In April, 2013, we traveled to Tahiti where we stayed on the islands of Moorea and Tahiti prior to boarding an Oceania cruise that sailed through French Polynesia and the Society Islands.
We left Phoenix via Delta Airlines to Los Angeles (LAX). We were lucky as Delta checked our bags all the way through to Papeete after showing the agent our boarding pass on Air France and even though we were on separate ticket for Air France. The layover at LAX was spent in the Business Class Lounge of Air France. Though we weren’t flying business class, we were flying premium economy on Air France to Papeete so we were able to buy a day pass at the lounge. It was a long layover – 6 hours before our midnight flight left LAX. The lounge was a great place to spend the layover. It had comfortable chairs, was much quieter than the regular seating areas and had a variety of snacks from soup and mini-sandwiches to crackers and cheese. We were very comfortable. Before we boarded our flight, we bought liquor at the duty free shop since we had read that the liquor in Tahiti was very expensive. Heck I think the liquor in the duty free shop was very expensive!
We boarded our Air France flight with no problems. It was the first time we had ever used this airline and we would book the premium economy with them again. Our seats were very spacious and as good as some business class seats we had used on other airlines. The PE section was only 3 rows of a 2 – 4 – 2 seat configuration located between business class and economy. The seats had leg and foot rests which I really appreciated being so short. The food was decent and they served a snack as well as a full meal. The down side was that we were an hour and a half late leaving LAX for who knows what reason. No one ever really said why. The flight was uneventful which is always a good thing.
The line for immigration in Papeete was long and the process was very slow. The humidity hit us right away. Coming from a dry climate we could really feel it. Once we got through immigration and customs, our friends were waiting for us and we grabbed a cab to the ferry that goes to Moorea. We timed it just right in getting the ferry. I beat feet to the ticket window and bought tickets and we were the last to board before the ferry pulled away from the dock! Now we could take a breather.
The ferry was very nice. We sat in the air conditioned section which had comfortable seats and looked out the windows at the beautiful water.
Pulling up to the dock the first thing you noticed was how beautiful the island looked – so green and lush. The deckhands unloaded the bags and we rolled across to get our rental car at Avis. The car was compact and certainly not big enough to transport all four of us and all the bags in one trip. We decided that Hank and I would go ahead with all of the bags and then he would come back and get our friends.
Off we went with the car piled with bags. The Hilton Resort was located about 25 minutes from the port where the ferry was located. Hank dropped me off and went to pick up our friends.
Friends were able to check in right away and go to their room which was ready. They were staying at the Hilton on points which was a great value because the rooms are very expensive. Hank and I had booked an over-the-water bungalow which is very popular and so we had to wait for an available room to be cleaned. The four of us decided to head out to get something to eat so we drove back the way we had come to a small restaurant called Allo Pizza. This was our first sticker shock at the prices for meals! A relatively small pizza was over $10. Luckily the food was good – or maybe we were just hungry!
After lunch we headed back to the hotel. We were finally able to check into our room about 3:00 p.m. The room was very nice with a glass see through coffee table that looked down into the lagoon and our own private deck with a ladder than lead down to the lagoon. The water was a beautiful, clear turquoise blue where you could see lots of fish swimming and coral.
That night we were picked up and went to the Tiki Theatre Village for the tour, dinner and show. The village wasn’t what we expected. It was very small. We were lead around to the few huts and the guide talked about the lifestyle of the people and the hardships they faced. We expected to see more I think in the way of cultural sights, but a lot of what we saw were photographs and a couple of souvenir stands; we ended up killing some time before dinner. The food wasn’t bad but it was a typical buffet. Interesting breadfruit that was deep fried that you first thought was a potato but was in fact a type of fruit that had been breaded and fried. After dinner they put on a show. The show was Polynesian dancing which included dances from their history. It was entertaining but way too long. A lot of it reminded me of dancing we had seen in Hawaii. So while it was entertaining I can’t say it was as wonderful as some of hype we read about said it was going to be. We were very tired by the time we got back to the hotel.
The next morning we were off in the rental car for our island tour. Moorea is a heart-shaped island called “the magical island.” It has spiky mountains, a beautiful lagoon and very lush tropical foliage. It was an easy island to drive around with very little traffic. We stopped at Belvedere Lookout, a viewpoint that had breathtaking views of Mount Rotui and Mount Tohivea. We also stopped at the Titiroa Marae which is some ancient ruins. We drove around the island and saw beautiful beaches and beautiful bays. The drive was not very long and in fact we decided to make the drive again going the opposite direction. We saw some areas that were nice, and some that were not so nice. It was very hot and humid.
We ate dinner at Rudy’s Restaurant that had been recommended on several trip forums. Rudy’s will pick you up from your hotel which was nice. Even though we had a rental car, the roads were a little windy and were very dark at night. We had an excellent dinner at Rudy’s, although again very expensive!
Our last night at the Hilton. We decided that we could have stayed one more night and enjoyed it to relax. We didn’t get an opportunity to swim in the lagoon or use our deck much which was unfortunate. We did get a chance to enjoy cocktails on the deck and met a nice couple from Australia that was on their honeymoon. We watched the sunset from the deck.
We thought that other than our room the Hilton was so-so. As we said, prices were very expensive and we had breakfast both mornings and opted for only the continental – in part due to cost. Even that ran us about $50 per breakfast for the two of us. The service was very slow and they just didn’t seem organized whether it was at the restaurant or at the front desk.
The next morning Hank and I headed back to Papeete. We took our time checking out and then stopped for lunch at a small mall that had a café. The food was actually pretty good. I opted for a sandwich which was huge and he had the plat due jour. A post office was right there so I wrote a couple of postcards to people and we mailed them hoping they would get there before we got back! On we went to the ferry terminal. Hank dropped me off with the luggage and went to turn in the rental car. No issues in the turn in of the car which was nice and we got tickets with no problem for the ferry. Luggage was loaded and off we went on the return trip to Papeete.
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