Real Honeymoon: Tahiti

After a gorgeous wedding in Healdsburg last year, my friends Christin and Sam decided to wait a few months before going on their ultimate honeymoon in Tahiti. Worried that their photos wouldn’t do the islands enough justice, they also put their GoPro camera to good use and made a little highlights video that they could share with their friends and family. Check out the awesome video below (nice editing work, Christin!), as well as their thoughts on their amazing Tahitian honeymoon:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Tahiti (Moorea and Bora Bora) [January 2014].

Moorea honeymoon

How long was your trip?

9 fabulous days. 4 days in Moorea at the Sofitel Ia Ora Beach Resort and 5 days in Bora Bora at the Intercontinental Thallaso Resort and Spa.

bora bora hammock

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

Sam and I had quite the hectic engagement year (as do most couples), but to top it off we also did a cross-country move from San Francisco to Chicago. Needless to say we decided to postpone our honeymoon until after our June, 22nd wedding. Because Chicago is so gorgeous during the summer, we decided to schedule our trip for the dead of winter to escape the cold. Our ultimate goal was to have the most relaxing honeymoon in the most beautiful place we could find. Bora Bora is obviously one of the first destinations that came to mind.

A good friend of mine was planning her honeymoon around the same time and also looking at Bora Bora as a potential option. Fortunately for me she is much more of a planner and researcher than I am when it comes to travel, and she tipped me off to a great travel agency, Pacific for Less, who specializes in travel to Tahiti and Hawaii. I’ll share more about them later. Ultimately we decided on Bora Bora because of its reputation as one of the most beautiful honeymoon locations in the world, and we both agreed it was probably not a place we’d be going on family vacations ☺

tahiti beach

The best part about our honeymoon was…

There were so many incredible meals, excursions, and hotels but truly the best part was the location. The entire trip we kept looking at each other with that “is this real life?” look because it honestly felt like you were living a dream. At one point we met a cute Australian couple who was there with their 2 daughters (I suppose this rules out our rationale that Bora Bora is not a family destination). They had traveled to nearly every tropical destination in the world: Fiji, Maldives, Seychelle Islands, Bali, The Caribbean, Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand. You name, it they had been there. We asked them which one was their favorite and without hesitation all four of them said Bora Bora. Between the crystal blue water, the amazing reef, and the over-water bungalows, Bora Bora took the cake for them. Perhaps they were just appeasing us or high on Bora Bora’s beauty, but regardless it made us feel great about our decision!

moorea view

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

Without a doubt we would not have planned on going during their rainy season (which is December – March). As much as we wanted to coordinate our trip around escaping our first Midwest winter, there is nothing as disappointing as rain in paradise (especially when you’re traveling that far). We were fortunate that our first 4 days in Moorea and the first day in Bora Bora were absolutely beautiful. The last 4 days in Bora Bora rained for the majority of the time. As with most tropical locations, it was still warm so it didn’t keep us from doing what we would have normally done, but if we had known we definitely would have booked prior to, or after, the rainy season.

tahiti paddle boarding

How much planning did you do in advance?

We started planning shortly after our wedding, so about five months’ worth. We used a travel agency, Pacific for Less who literally did everything for us so the planning process was really easy. We booked our flights from Chicago to LA, and they took care of the rest. Like I said, Sam and I are not planners when it comes to travel, so besides physically getting ourselves to our honeymoon (or at least hiring someone to get us there), we only planned one dinner reservation at Villa Mahana and a snorkeling excursion with the Sharks and Stingrays (see below). Everything else we scheduled once we got there.

