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There isn’t anything more romantic than saying, “I do” on a white-sand beach beside a tranquil blue lagoon in Bora Bora!!!   Tahiti has FINALLY legalized destination-wedding ceremonies for U.S. and Canadian couples (in fact, for any overseas visitors over the age of 18 who are not French citizens).  So here’s the scoop:

Requirements: If you want to wed legally in Tahiti you will need to start the process at least six months in advance (you can also marry stateside and enjoy ceremonial-only vows in Tahiti with far less paperwork).  There are about six detailed documents that need to be translated and filed, including a “Marriage of Foreign Citizens in French Polynesia” document; a letter signed and dated by both spouses and addressed to the mayor of the commune where the wedding will take place; proof of identities (copies of both spouses passports); a certified copy of both spouses’ birth certificates issued less than six months prior to the wedding date, authenticated with an “Apostile,” translated into French by an approved translator and legalized by the French Consulate; a “Certificate of Non-Marital Status” signed by a lawyer, translated into French and legalized by the French Consulate; and proof of residency for both spouses (such as utility bills).

Options: Without exception, the actual legal marriage will take place at the City Hall on the island where the couple will wed. This can be immediately followed by a beach, chapel, or hilltop ceremony featuring any combination of traditional Tahitian vows (presided over by a priest in plumed headdress and ceremonial garb with both couples dressed in white pareus and adorned with crowns and garlands of flowers and then wrapped together in the vibrant “Tifaifai” or wedding quilt) or Western ceremony (presided over by a justice or minister with the couple in a wedding gown and suit).  Depending on the locale, brides or grooms can arrive via dugout canoe, electric cart, or on foot to backdrops as varied as a glass-floored overwater chapel, a private motu (small island), or a catamaran sailing Bora Bora’s lagoon as the sun dips behind Mt. Otemanu.

Locations: Almost every major resort on Tahiti’s three main islands – Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora – has wedding packages in place.

Moorea Pearl Resort – This Tahitian-owned property offers colorful, flower-infused weddings in two wonderful locations: a convenient beachfront at the resort with the bride’s arrival by canoe to her awaiting groom (about $800-$2,000 depending on extras such as musicians, dancers, and dinner), and a day-long celebration on a more private motu, reachable via a 20-minute boat ride (starting at about $2,000).  All ceremony packages include musicians, floral leis and crowns, and traditional pareus for the bride and groom, plus a beautiful bed of flowers and Champagne in the couple’s bungalow. Rates from $271.

InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa – The jagged green peaks of Moorea create a stunning, altar-like backdrop as couples in white pareus and a coconut-shell top (for her) stand barefoot in soft white sand next to the brilliant pale blue lagoon and exchange vows at sunset in a vibrant and enjoyable music and dance-filled Polynesian ceremony. Here, the groom arrives by outrigger canoe and the resort offers the option of a “Mini” Ceremony (accompanied by 8-10 musicians and dancers for about $1,300) or a longer “Grand” Ceremony (15-20 musicians and dancers for about $2,000). The couple returns to their flower-decorated bungalow for canapés and Champagne, followed by a private or group dinner at extra cost. Rates from $287/night.

InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa – Lapped by Bora Bora’s legendary lagoon, with iconic Mt. Otemanu in direct view, this five-year-old luxury resort mixing distinctly contemporary décor with traditional Tahitian ambience is a truly memorable spot to exchange “I Do’s.” In fact, there are several locations for weddings, ranging from an air-conditioned, glass-floored overwater chapel (from $2,050 and shown at left, courtesy of InterContinental Hotels & Resorts) to a sun-dappled beach (from $1,900) – both with mesmerizing Mt. Otemanu views. The resort’s concierge/wedding planning team aims to personalize each marriage with the couple’s preferred mix of Polynesian and Western elements and post-ceremony cocktails and dining (tip: the fire dancers are a must!). Rates from $900/night (most accommodations are overwater bungalows, with a few two-bedroom family suites from $800/night).

