Tahiti – A Childhood Dream

Growing up in Montreal, visiting a French speaking paradise island on the other side of the world was always a childhood dream of mine. I remember talking about Tahiti with my cousins Judith and Diane when we were growing up, and to us it was sure to be the best place on earth. With these memories in mind, even exhausted I couldn’t contain my excitement as we flew into Tahiti at 2am. I had no idea planes were even allowed to land so late, but in Tahiti they do. For convenience, we booked a room at the Airport Motel right across the street from the airport. It wasn’t cheap, but it was clean and walking distance from our arrival gate. Still riding my high of finally planting my feet in Tahiti, the steep hill up to our hotel became a fun workout rather than a bother.

Wanting to get to Moorea as soon as we could, Noel and I lost no time and jumped in a taxi to the ferry terminal first thing the next morning. Our taxi ride was only 10 minutes and the fare about $36… a rude awakening to French Polynesian prices. The ferry on the other hand was only $18 each and takes 30 minutes to cross from Tahiti to Moorea. It was beautiful out so we sat outside on the top deck of the boat which provided breathtaking views. It is absolutely beautiful when you approach the Island of Moorea especially when you get close to the reef which contains this stunning turquoise lagoon. The powerful combination of the lagoon and the steep jungly mountains in the background is hard to describe.

For this last leg of our 6.5 month trip, Noel and I decided to take a break from constantly moving around and chose to book 2 weeks at Moorea Surf B&B, which turned out to be the perfect choice. Our plan was to go into full relaxation mode close by to great surf. I had surfed reef breaks before and I was hoping that Haapiti would be fun and mellow enough that I could surf it.

In Moorea the reef where the waves break is pretty far out so having access to a boat is key. Tama, who owns Moorea Surf B&B with his wife Marie, has a small boat that he uses to take surfers out to the break which worked out perfectly. Our first morning, Tama, 2 Brazilian guys, Noel and I woke up early and headed out to the surf minutes before sunrise. Our boards were all strapped onto the front of the boat and we motored out over the shallow lagoon towards the break. When I saw the size of the wave, I knew that I would be the official photographer for the day. I was pretty bummed that they were so big, but Noel was stoked and I enjoyed taking photos. What was really cool is that we anchored the boat just at the edge of the surf so I was able to have front row seats, perfect for taking photos. The next day was even bigger and the following day the waves were so big that we couldn’t even anchor the boat in the channel. The only day, it got a bit smaller, I gathered my courage and paddled out to see if I could catch a wave. I started by hanging off to the side in the channel where the water is deeper so that if a bigger set would come I wouldn’t get worked. Noel saw me sitting way out where the waves weren’t ever going to break so he pointed for me to come inside a little. For the most part the waves were a pretty decent size that day, but every so often a massive set would roll through. When I finally paddled into the line up, my hands were shaking so much that I knew this wave was not for me. Big, hollow at times, shallow reef, currents, not exactly my idea of a super fun wave. Perhaps next time we come back my skills will be good enough that I can surf it, but not this time.

I could definitely have surfed some of the smaller waves coming through, but knowing myself I would have panicked when the big sets rolled in. I was very disappointed as I couldn’t imagine coming to Tahiti and not surf at all, but oh well, that’s how it goes sometimes. Luckily, I discovered a new passion for taking photos and to Noel’s pleasure, he will have a great selection of surf pics to choose from for his next blog. I’m the kind of person who get antsy when I watch other people do stuff because I want to be doing it too, but to my surprise, I kept myself entertained watching the spinner dolphins doing their tricks, swimming by the boat, taking photos and watching the surf.

As you saw in our previous post, we also checked out Teahupoo and it’s massive surf which was totally mind blowing and a highlight of this trip for both Noel and I. The adrenaline rush we got from just being on the boat in these conditions was insane. Even the journey to get there was super cool, the 3 of us, Noel and I and our new Swiss friend Christian were so excited driving through a bunch of small towns and so anxious to get a spot on a boat. One day on the Island of Tahiti was enough though and I was ready to go back on it’s sister island of Moorea.

Renting a scooter is definitely a must as there is so much so see and do on the island of Moorea. The roads are in pretty good conditions and the traffic is almost non existent which makes for an easy ride. If you don’t stop, you can go around the whole island in about 1h30, but we took a lot longer because we found ourself stopping several times along the way. In my opinion, the highlight of our time in Moorea was swimming with the sharks at Tipaniers Beach. You can rent a paddle board to get to the spot in the lagoon where you can see hundreds of sharks and sting rays. Sometimes when I go surfing, I know in the back of my mind that there could be sharks around, but rather than dwell on it I take the, if I don’t see them, they don’t see me approach. I know that it makes no sense, but I don’t like sharks and it works for me so I’m sticking to it.

When our Brazilian friends invited us to join them to go snorkelling with the sharks and rays, I was a bit hesitant. The fact that we would be on paddle boards eased my mind a little because I knew that I was going to be above the water on my personal viewing platform. The sharks are only reef sharks, but they are still sharks! Not to mention get pretty big. Once we paddled our way over to where they were I somehow got comfortable enough to swim with them. At one point I was swimming along with about 10 sharks all really close to me which was amazing.

On the North side of the Island we did a great drive up into the mountains to a spot called Le Belvedere where you get a panoramic view of Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay. Along the way there are old ruins of where they used to sacrifice people just like in the movies.

The absolute best was to hang out with my amazing husband at Temae Beach which is the most stunning beach on the island. It’s beautiful and post card perfect! It’s exactly how I pictured things would be if I were to go on the best honeymoon ever.

On our last day the only thing I wanted to do was to go back and lay in the sand and to swim in it’s aqua blue waters so that my last memories would be exactly that. Two weeks in Tahiti, complete with it’s French romance, crystal clear waters, gorgeous sunsets and the love of my life has truly been a dream come true.

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