Two flights later and a gazillion hours, or so it seemed, we landed in Papeete! I was surprised at how hot and humid it was..and even more surprised was I that I didn’t mind it…at all.
Completely dark at 0430, the airport was small and sleepy yet we were still greeted to the customs entry with live musical and dance entertainment ..Sidetrack moment as I remember back to the flight..the flight attendant brought round customs forms and asked that we complete these before we land. I asked, “Do you have a pen or little pencil”? She replied, “No” and kept walking. Now I know I should be a responsible adult and carry a pen with me at all times but…I am not and apparently nor is the husband because he didn’t have a writing utensil either. Am I wrong to think Air Tahiti Nui should supply us with tiny little lottery pencils to complete our customs documents?
Ok, my opinion over on that topic. 🙂
When I was on the phone booking our travel arrangements with Costco Travel, the agent and I both thought it would be a great idea to book our flights so that we would have a great amount of time to explore the island of Papeete before flying off to our final destination, Rangiroa.
I regret that decision, well ok maybe not so much regret the decision but lesson learned.
As I mentioned, we arrived at 0430..our flight out of Papeete was to leave a 1030. We had SIX hours to wait. The Costco travel greeter met us, gave us pretty flower necklaces and walked us around the tiny little airport to show us where to go for our next departure. Not necessary but a little comforting. Three hours left before we can even check into our next flight, we sat down and people watched.
Many locals just hanging out at the airport, barefoot. Outside there were roosters cock -a – doodle dooing, I spotted a random homeless dog trotting through airport traffic, pretty sure we witnessed a drug deal as well (not judging..just observing and reporting). Pretty fascinating, the airport of Papeete.
The currency exchange booth opened not so promptly at 0815, we had some coffee and finally it was time to board the plane to paradise!
Papeete to Rangiroa, the flight was only about an hour. When the captain announced our plan to descend, I looked out the window and saw our destination from above…So gorgeous.
Arrived to the Rangiroa Airport, we were greeted with more flower necklaces and smiles from the staff of the Hotel Kia Ora. They grabbed our bags, loaded them up and we were on our way. The island is only six kilometers long so it was a matter of a five-minute drive to the hotel. We were greeted with fresh juice and more smiles at the hotel entrance, more forms to complete and then we loaded up on the golf cart as they took us to our room…bags already at the front door. It’s a little thing but it sure was nice not having to tote our luggage around. 🙂
Home sweet home for 5 nights!
Here we enjoyed a celebratory whiskey drink 🙂 We brought two 750mL bottles from home…smart tip from some friends who had been to the French Polynesian Islands, to them I say… thank you! Too bad for Jason, the ice machine was broken..Me? I don’t care for ice so I was content! We splashed in the water for a bit and was glad to find the temperature was PERFECT.
We didn’t know what time it was and we didn’t care but we were hungry..sadly, the staff keeps time and the kitchen was closed for lunch so we sat at the bar and ordered a couple of Jambon Buerre’s (just a ham and cheese sandwich really) and beer, we chatted with the staff about their stories of life on the island. Soon thereafter, it was nap time! By the time nap was over it was time for dinner..swim, sleep, eat, drink..repeat? I just knew this was going to be a great week.
I had it in mind to make sure to only eat fish for dinner the entire stay. First night, I had seared tuna with a mixed vegetable salad. I only wish I had made not of what was in the salad because it was truly delicious..I remember there were red peppers and cucumber, absolutely no fluff (by fluff I mean lettuce..not lettuce of any type..strictly vegetables). To wash it down I had to try a glass of the local wine (Rose Nacarat from Vin De Tahiti), this quickly became my favorite.
The ambience of the restaurant in the evening for dinner was so cozy. Calm and quiet but you could hear the water lapping onto the shore from your table which only intensified the pure chillness. No pictures, I didn’t want to be rude or take away from being in the moment. I hope I will always be able to remember.
Needless to say day one was a day of much-needed relaxation. Forewarning, you will see this word…relaxation..quite a bit in this post. 🙂
Day two: The sun woke us up at 0530, the only reason I looked at the clock was because we had plans for an excursion on this day. We woke up with three and a half hours to spare. On the patio, we could hear the waves from the Pacific Ocean side of the island so of course we had to check that scene out!
This early in the morning the tide was quite low. We were the only two on the beach at this time, most likely the only two awake on the island. There was a random dog sitting on the beach watching the waves. He spotted me and started barking so as to say, “get off my beach” and then he ran away.
We spent the next hour here, enjoying the sounds and views until it was time to eat! Breakfast buffet is served from 0700-0900 ~ quite a spread actually. Every hotel I have ever stayed in that states “buffet” I think of cold cereal, boiled eggs, nasty pastries from a cellophane wrapper and sub par coffee. Not here, There was bacon, sausage, has browns, all sorts of meats and cheese and croissants and fruits, fresh milk, juices and fresh breads.
