trip to Tahiti (lucky YOU!), I would recommend visiting one of the lesser known islands on your multi-island itinerary, such as Taha’a or Tikehau.

 

 

Tahiti is best known as a honeymoon haven; certainly, an overwater bungalow on a crystalline lagoon is romantic.  But Tahiti is also ideally suited for scuba and snorkeling enthusiasts.  And several resorts are family friendly.  Promotions can take the sting out of the price-points for a family traveling to Tahiti, but it will always be more expensive than destinations such as Mexico or Hawaii.

 

There are two negatives for Tahiti as a destination:  distance and budget.  The flight from LAX is about 8 hours, but is in the same time zone as Hawaii and doesn’t require that you cross the International Date Line.  There’s just no way around it:  Tahiti is relatively expensive for a vacation, especially when considering the “must do” accommodation — an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora.  There are a few ways to reign in the costs, and we can certainly talk about your options if you’d like to put together a Tahiti trip. Traveling in November, April, and May are better price-wise and some short-stay air promotions can make a vacation here affordable when budget is key.

 

I do recommend booking Tahiti 7-9 months in advance because flights and resorts fill up. Last minute packages are best booked with a bit of flexibility in terms of dates and resorts or room categories.

 

Our packages take the guesswork out of a Tahiti trip, and will include your flights, accommodations, breakfasts, interisland flights and transportation to the resort.  We can add travel insurance, dinner plans, and day excursions to fit your needs as well.

A South Pacific Primer

Can’t decide where to go this year?  Should you return to one of your favorite resorts or is it time to check a new destination off your bucket list?  Here’s a short list of South Pacific destinations to generate some new ideas.

  • Hawaii - generally experienced one island at a time, staying 5 to 8 nights.  If you have 8 or more nights, a two island hopper might work for you.  Staying in Waikiki (Oahu) means you can skip a car rental.  But staying on Oahu’s North Shore or on the other islands (Maui, Big Island, Kauai) a car rental is definitely recommended.  No passport is required, driving is easy, and the islands lend themselves to exploring on your own.  Ideal for couples, families, reunions, and small groups. A little over 5 hours from LAX to Oahu.
  • Tahiti/French Polynesia -  everyone should visit Tahiti (and especially Bora Bora) at least once in a lifetime.  There is nothing quite like an overwater bungalow in the lagoon facing Mt. Otemanu.  High season goes from June through October, pricing higher than Low season November through May.  You may need to stay your first night in Papeete before continuing on to your island destination.  Typically experienced as a 1 to 3-island itinerary, staying 5 to 10 nights.  Moorea is a less expensive alternative, or can pair nicely with Bora Bora for a 2-island itinerary.  Lesser-known islands make for a great first escape or for a return visit.  While families are welcomed in many resorts, most travellers are honeymooners, couples, and adult divers. Flight time from Papeete is 8 1/2 hours.
  • Fiji - known for friendly faces and beautiful beaches.  A 10 hour flight from LAX.  Typical itinerary is for 7 nights for one island, or 9 to 12 nights for two islands.  Depending on air schedule, an overnight in Nadi may be necessary.  This is a divers paradise as well as a perfect spot for a honeymoon.  Fiji is also family friendly.  Only one resort offers overwater bungalows, and they are expensive and sell out quickly.  Typical accommodations are beachfront bures (bungalows).
  • Australia – best experienced as part of an escorted tour, or an independent multi destination itinerary. Allow 2 weeks minimum. Don’t forget, seasons are reversed.
  • New Zealand – Visit either North Island or South Island if you have less than 2 weeks for travel. Or combine both islands if you can go 2-3 weeks or longer. An escorted tour makes things easy and efficient, or try a self-drive itinerary if you are independent.
  • Cook Islands – for the “been there, done that” crowd. Cook Islands offer a sleepy, laid back version of Tahiti and Fiji. No luxury-level hotels and flight schedules are a bit more challenging (compared to other destinations).
  • Cruise – rather experience the South Pacific by ship? NCL offers a one-week Hawaii cruise. Paul Gauguin offers 7 day and longer French Polynesia cruises. And multiple cruise lines offer the South Pacific on special itineraries on select days. Just ask!

