Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora: Air Tahiti Nui, IC Tahiti, and IC Thalasso Bora Bora

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by hulagrrl210, Jul 2, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    For me this trip started when I was about 7 years old when I saw my first picture of Bora Bora hanging on the wall near the bathroom in a restaurant on Maui. Since then, I've wanted to go there. I know French Polynesia is a the top of a lot of peoples' bucket lists, but for me FP was the bucket list, like the entire thing. My dreams came true in May 2011 when my husband and I headed to Tahiti to celebrate our 5 year anniversary...not like we needed the excuse. We both like the warm water, insanely nice weather and spectacular scenery and Tahiti did not disappoint.[​IMG]
    I've been home now for well over a month and I still can't believe I went there and that it is even real despite coming home with over 10gb of photographic evidence to prove that such a place does indeed exist. Yes, the water really is that color, and it really is as pretty in person as it is in all the magazines and travel brochures. For this report, I wanted to keep things short and let the pictures do most of the talking...after all if a picture is worth a thousand words and I took hundreds of them...you get the idea.
     
  2. hulagrrl210
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    [​IMG]
    Tom Bradley International, LAX

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    We departed from one of the remote gates and boarded Rangiroa, one of TN's A340's which are all named after islands in FP. Moana class (coach) was actually quite spacious, about the same as E+ on United and Air Tahiti Nui was a surprisingly nice airline, once you get past the decor which includes a painting of a topless woman in the back of the cabin. We got amenity kits, individual menus, free booze, and were well-fed (2 meals and snacks). We had window/aisle seats on the left side of the plane and for the relatively short 8 hour flight we were very comfortable. We peeked at their business class- nothing special, about the same as domestic first on all the airlines I am familiar with, no beds.[​IMG]
    "breakfast" which was served at about 2am on our red-eye flight (TN 101). That's ok. Anyone can wake me up in the middle of the night if it involves chocolate pudding filled crepes and grilled peach. It was very good :)
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    Rangiroa at Faaa International (PPT) about 5am local time
     
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  3. hulagrrl210
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    [​IMG]
    My first early-morning glimpse of Moorea from the open-air lobby of the Intercontinental Resort Tahiti
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    Rangiroa (our plane) continuing to New Zealand. The IC Tahiti is very close to Faaa airport and a great place to plane spot...not too much activity though, mostly just ATR's flying inter-island. Our room wasn't ready when we got there, so we spent a lot of the early morning exploring the grounds and enjoying the many swimming pools.
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    The enclosed salt water "Lagoonarium" at the hotel has a lot of fish.
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    quite possibly the world's best infinity pool
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    enjoying the view of Moorea from the pool
     
  4. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    Day 1, continued...we checked out the on-site dive shop at the Intercontinental and decided to go helmet diving. It was way more fun than I ever imagined (to be honest I was skeptical)...basically you walk around the bottom of the sea floor with an 80lb helmet that has air pumped into it from the surface. You can run, jump, even pretend your are an astronaut and this activity definitely gets my recommendation (both the helmet diving itself and pretending you are an astronaut). It also turns out the lagoon in front of the hotel had amazing water clarity, a good assortment of coral, and tons of friendly and very colorful fish.
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    view of the hotel and an Air Tahiti ATR-72 landing at Faaa taken from the lagoon
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    the dive helmets
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    helmet diving
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    our guide giving us a "shaka"
     
  5. hulagrrl210
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    [​IMG]

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    also in the lagoon near the airport...this small plane was actually scuttled. The same lagoon is home to the famous Catalina twin-engine seaplane, but we didn't get to see it as it was pretty far on the other side of the runway...next time!
     
  6. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing back in the infinity pool and exploring the hotel's lagoonarium, which was a little bit of a let-down after experiencing the real thing just offshore.
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    the view from our "garden view" room. It turns out almost all the rooms here have an ocean view.The hotel was originally built in the 1970's and it shows a little both in style and wear- the rooms are small and a little dated, but resort is very Polynesian, and overall we had quite comfortable stay. The grounds were beautiful and the pools speak for themselves. The hotel does have several over-water rooms but they are right off shore and don't really compare to the ones we saw on Moorea and Bora Bora. From what we saw this place had the best property compared to others in the area (close to the airport and Papeete, but still felt secluded). I would definitely stay here again if I were passing through PPT for a night or two.
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    the grounds
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    more infinity pool :)
     
  7. hulagrrl210
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    that evening we rode the local bus into Papeete (there is a bus-stop across from the hotel), wandered around the waterfront and hit the local food scene- aka food trucks. Best meal of the trip! $50 got us a HUGE amount of food- a few types of poisson cru (raw fish with lime and coconut milk) and some local-style chow mein. As far as French Polynesia goes (it is not a cheap destination), it was a good bargain as well.
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    Papeete waterfront
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    "Les Roulottes"
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    Poisson Cru, yum :)

    coming up soon...riding the ferry to Moorea for the day and the amazing Bora Bora
     
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  8. hulagrrl210
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    Day 2 Moorea
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    Papeete Central Market on the way to the ferry terminal- a great place to find local trinkets, home-brew manoi oil and cheap pearls
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    Papeete Harbor
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    looking back at Tahiti
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    the ferry ride to Moorea was a short 20 minutes
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    Reef pass into Vaiare harbor, Moorea
     
  9. hulagrrl210
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    [​IMG]
    We rented a car and drove around the island. Avis/Pacificar is located across the street from the harbor
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    Overlooking Moorea's only public beach
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    Cook's Bay
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    Opunohu Bay
     
  10. jwsky
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    that looks great! Their tourist board should hire you.
     