tahiti honeymoon

  • I highly recommend dinner at Villa Mahana! It is the exclusive restaurant on the island, run by two French guys. There are only 7 tables which fill up fast so you’ll want to be sure to book your reservation in advance and ask for the VIP table that overlooks the property.
  • Also the Shark, Manta Ray and Sting Ray snorkeling excursion is a must do. I had been on several snorkeling excursions before but none quite like this one. Again because I’m not a planner, I did not fully realize what we were getting ourselves into. Our first stop was the Manta Rays. Unfortunately the water was murky and we couldn’t see them so we moved onto the next stop, which was the Reef Sharks and Sting Rays. When we got there, there were hundreds of Sharks and Sting Rays circling the boat. Somewhere along the line I had convinced myself that the Shark part of the excursion was just us viewing them from the boat. Oh no! You can imagine the shock that came over me when they told us we were jumping in. I think the fact that I didn’t have time to think about it was a good thing and with a little encouragement from my husband (and the fact that an 8 year old jumped in first) I took the plunge. I can confidently say it was one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done and when it came time to jump in with the Lemon Sharks (p.s. they were 3x the size of the Reef Sharks), I didn’t bat an eye.

sharks

Continue reading

Advertisements

Real Honeymoon: Bora Bora

After getting married in Croatia (which is totally amazing in and of itself), Yasemin and McLain jetted down to French Polynesia for the ultimate Bora Bora honeymoon.  Overwater bungalow?  Check.  ATV tour around the island?  Check.  Swimming with sharks and rays?  Check check.  Read all about their absolutely incredible Bora Bora honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We stayed at the Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora, French Polynesia, in July 2013.

bora bora honeymoon

The Four Seasons, Bora Bora

How long was your trip?

One night in Tahiti and eight nights in Bora Bora.

bora bora atv

ATV ride

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We wanted to go somewhere warm and tropical, where we could just lie on the beach, relax, and do water sports. We were deciding between the Maldives and Bora Bora for our honeymoon destination, and we ended up picking Bora Bora because the weather was better at that time of year.

bora bora honeymoon

Champagne on the deck of the bungalow

The best part about our honeymoon was…

So many things! Swimming with sharks and manta rays while they were feeding, scuba diving, and doing a jetski and ATV island tour were among our favorite activities. Also, our overwater bungalow was so peaceful, the view was amazing, and the staff members at the Four Seasons Fesort in Bora Bora were very kind, hospitable, and genuine. Everyone on staff knew us by name and greeted us whenever they saw us.

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 10.48.18 AM

Swimming with manta rays

sharks and rays bora bora

Sharks!

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

The date of our return flight, so that we could have stayed longer ;-)

bora bora honeymoon

Gorgeous Bora Bora

cannon ball bora bora

Cannon ball!

Continue reading

Real Honeymoon: Kauai & Tahiti

What do you do when you want a relaxing honeymoon in Tahiti but your significant other wants an exciting honeymoon in Hawaii?  Compromise and do both!  Yes, that’s right.  Katie and Adam decided to honeymoon in Kauai AND Tahiti.  Is that the ultimate multi-moon or what?  Read all about this amazing honeymoon and check out their incredible photos below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We went to Kauai, Moorea, and Bora Bora in July [2013] (immediately after our wedding). There is only one flight a week from Hawaii to Tahiti, so you have to plan around that.

Kauai Honeymoon

How long was your trip?

2 weeks

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

My husband loves activities! We wanted to do a mix of adventure (Kauai) and relaxation (Tahiti).

Bora Bora Honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Bora Bora! We literally wanted to move to the island! We stayed at the Four Seasons and took advantage of every second there. Favorite parts: the breakfast buffet, daily happy hour (which you can enjoy while watching the sunset), paddle boarding around the hotel, a 3 hour snorkel tour we did with Christof, and dinner at La Villa Mahana. Pretty much everything!

Bora Bora Honeymoon

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

We would skip Moorea and head straight to Bora Bora. Not because we didn’t enjoy it, but because it was a pain traveling there for just one night.

How much planning did you do in advance?

A decent amount for Kauai. My husband bought a book on the island and sought out reccs from friends who had been there. We made restaurant reservations in advance, which was key, since the hotel (and island) were pretty full! For Bora Bora, the one reservation we made far in advance (6+ months out) was dinner at Villa Mahana. (There is only one seating each night, and 8 tables, so this is a must!)

