John and I met in college in Madison, Wisconsin, and shared a semester abroad together, during which time we had traveled extensively around the world. So, when it came time to choose a honeymoon destination, we knew it had to be some place extremely exotic. Being beach lovers and San Diegans, we definitely knew we wanted to go somewhere tropical and with plenty of water activities. At a local bridal expo, we came across a travel agency that recommended Tahiti. After meeting with the travel agency, we took our information to Costco Travel and booked our trip for $1,000 cheaper than the travel agency could offer (including meals, lodging, travel insurance, flights, and transfers).
We were married on September 4, 2010. However, as a trial attorney, it just so happened that I had a trial scheduled the week after our wedding, and could not get away for our honeymoon right away. Instead, we decided to go over Thanksgiving. We left on November 23, 2010, flying directly from Los Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti (the equivalent of Hawaii’s main island). We flew Air Tahiti Nui, which was not the best airline I have ever flown. Although you are allowed free drinks, the seats are extremely small and leg room is really limited. The seats do not come with their own air blowers, so the temperature is 100% controlled by the flight crew, who are used to 90-degree weather in Tahiti. We were uncomfortably hot the entire eight-hour flight, which made sleeping difficult.
When we landed in Papeete, I was so excited to see the crystal-clear blue waters that my exhaustion faded instantly. We were shuttled to the ferry dock and then ferried over to Moorea for a four-night stay in a beach bungalow at the Sofitel Resort. The beach bungalow was literally about 12 feet from the water and had this wonderful covered porch area, which came in handy when the daily one-hour rain shower rolled in. During the rain, we would simply play hand after hand of gin rummy and drink Hinano Beer until it cleared up.
Meanwhile, thanks to our honeymoon registry, which was a big hit with our guests, we enjoyed a boat rental, couples massage, Polynesian show and BBQ, and LOTS of snorkeling on Moorea. The water was so clear there and the marine life and coral was amazing. One day, John decided he wanted to water ski on the “flat as glass” lagoon. The activities manager would not take us because it was raining and then because he alleged the boat was not powerful enough to pull John out of the water on one ski. John bet the manager five Francs that he would get up, and he was ultimately successful (although the manager was right that the boat lacked power, as John drank gallons of salt water on his way up and almost blew out his knees). We also ventured into the island two nights for dinner off the resort, which was fun to see. Our hotel was very nice, although the food and service could have been better.
After Moorea, we took a flight to Bora Bora, where the airport was located on the lagoon. We took a water taxi to our hotel, the St. Regis, where we had an over-water bungalow accommodation. If we were impressed in Moorea, we were absolutely blown away in Bora Bora. Our stay at the St. Regis was dumb luck, as we had originally planned on staying at the Le Meridien, which was under construction at the time of our honeymoon. Therefore, we were given a free upgrade for the “inconvenience” to the nicest hotel on the island.
From the beginning, we were treated like celebrities at St. Regis, golf carted around the resort for a tour of its amenities. Our room had a chilled bottle of champagne, beach bag, and coffee mug waiting for us. We were thrilled with our accommodation. We had dinners included at the St. Regis (another nice perk from Costco Travel), so we did not venture away from our hotel much. The food was wonderful.
Thanks to our honeymoon registry, we enjoyed jet-skiing around the island, champagne every night, pearl shopping, and snorkeling with sting rays and sharks. At first, I was completely freaked out about swimming with stingrays until I realized they are like deer in the Midwest. They are gentle and will not hurt you as long as you respect them. They are truly beautiful creatures to see up close and personal. John enjoyed fishing off our private deck and catching Jackfish, and we are proud to be able to say that we swam with sharks.
John is so romantic that one morning in Bora Bora, he let me sleep a little later than usual. When I woke up and joined him out on our private patio overlooking the lagoon for our daily coffee, I was overjoyed to find a beautiful Tahitian black pearl bracelet and earrings that John had picked out just for me. This was hands-down the best souvenir, second only to the memories from such a wonderful trip.
We flew back from Bora Bora to Papeete on December 1, and then from Papeete back to Los Angeles on December 2, for a total of 9 days. The total cost of our trip was approximately $16,000. It was worth every penny. I literally cried when I had to leave. I would recommend this destination to all other honeymooners out there looking for a tropical paradise and the ultimate relaxation vacation. It will be very difficult to top this trip in the future.