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora – Couples can choose from seven wedding venues at this two-year-old five-star property – including a brand new catamaran, the Four Seasons Navigator, during a scenic two-hour sunset sail. After welcome Champagne and canapés, the couple and a maximum of 12-16 guests head up to the Navigator’s top deck for an intimate and breathtaking traditional Polynesian ceremony presided over by a Tahitian priest and accompanied by two musicians (from $2,150). As the lagoon shimmers and the passing scenery captivates, everyone revels in this very private and enchanting setting (shown at right). Other venues include the resort’s beach, its tiny offshore Sunset Motu or its open-air wedding chapel. Afterward, dining and entertainment options range from a beach barbecue (again, reserve the fire dancer!) to a fine-dining gala for up to 100. Rates from $900/night.

To all of my Tahitian travel lovers out there…I have an update on The Brando Resort –

The Brando resort will be built by late 2012 on Tetiaroa, a French Polynesia island formerly owned by the late actor Marlon Brando. The property will be the only hotel on the island, with 47 deluxe bungalow villas with their own private plunge pools.

I will keep you posted on the progress!

Okay!!!  You asked for it & now I am going to give it to you – TAHITI!!! 

One of my BEST suppliers has heard your cries (okay, maybe more of my cries…) and are offering these amazing deals, that I can offer to you!

Now I am not going to lie to you…These prices do not include airfare, resort fees, seasonal surcharges, a meal plan, etc…  However, your dreams to go to paradise can happen! 

Call me today, before these specials are taken up by others!!!

Bora Bora is on SALE!!!

Yes, the water is that clear!  Yes, it is truly paradise. Yes, the Overwater Bungalow is included.  Yes, it NEEDS to be your next vacation!!!

Contact me today to book your Tahitian vacation!

Enough with excuses, here’s my post about our trip to Tahiti… 

Imagine, it’s October 2006 and Neil is turning the Big 40!  Going through my head is “ What to do, oh what to do…”  TAHITI!!!  So after talking to my fellow agents and the inability to choose which island, a cruise seemed the best option!  We chose to do the 11 night Tahitian and Marquesas Islands route on the then named Princess Cruises Tahitian Princess.  Knowing that the Tahitian was an old Renaissance ship and Princess had let her go a bit, we knew not to expect much from the ship.  Trust me – the destination well made up for it!

So the birthday adventure started in Los Angeles with dinner with great friends in Marina Del Rey.  We stayed at the Westin Los Angeles Airport and the next day we boarded Air Tahiti Nui for our non-stop trip to Papeete, Tahiti.  What many people don’t know, is that Tahiti is approximately 8 hours from Los Angeles, which is only 2 hours more than Hawaii.  So next time you are thinking about that Hawaiian getaway, don’t bother – GO TO TAHITI!  So back to Air Tahiti Nui – what a wonderful airline!  It brought me back to the days when it was actually a pleasure to fly.  Flight attendants were dressed up (not in their khaki shorts, cracking jokes), passing out FREE French wine (all you can drink), edible food and provided the Jet Blue experience with your own TV’s in the seat in front of you.  You also get a care package with ear plugs, eye shades and socks to keep those tootsies warm.  As Neil said, he’s had “longer flights to Boston!”

So we arrived at about 7:00 p.m. in Papeete and went directly to the ship.  She is small and only holds 600 passengers.  We checked into our mini-suite (remember, it was Neil’s 40th…).  As expected the ship looked tired, but who cares – IT’S TAHITI!

Moorea

First stop – Moorea.  We traveled really far from the Port of Papeete – 1 hour 😉  Moorea is absolutely beautiful!  I actually preferred it to Bora Bora, because I found it more remote and quiet.  Also, for those budget travelers out there – it is far cheaper than the much publicized Bora Bora.  More about Bora Bora later…

We chose to spend our day on a private Motu. <yes, I can see the poodle head cock again>  A Motu is a small island off of a larger island, surround by a coral reef.  So we spent the day snorkeling, making friends with the Manta Rays and just lounging around. 

