Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Tahiti Trip Commentaries, Part 4
The Planet’s Priciest Paradise

Our first night in Tahiti was at the Pape’ete Intercontinental Resort by the airport in Fa’aa. We’d arrived so late from Los Angeles that we could not fly directly to Mo’orea, our real destination, until the next day.

The Intercontinental Pape’ete was an unpleasant introduction to French Polynesia, characterized by very poor attitudes and a snooty French front desk staff (non-Polynesian). The hotel took 45 minutes to get us checked-in the night of our late arrival after the long plane ride, an interminable wait.


Then they assigned us room 291 with a so-called “panoramic view” room. Hotel hype translation: From our window we could see the immediate grounds and a bunch of palm trees—the beach and Mo’orea were obscured by the foliage.

The next morning the hotel charged 1600 Pacific Francs (CFP) for a bus with no A/C to downtown Pape’ete ($19.50) one way for the four of us, a 12-minute ride in good traffic. We grabbed a cab back for about the same price.

When I asked the concierge why their expensive bus was 20 minutes late and still not there, he became very defensive and loud, and huffed obtusely to me in front of other guests also waiting, as only the French can do, that “Traffic is bad today, so what do you EXPECT?”


Unabashed, I looked him straight in the eye and said, “How was I supposed to know that? You never told us that the bus would be late, did you? You live here; we don’t, and this is our first day in Pape’ete. It’s your JOB to know and to keep your guests who are paying your salary informed, yet you FAILED utterly.”

He stalked away in a purple rage. It was a satisfying moment for me.

Truth be told, he caught me at a bad moment. I was already testy because the front desk clerk, another unpleasant French person, had not long before refused my request for a one hour extension (to 12 noon) of our check-out (we were not due to be picked up until 12:15 PM to go to the airport for our flight to Mo’orea). Seizing the opportunity to deny us the small courtesy I asked for, and without hesitating or consulting her computer screen, she said in a scornful tone, “NON! We have OTHER guests arriving.”

I saw at once that her retort was a calculated insult on several levels. And I knew she was lying, too, because the same concierge who embarrassed himself about the late shuttle bus had earlier that morning mentioned that bookings were way off, leaving the hotel less than half full this week before Christmas. So I decided to give the front desk woman another chance.

In my friendliest and humblest tone, I suggested to her that my request was reasonable, that our car didn’t come for us until just past midday, and I literally begged her to reconsider. Alas, she spit out venomously, “TOO BAD for you! NON! You can leave your luggage with the bellman if you like and wait in the lobby.” And she turned her back on me and walked away.


A top graduate, no doubt, of the L’ecole de Hospitalitie Francaise. And if I misspelled it, well, all the better.

It wouldn’t be the last time that I ran afoul of ill-natured Parisian transplants to Polynesia—or I took them all to be from Paris, anyway, judging from their recurrent rudeness. I often ran into folks from France working in Polynesia who seemed aggrieved to have been marooned so far from culture.


Contrarily, and without exception, every real Tahitian I met everywhere was genuinely friendly and helpful, including the wonderful housekeeping staff (all Polynesians) at the Intercontinental.

First impressions can be hard to shake, and the insufferable front desk clerk and concierge put me off Tahiti and the Intercontinental right away. I was glad to find later that day that the Pearl Resort staff on Mo’orea had an entirely opposite attitude and demeanor.


Though my data points are few, I was subsequently told by several Mo’orea locals that what I experienced was typical of the attitudes around Pape’ete. What a pity in a global recession, as word will get around. I hope that my story helps people to book away from the Intercontinental Pape’ete. I certainly won’t go back.

Our short visit of a few morning hours in downtown Pape’ete did nothing to endear us to the burg or make us yearn to return. We had earlier thought that since Mo’orea is just a half hour by fast catamaran ferry away, we might spend a day in Pape’ete again.


However, charm is not an adjective most lucid folks would use to describe the over-crowded, traffic-snarled, filthy little port city, and we had enough of it that one morning. Frankly, having been there now, I don’t understand the recommendations most guidebooks make for Pape’ete.