The buffet is served in the same space as dinner so you have a gorgeous view of the lagoon area and the negative edge pool. Sadly, I never did make the time to take a dip. I wanted to, just for the novelty but really….salt water ocean and lagoon swimming or a swimming pool..natural water is my preference!
We met our guides and two other couples at he dock at 0900 to board and head out to the Blue Lagoon for the day! We only took video and a few pictures on this day. Apologies but WordPress won’t let me upload video without upgrading ..pshht.
First thing that made me giggle was this fish! This was to be part of our lunch..just out there in the open trying thaw out before it was cooked.
The boat ride was an hour-long but it didn’t feel so because the ride was so much fun and we soaked up, in amazement at how very far we were from anything else in the world. Surrounded only by mass amounts of water. When we arrived to the spot to drop anchor I realized we were going to have to walk about a 3/4 of a mile to the island through shark infested waters. Ok, Ok..they are docile black tip reef sharks but still..wild sharks none the less..you never know when a shark is going to back shit crazy and bite your legs off…right?
Luckily…the sharks were very well-behaved and only followed us to our little island.
The island had a covered picnic area complete with picnic tables and a make-shift barbecue grill. Side note..I just recalled, walking to the island, Jason insisted on helping the tour guide with the coolers filled with food and water and the guy actually seemed a little put off but allowed Jason to help anyway.
Once settled, we were told to go have fun and meet back in an hour and a half for lunch.
Off we went to snorkel and swim, the hotel had provided us (at no additional cost) with snorkel gear we could keep for the duration of our stay! They came in handy and I was glad we opted not to bring our own which would have taken up a bunch of space in our already booze packed luggage!
In our island walk about, I came across this angry little crab..he wanted to pinch my face off but he was too little so I just laughed at him. 🙂
I learned, I suck at swimming and I can’t keep water out of my mask. I learned, Jason is a water bug and is amazing at swimming and snorkeling. He pushed me past my limit and made me less afraid of getting eaten by the unknown.
We built up a great appetite and ventured back to the hut. The delicious smell that is all things barbecue hit us immediately. Our guides used dried coconut, prawn leaves and pineapple skin to fuel the fire. More sharks were lurking around the shore close to the picnic area..I am certain the sharks are trained pretty well, like any animal, they know..when the humans come and start the fire…they’re getting some treats! Sure enough, we caught the guides tossing fish and chicken bits to the sharks, they were happy little fishes! We all sat down to a table of surgeon fish, chicken, couscous and fresh pineapple. There were two other super friendly couples there, young newly weds on their honeymoon from LA, a couple from France celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary and us, celebrating life together for twenty-eight years. I am glad we were able to show the newly weds..adventures could and should continue throughout the years.
Another hour went by for exploring and then we were called to start heading back to the boat. Time to swim with the sharks! All of the sharks that were parked near the shoreline followed us back into the deeper waters to meet their many many many friends. I was surprised at myself at how calm I was, I was totally OK with swimming with these guys.
Nearer the boat, in deeper waters, just snorkeling around in amazement..Jason pointed in a direction alerting me to LOOK! There was a lemon shark, this guy was huge! Those black tip reef sharks had nothing on this guy..this guy was probably ten feet long and THAT..made me a little nervous. He was all by himself in a sea of us and the black tips. I (kind of frantically) swam backwards to get to the boat..I was out 😉 Not long after so was everyone else. Safe inside the boat the guide took the remaining fish bits and started slapping the sharks with it trying to rile them up, he was also trying to get the big lemon shark up and out of the water for the big prize. Then he says, “ready to go back and swim with them, hahahahaha” obviously he was kidding and obviously..we all said, “NO”.
The ride back was faster than the ride in and we thought we were done but the driver brought us to an area known as the aquarium.
THOUSANDS of fish. I did NOT want to jump in, I am completely OK with swimming with the sharks but not schools of fish. They nibble, I don’t like their scales and there was just so..many..of.. them.
The French couple dove right in, the new groom and Jason dove right in. The new bride and me? Sat there for a few saying, “I’m not going in there”. I was happy she was going to stay on the boat with me. Until she didn’t.
It’s worth mentioning…. the guides thought it to be hilarious to throw chunks of bread into the water near a person so the ALL of the gazillion fish would charge at the person. Bride and I were not thrilled about that. The French folks didn’t seem to even notice. Jason and the groom…LOVED it, thought it was so cool.
I jumped in. It was beautiful and I’m glad I did. No foul..no harm. Not saying I wasn’t freaked out but I floated and snorkeled and I loved it.
Our guides were having so much fun with us they decided to give us yet another treat. We boated off to the Tiputa Pass. This is a passageway where the ocean meets and mingles with the open ocean. The waves were fantastic in the late afternoon watched dolphins have such a blast playing in the rough waters!
Screen shots from video. ^^
We said our goodbyes and thanked our hosts for such a great day and headed back to our room.
This is what we came back to 🙂 From the good people of Hotel Kia Ora.
Such an unexpected kind gesture! The next couple hours or so were spent enjoying this bottle and recapping our amazing adventures from the day.