Posts Tagged ‘Tikehau’


Wednesday, March 9th, 2022
French Polynesia ~ After receiving numerous inquiries from former avid travelers who are now finding it difficult to dive back in, my fearless and indefatigable ESCAPESEEKER team decided that we would be the “test pilots” and for the next six months devote 10 days of each month traveling to the most sought-after destinations in the world.  Our goal is to provide the answers to:  What is required based on the respective country’s rules to enter; what we need to plan on to stay at great length; and the new rules to depart and re-enter the USA. What did we discover?  Well, here is our first report.  We keep it real, we keep it honest.
Right off the bat, know that French Polynesia requires all visitors to show proof of vaccination, plus, yes, your booster shot too! No exceptions.
Leaving LAX:  If you can navigate all the new construction going on at LAX, and the new designated shuttle stops, that’s half the challenge already conquered.  Once we reached the Tom Bradley International Terminal, we scheduled our pre-flight covid test.  About 30 minutes later, we were relieved to receive an e-mail with our test resutls:  NEGATIVE! Sigh of Relief. We are now permitted to check-in for our Air Tahiti Nui flight–something I’ve always looked forward to because the minute you board, you feel as though your vacation has begun.  It must be the sweet scent of Tahiti’s national flower, the Tiare which they give to each passenger. And, of course, it did not take long for my Producer, Jamie Barney (also a seasoned traveler) and I to go into our deep slumber for our pleasant 8-hour flight to Tahiti’s capital of Papeete.
Upon arrival, our first taste of the “new normal”–the line to clear customs was unusually slow and long; the reason–as an extra precaution, they were administering another covid-test–and the results would be e-mailed, just like before our flight. Our flight had landed at 9:15 pm as scheduled, but we did not reach our hotel in Papeete until midnight.  Our super nice driver, Patrick had waited patiently for us, as he held the sign, “ESCAPESEEKER” at the exit.  Right off the bat, for the next 10 days, the Tahitians we met–all where super kind, ultra grateful to welcome us into their country.  
After over-nighting at Le Tahiti by Pearl Resorts, we rose early the next morning and headed back to FAA airport to catch our Air Tahiti flight (the domestic airline) to Tikehau, a coral  atoll in the Tuamotus Archipelago of French Polynesia to do some serious diving.  Word of caution–if you bring your own diving gear, the extra weight will costs you–about $100 each time.
Often called, the “diving mecca” Jamie, a seasoned diver could not get into the water soon enough. We chose a local diving operation, CocodiveTikehau. And, we would do it all over again in an instant.  The Divemaster, Xavier is one of the most caring, patient, thorough divemaster we have ever met. Our Captain, I really got to know because I was the first one back in the boat while the pros chose to dive deeper and longer. If there is one clear benefit to having the islands on lock down for the last two years–the sealife has been undisturbed, and its population has increased to a healthier state. Another extra benefit when you sign up for these fun activities, you meet other adventurous travelers from around the world–some may even be from your on hometown that you would not otherwise meet.  Jamie and I gained so many new friends on this assignment, proving my theory, “The world is full of friends just waiting to be met.”
We can’t wait to return to Le Tikehau [] where we were met with stunning rainbows each morning, and the staff treated us like Polynesian Royalty! Can you imagine?  After we reached the tiny Tikehau airport for our departure flight, our waiter at Le TIkehau arrived on his bicycle, carrying a beautiful shell crown, “Mel, my grandmere made this for you!” Another gentleman from Le TIkehau gave Jamie a literal hand-ful of loose black pearls. That is what you’ll find on this tiny coral atoll of Tikehau–the genuinely generous, kind, peaceful Tuamotuan. They live up to their name, TIkehau which means means Peaceful Landing in Tuamotuan.  
Next stop, Bora Bora, the “Pearl of French Polynesia.”
The Bora Bora island is one of the most popular islands in The Islands of Tahiti. One of nine islands within the Society Islands, Bora Bora was formed over seven million years ago by a volcano. Like most of the islands of French Polynesia, Bora Bora is surrounded by a ring of coral reef, also known as an atoll. This south pacific island could easily be defined as the center of the romantic universe, where luxurious beach resorts, and spas dot the island with overwater bungalows, thatched-roof villas, create its legendary ambiance. Here’s the good news–you don’t have to be a couple to savor all that Bora Bora has to offer.  The island is a photographer’s dream, a waterlover’s playground, for both young and old, and definitely if sailing floats your boat, Bora Bora is ready-made to provide endless days and nights of bliss.
Our home away from home is Le Bora Bora by Pearl Resorts–a Relais Chateaux resort which instantly means, there’s an incomparable level of luxury and service you can expect to receive.  Le Bora Bora did not disappoint. Our over-the-water bungalow had an uninterrupted view of Mount Otemanu, the iconic Bora Bora landmark. If there was one thing we had not fully planned on, however, Bora Bora’s culinary offerings are delicious, but  pricey.  I was told everything has to be imported, thus the higher costs of food.  Make sure you plan on spending $150 per person for dinner with drinks. The highest we experienced was the $450. per couple at La Villa Mahana. But being joined by our new friends whom we originally met at Le TIkehau made the dinner even more extraordinary. We all agreed it was worth every delectable morsel! We were served the best lobster risotto I’ve ever had–and I’ve dined with 3-star Michelin chefs–so that speaks volumes.  If you must save up for it–do it!  There are only six tables each night, so book early, and plan on an exquisite culinary journey that will last through the evening!
After spending a chunk of mulah on dinner, we decided to book an all-day sailing experience that also included diving, and lunch. We booked with Bora Bora Cruise and Dive, and had the Catamaran all to ourselves.  What a stunning day. We were in and out of the boat as much as our hearts desire. Taking a nap on the bow with the soft breezes caressing our sun-kissed faces as our Captain serenaded us with his ukulele and sweet tenor voice–that’s about as good as a Bora Bora cruise gets! If you prefer smaller rides, I highly recommend jetski tour with Matira.
We will remember our Bora Bora adventures, and the lifelong friends we have made all along the way.  Yes, it’s more complicated to travel during these unprecedented times, and there’s always that anxious feeling not knowing if your final covid test pre-flight back to the USA will read, “Negatif”–but at the end of the day, it is a reassuring feeling knowing all the passengers on your flight are all “Negatif” as you drift back into a nice dreamy, midnight slumber on board the Air Tahiti Nui flight to LAX.  The toughest part is waking up to the Captain announcing, “Welcome to Los Angeles.”
Stay tuned as we begin uploading all of the stunning images from our Tikehau and Bora Bora adventures. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
I shall let the images tell our story in my next post.
Be Brave…Plan…and Just go!