Laorana (Tahitian for hello), welcome to Tahiti! Tahiti is the largest of a chain of South Pacific islands known as French Polynesia. The country was exposed to the west by Captain James Cook in 1768 and was the site of the infamous “Mutiny on the Bounty” in 1789. During the 1800’s the island succumbed to French influence and today’s Tahitian are French citizens who speak both languages.
After a 9-hour flight from LAX, we began our journey in the capitol city of Papeete. We shuttled to the Intercontinental resort nestled right on the Pacific. The Intercontinental is Tahiti’s premier luxury resort. We were fortunate to have a spacious room overlooking the ocean with a view of the island of Moorea in the distance. We were a short stroll from the Infinite Pool Bar. This amazing spot was a manmade lagoon built to give the optical illusion of stretching across the ocean horizon (the secret is a cleverly placed seawall). This area was tucked away from the main pool area. The feature pool was a fantasy land of waterfalls and caves and an adjacent Lagoonarium. The Lagoonarium was a man made cove fed by the sea and kept stocked with an array of dazzling fish and marine life. Complimentary snorkeling is offered to the guests. The resort also provides free kayaking, tennis, volleyball and stand up paddleboard.
All those watersports builds up an appetite. There was a daily poolside Polynesian buffet for brekkie and a sumptuous lunch complete with tropical cocktails served in a coconut. Several nights there was a themed dinner night followed by a cultural show. One of the more entertaining was the Marquesan Dance show. The Marquesans are a tribe of fearsome warriors from the nearby Marquesan islands, known for their exotic tattoos, cannibalism and savagery on the battlefield. The war dances intimidated their enemies and gave us quite a taste of early island culture!
Our best meal in the resort was Le Lotus. Le Lotus is an award winning French restaurant built right over the water that looks out over the sea and the resort bungalows. The best chefs from France fly out for a month at a time to work in the kitchen and help train the local chefs. They gave us a prime table at the water’s edge. After a scintillating sunset, they illuminated the water below us with underwater lights to showcase a dazzling array of fish. The lights also draw small reef sharks in close so we could watch them chase their dinner. Our dinner was magnificent – our Sommelier was straight from Paris and handpicked us an amazing red to compliment the chef’s selection of local delicacies from the sea. Many of the entrées we can’t pronounce and I’m not even going to try and describe them, but this was one of the most amazing meals we’ve had! With the amazing attention to detail, ambience and originality, it’s no surprised it has already earned 3 Michelin Stars.
The next day we explored the vibrant markets of downtown Papeete before boarding our cruise to Hawaii. Tahtiti is renowned for the world’s premier vanilla and we stashed a pint of Vanilla Rum for the journey. The Cruise from French Polynesia back to US waters takes about 5 days and crosses over the Equator. An exciting way to see a very remote part of the world – no other ships, nothing to see but sea. Nana (Goodbye) Tahiti, we’ll never forget you.