If you are searching for treasure then Tahiti definitely is the spot.
Not only is the temperature warm but so are the people you meet. As soon as we hopped off our Air Tahiti Nui flight and walked down the stairs the warmth washed over us and we were in our happy place.
Arriving from Australia and New Zealand into Papeete in the late evening is perfect as the temperature is cooler than during the peak of the day and allows you to acclimatise. Welcomed by our transfer with beautiful fresh flower leis we were at Te Moana Resort within 10 minutes ready to check in and either enjoy the macaroons in our room or head down to the pool and restaurant area with its fairy lights to listen to the local entertainment.
The following morning after a delicious breakfast of fruit, cereals and French pastries we were off on a half day Island Tour - a great way to learn the past history of yesteryear to current modern day with amusing antidotes and to orientate ourselves. Tracing the 114km road around the main island of Tahiti Nui we learnt some local lingo and visited the Pointe de Venus, Arahoho blow hole, had a short walk to the Faarumai Waterfall and the Vaipahi gardens.
Thankful for the air-conditioned bus, we then headed back to the resort for a well-deserved rest and swim. It was at this point we were able to enjoy the facilities in the daylight. The infinity pool is a highlight. Not only has it recently been renovated but the sand that coats the pool is from the Islands of Polynesia. The swim up bar is a great place to keep cool while looking out over Moorea and watching jet skiis whizz by, kayakers paddle past and locals training in their outrigger canoes.
Te Moana Resort has an array of activities to keep the active relaxer occupied. From jet ski, kayak, submarine scooter and snorkel and mask hire to snorkelling, scuba diving, dolphin and whale watching tours.
While we could have spent all day relaxing and enjoying the activities at the resort there were too many activities and attractions to do close by.
With a bus stop just 200 metres from Te Moana Resort you can travel with the locals (just 10-15 minutes) for a couple of dollars and enjoy the scenery along the way. A bus would pass by every 20-30 minutes and the journey was most enjoyable. If you need to get all of your shopping back to the hotel then the taxi may be a better option on the way back.
Exploring Papeete and going for a Market stroll through the bustling markets with the smells of fresh fruit and vegetables and amazing local crafts is a great way to shop for handicrafts, vanilla beans, tropical fruits and beautiful Black Pearls found in the reputable jewellers. It’s a colourful place to shop for souvenirs, try local snacks and soak in the islands atmosphere.
Take a stroll along the waterfront promenade, known as the Papeete Marina, where you can enjoy scenic views of the harbour, watch the sunset, or simply relax on one of the benches and watch people go by.
For those interested in the arts, take a 10 minute taxi ride to visit to Le Musée de Tahiti et des Îles , the perfect way to learn about Tahitian history and culture with an immersive and educational experience before your Voyage around the Marquesas. The museum features exhibitions on Polynesian artifacts, traditional arts and crafts, and the fascinating history of the islands. Make sure you get the audio guide as this provides so much more information than simply reading the plaques. The admission fee of $20 including the audio is well worth the visit.
Explore the Art Scene of Tahiti by visiting the Paul Gauguin Museum to admire the art inspired by the island. You can really connect with this museum when you then visit Paul Gauguin’s grave during the Aranui 5 voyage.
If all of this activity makes you hungry don’t worry, there are plenty of places to try local dishes like poisson cru (raw fish with coconut milk) and experience the unique flavours of Tahitian cuisine for any budget.
The beauty of Te Moana Resort is that their rooms have a kitchenette and fridge so you can cook your own meals or simply cut up French sticks with cheeses for lunch or a snack while you enjoy the view from your balconies. A quick walk across the road and you will find a small superette with an assortment of food and drinks. If you prefer a 15 minute walk there is also a large supermarket ‘Carrefour’ with a much larger range of goodies. A bakery is just 50 metres along from the resort and sells whole cooked chickens and pre made meals but you need to get there early as it closes in the afternoon.
If cooking is the last thing on your mind while on holiday there is of course the option of eating at one of the resorts restaurants. Taapuna Restaurant offers a full menu including mouth-watering desserts which I can personally vouch for. For something lighter you can order tapas to go with your signature cocktail during happy hour at either the Taapuna Bar at the pool or the Taapuna Beach Bar on motu Miki-Miki while you enjoy the sand in toes.
For a more casual and local dining experience, look out for the roulotte stands ‘Le Trucks’ that pop up in the evenings. You can try Tahitian and International street food such as crepes (sweet and savoury) and grilled steak and seafood. These are also located just 100 metres walk from Te Moana Resort, if you can make it past the delicious smells you can walk a little further to enjoy even more trucks.
The local Yacht Club is another great option for lunch or dinner and entertainment but my favourite is the Blue Banana!!! Turn right out of the Resort and within a 10 minute walk you are welcomed at this must go to restaurant with gorgeous views. Make sure you pre book and ask for a table over the water where you can watch stingrays swimming around under you and a few dropped utensils which have slipped through the cracks in the deck. The sunset over Moorea is spectacular and although it is popular for the locals there is a tourist menu in English unless you want to try your luck at your high school French.
Witnessing your first sunset over Moorea is when you realise that 3 nights is not long enough. Thankfully on our Aranui 5 packages at the end of our Voyage we had another 3 nights of relaxation or to visit the spots we had missed.