Kauai Honeymoon

Continue reading

Real Honeymoon: French Polynesia

I am a total sucker for all things Tahitian, and Parisa and Andrew’s French Polynesian honeymoon certainly did not disappoint!  Like many honeymooners, they split their time between two of the islands to keep things interesting.  Check out their gorgeous pictures and read all about their relaxing honeymoon in paradise below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We went to French Polynesia at the end of July 2013.  We stayed on Moorea and Bora Bora.

Tahiti honeymoon

How long was your trip?

Our trip was ten days and we split our time evenly between Moorea and Bora Bora.

Tahiti honeymoon

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We knew we wanted to go to more of an island/tropical destination since most of our prior big trips together were to Europe.  Plus, like most honeymooners, we knew we wouldn’t be as up for sight-seeing after all the wedding festivities.  We had a hard time committing to a destination for months and really waffled between French Polynesia, Thailand, and Bali.  In the end, French Polynesia seemed like the best choice because of the season and because it is just a short eight-hour flight from Los Angeles.  Also, all of our friends who had been before would not stop raving about it.

Tahiti honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Being in such an overwhelmingly beautiful environment.  Both islands were visually stunning, but when we got to Bora Bora, we just felt like we were on another planet.  My husband was a little apprehensive about going on a trip where you primarily lay out on a beach all day, but even he had a very hard time tearing himself away when we had to come home.

Also, we were warned ahead of time that we might not find the best food on the islands and that everything would be very overpriced.  Generally, this is a pretty accurate statement.  But, we were able to find some gems on both islands.  On Moorea, we became obsessed with a lunch spot called Snack Mahana–they served some of the best seafood we had on the entire trip.  On Bora Bora, we had some great food (and the friendliest, most hilarious server) at Restaurant Fare Manuia.

Tahitian food

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

I struggled with finding an answer to this one, so I asked my husband.  His response was: “Nothing at all.”

Tahiti honeymoon

Continue reading

Where Should You Go on a July Honeymoon?

Last week Condé Nast Traveler’s resident travel expert Wendy Perrin wrote a blog post answering the question, “What are the best travel destinations for July?”  While her article wasn’t necessarily honeymoon-specific, she mentioned many popular honeymoon destinations that would be wonderful in July, and a bunch of others that should be avoided.  Check out her recommendations below:

The Good:

Tahiti (As if you need another reason to choose Tahiti for a honeymoon, in July you can also celebrate Polynesian culture at the Heiva Festival.)

– Seychelles (A great tropical-yet-cool-and-dry destination that isn’t too crowded in July.  August, however, is another story.)

– Barbados (Big off-season deals are easy to come by in July, and you can check out the Crop Over Festival.)

– Anywhere up north: Canada, Scandinavia, The U.K. (Warmer weather and extended daylight hours – what’s not to like?)

Tahiti

Tahiti in July? Yes, please!

The Bad:

Belize (Humidity + mosquitos?  No thanks!)

– The west coast of Mexico (It can be so hot that the sand will burn your feet.  Yikes.)

– Eastern Turkey (Also suuuper hot.)

– The French Riviera (Lots and lots of tourists.)

– Croatia (Too many cruise-goers in Dubrovnik, but other seaside towns should be alright.)

– Rome/Venice, Italy (Really overly crowded with tourists; the prices skyrocket.)

– Southern Spain (Yep, just too hot.)

Belize

Belize is totally gorgeous, but probably not the best destination in July

_____________________

My two cents?  I think that Greece is also an excellent destination for July even though it will be high season.  The Aegean Sea doesn’t get super warm, so if you go too early in the year you might find the water to be on the chilly side.  But if you go in August, the islands get extremely crowded with Italian tourists.

