French Polynesia (FP) is an overseas collectivity of France. It comprises about 118 islands in the South Pacific Ocean. You will probably recognize some of the more popular ones like Tahiti and Bora Bora. Its basically like the Hawaii of France. I have always been interested in French Language, and culture, so I was really looking forward to this trip. I was curious about the French language and French influence on the food of this tropical paradise that is almost 10,000 miles away from France.
It was difficult to plan this trip because COVID cases were rising in the islands as the departure date approached and they were announcing increasing restrictions daily on some of the islands like curfews, lockdowns etc.
I wake up in Tahiti still not knowing how we are going to get to Moorea. I decide to go to the gym before breakfast and run into our driver. Luckily, he was on top of things and advised me that the best way to get to Moorea would be by ferry and he would take care of everything. With this problem solved, I headed to the gym then breakfast.
The breakfast at the Manava was not good at all. Items were not cooked well and the service was very slow. After breakfast, we went to a corner store to buy some forgotten items and I finally got a glimpse of local culture. There were two things that immediately stuck out:
When researching things to do in French Polynesia, a couple things stood out to put on my list. One was to have dinner on a motu (which is basically what they call a small private island) and another was to watch a Polynesian show with fire and dancing.
Due to the schedule of shows put on by hotels and pandemic restrictions, it was not possible to see a show unless it was privately arranged. The Sofitel had recommended I reach out to Motu Maiau to arrange an entire evening excursion, and I am so glad I did. Here was our experience.
Day 3 on the French Polynesian island of Moorea started with picking up a rental car from Avis. From there, the plan was to explore the island. Our first stop was the Toatea Lookout.
We were able to buy some fresh vanilla bean, but I was disappointed that there were no tours or even basic info about vanilla farming in the islands; and the cafe on the premises did not have anything with vanilla on the menu that was made on site. I would skip this stop unless you want to buy fresh vanilla bean. Our next stop was the Belvedere Lookout.
I wake up in Moorea to the most beautiful sunset and colors reflecting off the water. It seemed like I was on a different planet.
I also took some panoramic photos of the luxury villa at the Sofitel Moorea so that anyone thinking of staying there can get an idea of the setting. After breakfast, which by the way is pretty good at the Sofitel (they even had Dim Sum items), we headed to the airport. I booked a Air Tahiti to take us from Moorea to Bora Bora.
I woke up for the first time in Bora Bora and started the day off with breakfast which was included with the room due to our Bonvoy status. The daily breakfast was fantastic in terms of selection and quality. They had all the typical items as well as French and local selections. All of it was included and you could order as much as you wanted.
After breakfast we headed off to our boat and snorkel excursion. We got to see the beautiful waters of Bora Bora.
Day 6 in French Polynesia was spent at the resort. Due to the increasing COVID cases around this time, the government imposed a lockdown and we basically had to stay at the resort. This was fine with me as there were ample things to do at the resort. It was too bad though that we had to cancel some of the restaurants we had booked on the main island. The resort food was, for the most part, extremely overpriced, and ranged from good to below average.. More on this later.
The day started off with breakfast and some incredible scenery.
Day 7 in French Polynesia began with breakfast which became a front row seat to a Polynesian beach wedding. The rest of the day was spent enjoying the free water sports the St Regis Bora Bora had to offer, starting with water bikes.
There is only one place to have lunch on the resort (other than room service) and the menu got boring fairly quickly. Prices are incredibly expensive which was expected. For example, a club sandwich is U$40.
Day 8 was supposed to be our last full day in Bora Bora before heading back to Tahiti for one night, with some time to explore the capital before boarding a flight home later that night.
Luckily, our butler at the St Regis was able to coordinate with the concierge and organized a one night extension of our stay, and a change in flights. The flights were the most difficult because we did not want to get into the capital too early before our flight home, or too late and then not be able to make it in time for the COVID test to go home. More on this tomorrow.
Our last full day in Bora Bora was spent riding bikes, looking at the fish at the Lagoonarium, swimming and kayaking. For dinner, we attended the Polynesian Night. It was a heavily toned down version due to COVID. There was no dancing but only music and a fire show.
The food was ok. It would of been great to be able to go into the towns and sample more of the local food. The next post will be our journey back home and the ordeal of coordinating 3 covid tests in 24 hours!