Back at the Intercontinental, our ride came promptly at 12:15 PM, and we were whisked back to the nearby airport for our 1:30 PM departure to tiny Mo’orea airport. I was concerned that we had only a bit more than an hour to check in and get through security, and my anxiety rose dramatically when we entered the domestic side of the airport. It was typical third world chaos, reminiscent of many an airport in small countries, with lines of people at every counter.

I was wrong, though, to be worried. Somehow the lines all moved briskly, and we checked our luggage (limited carryon allowed on small inter-island aircraft), had it x-rayed, got ourselves through the security portal, and to the right gate well before boarding commenced at 1:15 PM. The prop plane, a well-kept De Havilland Dash-8, was not full, and we were buttoned up and ready to go on schedule.

Mo’orea is, I believe, just 11 miles from the island of Tahiti, which must rank as one of the world’s shortest commercial flights. It’s certainly the only scheduled commercial flight I’ve ever experienced that began final approach procedures to land literally just as the gear was pulled up after takeoff.

The landing announcements were made while we were still in climb-out. The gear was back down less than five minutes after takeoff, and we were soon after hitting the tarmac on Mo’orea. In no time the door was open, and we were walking into the tiny terminal building. Our luggage was available within one minute after entering the building.


If only all U.S. flights were so painless and efficient!

(Our return flight almost two weeks later was even shorter and more efficient; details next week.)

Our transfer bus to the Moorea Pearl Resort was waiting for us, and in ten minutes we had arrived, finally, at our destination. We were politely and professionally greeted by Nita Morgan, who whisked us through the check-in procedures and showed us our room.


Nita has lived on Mo’orea for 30 years, I later discovered, and the Pearl is lucky to have her. She helped us time and again with niggling problems during our stay at the Pearl. (Note: Nita has been transferred to the brand-new Pearl property on Tahiti effective January 2.)

Our first six nights at the Moorea Pearl Resort were enjoyed in Deluxe Beachfront Bungalow 307 (over $800/night rack rate—I think we paid less, but I am not sure because the bundled price makes it impossible to know). It was very comfortable, and we had no problems in the bungalow itself while there, but the interior design suffered from poor lighting at night. Plenty of sunlight streamed in during daylight hours. The Polynesian housekeeping staff served our room with fresh towels and flowers twice a day. And they were always polite, efficient, and full of smiles.

Beyond the bungalow, we enjoyed the resort’s features and amenities, but noticed a few issues:

At the bar:

While using the free (but very slow) wifi at the bar (the only place one could connect), I witnessed one of the wait staff bring back a tray full of empty cocktail glasses from the pool area. Each glass had the typical array of tropical fruit slices hanging from over-sized tooth picks, all uneaten.

I watched agog as she removed the pineapple wedges from each drink and washed them under the bar sink faucet, then carefully replaced the “cleaned” wedges back into the fruit holder next to the blender for the next round of Pina Coladas.


We didn’t order any fruity drinks after that.

On the plus side, the wifi WAS gratis, and assistant manager Serge Pont kindly provided me with an adapter to plug in my Lenovo T61 laptop at the bar. The Intercontinental back in Pape’ete charged something like $20 for a half hour to connect to the Internet, so the intermittent wifi outages at the Pearl were hard to complain of.

At breakfast:

The breakfast buffet, which we discovered cost almost $30, was packaged into our rate, “saving” us about $120 a day. It was a decent spread of hot and cold items, including cooked-to-order omelets.

However, for the hefty price, and considering the Pearl markets itself as a tippy-top resort, the restaurant demonstrated a surprising inconsistency for the morning meal. It had no boxed cereal on Monday, the excuse given they couldn’t replenish them on Sunday (should have ordered more to stock up for the weekend?). They ran out of pineapple one day and cantaloupe the next. I mean, come on! Running out of fresh fruit in Tahiti? At a five-star property?

The restaurant suffered from a chronic spoon shortage every day—we were always robbing spoons from other table set-ups. No cheese was on hand several days. They were, incredibly, out of bread one day.

Except for the sporadic shortages, the identical breakfast buffet items were offered every day without the slightest variation, and we had very inconsistent service (some days warm and friendly staff, other days brusque and remote).

