Six years ago I received a phone call from a very dear friend of mine. I hadn’t heard from him for a long time and when he asked me if I would be available over the Christmas Season to help on a service project in the South Pacific, needless to say – I got VERY excited!
The island I’d be spending the most time on would be Tahiti, which has been on my “bucket list” forever. Now here’s the most amazing part – I wouldn’t be there for just a week, but a few months, immersing myself in the beautiful culture and spirit of the Polynesian people.
Having previously lived in Hawaii, I had already fallen in love with the islands so I couldn’t say no. A week later I had my flights booked, island hopping my way there to take in a few islands I hadn’t had the opportunity to visit yet! Why go direct from Vancouver via Los Angeles to Papeete, when I could experience the Pacific? Whenever I can I love to take advantage of seeing as much of the world as possible – especially if I’m taking a long flight.
My travel route to Tahiti started with an 18 hour flight to Singapore where I spent a couple of days (one of my favorite places). From there – off to Auckland, New Zealand, and from there to the stunning Cook Islands (the turquoise water and the abundance of sea life is simply unbelievable!) and on to Papeete, Tahiti.
When I landed in Tahiti I had goose bumps all over my body walking from the airplane to the terminal. I couldn’t believe my dreams were coming true and that I was giving myself this amazing gift! It was a beautiful balmy evening and local women were handing out a Tiare flower (the national flower of French Polynesia) to each person arriving. I was in love! What a beautiful gesture.
I felt privileged to have spent time with a friend who was living on Tahiti – he was kind enough to introduce me to the island’s hidden gems. Tahiti has Polynesia’s two highest peaks one of them being Mount Orohena, the dwelling place of the ancient Gods. As we circumnavigated the whole island the scenery changed with every turn. From the bustling city of Papeete the roads lead through small villages along the black velvet beaches on one side, and waterfalls cascading through emerald valleys on the other. I wondered what would await us around each new corner! One of my most memorable experiences was stopping at a small old wooden church along the wayside – I still remember the serenity and peace I felt there.
While in Tahiti I also had the opportunity to visit Moorea and Bora Bora. Moorea is only a few minutes away by boat from Papeete, yet so different. The pace of life is very relaxed yet the scenery dramatic. With emerald mountains rising up from its sandy shores, this island has been an inspiration to countless artists, writers and poets. It certainly inspired me to forget everything around me enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and spirit of this magical island.
A few days later I was off to Bora Bora. On my hour and half long flight I remembered the songs I heard about Bora Bora when I was a little boy and how I wished to go there. Here I was only minutes away from that dream. Words can’t describe the beautiful views of the coral reef dotted with emerald islets encircling the main island like a string of pearls. The center of this dramatic setting is Mount Otemanu rising out of the ocean with countless colors of blues and turquoises. Bora Bora is perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving with its amazing array of brightly colored fish and beautiful underwater coral formations. Here, everything you do is a meditation, even kayaking through the crystal clear waters protected by the coral reef around the island.
French Polynesia is known to be the perfect honeymoon destination. What better way to celebrate romance than to spend a week in an over-the-water bungalow (with glass tables for viewing the underwater sealife) or indulging in Thalasso spa therapies? Truly you won’t want to go home.
In my 2 months on the islands I had the time to visit Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora – but if you only have a few days or 10 days I would highly recommend taking a cruise on the Paul Gauguin part of your journey. It’s a very small and intimate ship which cruises through the islands taking in many of the small and precious islands – what a wonderful way to experience this magnificent archipelago!’
Whether you are going for your honeymoon, taking a wonderful family vacation or just want to be inspired by beauty, French Polynesia will surely stir your soul.
If you would like to have more information or have questions about this or any other destination please call or e-mail me anytime.
See you on the balmy beaches! Blessings, Ales
Thanks for the wonderful pictures go to: Paul Gauguin Cruises