Joined July 2017 Message
  • Day14

    Chasing waterfalls

    August 3 in French Polynesia ⋅ 🌧 25 °C

    One last day in Tahiti, and we're determined to make use of the time. Recognizing that we've seen very little of this island, we decided to rent a small car and make the loop to do some sightseeing.

    We packed up our bag strategically so that we could have easy access to different sets of clothes for dinner and the flight back, checked out, and hit the road.

    We stopped first at the Arohoho Blowhole to watch the waves crash and hear the air come rushing out the lava tube opening. The sign warned caution, the rush of air could be startling, and Laura did indeed jump when a particularly loud expulsion happened suddenly.

    From there, we pulled off to see a handful of serene waterfalls as we made our way south to Tahiti Iti. We ate lunch at a small family restaurant, and backtracked to Tahiti Nui where we continued our clockwise loop around the island. Our final stop was at the Vaipahi water gardens, where we toured the grounds and did a mini hike.

    We went back to the hotel to lay at the pool for just a little while longer, and then showered at the spa before going to dinner at Le Lotus to enjoy some signature dishes from a two-star Michelin chef. We ate over the water, and delighted in watching a school of fish at play just below us.

    We have a long night (and day) of flying in front of us. It's been a wonderful two weeks in French Polynesia. Sad to leave it behind, but ready to return to our day-to-day lives... and start planning sabbatical #3!
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  • Day13

    🐢 Moorea Dive 🦈

    August 2 in French Polynesia ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Today's post brought to you in part by Laura. My dive in Bora Bora was so fantastic that I asked Will if he wouldn't mind hanging out in our bungalow and packing up while I went out for another 2 tank morning dive. I had read that dive sites here would be full of turtles which was all I needed to hear. The two dives and dive sites were spectacular. The first site was turtle-focused and it did not disappoint. We must have seen at least 20. Some were swimming across the vast ocean, some snoozing on the coral, some eating. We got within inches of many of them and they didn't seem to mind. The second site was chosen in the hopes of seeing lemon sharks. I had seen black tipped sharks on my Bora Bora dive, but no lemon sharks. As soon as we descended to about 60 ft, we saw two sharks hanging out on the bottom. We hovered for a while to watch them swim around, then continued on. The fish and the coral were absolutely equisite. I told Will afterwards I almost cried into my mask it was all so beautiful. (This is no surprise as I manage to find something almost daily to cry about.) The cherry on top of this dive trip was that during the approximate 1 hour surface interval between the two dives, we saw dolphins. There were about 8, and they came right up to our boat. They actually bumped our boat a few times, jumped out of the water multiple times, and generally put on a spectacular show for at least 20 minutes as they decided to swim along with us. I've never seen anything like it.


    Laura provided a lot of coaching but had total confidence in my packing ability. I spent the morning drinking espresso, lounging around, and cramming our stuff into our massive duffle.

    Once reunited, we ate a quick lunch and taxied our way back to the ferry. Recalling the fumes from our first ride, we chose to sit inside. This proved to be a terrible idea, as we were immediately rocked up and down on the huge waves and both turned green 🤢 within moments of takeoff. We quickly wobbled our way topside so we didn't yak -- it was a near thing.

    Ultimately, we made it back to the same Tahiti resort without taking ill, and had a chuckle as they placed us in nearly the same room on the 4th floor. We went down to enjoy happy hour and a sunset, and both immediately started feeling better. We ate dinner, and went back to the room quite tired.

    While we're feeling a bit melancholy given it's our last night, we're also thrilled at having had such an incredible trip. That said, we're also ready to see our doggies and Caty shortly after, and Will is excited to make an actual martini.
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  • Day12

    🛵 Moorea Scooter Day 🛵

    August 1 in French Polynesia ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    We both slept in until around 7, and then had french toast, yogurt, fruit, and coffee to kick the day off.

    We decided to keep the lower body exertion to a minimum today, so we landed on another scooter day as the activity du jour. The rental wasn't available until noon, so we went to the gym for a bit to do some upper body exercises, and then spent another hour canoeing around the lagoon (no turtles 🐢 spotted).

    We loaded up the backpack with water, snorkels, and towels, and went to pick up our scooter. This scooter was slightly larger than the last, and was equipped with two storage compartments that made life much easier for both of us. The rental dude asked if I'd ever operated a scooter before, and I assured him I was an absolute pro. Laura clambered on with me, and feeling his gaze, it was time for takeoff. We took off with only a slight wobble, so I'll call that a win.