At the pool:

The “infinity” pool with a gorgeous large tree on one edge made a good first impression.

But we fast found that poolside towels ran out every day. We were told it was due to employee theft plus an “extremely slow washing machine.” These are, of course, ridiculous reasons to be heard at any resort, let alone when guests are paying $800-1000 per day.

It was bad enough to find worn-out, ripped pool chair covers, but worse to discover a chronic shortage of those crummy covers.

My wife and I marveled that so many niggling things could go wrong—and every day! Why did the Pearl’s reputation not falter in the transparent Internet age when anyone (like me) can critique a property?

Then one morning I was chatting with Serge Pont, the assistant GM, and he happened to mention that our 12 day stay at the Moorea Pearl Resort was unusual. It seems the average stay at the Pearl—and other Polynesian resorts—is just three and a half days. People, he said, like to jump around when in Tahiti to get a taste of several islands.

Perhaps, I thought, that the very short resort stays mitigate most complaints regarding problems such as I cataloged above. Guests move on to the next place so fast that they quickly forget any slight unhappiness suffered during their brief respite at any one property.

Deluxe Over-water Bungalow 409 (over $900/night rack rate), which we moved to for our final five nights, was also great, but it came with these defects: a wet, soiled, smelly mattress; cracked phone in toilet; a stuck wash basin faucet; and a badly ripped bed sheet. A phone call to Nita Morgan soon remedied the problems, but all the bungalows suffer from poor lighting at night. (Bungalows at the Pearl, on land or over the water, are virtually identical; the only differences are location and price.)

All over-water bungalows had slimy, slippery ladders from the swim platform down to the reef. I know; I snorkeled up to each one and inspected them up close to see if they were like ours. Having grown up near the ocean, this did not surprise me, but when you’re paying almost a grand a night, couldn’t they at least make an effort to clean the ladders so no one slips off onto the reef below?

A nice over-water bungalow feature is the outside shower on the lower swim deck, which oddly has far better water pressure than the pitifully inadequate inside shower.

A northern New Jersey woman with her hubby and two kids (who now call Dallas home) bitterly complained to my wife and me after arriving one afternoon to the Moorea Pearl Resort fresh from the Four Seasons Bora Bora. In her boombox voice for all pool denizens to hear, she called the Pearl a “dump” and gave the assistant manager, Serge Pont, a laundry list of grievances which started with the dirty poolside tiles (which I had not noticed until she pointed them out) and included most of my own observations. The following morning at breakfast she told me proudly that she had “set Serge right!”

Apparently not; nothing improved on my own growing list of small grievances. After the average three and a half days she and her brood were gone, and I am sure her complaints were relegated to the circular file by Serge.


Even the nice New Zealand family we befriended, who had also enjoyed Four Seasons resorts in such places as Egypt (Sharm El Sheikh), commented on the things the Pearl wasn’t doing right.

For our part, we enjoyed it, but thought it over-priced even by Tahitian standards. Too many déclassé issues like ones listed above.

One big positive, in my opinion, is the small size of the Pearl: It is intimate, with max accommodation at under 200, and thus never feels over-crowded.

My ambivalence for the Moorea Pearl Resort tipped decidedly to the negative side when I discovered that we were not merely invited, but COMPELLED, to pay for the the resort’s outrageously expensive New Year’s Eve party whether we actually attended or not. Our new Kiwi friends clued us in to it, their travel agent having warned them.

Our agent had not, and when I found the charge was to be something over $300 per adult (half price for kids), I immediately emailed our agent in Toronto to see if we had prepaid for it without knowing. I wasn’t thrilled to be forced to spend almost $1,000 for a ridiculously high-priced dinner we didn't really want.

My agent's reply came on the last day of the year, and indeed we had prepaid for it, though we weren’t aware of either the compulsory payment or the steep price. It was bundled into the total quote—another reason I don’t like “one price” vacations put together by travel agencies like ours. I didn’t know whether to feel relief that I wouldn’t have to pony up another nine C-notes or to be outraged that we had not been told about it but had paid for it anyway.