Happy travels!  Cindy Grant, travel consultant with Expert Family Travel (located in Frisco/The Colony in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, Texas).  Contact at 972-625-6200 or cindy@expertfamilytravel.com

 

Resort Review: Hotel Kia Ora, French Polynesia (Tahiti)

On a remote island in the South Pacific’s Tuamotu Archipelago sits a gem of a resort, the Hotel Kia Ora.  This island – Rangiroa – is a coral-sand strand of pearls that makes up the largest lagoon in the South Pacific.  Rangiroa is known by diving enthusiasts, but is otherwise still a well kept secret for most American tourists.

This resort enjoyed a complete facelift in 2011, knocking this property up to the level of a luxury resort. General Manager Jerry Garcia brings charm and laid-back sophistication to this pleasant retreat.  He has expert knowledge of what it takes to keep American and European tourists happy in the middle of nowhere.  It is no fluke that the fruit and seafood are remarkably fresh, the activity board is filled with interesting excursions, and the resort grounds are pristine.

From the deck of your beach bungalow the surf is just  steps away, and a hammock strewn between two palm trees beckoned for a midday nap.  Tahitian neighbors border both sides of the property, and lazy entertainment could be had watching the locals in their fishing boats.

Hotel Kia Ora is recommended for divers and for beach lovers who are looking for the ultimate in South Pacific getaways.  Families are welcome, but anticipate there being no kids’ clubs or lively diversions for your little ones.  Clientele consists of seasoned travelers and a healthy return client base.  This is an excellent choice for anniversary and honeymoon couples, as well as the executive who needs to sink his feet in the sand for a few days to recharge batteries.  Bring along a good book or two and prepare to relax.

The 60 accommodation units include beach and garden bungalows, overwater bungalows, beach and garden bungalow suites, and deluxe beach bungalows.

For divers and snorkelers, Tiputa Pass offers a pass/drift dive toward the ocean with a variety of fish, eels, turtles, and sharks.  Other diving and snorkeling opportunities abound, and the Hotel Kia Ora has reasonably priced off-site activities available during the course of your stay.

Dive center offers PADI instruction. Spa onsite. Snorkel gear and canoes are available for use.

If you ARE looking to cut yourself off from civilization, then you may want to consider as well the remote sister property, the Kia Ora Sauvage.  Just ask GM Garcia about the Sauvage and his eyes will twinkle as he tells of the special magic of this place.  The Sauvage is an hour’s boat ride from the Kia Ora, and has only 5 bungalows.  The property has no electricity, and guests are given lanterns in the evening.  While the Polynesian style accommodations are rustic and not luxurious, guests are still pampered in their own right.  Delicious meals are prepared by the hotel staff, and there are activities planned to keep guests busy if they so desire.  Bungalows have private bathrooms with heated water (hurray!).  Plan on at least two nights at the Sauvage, though it is not uncommon for guests to stay a week or longer.  The Kia Ora Sauvage and Hotel Kia Ora combine well for a varied itinerary.

To reach Rangiroa, you will need to first fly into Papeete, on the island of Tahiti.  From there, you will take an interisland flight.  Because of the flight schedules, anticipate that your itinerary may require a minimum of one night in Papeete upon arrival, and possibly one night returning.  You can also combine Rangiroa with other Tahitian islands  such as Moorea or Bora Bora.

To put your Tahiti package together, contact Cindy Grant, Tahiti Specialist, at Expert Family Travel. 972-625-6200.

Month of Romance: Plan a special vow renewal trip with your spouse

February is Romance Month, with Valentine’s Day sitting prominently in the middle! of the calendar!  This year, consider planning a special vow renewal vacation for you and your spouse.  Make the trip for just the two of you, or extend the love by inviting friends and family.

My favorite locations for vow renewals are

  • Bora Bora (Tahiti) at Bora Bora Pearl Resort or Hilton Bora Bora Nui
  • Riviera Maya at the Dreams, Now, Secrets, and El Dorado Resorts
  • Cabo at Secrets Marquis and Riu Palace Resorts
  • Jamaica at one of the four Couples Resorts
  • Moorea (Tahiti) at the Moorea Pearl Resort
  • Maui at one of the gorgeous beach locations
  • Cancun at the vibrant, luxurious Live Aqua Cancun Resort

If you are interested in planning your own vow renewal vacation, or even have plans in the near future for your own destination wedding, just let me know and we can look at the options that will best fit you.

