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|French Polynesia: Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, and Huahine||1 2 3 4|
The final stop of our trip was the island of Huahine. Reading various travel blogs, we saw numerous travelers mention this was their favorite island. It is indeed very pretty, although for me Moorea is number one as it has the right mix of nature and modern perks. Our flight took us through a connection at Raiatea, so we got to see another island, if only briefly. At Huahine, we were staying at Le Mahana. What makes this island special is that it is not yet very developed, and as such, there are only a handful of hotels available. This is the largest one. This island is particularly popular with folks who want to just do an AirBnB and stay in a private house. We prefer the simplicity of hotels. The hotel is on the opposite end of the island from the airport and this time we arranged a transport ahead of time. The geography of Huahine is kind of similar to Tahiti in that the island consists of two parts. The airport is in the north, just like in Tahiti, and our hotel was all the way near the southern tip, once again similar to Tahiti. This hotel was yet different. The first one in Tahiti was an eco lodge near a jungle. In Moorea we stayed in an artsy garden style place. Then Bora Bora was a luxury resort for westerners. This place was in a way a mix between Tahiti's Vanira Lodge, as the rooms were garden-style bungalows, and Bora Bora, in providing resort amenities such as free kayaks and paddle boards.
The next day we went for a little kayak tour of the lagoon. On the way back, we passed by one of the catamarans docked near the hotel. The French owner has been coming here for years, and seems to live semi-permanently on the boat. Near him were other two catamarans. These were occupied by 16 Americans. They said they paid about $20,000 for a two week rental per boat (if remembering right). This doesn't actually seem that high given how much hotels cost. This way, you get an over the water "bungalow" for every night of your trip, you just don't get the other niceties like room service or a spacious bathroom (unless you count the ocean as your bathtub).
The next day we decided to go for a bike tour around the island. I dropped the ball here in that I did not properly calculate the total distance. I figured it will be about 15 miles and will take us no more than 4 hours. Well, 35 miles and 8 hours later, we finally reached back home, all tired. What really did us in were the hills! All the prior islands were quite flat. Granted, they all have a big mountain in the middle but the ring road tends to just follow the ocean. Not so much in Huahine. There are some serious hills here, especially for people like us who don't regularly ride bikes. We started heading clockwise and north. One of the first stops was a vanilla plantation. We didn't make any arrangements and just rolled in as a French couple was completing their tour. The owner didn't mind to take us out again. The most fun thing of this was that we kept running into the same couple all the way around the island. Given they were in a car and we on bikes, perhaps our pace was not all that slow!
After coming back, we practiced our paddle boarding. It's actually not that hard. It seems that having a strong core is more important than having a sense of balance. Later that evening we joined our new hotel friends Michael and Darren for dinner. This couple from Long Beach was out here to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
The next morning I went out snorkeling around the hotel. This place had hands down the best snorkeling. Literally just outside the hotel was a ton of corral full of various fish.
And that's it, the vacation was over. The flight back to Tahiti brought us in at 4pm, which gave us plenty of time prior to the 9pm flight back to take the required COVID test. I wanted to check in our bags and go shopping in town, but the check in counter was not open and there was no place to leave bags. Bummer. So we just stayed at the terminal until it was time go.
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