The $300 per person New Year's Eve event itself deserves its own blog post, but I’ll try to sum it up as brief as I can:

The Polynesian dancing and show was superior to similar well-executed events I’ve seen in Hawai’i, but we paid for entertainment we would not have chosen to attend.

The seafood buffet featured an extravaganza of maritime cuisine flown in from all parts of the world: oysters on the half shell; whole lobsters (two varieties); several types and sizes and styles of prawns and jumbo shrimp; Alaskan king crab legs and claws; and more—all served in both cold and hot variations.

Other protein choices included lamb, New Zealand venison, roast beef, and decent foie gras on toast, which were delicious.

The seafood, though, had been, of necessity, frozen and then thawed. Thus both the texture and the flavor of each exotic delicacy suffered badly. The presentation appearance on the fancy tables held far more promise than was delivered satisfaction on the palate.

The start of the grand fete was an open bar by the pool. Too bad they served only the cheapest, raw Tahitian rum (I’ve had North Carolina moonshine that was smoother) and no call brands of other liquors, plus extremely mediocre red and white wines. I chose instead a Hinano, the local Tahitian beer, which is quite good.

But it’s still just beer, and the occasion deserved better. I was disappointed in the cocktail and wine offering considering the price, the event, and the location.

Ditto for the two Chilean wines (one bottle per couple, choice of red or white) served with the meal. Champagne? I asked. One glass per person to be poured just before midnight, and no more, I was told. We selected the Chardonnay on the theory that a bad white wine is almost always better than a bad red one.

We waited patiently in a very long line to be seated for dinner, during which time a French couple broke the queue unapologetically (draped in what appeared to be their finest Parisian polyester for the elegant evening).

When our turn finally came, the maître d'hôtel, who by this 11th day of our visit knew us well, informed me that our table for seven (we were dining with our new friends, the New Zealand family) had been commandeered by a French family of five.

Had they been accidentally seated by your staff? I asked.

No, they just sat down there, apparently ignoring the line altogether, the French maître d' informed me.

Well, bloody move the interlopers then! I said through clenched teeth. Why would I have to even say this to you at such an affair?

But the Frenchman had no stomach for turning out a fellow countryman and his genetic misfires in favor of, well, an Américain! Though he sidled over to the table and made some feeble gesticulations for show (knowing I was watching), the rude family haughtily and firmly kept derrieres bottomed upon our seats and claimed the table for France.

The would-be maître d' was brusquely dismissed, and I half-expected the land-grabbing inhabitants of our table to raise the Tricolor in celebration of their great victory over des Estats Unis.

Toads!

Bad enough to be victims of this unconscionable slight and unprofessional behavior by the Moorea Pearl Resort, but the dolt of a maître d' then threw salt in our wounds by making us wait another 20 minutes while he fretted over what to do.

Meanwhile, the Pearl staff continued to seat virtually everyone but us, and the multitudes rushed upon the tables of $300 seafood with gusto. Large plates brimming with oysters, lobsters, prawn, and crab paraded by us en route to be consumed.

Hungry and furious, we waited for our table.

Eventually the incompetent ass who called himself the maître d' came upon the novel idea of setting up another table for seven, and, evincing no irony whatsoever, seated us within spitting distance of our original table and its toady family of miscreants.

In fact the notion of spitting in their direction crossed my mind as we sat down.

We didn’t have time to fret, however, and we dashed off en masse to the serving tables, lest the pricey ocean comestibles disappear as quickly as the poolside towels in the mornings.

We were the last to be served, and dinner plates were hard to find. I had to scavenge mine from a cart behind one of the tables. Again, I thought: How is this worth $300? How can this place call itself a world-class resort?

Our fears of diminishing feast foods were warranted: We gobbled first portions and managed to grab second helpings of favored items just as the kitchen staff began to clear out the main courses to be replaced by the pedestrian desserts (ice creams, puddings, a few chocolates).

As I was desperately heaping a few more Alaskan crab claws upon my plate, Alain Druet, the Pearl Resort’s General Manager (Directeur Général), came up with his own plate for seconds. By now we knew each other, and he asked me if I was enjoying the evening. Alain have a start when I answered, no, not particularly, and then gave him a rundown of his staff’s multiple transgressions up to the moment. He allowed that “That’s not right!” and wandered off scowling and muttering.