  11. hulagrrl210
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    [​IMG]
    lunch
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    lagoon near Haapiti
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    swimming at Teavaru beach before catching the ferry back to Papeete
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    "McChicken", back in Papeete. We didn't eat here but opted for some local sandwiches instead
     
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  12. hulagrrl210
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    back to the hotel- of course we had to go in the infinity pool one last time...
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    up next...flying interisland on Air Tahiti and Bora Bora
     
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  13. LAXtraveler
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    Nice TR. Great pics... I can't wait to get to Tahiti one of these days.
     
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  14. opushomes
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    Absolutely great photography. Your positive view of Air Tahiti economy makes it appear to be a good option for 12 hours.
     
  15. hulagrrl210
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    One of my favorite things in the whole world is taking photos from the airplane and I'd been looking forward to photographing our interisland journey for months. All the aerial pictures I'd seen of French Polynesia were absolutely stunning and I wanted a few of my own to put on my photoblog: www.thirtysixthousand.com. We actually even showed up the airport early just so that we could get a good left hand side window seat (Air Tahiti is open seating). The biggest let-down of the entire trip (maybe even my life) was boarding an ATR-72 with the dirtiest aircraft windows I have ever seen! Words can't describe the level of frustration, disappointment and anger that I was feeling at that moment :mad:, but eventually I figured it gave me a good reason to have to go back to Tahiti someday :D. I've included an outside vs. inside photo to show what I was dealing with. Because of this, I had to do a little "work" (brightness/contrast only, the colors are real) on a few of my in-flight photos. I usually don't like to photoshop, but if you scroll down below you'll see why I had to.
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    boarding our ATR-72 at PPT (outside)
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    (inside) It was really that bad :(

    Aside from the dirty windows, Air Tahiti was really nice. The inside of the plane was immaculate and the ATR-72 was a very comfortable aircraft, especially for a turboprop. The in-flight experience was very similar to flying Hawaiian interisland on one of their Beoing 717's. When I go back to FP I think it would be fun to get an airpass and fly around to all the different islands taking pictures, hopefully on an aircraft with cleaner windows than this one...
     
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  16. hulagrrl210
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    Quick stop at Moorea
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    approach
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    taking off from Moorea
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  17. hulagrrl210
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    [​IMG]
    small atoll somewhere between Moorea and Huahine
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    Raiatea and Tahaa share a lagoon
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    Tahaa
     
  18. hulagrrl210
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    Bora Bora[​IMG]

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    The runway at Bora Bora was built by the Americans during World War II and is on a separate island from the mainland
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    turning final

    coming up next...more of Bora Bora and the IC Thalasso
     
  19. hulagrrl210
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    [​IMG]
    Bora Bora Airport
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    unloading the ATR
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    boat ride from the airport to the hotel
     
  20. hulagrrl210
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    [​IMG]
    Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa
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    We got lucky with a Diamond room (we booked Emerald and were confirmed an upgrade to Sapphire), second to the end of the pier...the only downside- the very long walk
    [​IMG]
    view from our bed :)
     
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  21. hulagrrl210
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    [​IMG]
    our living room
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    bedroom
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    bathroom
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    note- all the rooms at the resort are the same, all over-water- the only difference between categories is based on view and location. We loved our semi-private location at the end of the pier because of the deep water off our deck- about 10 feet, which made jumping from there (and other locations in/on/near the villa) more fun. Some rooms closer to shore (including some of the Diamond Otemanu rooms) only have 4-ft deep water.
    [​IMG]
    our upper deck with lots of furniture (2 lounges, table, small table and 2 chairs) to rearrange. We moved one of the lounges and a table down to the lower deck :cool:
     
  22. hulagrrl210
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    [​IMG]
    going for a swim
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    the water really was that color
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    afternoon rainbow
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    view of Mt. Otemanu from our deck
     
  23. hulagrrl210
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    [​IMG]
    the main lobby area complete with a pool table and a nintendo wii
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    bubbles bar
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    I don't think there were more than 2 pieces of matching furniture in the place
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    the reef restaurant- home of the breakfast buffet and on certain nights the dinner buffet and show. There was another casual dining restaurant, "the sands" which was more like a beach bar.
     
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  24. hulagrrl210
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    [​IMG]
    outside area of the reef restaurant
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    French Polynesia has best pineapple ever! (sorry Maui)
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    breakfast, lunch, and dinner :) To be completely honest I wasn't too impressed with the food at this place, aside from the fresh fish and poisson cru- you can't go wrong there!
     
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  25. hulagrrl210
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    around the resort[​IMG]
    the other pier has an island with a hammock
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    infinity pool
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    Daily stingray feeding- you can get in the water and pet/play with them. They are actually very friendly.
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    coral gardening- the lagoon near the resort is all sand so they are trying to make an artificial reef.
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    the motu
     
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