Continue reading

Real Honeymoon: Tahiti

A couple of days after their beautiful wedding in San Francisco, my good friends Alix and Brandon left for their equally gorgeous honeymoon in Tahiti.  And as if they truly planned it this way, they returned to San Francisco just in time to watch the Giants win the World Series!  Sounds like the best month ever to me.  Check out their incredible Tahitian honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Tahiti, October 2012. One week in Moorea, one week in Bora Bora.

Tahiiti

How long was your trip?

About 2 weeks.

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We had a really hard time deciding. We were torn between a backpackery type trip and going somewhere cultural versus somewhere where we could just plop on a beach and do nothing. We debated Tahiti, Fiji, Madagascar, Philippines and all over Europe (especially Greece and Italy). But ultimately, the weather decided our location. Getting married in October didn’t leave us with very many warm weather options (unless we wanted to risk typhoons). I had been to Greece and had always pictured honeymooning there (beautiful beaches, culture, activities etc.). And Brandon had been to Italy and really wanted to go there (wine tasting, site seeing etc.). But the weather in both places was going to be cold. Madagascar was REALLY far and there were possible issues with weather, and in the Philippines we risked typhoons. When it finally came down to it, we realized that all we wanted was warm weather and to sit on the beach and drink rum. Tahiti was a sure-thing for the nice weather and the decision was made.

Tahiti

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Sitting on the beach, massages, the blue water, drinking rum, and having nothing to do all day, for days on end. We did a few excursions (jet skiing, ATV tour, day trip on a boat). But mostly, all we did was read books and relax on the beach.

ATV Tour Tahiti

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

As perfect as it was, there were a few things that we could have done differently. We would have brought a few more liters of rum (because you really can’t have too much rum when you are living in paradise), and some more snacks to save money. As amazing as our hotels were–and they were truly amazing–we wish we saw a little more of the islands. Moorea is absolutely beautiful; it is lush, mountainous, and has a local feel that Bora Bora doesn’t have. It would have been fun to spend a little more time seeing the island. That said, Bora Bora is a wonderful place, and there is nothing you could do to improve it.

Finally, a recommendation to all you book lovers out there, go light.  Brandon made the mistake of reading Atlas Shrugged during our honeymoon, and as much as he loved the book, it did not make for the best beach banter. Bring novels and magazines that will not lead you to contemplate the role of selfishness and individuality in a society that is on the verge of economic collapse.

Tahiti

How much planning did you do in advance?

We hired a travel agent, which I would 100% recommend (depending on where you are going). It was so nice not having to spend time figuring out where to go, and how to get to each place etc. Because we had a travel agent, we didn’t have to do much planning ourselves.

Continue reading

Honeymoon Destination Recommendations For… Serious Beach Bums

You know how the surfers in the Endless Summer movies spent their days searching for the perfect wave?  Well, I wish I had more time to travel the globe in search of the perfect beach.

Fortunately, I’ve already visited some pretty spectacular beaches over the past 28 years, so I am going to share with you a list of some of my favorites*.  Hopefully the list will help the beach bums out there decide where to go on your honeymoon:

1) Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach via Damien Dempsey

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Whitehaven Beach.  Located in the Whitsunday Islands (which is FULL of incredible beaches), Whitehaven is quite aptly named because it has the softest, whitest sand that I’ve ever seen in the world.  My friends and I were told that brushing our teeth with the sand acts as a whitener, but in retrospect that probably wasn’t the best idea for us to do.  That aside, it is the most spectacular beach I’ve ever seen.

2) Cap Juluca, Anguilla

Cap Juluca

Cap Juluca via Tiarescott

Popular with celebrities like Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston, the pristine beach at the Cap Juluca resort makes it a quintessential honeymoon destination.  It’s also just a short boat ride away from nearby St. Maarten, so you can just check it out for a day if you don’t want to stay at the resort.  Okay, okay, I know we all WANT to stay there, but it’s just really expensive, that’s all.

