From “glorified camping” to five star luxury!

Posted on March 24th, 2013 by BreAnn

We arrived in Tahiti on Monday (March 4th) in the POURING RAIN, miserable, soggy, and dripping wet. It was definitely the worst day of our trip so far, as we spent several hours navigating streets and buses in the pouring rain to get to our Tahitian hotel. [See a video of this experience here.] The hotness and humidity was DEFINITELY getting to us at this point, and being soaking wet didn’t help!  At least we had the gear to help us out a bit (raincoats with good hoods, waterproof shoes, and backpack rain covers), but after so much time in the pouring rain, you’re pretty much going to end up getting soaked in one way or another. 🙂

We originally had planned to stay with a host (kind of like a foreign exchange living situation) in Tahiti for just 3 days, but the arrangements fell through a couple weeks before our trip and we were pretty disappointed about it all. We were unable to secure another similar home stay type situation, so we were forced to find accommodation for three nights in Tahiti.  This ended up being a bit challenging, as things were very expensive last minute, we had an extreme lack of (affordable) internet access, and the hostel we wanted to stay at only had availability for 2 of the 3 nights needed.

In the end, we stayed at this random airport motel for the first night and rested and caught up on research and emails (as it POURED AND POURED outside), and the second two nights we stayed at a hostel on the west side of the Island. The day we needed to get to the hostel happened to be a Tahitian holiday and the buses weren’t running, so the man who ran the hostel was kind enough to pick us up (although later we would find out that he actually was CHARGING us for the pick-up!!), and we drove a good half hour or so around the Island to a hidden little hostel by the ocean.

Making GOOD use of the outdoor hostel kitchen!

The hostel was basically a few small houses on a plot of land, in which this couple lived and rented out the rooms in the small houses/bungalows per night. The location was really great as we were right on the ocean, and the hostel included a little outdoor kitchen and sitting area.  Our room, however, was definitely a HOSTEL type room: a shared space with 6 beds on the upper floor of a little house.

In general I wasn’t too phased by the whole hostel experience (except the mosquitos drove me a bit batty), was actually very happy that we had a kitchen and (not so clean) dishes at our disposal, and I tried to just pretend we were camping, but James wasn’t the most excited about our “cultural experience” as I was. I knew this was probably just the beginning of an adjustment period for him for now, as this experience was all new to him.  I’ve already had years of dealing with being thrown into these “not so clean or comfortable” hostel situations in the past, so I’ve become a bit more tolerant and “whatever” about these things.

Our “shared room” in the hostel

But I DID totally understood his unease about it all . . . I mean, the beds were pretty basic, it was very HOT and humid in the room, and all the windows and doors were wide open with no screen doors. And that pretty much meant our room was wide open and home to many mosquitos, moths, bees, marching lines of ants, and lizards. During the day it was hot, but we didn’t think too much about it . . . but when the night came & the moths and lizards would scamper in towards the lights, and the MOSQUITOS started to swarm, UGH, that’s when it really became a bit gross. Not to mention it was about 85 degrees and humid with no fan or A/C. Once again, I found myself being completely BIT UP by the damn mosquitos,


which isn’t only annoying, but is worrisome, as we were recently made aware that there is a chance of catching Dengue Fever in the area if you are bit by an infected mosquito!

On a more positive side, the hostel included free use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment, and the location provided for some brilliant sunsets with Moorea Island in the distance, so we had some really great afternoons together on Tahiti and enjoyed ourselves for the time we were there. [See photos of Tahiti here.]

Two nights of hot and sticky and bugs made it just THAT much more rewarding to head back to Moorea Island for our last 5 nights of French Polynesia at a luxurious resort in AN OVERWATER BUNGALOW!  Yes . . . you’ve seen the photos on TV or perhaps your computer wallpaper background and always wondered where this bit of paradise was located . . . and YEP—we were going THERE!

We checked into our hotel, Sofitel Moorea, were escorted to our overwater bungalow, and it was OFFICIALLY time to celebrate!  [See video of our room here!] The room was GORGEOUS and clean, NO BUGS IN SIGHT!, fan, air conditioning, balcony, and there was a little window in the floor of our room that peered down below to the turquoise water, so cool!!  We wasted no time and immediately went off to get our free snorkeling equipment from the activities center so we could dive right into the water!  In that process, we ended up getting pulled into a “coconut demonstration” instead, then a ceviche making demonstration (yum yum, free tuna ceviche snack for us as well!), and then I learned many ways how to make a sarong into a dress. Oh yea, and THEN we got a free drink while we learned all about Tahitian black pearls and how oysters are farmed. Haha!—ALL that, just when we were trying to get snorkeling equipment! We had a lovely time chatting with other guests and enjoying the entertainment, but then we quickly headed back to our bungalow.

We thought it was SUCH a treat that we could walk out of our room to the balcony, down a little ladder, and were right in the ocean from there!  We snorkeled for a little and were once again so surprised and HAPPY the water was SO warm.  But the sun was quickly setting and it was time to shower up and have dinner. Down at the main restaurant area they put on a Polynesian show at night, and we loved the music and entertainment so much that James also got on stage to dance!  Haha… well, OK, so they were actually looking for volunteers and I was waving and pointing to James, and one girl came over and pulled him up on stage. Dance, James, dance!

The five days and nights at the Sofitel resort were wonderful . . . lots of sitting on our balcony with food or drinks, constant snorkeling and swimming in the gorgeous ocean (with a lot of colorful and exciting fish!), and at night we would lay out on the deck and look up and the INSANE amount of stars. It was truly an incredible place to be!

[See a funny video of James waking up in our overwater bungalow here.]

One of the days we did a scuba dive with the divemaster on site, and it ended up just being the two of us in the group!—so we pretty much got a private dive for the price of a normal one. The water was SO warm that we didn’t even need a wetsuit! It was freeing to be swimming in my bikini, and James in his swim shorts. The coral there wasn’t anything spectacular, but the fish were HUGE and amazing and at one point the divemaster took my hand and swam FAST ahead, as we saw a huge sea turtle gliding along. We put our hands on his shell for a few seconds and swam along with him through the current . . . he was so cute and amazing; it was unreal!  In addition, we also swam with SHARKS!  Don’t worry, these weren’t the scary, huge sharks you are probably imagining . . . these were smaller black tipped sharks (smaller ones that just mind themselves) and lemon sharks (probably 10 feet long, they mainly coast along the ocean floor.)  It was very thrilling to be swimming along with sharks, and we never really felt any fear, either.

This was actually both James and my first dive since being certified, and also our first boat dive (where you sit on the edge of the boat in all your heavy gear and have to flip off backwards into the water), and we both did well and were very pleased with the experience!

As our two weeks in French Polynesia came to a close, we were both very content with our experience and were left with amazing memories of a beautiful and serene country. Although we probably could have stayed another week in the lap of luxury, we were both ready to leave the hot and humid and trade in for some cooler temperatures ahead.

Onwards to Japan!


**To see photos from French Polynesia, click here.

**To see videos from our trip (we just posted a bunch of videos from French Polynesia!), click here.



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One response to “From “glorified camping” to five star luxury!”

  1. erin w says:

    I’m loving this! I may seek tips from you on planning this extended adventure myself! Keep up the blog-its wonderful- and enjoy 🙂

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