Let me back track here for a moment – in preparation of this trip, Neil purchased a rather expensive way to use a digital camera underwater, but it was still cheaper than purchasing the Olympus underwater digital camera.  This gizmo (just imagine a Ziploc bag – warning #1) came shipped directly from England (warning #2).  Neil put it though several trials with objects other than the camera.  First the sink, then the tub and finally the pool.  Once it passed his inspections, he placed the camera in the “expensive Ziploc Bag” and took pictures of the pool and the shots were very clear.  So back to Moorea…picture Neil in his full gear – fins, mask & snorkel, bathing suit and of course his “Ziploc Bag!” (see bag on table below)

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He dives on in to snorkel and take pics of the Manta Rays.  Can you guess what happens next????  Well, let’s just say the poor guy was devastated to find out the “English Ziploc” had failed him and fried the camera.  He spent the whole day trying to dry it out and praying it would work again. (I knew better)  The good news is, I still had my camera and the $10 disposable underwater camera I purchased at Walmart!  Even better news, Neil was able to save the memory card from the waterlogged camera, giving us this memorable picture.  Nevertheless, we had an amazing time and I walked away with knowing I got to be intimate with a Manta Ray and lived to tell about it!

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Nuka Hiva

So we arrived 2 days later in Nuva Hiva (part of the Marquesas Islands), ready to go with our brand new digital camera we purchased on the ship!   This particular island is where they filmed the reality TV Show – Survivor #4.   

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Survivor Beach

Since this island is rarely visited, they do not have an infrastructure for tours.  So Princess, hired locals with vehicles and off we went to tour this island and even one of the Survivor sites.  It was disappointing!  These “survivors” were not in a remote location!  If they just hiked over a small hill, they would have had access to a small village with running water & electricity.  Moving on – we took a heck of a hike into the jungles to see a ritual sacrifice site.  Honestly, none of us thought we would make it!  It was steep & hot and hot & steep.

Can you tell Neil is not a happy camper?

Can you tell Neil is not a happy camper?

Yes, the ruins were amazing, yes, I would have appreciated them more if it was cooler, and yes, I would do it again!   The ancient Tahitian people were not the friendliest – they conducted religious ceremonies, that included human sacrafices.  Ewwwww

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Hiva Oa

We were not surprised about not being able to anchor for the day, but disappointed all the same when the waters were too rough for us to get off the ship to tour Hiva Oa. 

Can you imagine?!?!  I don't get sea sick, but...

Can you imagine?!?! I don't get sea sick, but...

However, we were fascinated with the maneuvering it took the captain and the “pontoon” operators to get the life boat aka, pontoon back on board.  It took over 2 hours with the captain finally deciding to pull up anchor, start the engines and then quickly turn the ship to create smooth waters for the little guy to move along side and hooked up!  A true testament to – No Man Left Behind!

Welcome Back!

Welcome Back!

Rangiroa

Where you have Yin, you must have Yang!  Rangiroa is the 2nd largest Atoll in the world (go Google the largest…)  It is where they filmed the infamous Brooke Shields’ movie, Blue Lagoon.  It was such a relief to be in the calm waters of the lagoon.  We stepped out on our balcony and were amazed by the beauty and the clear, clear waters!  We could actually see the hull of the ship.  Thanks to our wonderful friends Doug & Linda we were off for the day to snorkel the waters of the lagoon and dolphin watching!  Thanks for such an amazing birthday gift! 

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Raiatea & Tahaa

Just when you thought it could not get any better or beautiful, we arrived in Raiatea/Tahaa.  We decided ahead of time, since this was going to a truly special destination, we wanted to ditch our fellow cruisers and do a private tour.  One of the best decisions ever made!  There were only 11 of us, plus Bruno (tour guide & boat owner) and his assistant.  We first headed over to another private Motu, where had their own aquarium.  We got to swim with fishes and even sharks!  It was hard to break away from the Motu and the French wine, but there was much more to see!   Our final destination was an area in Tahaa where we could drift snorkel.  Basically, it is what it sounds like –  between 2 Motus the waters come together and you just plop your body in the water, drift and enjoy the sites.  Of course, I have to find the loop hole!  I got hit by a small rogue wave and tossed into coral and sea urchins.  I was sooo excited!!!  I couldn’t wait to get out of the water and have Neil urinate on me!  He flat out refused and Bruno had the whole first aid kit…Sorry – back to the drift snorkel – This area is located near the Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa.  This is true paradise!  If you are considering Bora Bora – don’t!  Stay at this resort and I would be happy to give you further details (see my contact link above). 