3) Playa Cristal, Colombia

I was blown away by Playa Cristal because of the clearness of the water and the beautiful backdrop of the lush jungle.  You can hire a boat in Taganga to take you to the beach.  Unfortunately I couldn’t bring a camera with me to the beach because our next stop was Playa Brava where we actually swam to shore, slept on the beach overnight, then hiked out of Parque Tayrona the next day and hitched a ride back to Santa Marta, so bringing electronics along was a no-no.  You’ll just have to trust me that the beach was so wonderful that it made my list of top 3 beaches in the world.

4) Playa Blanca, Colombia

Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca, land of magical beagle puppies

Yes, yes, another Colombian beach.  I don’t know if I’ve expressed how much my husband and I love Colombia yet on the blog, but we highly recommend going there if you love beaches, friendly people, and good food.  You can reach Playa Blanca from Cartagena in one of two ways: hire a private boat down by the fish market (just hold your nose while you’re there – it really stinks), or sign up for an “organized” day tour.  It seems like the organized day tour is less than ideal though because it only brings you to the crowded part of the beach, so go with the private boat for a more relaxing experience.

For honeymooners who want to rough it, you can spend the night in hammocks at Hugo’s.  My husband and I thought it was the greatest place ever because 1) it was BEAUTIFUL, 2) it was the first time we slept in hammocks during that trip so the novelty made it fun and not back-breaking yet, and 3) we woke up in the morning to a litter of beagle puppies that were born overnight.  Beagle.  Puppies.  In.  Paradise.  Probably one of the best days of my life.

5) Lake Mckenzie, Fraser Island, Australia

Lake Mckenzie Beach via Sensenmann

The colors of Lake Mckenzie look totally fake, but I assure you, this is really, really what the lake looks like.

6) Lanikai, Oahu, Hawaii

Lanikai

Lanikai Beach via Cristo Vlahos

A friend of mine who was living in Honolulu at the time took my husband and me to Lanikai, a beautiful beach that isn’t terribly overcrowded with tourists.  Do yourself a favor and pick up some Leonard’s malasadas to eat when you get to the beach.  A perfect combination.

Continue reading

Real Honeymoon: Tahiti

To me, Tahiti is one of the quintessential honeymoon destinations.  Absolutely gorgeous scenery, impressive resorts, divine French cuisine, and plenty of daytime activities to choose from if you need a break from the beach.  In fact, when I was faced with the decision to study Spanish or French back in 7th grade, I boldly told my parents, “I’m going to learn French so I can go to Tahiti one day.”  Since we lived in California and 95% of my classmates were choosing the more “useful” language of Spanish, my parents just rolled their eyes at me.  Seven years of French classes later, I finally got to go to Tahiti with my best friend and her family, and I was not disappointed.  And through that best friend, I met Marissa and Pat, whose great honeymoon photos are below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

September 2011 in Tahiti (Moorea and Bora Bora)

Champagne in Tahiti

How long was your trip?

8 days

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

While we debated the benefits of more of an “adventure” vacation, we speculated (correctly) that by the time the wedding was done, we’d want a honeymoon that allowed us to relax and unwind. We liked the fact that there were still plenty of options to be active (hiking, all types of water sports, etc.), but we would also have the ability to do nothing on a beach.

Hiking in Moorea

The best part about our honeymoon was…

There were so many it’s hard to pick! I loved our “shark and ray snorkel safari” – we saw incredible coral reefs, fed rays and swam with sharks! I also loved how somehow being on our honeymoon turned my husband into the uber tourist. Normally I’m the one clamoring to take a million pictures, but this time he was just as into recording every moment.

Snorkeling in Tahiti

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

I would have stayed longer, and might have gone to a third island.

If you plan to visit both Moorea and Bora Bora, I’d say it isn’t necessary to stay in the over-water huts in Moorea (if you’re looking to save a little money). We spent much of our time on this island exploring and being on the beach, very little in our room.

Continue reading