    Our first stop was to secure lunch. At the recommendation of the concierge, we decided to hit a food truck that apparently was quite well regarded in the area, which was evident by the line when we arrived. Bonus points for being super affordable, we both had BBQ and veggies, and also some fresh tuna carpaccio that was simply divine. It took a good while to get our food and settle the tab, so we were eager to get back on the bike and drive the ~30m to the Plage des Tipainers. It's worth noting the bike had a top speed of around 45km/hr with both of us and our full tummies to haul around.

    The view of the mountains and bays along the way made it an enjoyable ride, but we were ready to jump in and see some aquatic life when we arrived. I kept a wary eye on all the trigger fish 🐠 I spotted during our swim. There were no further incidents, but one was definitely ready to go on the offensive after I accidentally snuck up on his lair.

    After drying off, we hopped back on the scooter to continue the journey, and after driving another 10 minutes realized that we probably need to turn around if we wanted to hit our final attraction before it would be time to return our bike. We zoomed on back at our leisurely pace, and pulled into the parking lot of Manutea Tahiti - Rotui Juice Factory & Distillery.

    The factory offered fresh squeezed juice tastings, along with some pours of their various spirits. They had pre-made maitais, coconut and ginger based liquors, and rhums for us to sample (the rhum was stroooong but heavenly), and gave us some juice chasers -- pineapple and mixed tropical. I decided to buy a bottle of the rhum as our second souvenir of the trip. The pours were very modest so we were able to resume our journey to refill the gas and return the bike at the resort immediately.

    We had some downtime to swim in our pool, read, and shower before it was time to be picked up for dinner at Rudy's Restaurant. We continued out theme of eating as much seafood as possible. We started with fruits de mer, Laura had a smoked salmon pasta with cream sauce, and I had parrotfish stuffed with shrimp. Dessert was a pineapple and papaya fruit tart (and a Cognac, of course). On the ride back, we chatted with our fellow dinner/resort patrons about our travels and traded recommendations.
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  • Day11

    Pushing our bodies to their limits

    July 31 in French Polynesia ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Laura almost always wakes up before I do. Today was no exception, and she kindly shut the glass doors separating the living room from the bedroom to minimize noise so I could sleep in while she made an espresso. I awoke, bleary-eyed and still partially in a fugue-state, saw my beautiful wife sitting on the couch, started to walk towards her, and promptly left a body/face print on the glass door I had failed to spot. The moment sponsored several spontaneous laughing fits for Laura throughout the day.

    After taking a moment to collect myself (Laura was doing the same in an entirely different fashion) I mustered up the remainder of my dignity and we made our way to breakfast. Over coffee and yogurt, we decided to give bicycle rental another shot and to hit a hike or two. Recalling our shoddy bikes from Bora Bora, we asked the activities desk staff to inquire if the bikes were capable ("and I cannot stress this enough") of shifting gears. Assured that they came with the particular feature, we went back to our room to pack backpacks with sunscreen, suits, towels, and lots of water.

    We were thrilled to see the bikes were legit mountain bikes, capable of 29 gear combinations. We clambered on and took off ready for the day's adventures. We quickly learned that the bikes were not in fact perfect. My bike indeed did have many gear settings, but my derailer was intent on going above and beyond by having me experience their half states and sudden, unrequested changes. Laura's bike's rear-reflector was a-dangle, causing it to rub against her thighs as she peddled. We did our best not to let these quirks impede our journey, and after ~20m we reached the base of our hike -- "La Route Du Manoï". We stashed our bikes in the parking lot, and began walking our way up the winding incline.

    It was at about this point that Laura remarked at how active we had been throughout our vacation... "You can really feel the compounding exertion starting to take its toll..."

    The situation deteriorated from there.

    The next 2 miles were peppered with huffs, pouts, and an angry glare or comment directed at the many scooters, ebikes, and ATVs that roared by us. We ultimately reached the summit, and paused to rest and down some water before making the descent. When we reached the bikes again, we took a rocky road towards a grove of pineapple trees, but abandoned that plan quickly as Laura's bike seat continued to attack her.

    We decided to switch bikes, which immediately rectified that issue for Laura, bonus points in that it was much kinder to me. This gave Laura a second wind, and we continued the relatively flat journey further around the island. After a while, we began to value the prospect of lunch more than the prospect of developing more saddle sore, and turned around to return to the resort. That was smart move, as we both were running out of gas at the 17 mile mark that signaled the end of the trip. We dipped in our bungalow pools and then put back some chicken sandwiches at the resort grill.

