Polynesian Paradise

We finally made it on our honeymoon to Tahiti, one of those destinations that delivered on all the hype and expectations. Other than a night on the main island of Tahiti, we stayed on the island Moorea, just a short ferry away. Everything lined itself up perfectly. Our “overwater bungalow” was situated at the very end of a pier, offering a panoramic view starting with mountains, sweeping into the distant haze of the Tahiti mainland, and ending with the vast open Pacific.

IMG_7489Our room was situated in a lagoon, with water more clear than I thought possible. When we arrived I had to immediately descended the small ladder connected to our balcony into that water. It was cold and refreshing. And then, less than a minute in, I lost my wedding ring.

But after quickly picking up our snorkeling equipment, I found it again, waiting patiently on some broken coral. This didn’t deter any future snorkeling though, especially in the mornings when the water was so calm the fish looked to be swimming behind the glass of a giant fish tank.

IMG_7547P1060133On our first morning before getting to Moorea, we walked along Tahiti’s black sand beaches which sparkled like fool’s gold. But on Moorea the beaches were white sand, and disappointingly coarse. But the perfect water and amazing scenery more than made up for such a minor annoyance.

And the fish were amazing. It contrasted Kenya’s shallow reef (abundant with starfish, urchins, and octopus but few more active animals) with a cornucopia of brilliant fish. Schools of needlefish sat just under the water’s surface like scattered pencils. Multi-hued trigger fish would aggressively dart back and forth at me as I swam by. And the same couple of yellow-fined butterfly fish swam around us each day at the beach.

P1060111Of course fish weren’t the only sea life we saw. During dinner we witnessed tiny crabs scuttling about under a spotlight, like a rehearsal for a Victorian dance. And nearly every day, from the deck of our room, we watched whales breaching just beyond the lagoon, including once during sunrise. We were living inside postcards.

IMG_7961We didn’t spend all of our time in the water of course. We spent one day by renting a “roadster” and driving it the whole 60 mile circumference of the island. We also took it up a winding road past pineapple plantations and some stone ruins to Belvedere Lookout, an overlook with gorgeous views of the mountains and Moorea’s two bays.

IMG_7687On our last day on the island the resort treated us to “Polynesian Day”. We got to see how they use every part of the coconut, from skinning it, breaking it to get coconut water, shredding it, milking it through the skin, and weaving baskets from the leaves. There was also a demonstration on how to wrap a pareo, and a look at a Tahitian version of the luau. It featured plantains, something called a breadfruit, some sort of pudding thing, and of course a pig, all grilled over several hours in a cage-like grill covered with palm leaves.

IMG_8059But of course seafood was by far the main thing we ate. Their signature dish, poisson cru (raw white fish and vegatables in coconut milk) wasn’t quite my style but all the other fish dishes I tried were outstanding. I had fish baked almost like a pot pie with a bacon-vanilla sauce, parrot fish, and a chorizo and octopus risotto. Naomi had steak several times which was also delicious, especially for such an isolated island.

We couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing and picturesque honeymoon. Mauruuru Tahiti!

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