Nothing came of my chance encounter with Alain, however, not even an apology from anyone at the Pearl, that night or later.

As the New Year’s Eve festivities progressed, we were again ignored when the party hats, balloons, masks, and party horns were distributed among tables. I had to walk to the desk and bluntly complain to get the party favors for us, as the staff claimed they had run out. Turned out they had plenty left in a large box which they were hoarding (God knows why—they were just cheap party favors).

They gave me the favors I demanded resentfully and never apologized for shorting our table. We couldn’t help but notice that our nearby original table, still occupied by the toady French folk, had been amply supplied from the beginning.

Our surmise was that if you weren’t French at this gig, you were probably going to be ignored. We drank enough of the Chilean swill to finally laugh ourselves silly at the grand slam of insults and mediocrity the Moorea Pearl resort had managed to deliver—one of the most ridiculous experiences of our lives—for which we jointly forked over about $1,700. Simply absurd!

When the Champagne was finally meted out (one glass per adult), the kids had run off to play somewhere, and we managed to extract some small revenge by convincing the pourers that the other three glasses on the table must be filled for absent adult guests. This was small comfort, however, and by the time the night was over I was mighty glad that we had just one more night to endure at the Pearl.

Before leaving this discussion about the Moorea Pearl resort, I must give credit where it is due to some very fine staff who were genuinely and consistently friendly and helpful during our entire stay:

Giles, the de facto concierge, who officially manages the Activities Desk, wrote his surname for me but I cannot translate it (please forgive me, Giles). He is a delightful, knowledgeable, and indispensable resource who made up for many of the deficiencies and discourtesies we endured. Thank you, Giles.

Nita Morgan, already mentioned above, is another invaluable resource and genuine long-time Pearl employee. She was our primary go-to staff member for any front desk-related issue, and she resolved every one quickly and efficiently. Nita has been transferred to the new Pearl resort opening in March, 2009, near Pape’ete on the island of Tahiti. The Moorea Pearl Resort will sorely miss her competence and grace.

Gilbert, who hails from the Marquesas Islands (also part of French Polynesia but some distance away from the Society Islands of which Mo’orea is one), works the pool desk practically every day with good cheer and an unending willingness to help. Gilbert proved himself resourceful time and again when we needed something, and he shared with us some great stories about his home islands.

Expense!

I’ve just realized that I have so far avoided the title topic: Expense! The sweet and sour of it all: our planet’s priciest paradise. From the very first day, I felt tapped out in Tahiti even though Mo’orea is magnificent!

Here are some examples of the cost of living and fun on Mo’orea:

$244 for a 4-hour morning tour (2 adults, 2 kids) with Mo’orea Tours (this is the resort price, though I snagged a discount by booking direct at the airport) – this included a 4WD open pickup truck tour of Magic Mountain, the Belvedere lookout, the juice factory, a few old temple sites, both bays (Opunohu Bay and Cook’s Bay), etc. This is a “must-do” even if expensive.

$122 for a modest dinner at the cheaper of the two resort restaurant (included no starters or desserts, two adult entrees, two kid meals, no cocktails, one beer, and no wine).

$6 for bag of Dorito’s at a local supermarket in the nearby town of Maharepa.

$22 for a Pina Colada at the Pearl bar (we didn’t order one after seeing them re-use the pineapple slices left over from other drinks).

$30 for a 4 oz. bottle of sunscreen in Pape’ete.

$300 for New Year’s Eve bash per person – compulsory, as explained above!

$178 to rent a jet-ski for one hour.

$152 for kids to swim with dolphins for half hour; twice that for adults

$100 per day for a rent-a-wreck at Albert Rent A Car (no A/C, manual windows, locks, steering, manual transmission, defective windshield wipers & wonky lights).

Laundry (per washing machine load) left with the nice owner of the Maharepa Laverie, including pressing and folding = $19. Doing it at the Pearl resort would have been much more (e.g., one shirt laundered and pressed = $8.50; underwear = $3.65; pair shorts = $8.50; tee-shirt = $5.00).