    Laura took a nice big nap to recover, and then we went out into the lagoon to do some snorkeling and make use of the remaining daylight. The snorkeling was quite good, we were surprised by the amount of coral and number/variety of fish just below the surface. Laura was also treated to a show, when I inadvertently triggered a Trigger Fish 🐠, and it rammed itself into me three times to drive me off. I finally turned around after the second to see what was touching me, and was startled to see the little guy hurtling himself at my foot. Mask flooding with water, I scrambled away, expending the sole shred of dignity I had leftover from my glass-door incident.

    I consoled myself with a happy hour margarita while we watched the sunset and waited until it was time for our taxi ride to dinner at Moorea Beach Cafe.

    Dinner was lovely; a beach side restaurant called Moorea Beach Cafe. Our table was 5 feet from the water, and we could hear the fish splashing and see the spotlights of boats on the water. We split a trio of tuna tacos that were most excellent. Laura had seared tuna with a soy glaze, while I had a half lobster over risotto. For dessert, Laura indulged in some ice cream, while I had a Cognac.
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  • Day10

    Travel Day: Bora Bora -> Moorea

    July 30 in French Polynesia ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    This morning was our last in Bora Bora, so we took our time having breakfast and coffee, working out, packing up, and getting some expenses comped by the resort.

    We hit the iconic swing, and made sure to hit the other side of the resort to see the ocean proper before it was time to take the boat back to the airport. It was an idyllic way to get one last look at the beautiful lagoon and majestic island mountains, though we made sure to keep one eye on our bag that they were insistent on placing precariously on the back of the boat (conjuring visions of hitting a wave and watching it sink to the bottom of the lagoon).

    Our route necessitated a stop at the Tahiti airport, and after landing we took a taxi over to the port to catch a ferry. So, travel by land, sea, and air today. The ferry was slightly delayed, but otherwise travel was without incident.

    We arrived and checked into our Garden Bungalow (complete with a small pool!) and strolled rthe resort grounds while we waited for happy hour to arrive. We were both famished since our lunch consisted of measly croissant and light beer, so we were really just waiting for the bar to open so we could have some chicken wings. They were subpar, and possibly the best thing I've ever eaten.

    Having had some solid food, we retired to our bungalow pool to drink some complementary champagne and await our opportunity to eat something more substantial.

    We decided to eat at the resort, since they had a fire show and it meant not having to do any more traveling.
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  • Day9

    Bora Bora Bike Loop

    July 29 in French Polynesia ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    After what has felt like a pretty packed set of days, we treated ourselves to a lazy morning. We slept in past 7am and used the time zone delta with Caty to our advantage to hear how her summer in Italy has been going. Laura announced that she would be eating pancakes for breakfast, so we ate our fill at the breakfast buffet (crepes with house-made hazelnut spread for Laura, a mound o' bacon for me). After the concierge informed us there were no more bicycles available for rent on the main island, we spent the rest of the morning at the bungalow, the main excitement being my mild electrocution via a frayed hair dryer cord.

    Fully charged up, we decided to boat-taxi to the main island anyway for lunch and to see if anyone had returned bikes. We had lunch at a bar called "The Lucky House" -- Pizza, a Fish burger, and a shared Hinano Lager. We found the shop up the road did indeed have 6 bikes to choose from, so hopes were high, and we secured a rental.

    We subsequently discovered the bikes were all single speed. We settled on picking the bikes that weighed about 75-coconuts, but whose brakes were not permanently engaged. Upon mounting our trusty iron horses and kicking off, we soon we're enlightened to the fact that they had a maximum speed of 10.5mph, and my bike's chain would make an escape attempt at any bump of consequence. Thus began our leisure cruise around the island. Still, other than one steep climb and a few gusts of strong wind, we had a good ride, though we were both feeling saddle sore and about done with biking by the end of the ~20m loop.

    We dropped the bikes, suited up, and spent an hour by the ocean to kill time until our boat arrived to take us back to the resort. We made it back in time to sneak in a happy hour drink order, and then took much needed showers before dinner. Dinner at the resort was an Indian buffet, paired with a superb bottle of we-definitely-earned-this wine. Dinner also featured a tahitian dance show, topped off with a digestif.
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    Josh loved that beer when we were there!

  • Day8

    Dinner @ La Villa Mahana

    July 28 in French Polynesia ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    Special dinner post #2!