Happy travels!  Cindy Grant, CTA Expert Family Travel.  Located in The Colony/Frisco Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth metro area)  972.625.6200

 

 

LeMeridien Bora Bora – pack your bags!

LeMeridien Bora Bora is a wonderful, 4 1/2 to 5 star resort set on a motu island and facing back to Mount Otemanu and Bora Bora’s famous lagoon.  This resort is best known for their sea turtles onsite (you can swim with them).   This resort recently (late 2010/early 2011) had underwent renovations.

LeMeridien Resort Bora Bora Video

Well, thank you Thomas Reynoird, Groups Manager at LeMeridien Bora Bora, for sharing the latest resort video.  It’s only 3 minutes long, but it certainly imparts a huge WOW factor — including the new interior of the bungalows, grand sweeping views of the resort, and great shots of real people (employees and guests).  I am left with a feeling like I just returned to the LeMeridien!  If you are considering this resort, you MUST watch this video.

And certainly, ask for a quote for your travel dates and I will be happy to put a quote together for you.  Bora Bora is located in Tahiti (French Polynesia), and is about 8 hours’ flight from LAX.  Bora Bora is an exceptional island experience on its own, and can pair well with another island for a 2 island itinerary for your honeymoon or anniversary.

~Happy travels!  Cindy Grant, CTA, travel consultant at Reconnect Travel & Expert Family Travel.  Located in the Dallas metro area (Plano, Little Elm, Frisco, Fort Worth, Texas area) with clients across the US.  972-625-6200
cindy@expertfamilytravel.com

Review: Tikehau Pearl Resort, Tahiti (French Polynesia)

Bucket list (def.) – a popular way to indicate the places to see and things to do before you die.

Some people’s bucket lists are more extensive than others.  If your bucket list includes the obscure, out of the way, rarely-visited destination gems, consider adding Tikehau.

Tikehau is a small Tuamotu atoll in French Polynesia, located just west of the much larger atoll Rangiroa.  An atoll, by the way, is a ring island where the original volcanic peak in the center of the lagoon has been eroded back into the sea.  Nothing on the island stands taller than a coconut palm.

Other than obscurity, Tikehau’s appeal is water the clarity of a swimming pool, with an abundance of sea life, sea birds, and starlight evenings.  This is a great spot for seasoned travellers who truly want an off the beaten path sort of experience.  It’s also excellent for divers and snorkelers.

Tikehau Pearl Resort is THE resort on the island (though there are a couple of modest pension-type accommodations in Tikehau, too).  There are four room categories:  beach bungalows (with a/c), overwater bungalows (without a/c and direct water access), premium overwater bungalows (without a/c but with direct water access), and suite overwater bungalows (with a/c and direct water access). Continue reading Review: Tikehau Pearl Resort, Tahiti (French Polynesia)

Baked Papaya Recipe

Here’s a delightful recipe from the folks at Tahiti Tourisme – baked papaya…

Ingredients:
3 Papayas
3 Vanilla Beans
6 Tablespoons sugar
6 Tablespoons Rum
1 Grated Coconut
Butter

Cut the papayas in half and remove the seeds
Place them in an ovenproof dish.

In each papaya, pour:
1 pat butter
1/2 Vanilla Bean
1 Tblespoon sugar
1 Tblespoon Rum

