Oh the beauty of Tahiti! The crystal clear blue & turquoise waters, the pristine sand beaches and of course the dream-like over water bungalows that create #lifegoals. All of those beautiful islands, Tahiti, Fiji, Hawaii, are picture perfect. I personally have pinned my fair share of links with gorgeous pictures of the scenery that is made of dreams. I longed to experience the warmth of the South Pacific Island sun. When my husband and I finally booked our trip, my excitement was without words. The idea of relaxing by the beach, swimming with sharks, eating Poisson Cru on the balcony of an over water bungalow, watching people taking midnight dips into the ocean out of their back doors, experiencing the Market, it was all just so overwhelming and exciting!
But, this is the story of the real Tahiti…
Oh yes… This cloudy, completely overcast, windy day was our experience for all 5 days of our stay in Tahiti. Not to say that it wasn’t incredibly beautiful in it’s own way, but even the locals said that it was pretty common to rain all day long. Being from New Mexico, I am used to the rain coming down in 20 minute (if that) increments with clear blue skies- yes, that’s really how it is. So experiencing all day rain that was coming down in sheets, really gave me a true tropical storm experience. I have to give a bit of credit to Tahiti, though, because it was right after Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, so there was a bit of effect from that. Having such terrible weather, was not going to stop us from exploring and making the best of our trip. This is where the true beauty of Tahiti really showed itself- in the people.
The people of Tahiti are the most amazing people I’ve met anywhere in the world. (I hold a special place in my heart for Ireland & New Zealand, though!). Everywhere we went, people were always happy to help us, give us advice, answer our questions, or just have a chat. You do need to speak French to converse as it is the most common language throughout. My French was quite rusty, though conversational, and the people understood what I was saying enough to get the point across. The kindness of the people of Tahiti hit it’s high on the day we hiked up Mt. Aorai to a restaurant called O Belvedere. The day we chose to hike was supposed to be one of the clearest days, which would come in handy for climbing the 600m trail up to the restaurant. Little did we anticipate, that the ‘light showers’ they were supposed to receive in the afternoon would come early and in torrential storm style rather than light showers… Because there are limited (really none) rides to the restaurant from the bottom of the trail, we just kept on trekking. On our way up the mountain, we got to see gorgeous waterfalls, but the view to Moorea was non-existent.
When we finally reached the restaurant, we were soaked to the bone in rain water. My husband literally took his shirt off to wring it out. I have never been so wet in my life. Of course at that point we knew that the only way back down was to hike, but having not brought water (we are not very good at planning in advance) we decided to see if the restaurant would even let us in. The owner of O Belvedere, Christophe Delsaux and his lovely wife, allowed us to literally drip our way through their beautiful restaurant and have a seat on their deck, overlooking what would have been the entire town of Papeete and across the channel to Moorea (the adjacent island). It was not only their kindness to welcome us so warmly without thinking twice that made such an impact, but the experience of dining there. Coincidentally, we happened to go on the day that Chris’ father & mother-in-law were visiting from Paris. They, too, were sitting out on the deck- which most diners were inside due to the weather. We ate delicious food, even better wine, and conversation that will be in our memories forever.
The parents eventually offered to give us a ride in their car to the bottom of the trail, where taxis were willing to pick people up. As we were still soaking wet, we were incredibly grateful for their offer and kindness.
The kindness that we experience that day did not stop. Everywhere we went, the people of Tahiti were absolutely amazing. On another day we took the ferry across the channel to Moorea to go snorkeling with sharks & sting rays, and the ferry workers ensured that people were okay (it was very bad weather and the ferry sickened even the toughest sailors). The weather ended up being a tad bit nicer in Moorea, although you could still not see across the channel to Papeete. Our snorkeling experience was top notch. The gentleman in charge of the experience was very thoughtful towards the animals and treated them like they were his pets. Even the tourists on the excursion were incredibly nice!
Our trip continued to be showered with rainstorms, but didn’t dampen our experience. The over water bungalows are everything you’ve dreamed them to be. They are luxurious and beautiful and perfect for swimming at any time of day. It made the day we ‘stayed in’ an absolute gorgeous experience, and the room service was phenomenal. The Poisson Cru was exactly as I’d imagined it’d be with fresh fish soaked in coconut milk. The shopping, the eating, the experiences, and most of all, the people made this trip a dream come true. It may not have been bright blue skies and crystal clear waters, but it was beautiful none-the-less. I highly suggest that if you are looking for your next vacation spot, that you look into traveling to Tahiti. There are incredibly affordable options if you are on a budget, and of course, incredibly luxurious options if you are not. You will have the experience of a lifetime!
*Song pick for this post: Ends of the Earth by Lord Huron