    Our taxi took us a few kilometers down the road and turned off onto an unmarked driveway, passing by several houses, and stopped in front of La Villa Mahana. The receptionist ushered us into the courtyard, and subsequently to one of the five tables in the house. The place had so much charm.

    The dinner crew consisted of several waitresses and the single chef working in the kitchen.

    Laura ordered Seared Tuna and Mahi-Mahi on top of banana+mashed potatoes, and the portions were extremely generous.

    I, once again, went big and did the french tasting prix fixe and wine pairing. Everything was delicious (and massive) -- we needed to be rolled back into the taxi/boat/golf carts back to our room at the end of the night.
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    All your food looks amazing! I desperately want this risotto 😍

  • Day8

    Bora Bora Dive Day

    July 28 in French Polynesia ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Though we had a fair number of drinks yesterday, we made sure not to overdo it so as to not feel crummy for the main event of the day: Laura's scuba dive. After the wine pairing last night I was a little worried, but two cups of coffee had me feeling right as rain.

    Laura was feeling a bit nervous, so I had a big breakfast while she nibbled on hers, and we set off to the dock to catch the boat out to the first dive location. Laura donned her gear, and along with the dive master and 4 other divers, took the giant stride to plunge into the South Pacific. They were under water for about 45 minutes, and upon surfacing Laura excitedly reported seeing giant Manta Rays and a Sea Turtle 🐢!

    Once all the divers were back in the boat, we motored to the second dive spot to see black tip sharks 🦈. About half way we saw the telltale sign of whales -- several sprays of mist rising 🐳. Sure enough, moments later a few whales surfaced, tails and all. It was fantastic luck; the dive crew reported they were the first of the season.

    Laura and the gang made their second descent, and immediately saw dozens of sharks. One got right up in her face 😨 before swimming off. She also saw two octopi 🐙, and of course, many many fishies 🐠. Her favorite was the trigger fish, an aggressive little guy who chased off anything that came too close to his turf. While Laura was diving, I whale-watched, snorkeled, and generally worked on my sunburn.

    Once we made it back to the resort, we ate more fish for lunch and had a good nap. We read and spent a little time at the gym before catching our taxi (a boat) to take us to the main island for dinner. We had a cocktail and watched the sun go down at the sister-resort, and then got picked up by the restaurant taxi (van) to whisk us off to our second fancy dinner of the trip.
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  • Day7

    Dinner @ Le corail

    July 27 in French Polynesia ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Special dinner post! We ate at the resort gastronomic restaurant.

    Laura ordered ala carte, and I went big and had the tasting menu with the paired wine option. Everything was magnificent, especially the wines.Read more

  • Day7

    Paradise would be the right word

    July 27 in French Polynesia ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Bungalow debacles resolved, we slept great, partly due to the strenuous day, mostly due to the excellent bed's crisp sheets and down comforter. The buffet breakfast had tons of options, and after a quick stop at the hotel gym, we knew it was time to cannonball off the deck and swim around a bit in the lagoon.

    We slathered on sunscreen and hit the beach for some watersports. We made use of the paddle boards, kayak, and our snorkel masks. There were tons of fishies in the coral garden.

    Appetites stoked by the physical exertion, we tried 'The Sands' for lunch. We had matching orders, beer and poke bowls... Maybe all the honeymoon couples are rubbing off on us.

    After a quick nap, it was time for the main excursion of the day -- the Jetski island tour! We opted for the group Jetski tour to save a few hundred dollars, but fortune was with us as we were the only ones who had signed up. The other guests must be amateurs and actually believe the rainy forecasts.

    Our guide gave us a crash course on operating instructions, and assured us that we'd have opportunities to stop and give my throttle finger a rest. Apparently a lot of guests cramp up or just get fatigued, but three decades of PlayStation found me well conditioned to the task. Our guide knew the meaning of speed, so we largely just tried to keep up with him while trying to blink the salt water out of our eyes. After our first stop, the remaining legs were less intense and we had a blast. The final stop included a 'Coconut Show' -- a demonstration of how to peel and open a coconut, along with the opportunity to eat it fresh. Luckily they had grapefruit and papaya for me, all of which was quite tasty. We hit some waves on the ride back, and I almost lost Laura after a speed change, but though there was much sliding and tight gripping, neither of us were flung off. We had great fun.

    We went back to swim around our bungalow to kill time before some cocktails at happy hour. After putting back a few, we rediscovered that neither of us are particularly talented billiards players. I blame the alcohol. It was a great way to pass some time until our dinner reservation.
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