© 2015 mikeandbrynne

Paradise

 

Paradise-
When Mike told me several months ago that we were going to go on a “Once-in-a-Lifetime cruise in Tahiti with his work friends and their spouses as a work reward trip, I initially turned him down. The Tahiti part sounded amazing and over the top fancy but I didn’t want to leave my baby, didn’t want to ask someone to watch my six children and didn’t want to go on a cruise (the two cruises we have taken in our lives I took when I was 6 months pregnant with Taylor and 5 months pregnant with Drew and I was nauseous the whole time with both of them. Blah!).  Out of respect to Mike and his great company and a desire to actually have a full nights sleep (Lily has struggled with that sleeping thing……..it seems to be her only flaw- love that baby) I consented. We convinced my parents to watch the kids with a promise that they didn’t have to teach any homeschool, weaned poor Lily who will only take a formula we found in Europe (how to we create a “gourmet infant”?), and packed for adventure. It was hard saying goodbye to the kids and stressful to leave them without their full school and fall schedules in place.

 

Red eye flights are never fun (especially when they are delayed 2 hours on the runway and again in the air) but after a plate of pineapple and a couple of hours in the perfect Tahiti air I was sold. Paradise. Being fairly ignorant of the geography and topography of French Polynesia, I had thought that Tahiti was THE place to visit. I soon learned that Tahiti was an ideal jumping off point for the rest of the Society Islands. We did enjoy our day in Tahiti though, visiting the temple and the tropical gardens and a few scenic waterfalls. The gastronomic highlight of the day was the Roulette trucks in Papeete which served all different types of savory dishes. Listening to everyone speak French, I was in the mood for a good crepe and dined on a Nutella and banana crepe combination. Delish.

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Soon after we made our way to our incredible cruise ship which Windstar asks you to call a yacht instead of a cruise ship. It was beautiful and intimate. No lines. No rush. From the moment we set our feet on the gangplank it was a completely different experience from the other two cruises we had embarked on. The staff to guest ratio was 2:3 and everyone on board knew your name and was happy to help. The ship was small, the dining area was small and the cruisers were few. It was lovely. There wass attention to every detail and you felt completely spoiled the entire time. I never thought I would go on a cruise again, but this just might have changed my mind. By the time we had awoken in the morning we had arrived in Moorea which is a true French Polyensian dream- just what you would envision as a tropical paradise.IMG_0761

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After some debate we decided to spend our first true vacation morning  on a small boat dolphin and whale watching. The last time I went whale watching was in second or third grade; we saw nothing, I was the only one that threw up on the boat and the bus broke down on the way back to the school. Needless to say I have not chosen to repeat the experience…….until today.
Our tour guide, Dr Poole was a Berkeley grad who came to the islands to do research on whales 25 years ago and never left. We learned lots of great marine biology tidbits from him, but best of all we got to actually see those dolphins and whales out in their natural habitat!  Truly, we were so lucky to have gotten to see such a great show by Mother Nature. It was the first time this season that they had seen pilot whales (actually a large species of dolphins) and we saw dozens of them out playing and swimming with three giant humpback whales!  The whales were active and interacting consistently with one another which made the adventure all the more exciting. Additionally, we saw a whole group of spinner dolphins. The highlight of the whole trip was actually getting in the water with the pilot whales and the humpbacks!  French Poleynesia is one of the few places in the world where you can still swim in the water with the whales (our guide prefers to call it “getting into the water to observe the animals”). Incredible. Our water time got cut a little short when three Oceanic White tipped Sharks came to join the party. Carefully and calmly our guide worked to quickly get us out of the water while Mike and friends kept trying to swim toward the sharks to get a closer photo with the “GoPro”. Thankfully I wasn’t aware of that until I saw the video afterwards!  I loved listening to the giant whales communicate with each other and seeing them breech up out of the water. “Real life”Animal Planet. Amazing.


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Our day could have ended right there and been deemed a complete success, but we had read on TripAdvisor about a “Lagoonarium” on the other side of the island that was supposed to be amazing. We recruited our friends Matt and Missy to join us, rented some scooters and set off around this idyllic island. Loved it. The Lagoonarium was everything that the reviews had promised- tons of fish, friendly sting rays, lots of black tipped sharks and beautiful coral. The water here is perfectly clear and offers ideal conditions for snorkeling. We couldn’t have ordered better weather or more vibrant blue and turquoise water. Just before we headed back to the boat we ran into the LDS missionaries on the island and had fun visiting with them. We topped off the whole day with a dip in the spa and free room service. Paradise.

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