A Tahitian Sojourn: Where Fantasies Are Born
Welcome to French Polynesia, located in the Society Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It’s the stuff of dreams: a sultry, sexy, seductively-humid warmth, seasoned with a caressing breeze.
The Island of Tahiti
The town of Pape'ete on the island of Tahiti is the gateway to all of French Polynesia’s outer islands, as every international commercial flight comes through Pape'ete. The Tahitians’ joyous greetings serve as deft metaphors for their reverence for life and appreciation for their tropical paradise. Visit with anyone, and you’re bound to be serenaded with a melodic hello (“'Ia ora na!”), a gracious welcome (“Maeva!”), or a lyrical thank-you (“Māuruuru”). Even Tahitian graffiti is a melodic thing of beauty. At first glance, we mistook the spray-painted images adorning the airport’s underpass for a civic-commissioned art installation.
Pape'ete is the commercial hub for the realm and transshipment point for inter-island freighters. Regretfully, many travelers never experience the incredible beauty, which is only a mile or two from the town, before pushing on to their remote-isle adventure. There are movie-magic waterfalls just minutes from the town, and at the far end of the isle is one of the Earth’s premier surf spots.
Cherished memories include ordering dinner from one of the roulottes (a.k.a. les roulottes, which literally means “rolling food trucks” in French) parked along the waterfront, and strolling through the downtown market bursting with a kaleidoscope of radiant, tropical flowers.
Less than four miles from the airport is the four-star waterfront InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa. We hunkered down for two nights there, and had to repeatedly remind ourselves that we were not light-years removed from modern civilization. We could have easily stayed there for the entire week, but our itinerary had us departing on an Air Tahiti flight to the isle of Bora Bora, dubbed to be the most beautiful island in the world by Pulitzer Prize-winning author James A. Michener.
InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort
When the Air Tahiti flight lands on Bora Bora, you exit the airport to a waterside dock, where launches wait to transport guests to the various resorts. Our InterContinental boat whisked us to the Le Moana resort, zipping past the mesmerizing volcanic peak of Mount Otemanu that conjured evocative Jurassic Park images.
The seductive allure of the four-star InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort lies in its rusticity. Bamboo and woven-thatch wall accents – within the main dining spaces and bar, as well as within the thatch-roofed overwater bungalows – add a certain coziness, displaying an endearing authenticity.
But all things considered, it is definitely the super-friendly staff that makes this place memorable. They meet and greet visitors with a graciously warm sense that you are family. Moreover, like most exceptional vacation destination experiences, it is the super-cool staff that generates fond memories that last forever, in some ways more so than the physical beauty of a place.
The Bora Bora Le Moana is a place where time instantly slows to a crawl, as you sit on your overwater veranda while watching the sunset, or paddle around the lagoon in your kayak, coursing through the gin-clear emerald-tinted waters. Waterside dining in the evening, as Tahitian dancers rhythmically gyrate to the beat of drums, adds a timeless accent to the experience.
InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa
Soon, it was time to catch the shuttle boat across the lagoon to another luxury lodging, the Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, situated on its own little motu (islet) with the majestic Mount Otemanu looming across the way on the main island.
The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa epitomizes a 5-star destination, defined by the professional and discreet demeanor of staff with their nuanced attention to detail, in concert with the sophisticated, architectural accents, notably in the spacious overwater bungalows.
Both al fresco under the stars, adjacent to the pool, and indoors, the culinary arts rival a fine-dining establishment in New York City or Paris. This is extra-remarkable when you remember that you are in the midst of the South Pacific, and are far, far away from the rest of the world.
While floating in the warm water in front of our bungalow, time has come to a virtual standstill. We do not want to pack and depart, but it’s time to fly away from paradise, and start planning a reprise visit – real soon.
For more details, visit InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa: @icfr_polynesia – tahiti.intercontinental.com & InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort: lemoana.intercontinental.com & InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa: thalasso.intercontinental.com
At press time, to travel to Tahiti, the French Polynesian government requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test result (taken within 36 hours of departure), and a follow-up self-administered test (free of charge) four days after arrival.
Writer: Thomas Wilmer