I can’t remember if it was Dane Cook or Daniel Tosh who said, “It’s not true that money can’t buy happiness – have you ever seen an unhappy person on a jet ski?”. The answer is obviously no and let me tell you, I was the happiest person alive during our jet ski safari of Bora Bora today.
We don’t have a ton of free time on this trip, between the traveling and site inspections, so I’ve got to choose my excursions wisely – this one was the right choice. Half of the group decided to go on this tour, where we circumnavigated the entire island of Bora Bora by jet ski. Since I live on the lake, I love jet skis and ride them pretty regularly; Laura had only ridden a jet ski once prior to this, so she was a little timid about heading out on the ocean in a small vehicle. Lucky for her, the water was smoother than I see on my lake – it was like riding over glass. We were able to glide over shallow motus where the colors changed from a beautiful cerulean blue to the lightest shade of turquoise. The ocean of Bora Bora is like a painter’s palette of blue, an array of every shade imaginable. We saw tons of fish and rays, which I guess counts as the “safari” part.
We instantly fell in love with our guide, Carl, a weathered instructor with leather skin and a cautious attitude. Carl asked that our jet skis be about forty feet apart, which is a little overly cautious for myself, but Laura certainly appreciated his concern. The beginning of the ride starts off a little concerning for myself, as Laura is latched onto my lifejacket and screaming at the tiniest wake.
“Do you think you’re going a little fast?” she said at one point. My speedometer was around 35. I loved it, though, she was absolutely hilarious and by the middle of the trip she wasn’t even holding on – she even drove us back from our private motu picnic.
The picnic was at Carl’s private motu (see my information below on what a motu is), a tropical paradise complete with a couple of renovated bungalows from the Hotel Bora Bora, which was once one of the most prestigious properties in the area until a cyclone destroyed the entire resort.
For some reason, this motu was surrounded by sea cucumbers, which are disgusting and slimy and shoot out water when you pick them up. We all would scream every time we accidentally stepped on one.
One of my favorite things about going to tropical islands is the fresh fruit – Carl prepared the best mango that I’ve ever had (and I don’t even like mango) and taught us how to crack open a coconut. He also showed us his dead coconut crabs, huge monsters that can easily crack a coconut shell open with their claws. We were later informed at dinner that coconut crabs can also easily slice off fingers, hands, and whatever else gets in their way from finding the perfect coconut. I might have nightmares about this tonight.
We’ve been in the habit of asking each of our contacts about celebrity clients; they’re always happy to hint around about the stars who have graced their properties. Carl had the incredible opportunity of taking James Cameron around for three weeks and he told us all about the director’s scouting for Avatar 2. So interesting! My favorite story: one of the hoteliers told us about guests at his previous hotel in Paris. The royal Saudi family finished their dinner at 10:30 PM and requested access to Euro Disney that night. The hotel managed to work out a deal with the park, who opened for the family from midnight to 8:00 AM for roughly four million dollars. I’d happily drop four mil to avoid waiting in line with the general public.
After Laura drives us back from the motu, we decide to relax by the pool and enjoy lunch before our departure to Taha’a. The Hilton has the most beautiful pool that I’ve seen, mainly because of the pool boys. Laura and I make friends with a couple of them; this is, of course, for the sake of research and further understanding of the property’s core values. Right.
At this point, we’ve spent about four hours in the sun, which we’ve been warned is much more powerful because of the country’s position near the equator. For some reason, I believe that an hourly application of SPF 55 should do the trick. It doesn’t. I’m fried and my feet are actually swollen from the burns. Fortunately, Le Taha’a provides soothing Monoi Oil in each room.
The trip from Bora Bora to Taha’a takes about an hour and a half to two hours, between the flight to Raitaea and the boat transfer to Le Taha’a Resort. This property, which is a Relais & Chateaux, is really stunning and perfect for the right couple. It’s very true to its Polynesian nature – hands down the most authentic resort that I’ve seen. Le Taha’a’s authenticity and romantic nature caught me off guard. The atmosphere is a nice change of pace from the hotels that we’ve been seeing, and it’s certainly a perfect option for honeymooners looking to find true romance. I’m still trying to figure out whether or not I could unplug to this level – I was actually late to the site inspection because there are no clocks in the room. Oops!
We’re three out of four in overwater bungalows, but two of our people (Laura!) luck up with a one bedroom beachfront villa, which boasts an incredible location right on the beach and spacious accommodations. We were all pretty envious, but I was fortunate to get one of the end bungalows with a perfect 180 degree view, which is one of the top room categories at the hotel. You really can’t go wrong with any of the rooms here, but the beachfront villas are definitely the ones that I’d recommend.
We did a site inspection of the property prior to our 6-course dinner in a private room. Le Taha’a definitely gets my vote for red carpet treatment; this was one fancy meal. I tried fois gras for the first time! It was delicious. I also tried poisson cru, the local Tahitian dish of raw fish cooked in acidic lime and coconut juices. This whole trip has just been a whirlwind of firsts: first raw fish, first overwater bungalow stay, first successful tricycle ride. Tomorrow will be my first time in Moorea and my first 4 Wheel Drive Jeep excursion of the island. If it’s even half as fun as our jet ski tour, I’ll be happy.