Best bargain on Mo’orea BY FAR (we did it twice!):

Hiro’s Tours – Pay a mere $61 per adult + $30 per kid for a 6-hour boat ride in the vast lagoon of Mo’orea, blacktip reef shark feeding (you get in the water with the sharks—exciting!), swimming with giant rays, a glorious motu picnic, and afternoon snorkeling.

Hiro & Bruno at Hiro’s Tours offer the best bargain on the entire island, but you must book direct with Hiro (78 70 10) for 5000F person cash price to beat the 7000F ($85) resort activity desk price.

For a family of four, booking direct with Hiro and paying cash saved us $73.

Not only that, but the motu picnic was outstanding and worth the price by itself. A motu is an atoll (an islet) out in the lagoon just off the main island, all privately owned. Hiro’s tour boat stops on one for a delicious lunch of fresh barbecued tuna steaks, barbecued free-range chicken (there’s no other kind of chicken on Mo’orea!), fried rice, buttered noodles, and all the Hinano beer and Hiro’s special Mai-Tais you can down in one afternoon. Plenty of time is left over for snorkeling in the beautiful world-class coral gardens of the motu bay.

To top it off, Hiro is a real character! Just 42, He has four kids ranging in age from 24 down to 18 months. His dad was an American, so Hiro has a foot in both worlds, Tahiti and the USA. He was educated in California, and he’s a natural leader with boundless energy and a magnetic personality. You can’t help but like the guy.

And Hiro is a sincere and kind soul. He took a liking to our family from the first day we met him. On our final day there, he saw us walking and stopped his car by the road (there’s only one main road on Mo’orea) to invite us to come on a third shark feed/ray swim/motu picnic for free! We had time to do it, but I couldn’t talk the kids into going again.

The only thing that gave me pause was the name of the Hiro Tours boat: Liki Tiki.

Medical detour

My wife stubbed a little toe on a coconut tree outside our bungalow and broke it, which caused an interesting little adventure: French doctor = $122 for 5 minutes; free ambulance ride to hospital; Mo’orea rural hospital visit = $26; 10-minute taxi ride back to resort with Denise (well-known local taxi driver) in her van = $32.

Total cash outlay: $180. Total time lost: an afternoon. Prescribed treatment: just bandage the broken toe to the adjacent one for a few weeks. Duh! We could have saved a lot of time and money had we known that. Lesson learned.

Sundry other observations regarding Mo’orea:

Exchange rate at bank for USD = 82 Francs (down from 100 not long ago) compared to 74-78F at most hotels.

Here’s a useful tip when exchanging money I discovered by accident: Banks charge different fixed service fees. The Bank of Polynesia charges only 484F for any amount exchanged, while the Bank of Tahiti charges more than 1250F per transaction, a savings of about $10 if you go to Bank of Polynesia.

From the Moorea Pearl Resort, both banks are within easy walking distance, with branches in nearby Maharepa.

If you stay at the Pearl, Maharepa also boasts a Laverie, a well-stocked supermarket, several decent merchandise stores with Hawaiian-style shirts, and even a pet store (called Top Dog).

Literally thousands of chickens run wild everywhere on Mo'orea, competing with large land crabs, scrawny cats, and nervous, odd-looking dogs for scraps of food and garbage.

Every Polynesian we met was warm and friendly. Despite some bad apples, most French people were, too.

Just 16,700 people call Mo’orea home (full-time residents), living on an island 34 miles around.

Everybody knows everybody, and they all live in remarkable harmony most of the time. The police force on Mo’orea numbers just 14, I was told.

The barrier reef enclosing the lagoon averages 80 feet wide and 42 miles in circumference.

Mo’orea is gloriously undeveloped and hasn’t lost its charm. With luck, it never will. We drove around the island, which doesn’t take long (34 miles). There are miles and miles of beachfront accessible to anyone, and miles more with local homes and businesses instead of resorts and hotels.