Cook in a preheated oven for 15 minutes at 350°F. In the meantime, squeeze milk from the grated coconut through a clean cloth. Before serving, add the coconut milk in each papaya.

~~~~~

Want more?  Plan your trip to Tahiti and enjoy fine Polynesian cuisine at the islands’ top resorts.

Happy travels ~ Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant.  Reconnect Travel/Expert Family Travel.  Dallas metro area, serving  clients nationwide.  972-625-6200.

When to travel where…

Europe:

  • Price/Seasonality:  High season goes from June to mid September, when trans-Atlantic air is at a premium.  Low season is during the winter.  Mid season is fall and winter.
  • Weather:  Weather is best from mid Spring to mid Fall.
  • Best time to travel:  Mid September to mid-October is best in terms of pricing and weather.
Hawaii:
  • Price/Seasonality:  High season is June thru April, then Christmas/New Years Weeks, and the two weeks around Easter.  The remainder of the year is Mid season.  Hawaii has no true Low season.
  • Weather:  Gorgeous year round.
  • Best time to travel:  Any time in the fall to mid December and late Spring (after Easter).
Tahiti:
  • Price/Seasonality:  High season is June thru October, and then Christmas/New Years Weeks.  The remainder of the year is Mid season, with no true Low season.
  • Weather:  Rainy season is December thru February.  Weather is lovely year round.  Because they are in the South Pacific, our winter is their summer and is slightly warmer than the other half of the year (we’re not talking a big temperature difference).
  • Best time to travel:  November, then March thru May.
Caribbean and Mexico:
  • Price/Seasonality:  High season kicks off for Christmas holidays and continues thru Winter Break, Spring Break, and Easter.  The remainder of the year is Mid season.
  • Weather:  While year ’round tropical weather is in order, hurricane season is from June thru October.
  • Best time to travel:  May and November will give you the best prices out of hurricane season.  Hurricanes can happen on the Pacific coast of Mexico, too.
Walt Disney World/Orlando:
  • Price/seasonality:  Any time schools are out, attendance is up at the Disney Parks.  High season is during Spring Break thru Easter, Memorial Day to Labor Day (summer break), and Thanksgiving.  Peak season is over Christmas/New Years weeks.
  • Weather:  Summer is hot.  Spring and Fall is glorious.  Winter can be mild to downright cold.
  • Best time to travel:  September, October, and May.

Divers Rejoice: Rangiroa Hotel Kia Ora set to reopen Sep 2011

An atoll island in French Polynesia, Rangiroa is best known for its amazing lagoon and drift diving.  However, the last year Rangiroa has been without any decent accommodations, since the Hotel Kia Ora closed for a complete rennovation.

But yay, good news!  The Hotel Kia Ora is scheduled to open on time — September 2011.  Bungalows and public buildings were torn down and rebuilt, and I’m betting this will take the property from a 4 star rating to a 5 star luxury.  That’s just my guess.

I’ve actually been to this property, back in 2009, and thought it was fantastic then.  So I can’t wait to see what the property manager Jerry Garcia has done with the place.  I definitely plan a visit the next opportunity that comes my way.

I’ll pop back on the blog and let you know the scoop on the new and improved Hotel Kia Ora, but meanwhile, a little bit of information based on the original property (and my stay there in 2009).  The pictures below are new (taken in August 2011).

Hotel Kia Ora is recommended for divers and for beach lovers who are looking for the ultimate in South Pacific getaways.  Families are welcome, but anticipate there being no kids’ clubs or lively diversions for your little ones.  Clientele consists of seasoned travelers and a healthy return client base.  This is an excellent choice for anniversary and honeymoon couples, as well as the executive who needs to sink his feet in the sand for a few days to recharge batteries.  Bring along a good book or two and prepare to relax.

(2009): It is advised to pre-book the meal plan, which includes a hearty breakfast buffet and dinner daily.  The breakfast pastries and desserts are expertly created by the Hotel Kia Ora’s own pastry chef, and dinner selections are diverse, with French inspired dishes, local specialties, and the Chef’s daily menu.  Meals here are reasonable, considering the pricey cost of food in Tahiti.  As well, the bar list is fairly extensive.  Lunch options are a bit short; you can select from a small number of sandwiches from the bar, or commit to a lunch in the restaurant.   However, two main meals (breakfast and dinner) are the way to go, with something light to tide you over at lunchtime.

Happy news, bungalows are being outfitted with television and internet access. Accommodations include overwater bungalows, garden bungalows, and beach bungalows.  Some units are multi-rooms and have infinity pools on the deck.

For divers and snorkelers, Tiputa Pass a pass/drift dive toward the ocean with a variety of fish, eels, turtles, and sharks.  Other diving and snorkeling opportunities abound, and the Hotel Kia Ora has reasonably priced off-site activities available during the course of your stay.

Dive center offers PADI instruction. Spa onsite. Snorkel gear and canoes are available for use.

Sister property Kia Ora Sauvage is still being remodeled, and will not be reopening yet.