We arrived early after our 10 minute flight which was more like an air taxi! The views and water were stunning and we were very excited! Our drive to our hotel led us past Cook's Bay and Ohahune Bay - where Cook actually docked when he "discovered" the islands. The island is very lush and jungle-like and the water is a deep blue colour.
Our Hotel, the Les Tipanier, was right on the northwest corner of the island, very close to the two Motu (small islands) and therefore it had a lovely lagoon for swimming and snorkelling. We had a small little bungalow near to the beach and it was fantastic. French Polynesia has fantastic food - a combination of French flair with delicious fresh seafood. They are famous for a dish called Poisson Cru - which is raw tuna that is "cooked" in lemon juice and coconut milk....YUM! I think we must have eaten it every day!! We also found out that the Restaurant of our hotel was on the best and cheapest on the island so happy days! We had "smuggled" some Australian wine in - fearing the worst for the prices - but laughed when we discovered that a glass of french wine with lunch was cheaper than a glass of pineapple juice!
Because the lagoon was right at our doorstep, we swam and did lots of snorkelling on the reef. It was a great place to celebrate my birthday which we did by swimming with reef sharks and sting rays! We took a boat out past the lagoon (where the Pacific Ocean meets the reef) to catch up with the sharks. What they didn't tell us was how choppy it would be and I began to turn quite green and this was before we had a drink!! I jumped in the water first, holding onto a rope so as not to float away, and within a few minutes several sharks were swimming below us. A bit scary, but fabulous and thrilling! Just when I tried to get Jonathan's attention underwater, I quickly turned around to see a shark staring at me from about 4 feet away....YIKES!! So that was enough for me...I quickly scrambled back onto the boat - hey, I saw Jaws when I was a kid and I didn't want them to spoil my birthday - we hadn't even had any champagne yet!!! Afterwards, we went back to the lagoon, got off the boat, and all of a sudden about 7 sting-rays started swimming around us. They are related to sharks, but don't eat people - mostly small fish and plankton. They brushed up against us, and as they came to the surface we stroked them - just like a cat they kept pushing themselves against us. SPECTACULAR! It was really thrilling to say the least! The rest of the day was spent - you guessed it'- eating and relaxing. A great place to celebrate a birthday for sure!
We rented a motor scooter to go around the island and up to the look out point where you could see the ocean as well as the two bays - stunning and always an adventure when the two of us try to squeeze onto a moped! Jonathan formed a special relationship with the hotel owner who referred to him as Mesieur Webb in a very sinister way....but we could only highly recommend his hotel to anyone thinking of going there!
We had a fabulous time and look forward to our return already! Next stop, Bora Bora.