When you arrive at an airport at the recommended ‘2 hours’ prior to departure, the last thing you want to see is that your flight is delayed by a further two and a half hours. This is what we were faced with when trying to leave Auckland on our way to the elusive Easter Island. Our main problem was that we had a short transit stop-over in Tahiti and the delay was seriously putting pressure on us making our connecting flight.
It turned out that when booking our flights through Qantas, they had reserved seats for us, but had not notified the airline (Air Tahiti Nui) so it transpired that we weren’t booked on that flight anyway. The airline gave us options, none of which were suitable, we either had to miss Easter Island altogether, the pinnacle of our 7 month trip, or we could fly straight to Chile and then go back on ourselves to Easter Island for only a few days.
After a bird flew into the engine of the second plane supposed to take us to Tahiti, causing further delay, we finally swung a deal that suited us. Air Tahiti Nui would fly us to Tahiti where they would put us up for four nights, full board, and then they would fly us out to Easter Island on the next available flight. It meant that our time in Chile was slightly shorter but we would be getting four free nights and a chance to see another country, Tahiti!
Tahiti, also known as Pape’ete, is the largest Island out of the French Polynesian group, and was formed from years of volcanic activity. The Island is thus mountainous and raised high out of the water with many black volcanic sandy beaches. It boasts some stunning coral reefs making an ideal diving spot, although you will surely see just as much by grabbing a snorkel and mask.
We were finally here. After all the trouble in Auckland we had a smooth flight across the south pacific and landed late at night on the French speaking Island. We were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by bands playing local music in the airport and hula girls handing us Leis as we walked through arrivals. After a quick chat with the airline office we were given vouchers and showed to a taxi; we knew that being a small airline, Air Tahiti would most likely have us staying in an airport hotel nearby. It was only when our driver spoke out in broken English ‘You will have very nice stay here on Island, best ‘otel’, that we thought we might be wrong.
We pulled up outside The Beachcomber, Tahitian Intercontinental, the top hotel on the whole Island! We were shown to two large luxurious air conditioned rooms, both with queen size four poster beds, and advised that a full breakfast was included in the room but we would also have 4010 francs per person for lunch and dinner each day. It was paradise, and an incredible change from the last four months of backpacking. The hotel had so much to offer, two infinity swimming pools, jet skis, jacuzzi’s, waterfalls, even a salt water lagoon where guests can snorkel with sting rays and reef fish. The staff were friendly and were always more than happy to make your stay more enjoyable, my sister took great pleasure in being able to personally feed the sting rays every morning with tuna meat.
It’s easy to forget about the rest of the Island when you are so well catered for, but we had to make the effort to get out and take a look. It was incredible how sheltered we were in this five start resort. We came out of the city and immediately hit tin shacks and poor living conditions; we managed to circle the whole Island in that morning to explore. It was still beautiful in every way. Large luscious hills and lots of greenery took up most of the island with most islanders residing on the coastlines.
We spent four amazing nights at this luxury hotel and like any back-packer wanted to make the most of the facilities being a far cry from any hostel we had been in. A special mention to the Te Tiare restaurant because it’s one of the only times I’ve been in a hotel and the restaurant could really speak for itself. Whether its caramelised bananas with rum and vanilla ice cream or local tuna sashimi with ginger confit and wasabi mustard every dish was well presented and packed with flavour. Not to mention on a Wednesday and Friday night all guests of the restaurant are treated to Polynesian dancers performing tradition dance and shows.
I’d be lying if this accidental trip wasn’t a welcome break from months of proper back-packing. Traditional dance shows to enjoy whilst eating fresh seafood for dinner, kayak trips around the coast, and snorkelling with ‘Nemo’ in the salt water lagoon meant that there was something for everyone. When its 7 o’ clock at night and your catching the last of the sunset with Tahiti’s sister island Moorea on the horizon, it’s no wonder people don’t want to leave!
Miss Barlow’s Top 10 Activities to do in Tahiti:
- Surfing on the North Coast
- Horseback Riding at the heart of Secret Mountain
- Ride in an Outrigger Canoe
- Try Underwater Spear fishing
- Visit the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands
- Visit the Paul Gauguin Museum
- Stargazing at the Observatory
- Visit the Blowhole of Arahoho on the East Coast
- Visit the Botanical Gardens and Galapagos Tortoise
- Attend a Polynesian Dance Show