November was a whirlwind. I can count on two hands how many days I spent in Iowa. Between travel for work and our trip to Bora Bora, my life has been a little insane. I am happy to report that I am home for a while (if a hotel room in Des Moines, Iowa counts…LOL) and I hope to be writing you all again on a regular basis. I’ve missed “Indulge”. And with that…I share with you the letter I wrote you while I was in Bora Bora. Make sure you’ve added Bora Bora to your bucket list…and enjoy.
Good Morning from Bora Bora! I can’t believe I just said that…”Bora Bora”. Truth is – I feel like I am sitting in the middle of a postcard right now.
Today I write you from a oceanside palapa overlooking golden beaches, turquoise waters, and “over-the-water bungalows”. I know you will be reading this more than a week after my return….but I’m dying to tell you about this place…now.
On Friday we began our journey to the South Pacific. Our first trip south of the equator! With our initial 6am flight out of Des Moines…a connection in Denver…another connection in LAX…and an evening stop on the main island of Tahiti, we were in for a long day. When we landed at 7pm in Papeete (11pm CST), we’d been traveling for 19 hours.
I’m not going to lie, we were exhausted. Having been fed some amazing “in-flight” meals (seriously – when have you ever thought your in-fight food was delicious?!), we headed straight to our hotel and called it a night! 🙂
Still a little jet-lagged but ever-so-excited, we were up early Saturday morning for a quick stroll and off to the city market. I’m not one for a whole lot of shopping (believe it or not), so we quickly scurried past the tourist traps and headed straight for the food! After we sampled and sniffed (fresh herbs, flowers, fruit, and pastries) or way through the market, our search for the perfect Tahitian pearl began. Not too gold. Not too green. Not too purple. Not enough sheen. We must have popped into 7 pearl shops before we decided the pearl wouldn’t be found in Papeete….rather Bora Bora. I like that idea better anyhow. With that, it was time for lunch…and a beer!
After a cold beer, interesting pizza and a quick shuttle back to the hotel…it was time for a nap and back to the airport to catch our flight to Bora Bora.
An hour after we boarded the plane, we were here….completely and utterly awe struck. A short boat ride later and we were welcomed at the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort.
I was secretly hoping (as our boat approached the resort) that our bungalow would be at the far end of the boardwalk…to my surprise – it was! A solid 10-15 minute walk from the main reception, we are secluded…in the middle of the ocean. 🙂
With an unfortunate bee-sting (unlucky Ryan!) on the way to our bungalow, we decided to drop off the luggage and head back to the French Restaurant/Bar for happy hour. 2 for 1 drinks in paradise? Yes Ma’am! Call it excitement…call it exhaustion…call it bad luck…within seconds of receiving my minty mojito…I knocked it over! Oops! LOL Within minutes…a replacement was on its way. I wish you could taste the mint! It is was vibrant! Shortly after we finished our drinks, we found a cozy in the restaurant. A bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, bread with REAL butter, risotto, cajun-skewered shrimp, and pan-seared scallops. A delicious dinner that screamed, “Welcome to our Island!”
Sunday morning we woke up with the excitement to “take it all in”. Ryan headed down to breakfast @ 630am and brought back breakfast in bed. Fresh fruit, yogurt, pastries, and juice. Honestly, this is the BEST kiwi I have EVER tasted. Not too sweet…Not too tart.
With a satisfied appetite, we packed our beach bag, threw on our suits and sunscreen and made our way to the beach. We lounged…we read…we kayaked…we indulged in sun and Hinano beer (just enough to quench our thirst!).
As the afternoon passed we took a stroll to the top of the black rocks and scoped out the scene where the “Bachelorette” was filmed. Truth be told, I never saw the Bachelorette series in Tahiti…but I know many of you have! Hopefully some of these shots look familiar.
Just before we headed off for dinner, we anxiously awaited a tahitian sunset (530-630pm). A local boat went cruising passed as we admired the colors and shouted, “Welcome to Paradise!”
For dinner we opted to take a short boat ride to town and ate at a restaurant called Kaina Hut. Awful. Ok…so the boat ride was fun…but the food was horrendous. gnocchi that tasted like mushy spaghettios and mahi mahi that had been grilled for far too long. Good thing we travel with wine! We were disappointed…but our review was confirmed by another couple on our boat ride back to the Hilton. Believe it or not…they had been in Bora Bora for 15 days (Obviously they are LOADED) and said that Kaina Hut was the worst meal they’d had. Good news…it could only get better!
