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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Honeymoon to French Polynesia -- Moorea 12.21 - 12.23.07

We left JFK on the busiest day of the year, Friday, 12. 21 in the evening. After anticipated delays and a layover at LAX, we landed in Papeete, Tahiti on the morning of Saturday 12. 22.  Custom for None-EU visitors at PPT was painfully slow, and the line was way too long. Once we finally got out of the International airport, our local transportation provider was already waiting outside with flower necklace to greet us and took us to the domestic airport just a short ride away.

Because of the delays, we already missed our transfer flight from Papeete to Moorea. Luckily, we were able to get on the next plane at 9:30 AM. The flight from Tahiti to Moorea was only 7 minutes. The view of Moorea island and especially its lagoon from the plane were just beautiful.

As soon as we got out of the airport, the local travel agent was already waiting outside to take us to our hotel. Reading so much about the outrageously expensive living costs in French Polynesia, we asked the driver to stop by any grocery store on our way to the hotel so we can stock up some basic supplies such as bottled water and a few snacks.

 The Sheraton Moorea Lagoon Resort Spa was located between Cook's Bay & Opunobu Bay. It was a very relaxing and gorgeous property with a Polynesian flavor. We were very happy with our superior garden bungalow. It was comfy and spacious. We made the most use out of our claw bathtub and balcony during our stay.
As soon as we got settled in our bungalow, we headed straight to the beach. The Sheraton has a nice white sand beach and great lagoon for snorkeling. There could be some beautiful fish swimming around your feet, disguised by the sand, the coral, and the wave so that you did not know their existence looking down from above water.Once you put on your goggles and stick your head into the water, a whole new world opens up. One that is calmer, quieter, a bit eerie, but with some of the most bizarre, funny, and colorful creatures. Within few feet from the ocean, there are plenty of coral reefs and different type of tropical fish. H was "attacked" by a crazy beautiful fish on the first day when he went snorkeling. The fish swam fiercely right to his face. H got scared. We were so fascinated by the underwater world that we discovered, that we spent a lot of time snorkeling on this trip. 

The first night  of our arrival, We had dinner at Aito Restaurant based on many recommendations. The restaurant serves French/Polynesian cuisine. The appetizer poisson cru was served in a coconut shell, how cute! H had tuna with tomato sauce and I had Mahi Mahi with ginger sauce for the main course. H's tuna was probably the best tuna we've ever had. It was fresh, light, and perfect with the tomato sauce. The tomato sauce took 10 hours to cook, and it definitely was worth mentioning for it's flavorful taste. On our way to the hotel from the airport, our driver told us that "moorea" means "yellow gecko" in Polynesian. We quickly found out that there was no shortages of geckos in the restaurant. During our 2 hour meal, we saw plenty of them around. We had caramel papaya with coconut milk for dessert. It was gone within minutes it arrived at our table. I absolutely loved it! By the time we finished the dinner, it was around 10PM local time and 3AM New York time. We were beat, and it was time to hit the bed.

We woke up the next day with a cloudy sky and drizzles since it was the wet season. We were taken to our lagoon excursion around 9 AM in the morning, with the first stop for shark feeding.  We saw many small black-tip sharks swimming around. Some fearless kids jumped into the water right away. H and I were dragging our feet until the boat was almost empty. I didn't care how small and "harmless" these sharks were. They were SHARKS! And there was nothing between us to stop any one of the sharks to attack me, in case they would be in the mood for "something different" for lunch. Nonetheless, the experience was quite surreal.

The next stop was feeding the sting rays. Apparently the cause of Steve Irwin's death was fresh in everyone's memory. We all fled away from the sting rays' tails as soon as it came close. I don't know what's so interesting about these creatures and touching their skin. Anyway, after 5 minutes, I was ready for the next stop.
 We arrived at an outer island (Motu) and had simple Polynesian dishes for lunch. The tour guide also taught us how to make poisson cru and how to open a coconut.  We went snorkeling again before heading back to the hotel.

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