Tahiti truly is 'the paradise of the world'

By Scott Archbold

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, July 12 2013 3:10 p.m. MDT

The rays would come up and touch each person as they passed by. The jet ski guide gave us some bits of fish to feed the rays, which have a mouth on their bottom side, but we fed them though an opening right behind their eyes on the top of their head. It seemed strange to think about having two ways to ingest food.

Another popular activity on Moorea is a sunset cruise on a big boat. We did our own sunset cruise by using one of the kayaks from the hotel, paddling out into the lagoon before sunset and then watching the sun disappear beneath the horizon from offshore. We had the sun going down in front of us, the island profile on our left side and complete quiet.

Bora Bora

We had heard that the best way to be introduced to Bora Bora is to sit on the left side of plane (facing front) so the views of the island can be seen upon arrival. We wouldn’t know. We did have seats on the left side of the plane, but it was so cloudy on the day we arrived that we could see only bits and pieces of the island and the famous lagoon upon landing. The clouds then erupted in a downpour.

The airport in Bora Bora does not have a road to it, which means that all passengers leave by boat. On most days, this would be a good thing. On the day of our arrival with the downpour, the boat ride turned into an adventure. Even one of the hotel employees accompanying us on the boat appeared to be nervous.

By the time we arrived at our over-water bungalow, we were as wet as if we had jumped into the lagoon. That night, the wind blew so hard we wondered if the bungalow would still be there in the morning.

From this inauspicious start, things got better. The view from our over-water bungalow toward Bora Bora was breathtaking. Staying in these bungalows is not cheap, but if you come this far, we highly recommend springing for this accommodation option.

The best part of Bora Bora is the lagoon. Different hues of blue are everywhere you look, with clear, inviting water just below your over-water bungalow. It’s exhilarating to wake up to that view.

Our favorite activity again was a jet ski excursion. We went around the entire island of Bora Bora, stopping only of Matira Point for the view and again by the St. Regis Bora Bora, the hotel where the Vince Vaughn movie “Couples Retreat” was filmed. There we floated on the lagoon just offshore and were able to swim.

After returning to the other side of the island we stopped at a motu (small islands around the reef) close to where we began the tour to husk coconuts and make coconut milk. The guide/instructor showed how easy it is to husk a coconut, and he made it look that way. Unfortunately, my experience wasn’t has smooth as our guide's. Eventually, I managed to get the husk off my coconut after some time and effort and I did break it in the middle with only one blow.

Too soon, it seemed, it was time to return home, and our trip of a lifetime was over. Was it worth it?

Tahiti was the 31st country I have visited — and it is the most beautiful place I have been to.

Most European explorers who stopped in Tahiti in the 18th century had visited much of the known world at that time and some ended up discovering new islands and lands. They were virtually unanimous in praising the beauty of Tahiti. William Bligh, the Bounty's captain, called Tahiti “the paradise of the world.”

We agree.

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