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Tahiti

For this trip to Tahiti, we decided on a cruise so we could circumvent the entire island. We’ve been wanting to go to Tahiti for years and this was the perfect opportunity.

The main draw to Tahiti for our clients are those picturesque, Instagram ready overwater bungalow. I get it. They always look stunning. If this is something you dream about our advice is to arrive a few days in advance or stay a few days after to experience the full Tahiti experience while still enjoying the overwater bungalows.

Some interesting words that we learned along the way…hello is laorana, thank you is maururu and goodbye is nana. An interesting fact that we learned was that the islands that make up the French Polynesia are all French citizens with French passports. They are entitled to all the perks of being a French citizen like health care and higher education.

The first stop of our cruise was the island of Moorea, where the top site to see is Belvedere Lookout Point. From this vantage point you have panoramic views of Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay. If you decide to hike the three-coconut trail go with a professional guide mainly due to the terrain. When our guide brought out the rope to assist us to hike from one portion of the cliff to another I was grateful for him and his expertise.

Raiatea was our next stop on the cruise. It’s a pretty island with only 12,545 inhabitants and much smaller than Moorea. Raiatea means “faraway heaven”. This island is considered sacred and was the spiritual center of Polynesia. On this island we visited Marae Taputapuatea, or sacred place. While exploring this area and listening to the sounds of the ocean we completely felt why the Marae was chosen for this location. Interestingly, there are no beaches on this island due to the topography. The beaches are found on a motu inside the lagoon and thee are small boats that take you to the motu for swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling.

One of the things I was really excited to learn about was Tahitian black pearl framing. It’s like conducting a surgical procedure on an oyster to produce a perfect black pearl. Once the intricate process was explained, we understood why the pricing was so expensive. There are many pearl shops on every island, but we chose the Albert Store, a family-ran business explained everything in detail and took their time with me to pick the perfect pearls and created the perfect gifts for my daughters. Pearl drop necklace, pearl earrings and a pearl bracelet were put together by the jeweler in-house. If you are on your honeymoon or an anniversary trip or finally visiting a bucket list location, black pearls make the perfect memorable gift to last a lifetime!

Taha’a is a very small island part of the Society Island archipelago. In Taha’a we had an opportunity to visit a local vanilla plantation. Who knew that 5 vanilla beans would cost $55.00? We learned the process of harvesting and producing vanilla. Vanilla tea, vanilla coffee, vanilla concentrate, vanilla soap, vanilla beer, vanilla creams and lotions, just to mention a few, were all available to purchase.

What about Bora Bora you ask? This island is part of the Leeward Group of the Society Islands and is only 17 square miles. The island is dominated by the two peaks at the center of the island, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu which are remnants of a volcano. Interestingly, Bora Bora was mistakenly pronounced, the original name was Pora Pora!

In Bora Bora we were excited for our planned adventure. We took a boat to another boat to another boat with the specialized equipment to the middle of the ocean. There were 10 mildly scared adults thinking what, “were we thinking” signing up for this particular excursion! It was called aqua safari. What that means is you climb into the water and a pulley places a 70-pound helmet on your head. You are assured that you won’t drown and there is oxygen being pumped into the helmet so breath normally. Are you kidding? I thought I would volunteer to video everyone else going into the water. It was amazing to watch. Still not so sure…until the first group came up after their 30-minute exploration. “You must go.” “It is unbelievable.” “You can’t imagine what you see under the water.” The next group began to climb down the ladder and under they went 15 feet under the water. It is not scuba diving, but definitely a unique experience. Once on the sea bottom it was breathtaking touching the under belly of coral (the guide showed us how to properly without damaging it), gorgeous tropical fish, stingrays just swimming around us. WOW. Just WOW. A must do adventure in Tahiti!

No trip to Bora Bora is complete without a jet ski adventure around the island. We almost did not do this excursion because we’ve jet skied so many times prior to this trip why do it again? Let me assure you that this is nothing like jet skiing at the shore or even in the Caribbean! Following our guide for 2 hours on a jet ski was invigorating, fun and very wet! We stopped at a motu and had a lesson on coconuts as our guide climbed up a tree, picked a few coconuts, and with a machete split them in half. It was such a delicious treat in the middle of this beautiful island!