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Now many of you out there were the beneficiaries of our annual holiday card.  It took a lot for me to get Neil to agree to the underwater shot we took and put it on a card.  But, here I am not going to win.  If you want to see the amazing picture you will have to contact me privately to see it.  He just will not agree to allow me to post it out there on the world wide web.  Something to do with his license, his clients, privacy….

Bora Bora

Some would say we left the best destination for almost last.  I would argue.  Yes, Bora Bora is amazingly beautiful, but I truly thought it was too built up.  When I think of paradise, I NOW think of Tahaa.  I just think for the money, Tahaa is a better option.  With that said, we decided to spend part of our day doing a Helmut Dive.  This is where we get to walk the bottom of the ocean (approx. 20 feet down) wearing these hysterical helmets.  AWESOME!!!   Sorry for the crappy picture, but the $10 disposal camera just did not work well that deep and Neil was not about to try the “English Ziploc” again with the new camera.

 

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Afterwards we got to swim around for awhile and Neil even got to see a shark while swimming.  He quickly came back on-board the boat.

Bora Bora Shark

Bora Bora Shark

Ladies, let’s be honest here with each other!  No trip to Tahiti is complete without the purchase of a Tahitian pearl.  I know it was Neil’s birthday trip, but we are talking shopping and pearls here!!!  So after spending the day in the water, we headed over to the mainland (still in our wet bathing suits) and purchased a necklace with a gorgeous pearl with an itty bitty diamond.  We (me) had a great time at the jewelry shop and drank up with all of the free flowing champagne!

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Papeete

Since our flight was not until 11:00 p.m., we had the entire day to spend in Papeete.  What I truly enjoyed about Papeete that has ruined the Caribbean for me is that there aren’t fast food joints on every corner.  In all of Tahiti there is only 1 McDonalds.  No KFC, no Jack-in-the-Box, etc…  So as our day began, I think the “hey wait it is my birthday trip” sunk into Neil and of course it did not help when he saw our waiter the night before wearing a “manly Tahitian pearl necklace”, so we were off to purchase his pearl.  I am happy to report Neil was able find exactly what he was looking for, but mine is still better 😉   We could not leave these beautiful islands with the memory of shopping.  We decided to hook onto a tour of the island and got to see the black sand beaches and a great waterfall.

We left with the best tans!

We left with the best tans!

Truly, Tahiti is a destination that EVERYONE needs to experience, at least once in a lifetime.  Contact me to book your next vacation to paradise.

If you haven’t figured out with this blog, I don’t just throw out to you any ole travel special…When I come across the good ones or even the GREAT ONES, I must share.

Of course I am biased when it comes to Tahiti!  It is my most favorite travel location!!!  Yes, I know I keep threatening to discuss my trip there (and, I promise I will get to it soon).  So many wonderful islands to tell you about and of course, I will introduce you to my buddy the manta ray.  So stay tuned, it will not disappoint.

In the meantime, if you have been dreaming about that trip Tahiti – what are you waiting for?!?!  Let me make that dream come true for you.

Check out these 2 options to consider for that trip of a lifetime!  Now I know some of you are thinking, “Honeymoon”?  “Why bother reading any further, since I’ve been married for a gazillion years!”   Folks, don’t let the romance die!  Get out that credit card, which you refer to as the evil plastic nightmare and envision it as your plastic passage to paradise…

romantic_Tahiti_us

Only because I keep teasing you about my trip to Tahiti, I thought I would share a little piece of sheer beauty with you:

Neil dolphin watching in Rangiroa

Neil dolphin watching in Rangiroa

Are you feeling your next vacation coming on yet????

Brando Resort

The 47-villa The Brando resort is now being built in Tetiaroa (Tahiti), an island formerly owned by the late actor Marlon Brando. Tetiaroa is a 13-island chain circled by a coral reef offering a tranquil and pure paradise 35 miles from the island of Tahiti.

It will be the only hotel on the atoll, with private plunge pools for each bungalow villa, a spa, a fitness center with a pool, and other upscale touches.

 Slated to Open in 2011.