Monday morning brought another tasty breakfast and an early stop at the activities desk where we booked a Lagoon Safari (swimming with the sharks and sting rays) and a private BBQ lunch on Motu Tapu…a private island. Not going to lie, I”m a little nervous about the sharks…heck, the rays too…but the little tahitian gal assured me it is safe….so I am putting on my big girl panties and jumping in….tomorrow. 🙂
One thing that really amazed us was how quickly the weather changes. During breakfast – clear skies. Stop in the bungalow for 20 minutes..come back out on the deck – full clouds and downpour! Then 10 minutes later…there it was…blue sky…big white puffy clouds…and full SUN! At the end of a long sandy pier we make ourselves comfortable.
And when we felt just a little too warm, we jumped in for some afternoon snorkeling. Unfortunately for me, the first little fishy I came across (within seconds I might add) was an ENORMOUS ugly EEL! A quick panic-attack ensued before Ryan coerced me back in. The swarms of fish were incredible!
As the afternoon again came to a close, we headed back to our bungalow to get ready for our very private 5yr anniversary celebration. Just the two of us…alone on the beach. Who says you can only wear a white dress on your wedding day?! Not me! On a peaceful, serene Monday evening, we snapped a few photos and made our way to the end of a pier where we acknowledged the “ups” and “downs” of the last 5 years…and looked forward to many more. (I, of course, added that perhaps we could celebrate EVERY 5 years in Bora Bora! LOL) After a glass a wine, it was off to dinner. Red tuna, tomato tartar with spinach and white balsamic, salmon tempura, and creme brulee spring rolls!
Finally…the big day! After another healthy serving of breakfast, we were boarding the ship with 10 other brave tourists. First stop – shark feeding. I’m not going to kid you…I.WAS.TERRIFIED. With some courage I didn’t know I had…I jumped in and made my way out to the sharks. I tried to snap a few pictures but quickly realized I would need to hand the camera off to Ryan. I could hardly control my breathing much less manage a camera. All in all…very cool.
Next stop – snorkeling in a coral garden. Beautiful! Tons of fish…
tons of coral…tons of color!
Now this I can handle. 😉
Last stop – feeding the sting rays. I don’t know what to say. I think we were all a little hesitant. They are HUGE! Seriously. With a little more coercion from the guides, the guys jumped in. It was so fun to watch…but swimming with the sharks was enough for this little lady!
About 15 minutes into the experience, one of the Asian tourists started shouting, “Shawk! Shawk! as he perched himself at the end of the boat and pointed. Imagine, of course, his asian accent and terror in his voice…I don’t care who you are…that was terrifying…and hilarious!
After 3 entertaining stops, our guides dropped Ryan and I off that the private island for our BBQ lunch…alone. Fresh salad, rice, grilled chicken and steak. So easy…but so good. Isn’t it amazing that some chefs…some restaurants try to be so creative…so fancy and yet some of the best meals…are so simple. Amen!
As our last evening in Bora Bora quickly closed in on us, we debated whether to take another boat ride into town for dinner or stay on the resort, eat the buffet and enjoy their Polynesian show. In the end, we chose the buffet and show. The show was mediocre…but the food was NOT good. Ok…some people loved it. I didn’t. Do you think it is because we cook so much as home? Do you think it is because we often dine in nice restaurants? Or…could it really have been that bad. I don’t know…but I do know it was a bad…and expensive meal! $95pp! Can you believe it?! Make a mental note…resort buffets in Tahiti are outrageous. Yikes!
Wednesday morning was beautiful again. One last breakfast and lounge on the beach. As the rain settled in for the day, we headed into the Robert Wan shop to finally pick out my pearl! I had seen a pair of pearl earrings early on in our stay…and they were unforgettable….I wasn’t going to leave the island without them! Pearls and luggage in hand, Ryan and I cozied into some chairs and played a few games a cards (I kicked his butt!!) as the rain poured down. Even when raining, the island was so relaxing. One resort employee walked up to us and said, “Bora Bora is sobbing because you are leaving.” I couldn’t have agreed more.
When I left the US I said, “This is going to be a once in a lifetime trip.” And now, having been on the island of Bora Bora for less than a week, I’ve decided this trip to Tahiti will not be a just once in a lifetime trip…this was the first of my lifetime.
Indulge. In Life. In Love. In Food.