In fact only four world-class resorts have been built on Mo’orea (Pearl, Sheraton, Sofitel, and Intercontinental), and recent local government regulations won’t let any more over-water bungalows be added, as it kills the coral.

There is also a local prohibition on any building higher than a coconut tree.

The local government has forbidden any more development of Opunohu Bay (which means Stonefish Belly Bay in Polynesian) to preserve it as a place of beauty forever.

I was impressed that they’d turn down the income associated with more resort development to keep the island's natural beauty and the charm that goes with it. Despite the high prices, it’s part of what made me want to come back.

I was told that the 2000 El Nino killed off most of the reefs on Bora-Bora (a smaller island, but over-built with 18 world-class resorts) because the Bora-Bora barrier reef lacks sufficient drainage to the ocean (only one inlet). The interior lagoon reefs over-heated.

Lots of dead coral forests are evident on Mo’orea, too, but much is thriving, thanks to multiple channels through the barrier reef to let the sea in and naturally cool the coral beds during the hot El Nino events.

Enough scribbling for this week. Next week’s final Tahiti Trip blog post will document our journey home and include some final thoughts on Tahiti and, especially, Mo’orea.

6 Comments:

Blogger hulananni said...

True...unfortunately...true. But the water is beautiful and warm!

1/07/2009 1:34 PM  
Anonymous elreagan said...

It is a shame that you did not enjoy Moorea and Tahiti.
We rented a car on Tahiti, drove around the island, and took the car over on the ferry to Moorea. We stayed in an overwater bungalow at Club Bali Hai( with a kitchen, glass floor in the living room, and steps going down to the water and reef). Bali Hai was started by 3 guys from California in the 70s, one of whom was Hiro's father. Every one could not have been nicer or more helpful. One of the original partners holds court at a happy hour every evening, regaling everyone with stories of Moorea " in the old days" We bought fresh tuna, cooked it, and ate on our deck over the reef.
N.B.- Over waters are about $200 a night. The bungalows are a little tired, but clean and serviceable. Big family? Get 2.This was a Scot's budget paradise.

1/09/2009 11:09 AM  
Anonymous limo hire said...

You have described your visit and travel in such a great way that i sometime during reading reading felt that i was actually present there. Thanks for such a nice post,
Great Job !

3/28/2009 12:40 PM  
Blogger William A. Allen III said...

Thanks to you all for commenting! Much appreciated.

Will

3/28/2009 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog - so helpful for our honeymoon planning!

12/10/2011 7:08 AM  
Blogger boots61 said...

Wonderful informative blog. Wish I had found it one year ago when we were in Tahiti on a cruise. We had the same unfortunate experience of being stuck in Papeete for a day. Your description of the place and it's residents is sadly accurate. I did not heed the advice on a cruise message board and had booked a tour of the island. Thought maybe they were just "spoiled" travellers. I wanted to see the real Tahiti not just a 5 star resort. We also had time to wander around the downtown area. It was soon decided to head back to the ship for dinner because of the atmosphere and prices. We were shocked to enter the dining room to find that everyone else had come to the same conclusion. Then as dinner progressed we found out that one lady using a walker had been mugged. Another had experienced an atttempted mugging but was agile enough to jump out of the way. This all within 50 ft. of the ship and security. Some cruise passengers were insulted as they walked past young people standing at a bus stop. Our tour guide on the bus excursion arranged through the cruise line decided to air every grievance she had with the French government for the entire tour. Even though tipping is an insult in Tahiti she said her and her cousin(the unsmiling bus driver)did not mind being insulted. We walked off the bus and went the other direction. I have never done that in my life. Always prefer to praise and award hard working people in the travel industry.
Moorea and Bora Bora saved that part of our trip. The people warm and welcoming and even walking down the dirt road to the local "mall" in Bora Bora was very pleasant. The price for lunch was a shock. Burger/fries,grilled ham and cheese sandwich and pop came to $47 US.
Glad to get the opinion on Hiro's 6 hr. Motu Picnic. The reason of how I found your blog while googling for info for someone. Not sure which company the cruiseline went with but the excursion was well worth it and one of the highlights of our 6 week trip.

9/14/2012 5:26 PM  

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