The last stop on our cruise was the island of Huahine. The 29 square mile island is a tranquil paradise with white sand beaches, coral islets, and blue lagoons surrounded by mountains. We explored this island gem in a 4×4 jeep. Huahine is covered with magnificent flora and fauna. After a ton of adventure, we were ready for pure relaxation where we could escape from the thought of having to head home.

Our trip to Tahiti was unforgettable. If you choose to cruise or visit an island or two in an overwater bungalow, it is a must see for every traveler filled with wanderlust.

Some tips that we learned…

        Due to flight schedules we will book your pre-night and post day in a hotel on the island of Papeette.

        Bring a water proof phone case.

        Experience the water activities…aqua safari, feed the sharks, jet skiing, snorkeling and scuba diving. The visibility is simply amazing, and you will see the most magnificent underwater fish.

        Blacktip Reef Sharks love to be fed and don’t have teeth.

        Black pearls and vanilla are the items to purchase!

Don’t forget the bug spray

Norway

Why Norway?

Celebrating 35 years of marriage requires a special trip. Gathering our adult children and their spouses – between work, graduate school, and personal schedules – was no easy task. We ultimately landed on a 14-day window when everyone was available. Excited, we began our search and eventually decided on a Celebrity Cruise to Norway. I know what you’re thinking: Who decides to pack rain gear and sweaters for vacation in May? Nonetheless that is where and how we wanted to celebrate this milestone. We picked the Celebrity Eclipse because of the itinerary. We have cruised on Celebrity prior (about 30 times!) and always had great experiences so we knew we’d be in a for a nice treat.

Food onboard the ship was delicious. In addition to the dining room and burgers by the pool, our favorite specialty restaurants were Q-sine and Tuscan Grill. Service everywhere onboard was exceptional. There are so many activities onboard that everyone can choose to do as little or as much as you desire. Sleeping on the solstice deck, wine tasting, or glass blowing just to mention a few favorite activities!

While time spent on the ship is nice, the reason we went on the cruise was to experience the Norwegian fjords. If you’re not familiar, fjords are a body of water between cliffs. In other words, incredibly immense mountain-sides next to glass-like water creating spectacular views.

In Bergen, we hiked to the top of Mt. Floen. It is a steep hike, but worth the sweat. The views are breathtaking. We walked the fish market after the hike and had the opportunity to taste the many varieties of salmon and caviar.

In Skjolden (pronounced shoulden) we took a rigid inflatable boat, more commonly known as a RIB boat. We were given thermal wet gear, goggles, and a hat as we floated across the glassy water to experience the grandiosity of the cliffs. While our RIB boat driver played beautiful music, we whisked across the cold water to get a closer view of the fjord and many waterfalls as the serenity of nature swept over us.

Our next port was Geirangerfjord. We kayaked to the Seven Sisters Waterfall. For two hours we kayaked around the fjord to see this beautiful waterfall. As a surprise to my husband – happy anniversary! – I booked the 7 of us to see Geirangerfjord via a helicopter ride! We flew above and between the mountains. It felt as if we were flying on top of the world. This was exhilarating and an experience none of us will forget.

Alesund, is a beautiful town. Filled with restaurants, bars, and a few museums. We began our day by climbing 418 steps to see the entire panoramic view of this city surrounded by water and mountains. How does one describe the exhilaration of making it up 418 steep steps and then to see all the natural beauty that you are surrounded by? Spectacular. Pensive. Breathtaking.

Our next port of call was Shetland Scotland, where the “famous” Shetland ponies come from. Although the tour to the Shetland ponies was brief and not as exciting as our other excursions this week it was interesting to see the beautiful landscapes of this area. The Shetland museum gave us the history of the area. The highlight of Shetland was the most delicious fish and chips that we just sat on a bench and enjoyed our lunch in the sunshine in a charming fishing town seemingly stuck in time.

This was a special cruise for our family. Celebrating our 35th anniversary and our eldest son’s 2nd wedding anniversary. Playing games late into the night on board, trying new wines, dining together, and laughing through our adventures was truly priceless. Norway may not be toward the top of your “Must-travel” list, but I’d recommend it as a way to experience the beauty and serenity of nature that will capture the heart of any adventurer.

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